The advent of social media and similar platforms has allowed us to showcase our everyday lives through images and videos. Through the lens of our digital cameras and smartphones, we capture our realities and share them with the world.
From glimpses of our social life and visual celebrations of our career milestones to the most mundane things we do, we ensure that we capture every moment of it. Whilst we have a variety of photos and videos that feature every facet of our lives, people all over the world seem to agree on one favorite subject: food.
Food Photography in Today’s Popular Media
Food photography, or taking aesthetic photos of our food has become one of the most enjoyable and interesting things we like sharing online. It’s not surprising that food bloggers and vloggers are some of the most popular influencers these days.
However, capturing food images has been an interesting genre in photography for over a hundred years. The first known photo of food as the main subject of a photograph was taken in 1845 using a daguerreotype and featured peaches and pineapples.
Today, food photography is a major photography genre that has produced millions of stunning and mouth-watering images that capture the world’s delectable and diverse culinary spectrum.
Food Photography as a Major Photography Genre
Food photography, in its official definition, is an example of Still Life Photography. In still-life art, the photographer’s goal is to capture not just the texture, and colors of the subject. The resulting images should embody the uniqueness of the food or dish.
These images are styled and designed to make the audience feel something. To do this, photographers deploy techniques used in commercial photography and how its methods can highlight a subject’s defining features and how they can look appealing to potential consumers.
Today, food photographers follow a perfected set of rules and experiment with creative tricks to elevate their food photos. Of course, these methods are still evolving, especially with the introduction of smart camera gadgets and accessories that allow images and image-taking techniques to grow and evolve.
However, one thing remains constant: a creative food photograph always tells a story.
From the choice of subject, food photography backdrop, choice of lighting, palettes, and other props, these elements come together to make your audience feel and want something. In this article, we’ll help you get started on food photography and teach you how to achieve this goal.
Whether you want to take photos of your food for your social media platforms as a blogger/vlogger, or you’re an aspiring food photographer who wants to venture into the commercial industry, we hope that the following food photography tips can help you take the first step.
How to Master the Art of Creative Food Photography
Creative food photography is a fun genre that every professional or beginner shutterbug should try. In the next sections, we’ll talk about food photography tips, studio setups, and camera accessories that will help to complete your first photo session.
Let’s start with some food photography fundamentals.
Using the Fundamentals of Aesthetic Photography to Capture Creative Food Photos
Your success in food photography won’t depend on how expensive your camera equipment is. It’s more about understanding the fundamentals of aesthetic photography. It’s a creative genre that emphasizes the beauty of its subject, in this case, food.
If we combine aesthetic photography’s fundamentals with the basics of creative food photography, we’ll come up with these factors. Keep them in mind before planning your food photography session.
A. Food Plating
Food plating is how you creatively arrange your food on a plate, on a table, or flat surface. This will determine how your image will look, but it’s not just a simple arrangement. This is your chance to tell your story and create a unique staging that will make your food photo stand out.
Composition determines how you frame your photo. When thinking about composition, think like an artist. Artists are mindful of how their works of art are perceived visually and how an observer “reads” the image. Colors, patterns, and arrangements will determine the direction of the audience’s gaze, so use this to your advantage.
Stay away from symmetry. It’s boring and flat. Rather, be comfortable with random and abstract patterns that look more natural. Do test shots from different angles to find the most balanced composition.
C. Food Styling and Backdrop
After you decide on your subject, pick items and props that will support the story that you want to tell. However, beware of putting too many details that might look more messy than stylish.
You can start with choosing your food photography backdrop. Backdrops will serve as your image’s background. You can choose from different surfaces and effects, such as a dark granite countertop, a smooth white plate, stained and shiny wood, a rustic copper dish, or soft and light textile.
Additionally, you can complete your backdrop with cooking props, such as silverware, herbs, spices, and other relevant details that will contribute to your concept.
D. Studio Lighting
Whilst most food photographers agree that natural light is the best lighting for food photography, there are instances where you don’t have that option. If you work for a commercial company, taking product photos all day, deadlines and urgent client requests will leave you without the luxury of time to wait for the perfect natural light.
Whether you use natural lighting or an artificial light source, such as a strobe, it’s important to soften and diffuse that light that hits your subject.
Make sure to focus the light to an angle that highlights your food’s best side. Don’t hesitate to bring out the shadows as they will help reveal your food’s unique textures. Never use white light and opt for warm lighting to enhance your subject’s appetizing appeal.
E. Editing and Post Processing
Editing your food images is as important as taking them. Using useful photo editing applications, sharpen your images, enhance your image’s brightness, and saturation, and most importantly, bring out the warm color balance that can make your food more appetizing.
However, remember not to overdo it. Post-processing and editing can be tedious, so don’t forget to rest your eyes or ask someone else to take a look at your images. They can give you a better perspective and understanding of how the audience will experience your images.
Important Camera Settings for Food Photography
Aside from the fundamental concepts in food photography, it’s also crucial that you’re aware of specific camera settings that you must pay attention to, to make sure that you get a crisp or soft image, depending on what you want to achieve.
