Food Photography Tips and Tricks

Food Photography Tips and Tricks
Food photography is a very competitive business, but there are some tricks you can use to give your photos mouth watering appeal.

The most important thing to remember when photographing food is that food does not look the same on film as it does when it’s sitting in front of you. Make sure that your finished product is appetizing. Looking at professional photographs of food should make a person hungry.

You don’t have to have the most expensive camera on the market, but you do have to have quality equipment. Good film and good lighting are very important too.

You should consider hiring a professional food stylist. A food stylist is a highly trained individual, many of whom have specialized degrees. This person will prepare the food you want to shoot and insure that the presentation is appealing. Stylists know several tricks to make food look wonderful.

Even if you are not new to food photography, you may want to hire a stylist to handle the presentation and placement of food as well as the props and garnishes, so you can focus your energy on other aspects of the job, such as background and lighting.

If you are just starting out, you may not be able to afford to hire a stylist immediately. This is a tough business with a lot of strong competition, so your portfolio must be impeccable if you hope to be a contender.

There are some tips and tricks you can use to create beautiful, professional photographs:
• Watch the temperature. Melted or soggy food is not appealing. Bring extra portions of whatever you are shooting in case the day or the room is warmer than you expected.
• One way to make a glass of juice, a vegetable, or a nice fresh piece of fruit look more enticing is to mist it with water.
• When an item is shimmering with dew it looks cool, refreshing, and inviting.
• A color wheel is an essential tool for any photographer. It will help you learn to use complementary, harmonizing, and contrasting colors to create exciting photographs.
• When harmonizing colors the background needs to be roughly in the same range, although not the exact color of the food (see the color wheel).

For example, a bright orange silk behind a piece of pumpkin pie, will make it look even richer. A pale yellow plate under a slice of key lime pie will make it appear even tarter. Your mouth will water, or better yet, your client’s will.

Warm colors, rather than cool, increase appetite. Whites, silvers, and many shades of green and blue are cool colors and often appear sterile or cold.

Deep jewel tones are warmer, so if you want to use green or blue, choose emerald or sapphire over mint green or sky blue. Warm colors can actually be too warm and can on occasion incite strong emotion.

Darker reds are more comforting than fire engine red. Choose soft, pale yellows; they are more soothing than brighter versions of this color. Try shades of peach and melon for warm, comforting backgrounds.

Beautiful dishes and containers enhance your presentation. A gorgeous gold rimmed plate beneath your featured dessert is like adding a frame to a picture. It makes it look more finished.

The plate or dish should normally contrast with the surface beneath it and the background, unless you are specifically going for a muted, monotone look.

Garnishes not only add color, they also make food more inviting. Why settle for just a sprig of parsley, when that parsley could be cascading around a fanned strawberry backed by a slice of fresh kiwi? For a less expensive ‘twist’ try a twist of orange or lemon.

Take a thin slice of either fruit and slit one side, then twist it into a ribbon like shape. Lay it at the edge of the plate, and place parsley so it is peeking out from the sides.

Talk to people in the food industry and ask them for tips. Many chefs are considered culinary artists. To such a person dressing the plate is as important as the ingredients and the techniques used to prepare the food. These people are a great source for creating mouth watering and picture perfect food items.

Most of all remember to have fun. Don’t be afraid to try different things. A large graphic photo could be transformed into a fantastic piece of artwork. Something really funky may appeal to a younger client.

While you may tend to be ‘safe’ and submit more traditional photos to magazines or cookbooks, don’t be afraid to try something edgy. Even if your photos are of the highest quality, if they are too similar to what the client regularly sees there is no incentive to choose your work over that of a photographer he or she is more familiar with. In other words, always give clients something to get excited about.


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