Earlier this month we discussed how to boost your creativity and to find your photography niche. Today I will introduce my favorite genre: The art of photographing food.
What makes food photography exceptionally unique is the fact that the goal behind every photo is to reflect the appetizing factors of your subject and to engage your viewer’s taste buds.
Photo by Sasha Gitin, Styling by Janine Kalesis. Published in “The Gourmet Bachelor” Cookbook.
First let’s look at all the possible variables that we associate with food. For many of us food has to pass three tests before we determine its deliciousness.
Look, Smell and Taste.
Photo by Sasha Gitin, Styling by Janine Kalesis. Published in “Cooking With Love” Cookbook.
The Look of food: Visual Appearance of the subject is the variable that can be controlled by the photographer. But let’s break it down into categories.
Preparation / Styling: Food is just like a model. If you start with a highly appealing dish or a beautiful fruit it is equivalent to working with a professional model.Take your time preparing the food. Choose good looking ingredients.If you are not a cook collaborate with a chef or a food stylist or your spouse (as a last reserve).
Color: Color reproduction is one of the most important factors. When we look at food the color tells us if the food is fresh. For example If the food is expected to be white like sword fish, but has a blue, magenta or other unhealthy looking color tone, the viewer will automatically become repulsed by the image as she would to the actual dish.True white balance is the key. Set your camera to custom white balance. If you are shooting raw make sure to shoot a white or grey card and pick a white balance point using Adobe Camera Raw or whichever raw processing software you might be using. Grey card: After trying dozens of white balancing cards cards, I found the following two to deliver the most accurate white balance: WhiBal and Qp101 Cards. White point can be picked using raw processing software Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, or Raw capture software that came with your camera. In Video below Robert will demonstrate how to set Custom White Balance:
How to Set Custom White Balance (VIDEO by Robert Grant):
Taste:Taste is the most important factor in our food experience. Image alone however cannot translate taste directly. Try licking your computer screen right now. Yummy? I didn’t think so. Since taste cannot be translated onto the image we need to look for other variables we can associate with our food indulging experience. Texture would be one of them. Texture: Evaluate your model (food), if you were to eat it what texture would you expect? With lighting we can emphasize the texture.
Texture: Meat, Fish, Bread, and Cheese all have grain or flakes that can suggest how it will feel against the tongue. Light your subject to bring out the texture. See our previous tutorial: How to Light for Texture
Photo by Sasha Gitin
Choice of Lens: My favorite range to work in is 50 to 135 mm. With 75% of the work shot at around 100mm. The lens should have macro capability. However instead of investing in an expensive macro lens you might like to start with a simple 11, 12 or 13mm extension tube. (See our previous tutorial – How to Photograph using Extension Tubes.)
Composition and Angle: Framing your Shot is crucially important. Carefully observe your subject. Be aware to lines and shapes and frame according to your gut feeling. To give you an idea take a look at my article published by dPS – 11 Great Angles for Food Photography.
Next week I will invite you into the studio during an editorial food shoot and show you how to photograph food using natural light and special diffusion. Also I will demonstrate a technique of adding steam to maximize deliciousness of hot food. Stay tuned.
To see more Samples of Food Photography please visit Sasha’s freshly updated Food Photography Portfolio.
Assignment: “Shoot Your Dinner” Photograph your meal and post your shot here using “Share Your Shot” feature in Comments. (if you are new to the site click on the orange question mark in upload box for posting instructions)