10 Steps to Improve Your Food Photography

 10 Steps to Improve Your Food Photography | http://photorec.tvFood photography is all the rage these days, with thousands of Instagram users posting their drool-worthy kitchen creations and restaurant meals everyday. It's easy to assume these photographers are using high-end equipment or are blessed with amazing natural light in their kitchens. While a DSLR camera and gorgeous lighting will help you take better photos, there is a lot more that goes into making stellar food images. The following steps will get you on your way to improving your food photography.

Baked Potato Soup with Colby-Jack Cheese and Bacon | http://photorec.tvFind the best natural light in your house 

The best lighting in the house often isn't in the kitchen. When you do have beautiful light in the kitchen, you may need to move your food away from the stove or counters and over to the window to create crisp, bright images. When you don't have beautiful light in the kitchen, set up your food shoots in a different area of your home that lends itself better to photography.

Buttery Crescent Dinner Rolls | http://photorec.tvAlternatively, use artificial lighting 

When you're struggling to shoot in the available natural light in your house or don't want the daylight hours to restrict your shooting, consider an artificial lighting setup. When executed properly, artificial lighting produces consistent, bright shots. Typically, I use two desk lamps with daylight bulbs and two DIY Lowel EGO lights for my artificial lighting setup.

Coffee Nut M&Ms | http://photorec.tvMinimize clutter in your shooting space 

Getting rid of unnecessary items and other distractions in your food photography is critical for creating clean, focused images that allow the food to shine. When you begin a food photography session, clear your shooting surface of miscellaneous cooking gear and other household items. If you aren't shooting against a neutral background, such as a white wall, create your own backdrop with a wood board, patterned paper, or even poster board.

Cannellini Bean Hummus | http://photorec.tvAdd a garnish or other finishing touch to your dish 

A garnish or other finishing touch will take any food photography shoot up a notch, boosting your results from casual, amateur shots to polished, professional images. For example, if you're photographing hummus, add a drizzle of olive oil and maybe a few sprigs of parsley. If you're photographing a bowl of soup, top it with a sprinkling of cheese.

Buttery Crescent Dinner Rolls | http://photorec.tvStyle your food with nice dishes and a couple of props 

Choosing dishes and other props specifically for your recipe makes your images more intentional, creating a more powerful visual story. Start with items you already own. Taking the time to style a sandwich on a plate with a napkin and glass of water makes the whole meal together. If you want to expand your prop collection, scout thrift stores and rummage or estate sales for interesting pieces on the cheap. Etsy and eBay are also great options for affordable, unique, vintage items.

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts | http://photorec.tvClean up any drops and splatters 

You'll complete the polished, professional aesthetic for your images by taking an extra few seconds to wipe up any drips on the plate or pan. If the pot is really dirty or the bowl has more splatters than you can easily wipe up with a single paper towel, plate your food with clean dishes.

Convey interaction with the food 

Set up a tripod or enlist a family member or friend to help you with your food photography shoot, so you can create a few interactive shots. Pouring the dressing over the salad or getting ready to lift the soup spoon up to your mouth further adds to the narrative. It will take some trial and error to perfect these shots, but it's well worth the effort.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps | http://photorec.tvExperiment with different angles 

When you're preparing for a food photography shoot, allow time to take ample shots, photographing the dish from at least three or four different angles. You may be really happy with your initial idea for the shoot, but it may take a little while to nail the best angle for a particular dish. To get the classic overhead shot you see so frequently on Instagram these days, grab a chair or stepstool, so you can get above your food (safely!).

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies | http://photorec.tvConsider “in progress” shots for recipes and other food-related blog posts 

In progress shots, such as the cookie dough mixed in the bowl or the meat cooking on the stove, further add to the story you're telling. As you're preparing for your food photography shoot, jot down a short list of ideas, so you won't forget to take a few in progress shots as you make your dish. Sneak peek or behind the scene shots also make great teaser content on social media. If you’re planning to publish a new recipe later in the week, publish a shot of your ingredient spread in the kitchen or the empty cookie mixing bowl a few days before the recipe goes live.

Cannellini Bean Hummus | http://photorec.tvShoot with a prime lens 

Many food photographers shoot extensively, or even exclusively, with prime lenses. While you may want a zoom lens to capture a few wide angle shots of your spread, most likely you'll want to shoot the majority of your images with a 50mm, 85mm, or even 100mm lens. Getting up close with your food brings people right into your kitchen, which is key for making food enticing when someone can't actually be there smelling and tasting it. Personally, I shoot most of my food photography with a 50mm lens, using a 100mm lens selectively for a few really tight images, such as the hummus image above.

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies | http://photorec.tvPick up a diffuser or reflector to minimize shadows

Harsh shadows often leave sections of an image underexposed. For certain types of photography, you may want to create this sort of aesthetic. However, for most food photography, harsh shadows are less than desirable. A diffuser or reflector is a simple, affordable way to minimize the shadows in your food shoot. The easiest, cheapest way to create an effective reflector is to fold a piece of white foam board in half. 

Adjust your aperture manually to ensure proper depth of field and focus

Ideally, you want to shoot in manual mode, so you have full control over the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for your food images. If manual mode is too overwhelming right now (and that's okay!) or you prefer to work with your camera's priority mode, choose aperture priority mode. Take care to shoot with an aperture wide enough to keep the image in proper focus. A few images with a narrow focus to highlight certain aspects of the dish will add to your story. But you don't want all of your shots to have a narrow focus. It's rare I shoot wider than 3.2 for food photography. The 9/21 Photorec.tv Instagram challenge is food. Submit your best food photography images by tagging them #PRTV_food2 and #PRTV. The challenge closes at noon EDT on 9/27. Limit two entries. Recent photos only. Check out the full list of PRTV challenges to participate in future challenges. 

Do you have any tips to improve your food photography? 

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Making the Transition from Auto Mode to Manual Mode

Transitioning From Auto Mode to Manual Mode | http://photorec.tvMaking the transition from auto mode to manual mode is a tough process for most amateur photographers. You're familiar with the terms ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. But you don't really understand any of these terms, let alone how they work together. Typically, beginner photographers leave their cameras in auto mode because they think their cameras will select better settings than they will. However, as soon as you start learning the camera settings, you'll start making better selections, consequently, creating higher quality images. The process of making the transition from auto mode to manual mode isn't easy. But it's well worth the effort.Shooting in manual mode is a lot like riding a bicycle or learning to drive a stick shift. Even with great teaching, at some point, you just have to jump in and attempt it on your own, knowing you'll make a lot of mistakes. I've spent years shooting in manual made. While I do feel comfortable with it, I still make plenty of mistakes. Until I started keeping my camera in manual mode the majority of the time I was shooting, I didn't fully appreciate how much power and freedom it would offer. I promise that when you give it a try, you'll quickly experience this same power and freedom, and you won't want to go back.In making the transition from auto mode to manual mode, I cover the following tips.

  • Learn everything that you can about manual camera settings
  • Start paying attention to your settings while shooting in auto mode
  • Start using your auto settings as a guide for shooting in manual mode
  • Attempt shots that require you to use a manual mode
  • Shoot in manual mode in controlled light settings
  • Seek out opportunities to practice manual mode on your own or with fellow photographers

Read the full post over on roseclearfield.com: Making the Transition from Auto Mode to Manual Mode

Do you have any additional tips for making the transition from auto mode to manual mode?

Leave your insight in the comments!