Foodie 101: How to take good pictures, part 3


In the past few days I’ve tried to bring a few essentials for setting up and shooting food photos for the upstart food blogger. I hope I’ve been able to help some of the other new foodies out there who wanted to start a blog without a background in photography.

The shooting of a good photo does not end when you snap the camera. A photo is never complete until it is edited. Please keep these things in mind when it’s time to get your shots from the camera to the web!

  • Invest in editing software. It can only help you. Photoshop and other items like it really are constructive. You don’t need to be airbrushing the food or setting up some fake look to the shot, that’s not the point. A little brightness fix or cropping the shot will make a huge difference, and you can’t do those things well on Microsoft Paint.
  • Make the photo look big, but not too big. You don’t need 5000 x 5000 pixels worth of photo on your site. I generally take extra-large 3000 x 2000 photos and then edit them down to about 1600 x 1200; just enough to make a great photo big enough for readers to click on and enjoy, but without becoming unwieldy. And at about 700 KB each, this move ensures I can upload thousands of shots without investing in a space upgrade.
  • Use (and reuse) photos prominently and generously. There are plenty of shots on this site I’d like to see improved (and I try to fix them when I have the opportunity) but use those stunning shots as much as you can. Even one good photo will drastically altar the way people look at all of your work.
  • Brightness fix: the hidden wonder. As I’ve said before, the main problem I see with food photographers is poor light which makes food look unappealing. If a lowlit restaurant has ruined your shot, maybe some brightness editing will do the trick. Often you won’t even realize how much it helps until you’ve tried it!
  • One topic at a time. I’ve tried to shoot multiple dishes at once to give a broader sense of what I’ve eaten (see above) but when you have an excellent shot, this may distract your lens from the subject and make the photo look messy. Try to focus on one subject or plate, and crop out the messy dining table in the background.
  • Limit your shots to what’s interesting. I’ve stopped shooting cups of coffee. Everyone knows what a cup looks like. Edit out containers, boxes and other things holding your food so that most of the photo contains actual, visible food. Buns are boring. Tortilla is boring. If you have to, cut that sandwich/burrito in half to get a good shot of what is inside.
  • Please, no “scale” measures. Wikipedia has an awful example of this. Don’t put a quarter next to the food so we can see how big it is. And please don’t put a battery right next to your sandwich. People don’t need scale in a shot of food, they want a pure shot of something delicious. Foreign, inedible objects, no matter the purpose, can really ruin the shot.

What are your food photo secrets? Comment or email:


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