So what are these settings? In food photography, we focus on aperture and shutter speed.
Aperture determines the amount of light that your lens receives from your light source. On the other hand, shutter speed controls the length of time that your lens is open to let light in. Using these two functions together properly can help you achieve the balance of softness or crispness in your shot.
Wide Aperture and a Slow Shutter Speed
In food photography, professionals often use a wide aperture and a slow shutter speed. This creates a shallow depth of field, making the foreground more focused and detailed while the background becomes soft and blurry.
This setting is ideal for food photography sessions where objects are fixed on a stable backdrop.
Wide Aperture and a Fast Shutter Speed
Now if you want to be daring and try high-speed photography to capture interesting food photos, then you can use a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed. A higher shutter speed can freeze objects in motion while a wide aperture makes sure that the camera can compensate for the fast shutter and get a good exposure.
Remember that both of these setting combinations are only possible if you have the right camera equipment for food photography. In the next section, we’ll talk about the camera gear and accessories that you need to get started.
The Best Camera Equipment for Food Photography
Now, for the last part of this article, we’ll finally talk about the best camera equipment for food photography. Before you start your session, what camera items and accessories should be in your bag?
Let’s start first with the most important.
So what’s the best camera for food photography? If you ask every food photographer, you might get different answers. However, one thing remains true: you can be good at food photography regardless of the type of camera you have.
Whether it’s an entry-level camera or advanced and expensive equipment, you can easily capture a creative food photo, as long as you follow the pieces of advice we mentioned earlier.
Just make sure that your camera is capable of operating under Manual Mode. Manual Mode allows camera users to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure, and other important settings to achieve the best shots.
Next is the type of lens to use in food photography. There are different kinds of lenses and each has its advantage when taking photos of food.
For example, 50mm lenses are ideal for taking photos of food from top-down angles and flat-lay tablescapes. On the other hand, a 24-70mm zoom lens is more versatile as it allows you to capture different framings and compositions.
However, if you want portrait, vertical, and crisp images, you should go for macro lenses. Lastly, 80mm prime lenses give you the width and span if you’re photographing food photos that require wider setups.
A tripod should always be part of your camera equipment list when taking food photos. Aside from holding your camera in place, it allows you to use different aperture and shutter speed settings, without worrying about blurry images. Tripods are extremely important, especially when taking creative and high-speed food photographs.
Most importantly, professionals know that food photography is never a quick photoshoot. It takes time with all the trial and error involved just to get the perfect shot. It acts as an extra arm and a helping hand so that you can focus on what matters most.
D. Camera Trigger
We mentioned high-speed photography several times in the article, and it’s just proper to recommend a reliable camera trigger to make capturing fast-moving images easier.
How can you use MIOPS Flex in Food Photography?
One of the best cameras triggers to use for high-speed food photography is the newest MIOPS Flex. Flex works as a camera trigger and a camera remote. It allows you to wirelessly control your camera from your smartphone, through MIOP’s dedicated mobile application.
Meet FLEX, a smart camera gadget for creative photography.
Meet FLEX, a smart camera gadget for creative photography.
Now here’s what’s exciting about MIOPS Flex as a camera trigger for food photography. Aside from its motion sensors that detect fast-moving objects to capture eye-catching food photos, it has a LIVE FRAMING MODE.
What is MIOPS Flex’s LIVE FRAMING MODE?
Live framing mood is a unique MIOPS Flex’s feature that will help food photographers visualize how their images will look like, live!
For example, if you’re a professional product photographer or a food blogger, you can see how your photograph will look on a magazine cover while taking the shot. How does it work?
MIOPS’ smartphone application features a Liveview Screen where you will have different live viewing functionalities. These include a Virtual Frame. Tapping on the virtual frame icon will activate a magazine layout filter. You can upload your pre-designed magazine layout template through the application.
This function helps photographers, especially those with a background in graphic design, to ensure that their photo’s composition will align with their target layout. Imagine the time and resources that you’ll save if you skip the guesswork and just quickly combine these two mediums to achieve a final product.
These frame filters and templates are not limited to magazines. You can also upload posters, flyers, album covers, and other layouts.
Finally, Getting Started on Food Photography
We have covered everything you need to know to get started on food photography. Hopefully, these lessons on food photography fundamentals, camera settings, and camera equipment, can give you an idea of how to creatively produce unique images of your favorite subjects.
However, don’t stop here. Continue learning and mastering your crafts. Listen from the experts, get advice from professionals, and equip your shooting gear with the most versatile camera accessories that you can find on MIOPS’ website. Have fun!
Blog Credit: Charm Villalon
Charm is a writer and a visual artist. Her drive to share ideas and stories is evident in her background in communication arts and language studies. Years of professional experience in content creation have given her a broad proficiency with the process of engaging online communities. An appreciation for multiple languages and cultures drives her to seek out experiences and capture these moments through her writing, digital art, and photography.