Is it cute or nah? Amping up your food photography

By Krysta Overton

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In this day and age, every millennial with a smartphone thinks they are a photographer. With all the assortments of apps, filters and fancy flash, automatic adjustments can be made to any picture to make it seemingly post worthy. But photography is about more than just the point and shoot, young Padawan. An experienced photographer can tell you that photography is much more than meets the eye.

(YES, PUN ATTENDED)

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This is especially true where food photography is concerned. Having an eye for the composition and detail of an exceptional food photograph takes practice and skill. I have been a photographer for the past 8 years and I am STILL nowhere near where I should be in terms of making photo greatness…but it’s a daily and sometimes even monthly endeavor.

So how does one improve? The first thing I always tell my friends is to STUDY! If you truly care about something, whether it’s a topic or situation or even a hobby, you learn what you can about it to make sure you are in “the know.” This applies to food photography as well. Find a favorite photographer or a favorite site and study the photos. Pay attention to how the photographer composed the picture, the supporting cast, the angle, the backdrop. This will give you an idea of how you should “see” when you are shooting. Obviously having a decent camera will help in this endeavor, and there are TONS of articles on the web to help you select the best one for you. If it’s a beginner’s hobby, or if you just don’t have the funds to invest in a new camera just yet (college struggles) then practice with a smartphone to work on improving the same items.

Some of my favorite sites for photo tips are Sarah Wilson and the Digital Photography School.  The photography school offers photo tips on EVERYTHING you could possibly think of if you are trying to expand your overall skill with a camera, but specifically for food photography I’ve consolidated some of their tips in 5 PHOTO BASICS:

1: The best way to go, A’ Naturale. Natural lighting is absolutely your friend where food photography is concerned. When shooting, try shooting from different points to incorporate different lighting. A diffuser may be helpful in some lighting, but overall, let the sun shine in.

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2: ANGLES! Think about women and selfies. Enough said? The angle you shoot from changes the entire perspective of the photo.

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3: Color is GOOD! Think of what draws you into a food photo: What catches your eye. One element of that is probably that pop of color and allure that grabs you when you see a picture. Color in photography can be adjusted via editing, but pay attention to it when shooting as well. The less you have to edit, the better you are becoming as a photographer.

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4: Details with food are like women and makeup. She may already look nice, but if you add a little lipstick here and a bit of blush there, BAM! Diva status. Food is the same way, if the details in the photo are evident then it enriches what may have been an already stellar photograph.

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5: Last, Composition is KEY! Placement in photographs is extremely important. It provides balance and makes the entire image more aesthetically pleasing. Learn about different methods of composition: leading lines, the rule of thirds, etc. These are ALL used in food photography and the more you know about them, the more options you have when shooting.

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Have fun!

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism