A supportive background strengthens a photograph.
In this post, we talk about choosing the right background for your food photo. I also share what I learned from a simple exercise and how you can too.
Photography is like an orchestra. For a great performance, all instruments have to come together, synchronize and perform well. One performer plays a wrong note and their goes the entire performance.
Background, just like the rest of the elements of photography, is equally important. A great background is clutter-free and supports the story a photographer is trying to tell.
Now that you have your props organized and stored in one place, I bet you found new backgrounds that you could possibly use. It is always fun to learn how background interacts with your subject.
In the sushi photo above that I took long time back, I started with a wooden background. The photo didn’t work for me, so I moved to a lighter background and sure enough I realized I needed a darker background.
Thinking about darker background, color black comes to mind. Hmmm… that didn’t work for me either, now what? I tried another background and of the four that I tried, this seemed to work for me.
In the hindsight, there are many other things that I could have changed, like the plate for example, a darker plate could have worked better, I think. I could have presented the sushi differently. I could used a better set of chopsticks. I can go on and on…
In terms of background of a photograph, this was an important exercise for me. After completing this exercise, I learned few lessons about the background.
My initial assumption that a lighter background would work, was put to test and helped me realize that in most cases it probably won’t. Contrasts work. Light plate on darker background works better.
I think the most important lesson that I learned was not to quit just in first few minutes. Had I not switched the background, it was very likely that I would have just quit. With a rationalization that “I am just not in the mood today” or something similar. Ever said that to yourself?
The act of switching the background was a simple change and this simple change helped me learn more about food photography.
Your assignment today is just as simple. Choose a food photography subject and do a similar experiment. What background do you think will work for your photograph? Take few shots using this background.
Now switch the background without changing the composition and placements of the subject and support elements. Repeat this for all possible backgrounds that you think will work with what you are trying to achieve.
Now the most important thing: Take time to reflect on this exercise. Do not miss this step. Ask questions. Once you have had a chance to reflect, tell us in the comments below, what did you learn.