10 Tips To Improve Your Food Photography And Styling

These 10 tips will be helpful if you are new to blogging or just starting out with food photography. While I won’t be covering the technical aspects of photography, I will focus on how to style food and what you should consider when taking photos.

  • DON’T USE THE FLASH: No matter if you’re using a DSLR or a point-and-shoot, please do not use the built in flash on your camera. Professional photographers use external flash, but it is dangerous for food if you try to get a good shot using the built-in flash. Flash can make food look ugly and flat, and it can also cause a bad color cast and poor contrast.
  • USE NATURAL LUX: Natural lighting is an amateur’s best friend. Although professionals use both artificial and natural light, amateurs can take great pictures with natural light. Find a window that has plenty of sunlight in your home and set up your setup near it. You want soft, diffused light.
  • SOFTEN the LIGHT: The light that you choose to shine in your home will depend on when it is day or night. You can use a thin scrim, which is easily available, and stick it to the window using cello tape. This will help to diffuse the light.
  • USEREFLECTOR: Did you know that white light reflects light from the surface of the earth? It’s time for you to use that knowledge. For example, if you find a window to place your food and are able to set it up, one side may be well lit while the other will be darker. Also, you don’t want the photo to have shadows. A picture with shadows is more interesting. It’s easy to steal a white foam board from your child or neighbor’s child or just be nice and buy a thick, cheap white foamboard. This foam board should be placed on the side that you wish to fill in with light. It will reduce shadows.
  • USE LOW BACKGROUNDS Again, White is your friend. Although I love dark backgrounds, it made me realize that it is much harder to take a good picture with a dark background. Although it’s difficult to master the art and create dreamy, perfectly white pictures is easier. White backgrounds make food look cleaner, and allow the eye to concentrate on the food.
  • USE White Plates: I have seen many articles that state white plates are the “little black dress” of fashion. It makes the food standout. You can also add one element to the picture, such as a napkin or cutlery, if your plate is white. Avoid glass and other reflective surfaces as a beginner.
  • DECLUTTER While this is debatable, it has worked well for me. As I became more serious about food photography, my focus shifted to the food and how it was presented rather than on styling props. While styling and props can add a lot to a photograph’s interest and give it a unique dimension, it is best to keep things simple when you are just starting out. You must get the food right. As you get more experience, you will be able to add props to your photos.
  • APERTURE PRIME: I’ve recently been playing with manual mode, but I was accustomed to using AV mode for most of my time before that. Many P&S cameras now have AV, manual and auto modes. In layman’s terms, auto mode is where your camera determines the settings for you. This includes how much light will come into the image, how much focus and how much. Amateurs should pay attention to AV mode. This is when you and your camera become close friends and make the photo together. This mode allows the photographer to select an aperture setting, and the camera to determine the shutter speed.
  • LESS is More: Although styling is something you learn after you have mastered the basics, it is important to remember that you don’t plate food for a photograph the same way as you do when you eat it. The portion size of the food should be smaller than what is on the actual plate. Too much food on the plate can distract from the beauty of the food and cause it to be dull.
  • READ & GAZE Everyone’s learning curve will be different. After you have some knowledge of photography, I recommend that you continue to read about it every day. Look at the portfolios of your favorite food photographers and visit blogs like tastepotting and Food Gawker to see how they got the shot. You can recreate the photo using similar settings. You can only improve if you read, gaze, and practice. Some people learn slowly, others learn quickly. It’s important to enjoy the process and not become discouraged.


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