Never use direct flash
Use window light
Use a side light
Use vegetable oil
Never mix light sources
Avoid direct sun
Go for the details
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Food photography is a niche in the industry, but it ’s nevertheless a growing one. It is also anything but easy to create an attractive image of a dish, one that's suitable for advertising purposes. Here are nine essential things that will help you create amazing food photography that will make anyone’s mouth water.
Food might not always keep that appetizing look for as long as it takes you to get set up and start shooting, so you need to do your best and save time. The best way to do this is to know what you’re looking for before you actually start working. One tip you might want to remember is to have all the props set up before the plate gets there, so that when it finally does, it won’t take you that long to come up with the right composition.
As you probably know, one of the most effective ways to ruin a good photo is to use the built-in pop-up flash on your camera. Well, the same thing goes for any kind of direct flash. You’re not looking for a flat aspect, nor should you go for very strong shadows either.
Natural light is often one of the best solutions for food photography, depending on the mix of colors and textures. One of the most obvious, yet better sources of natural light are windows. Whenever possible, try to set everything up next to a North or South window, as these windows receive natural light for the better part of the day.
When you see steam rising from a dish it just kind of naturally looks appetizing because it tells you it’s been freshly cooked. It’s not always easy to simulate though. One tip coming from food stylists is to use soaked cotton balls that you heat with a microwave and put behind the plate, out of the frame.
A light source coming from the side will highlight texture. Use this technique when photographing special foods with a very graphic texture. You can use both natural and artificial light, although I would suggest a strobe with a modifier, such as a softbox or umbrella.
The human eye likes everything that’s shiny and colorful and one of the best ways to make food glisten is to use vegetable oil. You can either spray it or gently apply it with a soft brush. Such enhancements are normal and the list of tricks is fairly long, depending on what food you’re photographing.
Avoid using multiple types of light, such natural with incandescent. They each have different color temperatures and as a result of that, the frame will have different colors in different parts. You want a single type of light, even if you’re using multiple sources because you need a constant color temperature throughout the frame.
This is a lot like shooting with a direct flash. It might not make your photos look flat, but the shadows will be very harsh and unpleasant, and it’s not something you want to have n a photograph that ultimately has to sell a product or a service.
Some dishes look amazing when studied up close. Use a macro lens to cut out these details and make the chef’s work truly shine.
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