Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tips for Taking Food Photos

One of my readers (insomniac) suggested a post on how to take photos of food.

I am no expert, but here are my thoughts:
  1. You need natural light. This is the most important element of a good photo. Lots of natural light. It's very obvious to me which blog photos have been taken in natural light and which have been taken with incandescent light or flash photography. I don't know how our Minnesota winters will affect my blog photos, but I am not looking forward to days with only ~7 hours of natural light!

  2. Use good dishes and a good background. I love my dishes and am glad that they're white. When I registered for them five years ago, I wasn't planning on using them for a cooking blog, but it's worked out well. Plain dishes are better than patterned or brightly-colored dishes for most photo purposes. Backgrounds also matter. Remove anything distracting from the background.

  3. You need a good camera. You don't need a dSLR, but in my experience it's much easier to take a good photo with a dSLR than with a point-and-shoot. However, other bloggers (like WeezerMonkey) can take excellent photos with point-and-shoot or even iphone cameras.

    I shoot blog photos with a Nikon D40, a gift from my Mom and Dad (oops, I mean Santa!). I just use the 18-55mm kit lens, which is actually a pretty nice lens. I also have a 55-200mm VR lens and a macro lens, but for most purposes the kit lens works best. I rarely use flash.

  4. Take a lot of photos. I usually take 10-30 photos of each dish and am happy with 1-2 of them. It doesn't take long to delete photos you don't like (less than one minute).

    Try all different angles. The food can look very different depending on which part of it is facing you. For example, take a photo of a slice of pizza with the crust facing you, one at 45 degrees, one at 90 degrees, one at 135 degrees, and one with the crust away from you.

    Try photographing from the top of the food item. Get down low and take a photo with the food at eye-level. Pay attention to which part of the plate is hit by your (preferably natural) light. Remember, it's digital photography! You can delete any photos you don't like!

    As you can tell from my blog, I like food photos that show a glimpse of my dishes. Try taking or cropping photos that keep a varying amount of the dish in the frame, and see what you like.

  5. Practice, practice, practice!!

I hope these tips are helpful.

If you'd like to check out food blogs with fantastic photography, visit my two favorites:
Northwest Noshings
The Way the Cookie Crumbles


Joelen said...

Great tips - thanks for sharing them!

Insomniac said...

Awesome! You're the best!

KC720 said...

Thanks for the tips! This is something I struggle with.

WeezerMonkey said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I agree -- there's nothing like a DSLR to make everything look great.

For those of you out there with point-and-shoots, I set the camera to the macro mode (the little flower), which helps make close-ups look better.

With iPhones, don't be afraid to get super-duper close to your food.

That's all I've got. :)

Anonymous said...

Good tips. Your photos are always so pretty. The screen on our camera is dying so we might have to trade up to a DSLR one of these days.