Over the last 5 years photographing your food has become a routine that is proving hard to shift. Although, is this a habit you should be trying to rid? Or should beautiful food be respected visually in the same way that beautiful art is? Maybe you have the eye for it or maybe you don’t, but here are a few pointers to bear in mind when you next snap a pic of your lunch.
Chefs, restaurants and restaurant PR agencies all over London and the world are working hard to visually represent their food, which isn’t as easy as you may think. Everyone and anyone can pick up a camera and take a photograph, but to make something that tasted so good and look so good come across that way through a screen is a hard task. Whether you are a foodie who likes to share their meal on their feed or a photographer working on behalf of a Restaurant Social Media agency.Here are a few technics and examples to think about.
Take a snap before you take a bite
It’s all well and good taking a photo of a great burger for your feed, but if you decided that you needed to share your joy after you had a bite, maybe resist. There is nothing visually appealing about half eaten food, the idea is to make people want to eat it, not think about someone else eating it.
One of the hardest challenges you face when taking photos of food is light, with every other London restaurant being in dimly lit this can prove difficult. Darkness can be food’s biggest enemy when it comes to photography, you can easily loose all colour and vibrancy making something very fresh look very tired. When possible try to use natural light, taking advantage of any interesting shadows for contrast.
The composition and framing of a photo can set your photos apart from the rest, this could be creating an individual concept that you or a restaurant becomes recognized for. Below is a list of commonly used angles:
- Bird’s Eye View – This choice of angle is currently very popular, commonly used for taking photos of communal tables and sharing food, it’s also a great way to frame the ingredients showing every element to the dish.
- Customer view – This is your more traditional approach to food photography and definitely the least likely to attract attention when taking photos in a restaurant. The positives of this would be height, not in the sense of distance from the dish but how the food is plated.
- Tight crop – The use of a tight crop is an interesting way to get close-ups, letting the plate take up 75% of the frame.
- Tight Focus – A tight focus on one element of the dish is a great way to draw your eye to a single focus point. This could be the egg yolk on a steak tartare or a scoop of ice-cream on a soufflé.
This may not be something that everyone thinks of when taking photos but it’s a great way to add interesting features to your photos without the use of props. When you arrive at a restaurant for a photoshoot, you should be on the look out for surfaces. Wood, marble, slate, granite, polished concrete or even a plain white table cloth. All of these surfaces will give you the opportunity to create attractive and eye catching photographs.
The use of props are completely dependent on the image you are trying to create. If you are looking for a natural, homely communal environment it’s always good to have spare cutlery set up with glasses, bottles and importantly people. Taking photos from above of people serving food or pouring wine. Other props could include raw ingredients, books, table ornaments or flowers. Basically anything that you think works with the aesthetic.
This should really speak for itself, no one wants to look at an out of focus photograph, it’s as simple as that. If you don’t feel comfortable with the manual focus on a digital camera, use the auto focus and if you have a smart phone just tap the screen until the picture is clear. It’s not important for the entire dish to be in focus, but the subject matter of the plate must be.
If like most people you are using your phone to take photos, post-production is a very important last step, where most people tend to trip. Do not use filters, food doesn’t look great when it’s orange, blue or in some cases black and white. Take the time to edit your photos, Instagram’s own editing system is good enough, or download VSCO cam for a more professional approach.
Use the following tools to get the most out of your image:
- Adjust – Make sure your photos are cropped nicely and they are straight.
- Brightness & Contrast – Bring up the brightness and the contrast for a sharper and bolder image.
- Saturation – This should be used with caution, especially when it comes to food. It’s easy to up your saturation to give everything colour and life, but go too far and you will end up with some rather radioactive food.
- Sharpen – This is a great way to bring your image to life, sharpening picks out all of the darker tones and the highlighted tones to make the focus a little more intense.