Food photography is one of the hardest things to master- I constantly feel like I doing an “I’m not worthy” chant when I look at fabulous food blogs- but there are a few easy tips I have found lately that I can’t wait to share with you! For this post I used my DSLR camera (I shoot with a Canon t2i, and am using a 50mm lens at 2.0 aperture on a/v mode for this shoot).
If you don’t have a DSLR, you can still get great macro effects with your point-and-shoot camera- but you need to turn on it’s macro mode. On a canon powershot, you will see a small picture of a tulip on one of the settings. This will switch to macro.
First, start off with lighting. You want as much natural light as possible coming in through your windows- which can be tricky in kitchens. Time the shot if you need to so that you can get the most sun shining in! For my west facing kitchen, this just so happens to correspond with dinnertime.
Next, you will want to set up a story for your shots. If you are familiar with your recipe, you will have a little more flexibility in taking pictures. If you are unsure of a recipe, you’ll likely forget to take pictures while assembling your dish.
When taking the “ingredients/mixture” picture, be careful of your mixing bowl. I actually have a beautiful set of bright red mixing bowls that I primarily use for baking- but they photograph TERRIBLY. They make everything have a weird red hue, and it looks off. Use a stainless steel bowl if you have one. If you don’t, go buy one. You can get one for under $5 at IKEA. Get in close, and at an angle that isn’t directly above, if possible.
Set up some interesting shots by using your ingredients as props. These sprinkles are so fun, and showing off how you store them (like in this cute mini-mason) adds a whole other story to your post, without adding extra clutter. Keep it simple and relevant. This also helps convey size- the cookies are roughly the same diameter as the mason.
Now to one of my biggest pet peeves, and my nemesis- uneven lighting. Whether you are taking a picture of a person, a craft, or food- you need to watch your lighting. See how this cookie is unevenly lit and the shadows look really harsh? It’s totally distracting and can lead to fake looking photos. Bring your subject into full light, or preferably, full shade right next to the light.
By just moving my baking sheet to another counter I got this light:
To get this bokeh (essentially the blurry background), I simply took this picture as close as my lens tolerated at a 2.0 aperture. Smaller numbers actually mean a larger lens opening which brings more light into your lens, and also creates a shallow depth of field (distance you can see in the background).
This picture is taken straight above the cookie. It is a good picture, but it is pretty darn boring. Straight on angles don’t draw readers in. Sometimes you just can’t get a different angle, and in those cases, go ahead and take something straight on- but otherwise, I’d suggest moving a bit closer, and off to the side a bit, like this:
Note- I also added more cookies to make the shot more dynamic. One, off to the side was better than just the straight on- but when stacked, the cookies looked so much more inviting and whimsical! Obviously if you are making a roast, you won’t stack it- but you could add a sprig of rosemary, or a fork, to give it height and more angles to work with.
If you can get a model to eat your food, take a picture! I think it adds a fun, personal touch to your photographs and pulls readers into your blog. Unfortunately, I can’t usually get little man to stand still for more than one second, especially when feeding him sugar!
Here’s one last shot to show why angles are so important- with a slightly different food (my dinner while I was taking shots):
The best tip I can give you is to invest in good editing software. I use Adobe Lightroom, and I am a HUGE fan of Lightroom. It is easy to learn, offers great organization for your photos, and makes your photos look professional. It is a bit pricey, but it is worth every penny. Please “like” Sweet C’s on Facebook and be sure to follow my updates- I’ll let you know anytime it is on sale! (It was recently 1/2 off).
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