A Guest Post by Dario Milano of Food Pixels
Food is in front of us every day – 24/7. On our plates, in magazines, on TV and even on computer screens.
If we are not eating it we are talking about what we just ate or about what we are going to eat! We are what we eat; our diet reflects our lifestyle, our choices and our beliefs.
I am a food photographer and I love my job; but I haven’t always been just a photographer of food… I am actually a qualified chef and I spent 15 years of my life in kitchens around the globe; I love my food and I love to photograph it!
Let me give you 10 great tips for taking mouth watering pictures of food.
1. Choose fresh and locally grown ingredients, don’t over manipulate the food and keep it simple.
Let the food speak for itself and tell its story. I am bored with seeing pictures of strawberries, but I haven’t seen as many pictures of custard apples!
2) Let the food tell you how it wants to be photographed
Is there something about the food or dish before you that has caught your attention, what was it? is it its shape or is it the texture? Answer this and you’ll know if you are going to need a hard or a soft light, answer this and you’ll know which angle is gonna be best to photograph your subject from. Let the food inform your approach to photographing it.
3) Keep observing your subject.
Is it colourful and vibrant? Food is the king, select props and background that complement your food without being overwhelming; keep an eye out for contrast.
4) Get the shot you had in mind, then switch camera angle.
Explore and experiment: the best shot is often not the one you planned.
5) Use a Tripod
I can never stress enough how crucial this is. A tripod will reduce to almost zero any chance of camera shake and will allow you to take longer exposures – which is handy in low light situations – i.e. restaurants and bars with dimmed lights.
6) Since I mentioned restaurants and bars, my 6th tip is about White Balance
White Balance (WB) – every modern camera, even point and shoots, have a control for WB, so use it. Sometimes an orange cast makes for a warm and intimate mood but sometimes it’s just annoying. Besides this, the white balance control can be used as a creative tool; just explore the different options.
7) Coming back to our subject, and how we are going to capture it – which type of lens is more suitable?
Generally speaking, shallow depth of field works very well with food because it isolates the main subject against the background – drawing the viewer’s attention straight to it. If I had to recommend just one lens for food photography, it would be a 50 mm f 1.8: it’s small and light, it’s not expensive. It’s a fast lens and can be used for any other type of photography too.
8) Go for the details and feel the frame with your subject
Sometimes less is more, especially when food is the hero.
9) Try to get the picture right in the camera
Don’t rely too much on Photo Shop to correct mistakes; post processing should only take between 2 to 5 minutes per image.
10) Take lots of reference shots
i.e. take shots of the lighting set up, shots of backgrounds and props. Take notice of your mistakes, let others inspire you and seek other people’s feedback. Amen!
Ah… one more thing, eat the props!!
Check out more of Dario Milano’s work at Food Pixels.