Food photography is increasingly popular, especially in promoting products and services in the commercial photography scene. A great photograph makes an impressive introduction to a food business and showcases the hard work and expertise that has gone into preparing the food.
Since many people make their food choices based on what the product looks like, professional-quality photos are a must for food businesses’ promotional materials.
You’ve probably experienced whipping your camera out to take a quick shot of your appetizing dinner at a restaurant. But the resulting image doesn’t quite capture the detail and vibrancy of the dish.
Experienced food photographers actually use a variety of tools and techniques to create the right levels of sharpness, contrast, and color balance in their photos.
Professional food photography is not as simple as it may seem - but it’ll be much easier if you start out with the right tools, like a camera slider. The right equipment and techniques can help you produce professional-quality food photographs at home, even with an entry-level camera.
In this article, we’ll give you information that will help you take professional food photos with a camera slider, including tips about food staging, lighting, camera settings, and more.
What is a Camera Slider?
If you’re a beginner, camera sliders may seem like a complicated option to add to your equipment. However, the basic structure of most camera sliders is pretty simple: it’s a moveable carriage on a track, onto which you mount your camera.
Most camera sliders move back and forth on a horizontal plane, and some can be modified with attachments to enable panning and tipping motion. This combination provides the multi-axial shots that are an essential ingredient to movie magic.
No longer the exclusive domain of high-budget filmmakers, the camera slider has made its way into the essential equipment of many photographers. Since food photos and videos usually depict static subjects, introducing movement is a sure way to add instant production value to your food photography, and make your images stand out.
One of the best camera sliders that’s currently dominating the market today is the MIOPS Slider+. Its compact, portable, and intuitive mechanism helps professionals and beginners alike to up their game in commercial photography.
Achieve Professional Results with the MIOPS Slider+
The MIOPS Slider+ is a professional-quality motorized camera slider designed to be user-friendly. The innovative structure replaces the conventional multi-tubular frame with a sleek, elegant body. The robust build ensures that you don’t have to sacrifice portability for load capacity, while the compact size allows you to mount the Slider+ on a tripod with ease and stability.
What Makes MIOPS Slider+ Stand Out as Food Photography Must-Have Gear?
The 40cm camera slider provides the perfect length for food photography, offering a wide range of creative possibilities while keeping your setup light and convenient.
The superb hardware of the MIOPS Slider+ is paired with an equally beginner-friendly app, which allows you to direct every aspect of your camera slider’s operation, including the speed, direction, and duration of motion. The Slider+ also provides an intervalometer function, and camera control for exposure value. This smartphone-controllable device enables you to create sliding time-lapse videos and focus-stacking with a few easy clicks.
Most importantly, if you’re a fan of MIOPS and its smart camera devices, you can take the functionalities of your slider to the next level. Through the brand’s dedicated mobile app, you can have your slider work with other MIOPS devices, such as the MIOPS Camera Trigger and CAPSULE360.
With MIOPS Slider+, you can get started on your food photography for your product photoshoot.
Now, let’s take a look at the essential camera equipment that you can use with the Slider for your first commercial photography session.
Essential Equipment for Food Photography with a Camera Slider
Below is a complete guide on how to set up your studio for a successful commercial food photography session. To find out what camera equipment you need to prepare along with your camera slider to achieve the shots that you need, follow these tips and instructions.
a. Choose a compatible camera and tripod to use with your camera slider.
You can use an entry-level camera with a manual mode, as long as the specifications are compatible with your camera slider. The MIOPS Slider+ has a standard-sized screw mount for your camera, and a mounting thread underneath to easily attach to a tripod.
The Slider+ is compatible with any DSLR or mirrorless camera that has a cable remote port.
b. Include a variety of lenses in your equipment.
You’ll want to explore the creative possibilities of food photography, from table scenes to flat lays to macro shots and everything in between. A 50mm lens is an ideal entry-level lens for food photography, as it gives a detailed image of wide scenes without the distortion that sometimes results from using wider focal lengths.
Since food photography usually consists of close-ups, you also need to include at least one lens with macro qualities.
c. Create a versatile lighting setup.
Like most types of product photography, your subject should be fully illuminated. Rich and vibrant colors are a vital part of the appeal of food photography. Since every shoot is different, you’ll need to adapt your lighting setup and experiment with different types of lighting.
A typical studio lighting setup includes flashguns, reflectors, and light stands. A light box is also an effective tool for all types of product photography. The diffused light illuminates the subject brightly without making it look washed-out. Move your light sources around until you’re satisfied with the effect.
Many food photographers also prefer to work with natural lighting. This is more challenging, but you’ll still be able to control the light by using diffusers and light bounces to soften harsh contrasts.
d. Use backdrops and props that highlight your subject.
Styling and staging can be one of the most enjoyable parts of food photography but be careful not to go overboard. Avoid using any colors, textures, and backdrop that will distract from the food.
