With the surging popularity of mobile photography in recent years, words like "selfie" have entered the vernacular and more and more people are joining social networking sites like Instagram, sharing their photos on Flickr, Facebook, and Tumblr, and the lines between where it's appropriate to take photos and where it is not are constantly getting blurred, if not completely erased. One field where photography is definitely on the uptick is the realm of food photography. Once the domain of professionals and dominated by advertisers, food photography is quickly becoming something of an everyman art form. So, to help you unleash your inner food photographer, we have a few food photography tips for you on lighting, composition and more!
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1) Lighting is critical
Keep some cheap, small bouncers, diffusers, and shaders with you for food photography -- especially if you're relying on your mobile as your camera of choice. You can make a light bouncer using tin foil stretched over cardboard, diffusers can be made out of dryer sheets, and shaders can be made out of anything that can block light.
2) Vary the angle
Don't take all of your photos from the same angle be it overhead, flat on, cock-eyed, tilted, twisted, or whatever. Mix it up and adjust the lighting accordingly! You don't always need to include every bit of the dish in your shot. Consider focusing on a particular portion of it or even just the edge of the plate.
3) Make use of additional materials
Use raw ingredients to thicken any stews, sauces, or soups and give them a textured appearance. Use oil to add a glisten to salads, vegetables, fruits, or other raw foods. Feel free to turn the plates or reposition the dishes but don't touch the food on the plate unless you're also the cook (or you're a customer and doing this on your own meal). If you're photographing food as a pro photographer, let the professional cook arrange the food on the plate -- it's his artistry you're trying to capture, after all!
4) Adjust the depth of field as needed
Don't be afraid to set the depth of focus a little shallower than normal, especially if you're zooming in to focus on a well-bracketed subject. However, don't go too shallow and remember that you will lose focus on details in the background by doing this.
5) Know how the photo will be used
If you have a good idea how the photo is going to be used in the end, composing it will be much easier. If you know you're shooting for the cover of a cookbook, it's easier to compose for that. However, if you're uncertain, it's better to take a wide variety of shots from different angles and styles in order to present yourself and your client with the best choices you can. If you're shooting on your phone for your social streams, then just keep in mind that you're doing this to have fun and that you may want to take the other diners' feelings into consideration.
Food photography is fun and a field that many people are engaging in these days. Keep these tips in mind, and your friends' jaws will drop every time you post your food photos online. :)