As discussed in our last post, food photography is arguably one of the most challenging types of photography out there. Everyone in some way or the other now posts photos of their food at Instagram or Pinterest or Snapchat. However, what makes your photo standout? There are millions of users posting food pics. In order to get noticed, you have to learn some photography hacks, which can be done simply by your phone.
So, how do you improve your food photography beyond the basics? You work on the story. Yes story makes all the difference. Always create a story, not some random food images over the web. Stories give meaning to photographs and viewers can relate to what you are telling them. It’s not that hard, we can assure you!
Advanced Food Photography Tips
Let us consider an example.
On World Refugee Day, which was on 20th June, you can take examples of how food is served at camps. Food packages are an important source which must contain some essential nutrients to avoid malnutrition. There are many varieties of food to capture such as rice, lentils, beans, dates, sugar, milk and others. If you want to tell a story, each family and each serving can make up one.
If you don’t have the chance to photograph refugees, visit camps or NGOs in your area. Every NGO will have some kind of food donation charity or food programs that you can capture.
This photo by Wladimir Andarcia captures how a homeless man uses to have his meal. Try to understand the frame, the elements captured like the empty bottles, the cup, the bread, even the graffiti in the background. All have a story to tell.
If you are still unsure head over to @mmuheisen in Instagram. He has captured some beautiful images of Syrian refugees. Look at his photos where he has captured a story of how refugees eat in their daily lives, how they eat and how they bond and keep up their strength in such terrible times.
In his own word, “I don’t just pass by and take pictures and leave; I spend time, I invest, I get to know the people, gain their trust and respect, and aim to make a difference with my pictures, big or small.”
Using Lights in Food Photography
A very important feature in this section is the use of light and your camera angle. Natural light is always the best, especially when shooting at locations artificial light is not always possible. So make sure to use natural light to the maximum. Use twilight timings; they can often create beautiful imagery and depth of field in your photos.
If you opt for artificial light, do not use a direct flash, or worse, overhead tungsten light. Invest in a good quality flash, and a reflector or bounce card. Never direct the flash towards the food background, as the light will fall harshly and the food will lose all the details, making it look flat and unappealing.
The best way is to use a reflector to bounce the light to the food. You can experiment with the angles, camera settings, and intensity of the light to see which works best for each food shots.
Keep the food as it is
Once you have got the shot you desire, don’t stop at it. For example, this photo below:
This photo by Muhammed Muheisen, shows the spirit of the watermelon sellers. He just didn’t stop at this particular photo by took several shots to capture the exact essence. Again all a part of story. That is why creating a story forms the foundation of food photography. This is not your typical table top food photography, but with real people and real expressions.
These are the three basic tips that you need for advanced photography. Although there are many technical criteria if you want to be a professional photographer. But we suggest you go through these 3 basic elements first. Lastly, look at photographs and study them. Studying a photograph sheds a lot of light and increases your way of understanding. One photo may speak to me in a way, but to you it may be totally different!
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