The guys over at Immaculate Infatuation are a little, well, obsessed with food. Their restaurant reviews are honest and refreshing; they tell it like it is. So when I saw that they wrote a piece about how to take "perfect" food photos, I knew I had to check it out. Now this isn't a guide for professional food photographers (far from it) but if you're one of the types that likes to Instagram every meal you eat, chances are you could learn something from their post.
There are many great dishes that are boring to look at. Most dips and sauces are monochromatic and have very little texture to them. They taste delicious, but there is a challenge in making them jump off the page at a viewer. Here is how I took a boring looking blue cheese dressing, and made an image that you want to take a bite out of.
Does seeing a towering stack of pancakes with syrup running down the sides make your mouth water? What about a rich and thick caramel sauce flowing over the top and sides of a slice of cheesecake? The sauce or syrup pour shot is one that will make your viewers mouths' water. When creating these shots, I like to piece together several pours to make the perfect pour! Here is how I plan and execute a pour composite.
Did you know that what you wear may have a huge influence on the look or your images? In portrait, landscape, or sports photography, you will most likely be working far enough away from your subject that you won't notice the effects of your outfit on your subject. Let me show you what happened while shooting with a red shirt.
In a perfect world, you will have a stand-in and hero version of your food subject. You will be able to pre-light the stand-in and have everything perfect when the final hero version is ready. Then, all you have to do is add the hero and take the final shot. Unfortunately, most food assignments don't take place in a perfect world. There are times when you will have to use a non-edible stand-in for your pre-lighting.
Do you use color theory as inspiration for your photography? If you are ever feeling stuck or are in a rut, I have found the color wheel is a great source of inspiration! There are many different ways to look through a color wheel, but my favorite is using Adobe Kuler. Let me show you how I used it for inspiration.
You probably know by now that natural light from a window will create beautiful images. This free and readily available light source is my first go-to when shooting food and portraits. It yields beautiful results, but has a downside. It can change on you throughout a shoot. In order to achieve the look you are after, it is best to understand your options and find the best natural light source for you!
There are certain stores that I can walk into leave with a full shopping cart and wonder, "Where did the last hour and a half go?" This is what happens when I make a trip to my local hardware store. If you are interested in photographing still life, food, or any other table top project, the hardware store is full of inspiration. Let me show an aisle that is filled with amazing ready to go backgrounds.
A champagne toast at midnight. There is no more iconic way to make the transition from one year to the next. To celebrate the beginning of 2014, I decided to shoot a glass of champagne. Let me show you how I created this shot with items I had laying around my garage.
When working on a multi-page editorial spread or a cookbook, it is important to showcase a variety of different food shots. If there is an author or chef involved in the shoot, including them in a few action shots will blend nicely with a variety of still shots. Here is a look at a recent shoot I did where I was assigned to shoot both action and still shots of the same dish.
When traveling to a restaurant, you never know what type of lighting environment you will find yourself in. There could be a large window with beautiful soft, natural light, or it could be dark like a cave with only overhead fluorescent lights. If you want to add restaurants to your portfolio, reading the light in a room is a great habit to get into. Not sure what I mean by reading the light? Let me show you what I found on a stop for some Texas barbecue.
One of the biggest niches in commercial photography today is food photography. We've all had the same experience, walk into a small local restaurant and ask to see their menu. The photos look atrocious and you wonder to yourself, "who took these photos?" You know you can probably do a better job, but how much better can you really do? "Photographing Food" an ebook series by Taylor Mathis helps you take ordinary food photos and makes them extraordinary.
When shooting an ingredient shot, shadows can make or break an image. Sometimes you want less noticeable shadows while other times dark shadows can add a lot to an image. In the case of this pomegranate, I shot it both ways. Let me show you how playing with the shadows will have a dramatic effect on your final image.