Since you’re shooting for commercial purposes, it will be helpful to factor in the brand’s colors and signature style, and design compatible staging. In most cases, neutral backdrops and props will work best.
e. Get inspiration from famous food photos and come up with an original and unforgettable concept.
If you’re a beginner in food and product photography, don’t hesitate to get inspiration from famous brands and photographers. Doing so will give you an idea of what strategies work on your target market and how effective these concepts are in getting their attention.
However, make sure that you don’t rely too much on these inspirations. Come up with a unique idea that will help your product stand out. Rely on your understanding of your brand and your target audience.
The sections below will also help you explore some creative techniques that you can use in your present and future projects. We’ll also talk about how adding an item or two to your camera bag can make a big difference when curating your commercial photography portfolio.
Creative Techniques for Food Photography with a Camera Slider
Now that you have everything you need, let’s try some techniques that you can do with your camera and slider combo.
1. Create Detailed Images with Focus-Stacking
Say a fine dining restaurant brand commissioned you to create a photo portfolio of their extensive menu. The concept is requiring you to capture their specialties and cherished dishes, all laid out on a table.
While staging won’t be a problem, focusing on different subjects, all in different textures and color intensities can be challenging. The most common solution is to set your camera’s focus to infinity and capture the entire frame. However, as a commercial photo, you’re going to need a high-resolution and detailed shot.
This is where focus stacking comes in. Focus stacking is a photography and digital processing technique that makes use of multiple images with different focusing distances, stacked together to create a high-definition image with a finer and better depth of field.
Focus stacking using the MIOPS Slider+
MIOPS Slider+ can help you capture sharp details of multiple subjects in one frame because of its precise camera control, stability, accuracy, and micro-step movements. From the mobile app, you can easily set the shot’s parameters, including the number of images taken in one session, the exposure value, shot intervals, and the distance between every shot.
This technique, with the help of a slider, can produce high-quality and high-resolution images needed for marketing posters, billboards, magazine spreads, and other product endorsement materials.
2. Create Time-lapse Videos with a Camera Slider
Using the settings and with the customizations that the slider provides, you can also create a smooth time-lapse video of food preparation.
Capture the mesmerizing process of bread baking inside the oven. Witness the glorious transformation of red meat into a sumptuous, juicy steak. Admire the transformation of ingredients into some of the most beloved dishes in the world. Time-lapse videos are supposed to let the viewers experience the surreal and fascinating world of gastronomy and it’s your job to deliver just that.
As the popularity of time-lapse videos has increased, it’s now necessary to introduce other elements to make your time-lapse videos stand out. A camera slider provides a sense of movement that is strikingly different from a simple panning motion, because it changes the viewer’s perspective.
3. Use the “Reveal Shot” to Engage Your Audience
The “reveal shot” is a common cinematic effect in mainstream films. The camera is focused on one area, then gradually pans out or moves away to reveal a wider scene. You can use this striking technique to tell a story about your subject. For example, you can program the camera slider to begin with a narrow focus on one product, and then move away to reveal the surrounding props.
The “reveal shot” is a great way to provide context for a food product, and help the audience visualize the product’s ingredients and qualities as represented by the props - all while keeping a dramatic focus on the food product itself.
4. Use Tracking Shots to Capture Tablespaces and Food Displays
You can use a camera slider to create tracking shots, which give the viewer an immersive experience with your video. A tracking shot simulates the way that the viewer could move within the scene in real life: for example, browsing a display of cookies at a bakery, or admiring a lavish table overflowing with steaming dishes. A camera slider will allow you to showcase each item in turn, making sure that nothing is left out.
Tracking shots is also a creative way to present even the most humble and simplest dishes in an interesting way. Using this technique, you’re directing the audience’s eyes to the underrated and often unnoticed features of the dish that makes it stand out.
5. Document the Food Preparation Process in Motion
Tracking shots are also incredibly effective for taking videos of the various steps in the food preparation process. For example, you can take videos of a chef cooking a meal, using long takes that follow the subject’s motions. This can be a much more engaging experience for viewers instead of using jump cuts. The shifting perspective makes the viewer feel like they’re in the middle of the action.
Since food photography mostly consists of close-up work, creating tracking shots with the Slider+ is relatively easy. You can plan a simple choreography with your subject, then program your camera’s settings and motion path in advance with the smartphone app.
You can control all functions from your smartphone.
You can control all functions from your smartphone.
Get Ready to Take on Commercial Photography with MIOPS
Commercial photography is one of the most exciting and in-demand photography genres that you can explore today, especially if you’re focusing on the creative, colorful, and inspiring world of food photography. Aside from the camera slider, there are other equally innovative camera equipment that will surely take your portfolio to the next level.
If you want to know more about what these devices can offer, especially for your commercial photography career, then you’re in the right place. Check out some of our most recommended camera devices and see the difference!
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.