On Tuesday evening a good number of members turned up with cameras in hand to photograph food bought in by Sally Kilpin, Sherron Razey and Christal Barlow-Bates. Huge thanks for the hard work to prepare this for us to photograph.
Sally Kilpin led the practical evening of food photography. There were set-ups with flash, studio lights, torches, continuous lights and plenty of black and white card reflectors to bounce light around.
Sally gave a short set of tips at the start of the evening that we’ll share here interspersed with some of her food photos.
10 tips for successful food photography
First and foremost a good food photo should look delicious and appealing. The colours and textures of the dish should be celebrated, not muted or hidden.
1. Work Quickly, the faster you take the pictures of the food, the fresher it will look. Cold congealed meat or sauces and wilted salads just don’t look good.
2. Good Lighting the single most important criteria for good food photography. Use natural light whenever you can. The ideal set up is next to a large window with a white curtain to diffuse the light. Camera mounted flashes are pretty much off-limits for food photographers, the food will look flat with shiny areas.
A studio light with a softbox is ideal. It provides better control, it’s diffused, it’s directional and it minimises shadows. A reflector may be used to enhance the light.
Don’t make food look dark or the food will look unappealing.
3. Colour Balance. Learn to colour balance, especially in situations where natural light is unavailable. Otherwise your photos can have a yellow or blue cast that makes food look terrible. Either shoot in raw so that you can adjust the colour balance digitally or use a grey card to set the colour balance on your camera.
4. Find the best angle. Move around the food and see what angle looks best. Down low to see the food head on, up high to take in the geometry of the presentation.
Certain recipes have a strong graphic identity and will look striking when photographed from directly above, while other subjects (tiered caked being a good example) often need to be shot from a lower angle. A burger in a bun looks better from the side angle whereas a bowl of soup looks better from above. Try taking the shot diagonally for an arty effect.
5. Zoom in. Get in as close as you can. Use a macro lens or the macro setting on your camera. Fill the frame with the food so the viewer can almost taste it. Use depth of field deliberately. Shallow DOF draws the eye to a specific part of the food.
6. Details Check the edges of your plates and glasses for stray food and wipe away smudges and splills. On the other hand, if you’re taking a slice from a cake and a few crumbs fall onto the tabletop, have a quick look through the lens – it might be worth leaving them there. A bit of mess can add charm.
Use sauces and garnishes to add colour to drab shots.
7. Give it a spritz When taking still-life pictures of fruit and veg a few misty bursts of water from an atomiser can transform a shot. Subjects will appear as if they have been plucked from a crisp, dewy garden.
8. Setting Choose a setting that enhances, but doesn’t distract from your food. Pick a simple, plain background or tablecloth. Use plates whose colour contrasts with or harmonises with your food, but not ones that are the same colour.
Before you start shooting, make sure there isn’t any distracting clutter in the background of the shot (stray people, silverware etc) Using a wider aperture to blur the background will help.
9. Preparation Don’t forget to take pictures of the process. Sometimes making the food (chopping and cooking) can be as interesting as the final product.
10. Don’t shoot Know what not to shoot. Some things will just never look delicious, no matter how hard you try.
Meals that are all the same colour and brown sauces are best left alone. And tasty though they may be, I defy you to make a haggis look good.
More of Sally’s work on her website sallylouisephotography.zenfolio.com
Did you get some great shots…?
Members who have pictures they are proud of from Tuesday night are welcome to send them to the webmaster to be added to the website.