Foodie 101: How to take good pictures, part 2
The other day, I implored my fellow foodies on the necessities of good photographs in their reviews. Indeed, I’ve found photos to be a necessity in what I do. But then again, I’m sure you knew that.
Today, I’ll bring up a few points about photographing food. It’s a very different beast from other forms of photography, but rest assured, it can be done. Here are a few pointers for the food critic to get a star shot.
Part 2: How to shoot the food
- Avoid the fancy cameras. I said last time a good camera isn’t everything. As a food critic it’s just better to get something more subtle.
- Warm light. Warm light. Warm light. This is easily the most common mistake I see. Unlike photos of buildings, people, etc., the purpose of food photography isn’t to make an “accurate” or “interesting” shot. Food must be appetizing. Taking a shot in artificial light bulb light makes even fresh food look cold and unappealing. Use natural light by all means possible. Or a heat lamp, as in the above shot.
- On that note, avoid night photographs. Only very good cameras can do that.
- Aim your shot 3-5 feet from the subject. Otherwise the flash of your camera will make the photo ugly and unintelligible. Like this.
- Take lots of photos. Do doubles and triples of the same shot. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had the perfect shot, and then I came back to my computer to find it blurry. And trust me, it’s very annoying to finish a $30 meal and then discover the shot you took of it was no good.
- Don’t just shoot the food. Readers want visual context, and a restaurant isn’t all about food; service and atmosphere are just as important. I like to take shots of the restaurant exterior most of the time. Others like shots of the dining room, or the chefs, or the kitchen.
- Skip the sauces. Photo the fries. For some frustrating reason, fried food makes for some of the best photography. It’s got a defined shape and lots of little nooks and crannies to make the shot interesting. A dish covered in sauce often looks formless and it’s tricky not to make it blurry. Just a suggestion.
What are your food photo secrets? Let us know: Comment or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.