Food Photography Tips And Tricks – In the past two and a half years, I’ve taken over 25,000 photos of food. It’s a bit incomprehensible. I’ve put together some of the things I learned along the way and some of the things I wish I had known when I started. There are also tips from other food photographers and bloggers.
The tips are organized by food photography basics, food photography for Instagram and social media, best food photography gear, lighting, restaurant photography, inspiration, composition, editing, commercial food photography tips, collaboration and how to stay healthy as a food photographer. .
Food Photography Tips And Tricks
1. Use a low aperture to isolate an element when you want to highlight a specific element. Learn more about aperture, shutter speed and ISO here.
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2. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, always shoot in RAW. This will give you the most flexibility when editing later.
4. If you have a hand model, make sure your hands are clean and moisturized. Photoshopping dirty fingernails is a pain, but they’re very noticeable and don’t put food pics.
5. Incorporate actions if they make sense, like creaming your coffee or rolling spaghetti, but don’t force it if it’s out of context. I’ve experienced most of the reviews in response to using weird utensils. People are very concerned about how knives are held and used.
6. Make friends along the way. If you’re working on a shoot with a stylist, publicist, or chef, stay in touch and keep an open mind to collaborative opportunities. I recently needed a cocktail stylist for a commercial shoot and ended up recommending a bartender I worked with in my previous job with a restaurant group. It often takes months or years from when I meet someone to when I work with them again, but it’s surprising how often you end up working with a set of professionals.
Tasty Food Photography
7. To shoot a tablescape, use a wider aperture to ensure everything is in focus. For commercial and large-scale photos, you can log in and use Lightroom or Capture One to check your photos as you work.
8. Format your SD and Compact flash cards frequently, this will help them not to develop strange problems along the way and make them last longer.
9. Authenticity is not a social media strategy. There are people killing it by focusing on all sorts of things. Symmetrybreakfast has all the images perfectly symmetrical, while Higuccini has a mixture of compositions. Bromabakery has mostly clear and bright images, while the stems and forks darken. Realandvibrant posts all healthy meals while cheatdayeats posts cheese and desserts all the time.
10. Consistency on Instagram works better than anything else, with a few exceptions. When I was working as a Digital Media Manager for a restaurant group, I increased my social media following by 100% for 8 restaurants in 6 months. 3 of the restaurant accounts were in the top 10 most popular restaurant accounts in Chicago (I was a data junkie so I tracked the top 100 restaurants in town). Once I strategized for each account, I basically did the same thing over and over each week (a mix of food, story, and team resources most of the time).
Not So Obvious Food Photography For Restaurants Tips
12. From Erin of 312Food – For me, sharing food on social media is all about empathy – you want to make a connection to that specific dish, so the viewer MUST just pick it up or share it.
Your food should look like a no-no to eat it – that means bottle caps, straws in drinks, removed from any packaging, etc. You want someone to imagine themselves in that moment. It must look REAL.
To that end, I’ve also found that some food photos can be “too” good to perform well on social media. If it looks too staged/inorganic, it doesn’t create the same empathy – even if it’s a great shot! – and people don’t react because it’s so far removed from the way they experience the world.
13. If you’re going to a restaurant on some sort of social media message exchange, clarify logistical details ahead of time via email. Personally, that’s usually not my thing, so I rarely do these things, but it’s better to clarify ahead of time than suddenly feeling stuck for something you didn’t know.
Food Photography Ebook
14. PLEASE please don’t post bad food for the likes. If you don’t like it, don’t promote it!
15. From Chicago food photographer Nick Murway – I mean, it’s not deep at all, but try not to look for number validation and try to do something different. We all know the handful of places, foods or drinks, and how they all photograph them the same way. It’s a lot more fun to try and do something a little different, to share your voice, isn’t it?
16. Consistency isn’t just about posting one type of thing or using the same aesthetic, it’s about having an overall stance or perspective on what you post. It is too hard. I try to work mainly as a photographer, but thanks to my Instagram, which isn’t that big, I’m often offered partnerships and sponsored posts. It’s hard to say no.
17. Match your equipment to the scope and budget of each project. For a quick photo shoot at the restaurant, I take my camera, a reflector, maybe a light and a tripod. For large commercial shots, I will bring multiple camera bodies, multiple lenses, lights, and tripods.
Essential Food Photography Tips For Lighting & Props
18. For large photos, tripods are a lifesaver, especially if you’re doing a lot of tabletop photos of food. Your back will thank you.
19. Get a tripod with a 90 degree arm or grab a side arm for top-down videos and photos.
20. From Chicago food photographer Nick Murway – Don’t dwell on it. I remember one time when I was super depressed, I hardly shot anything, I didn’t like anything I did. I was sitting at my computer wishing I had this equipment or this studio or whatever. So I thought to myself, “what if I did?” What if all this equipment was right next to me? What would be different? Now I really see my equipment as tools. I want it to be simple, to work, and to help me achieve what I’m trying to do. And that. Also, I’d rather buy plane tickets to shoot somewhere with the newest lenses or lights or whatever.
21. Don’t forget that you can rent props and camera gear. For hardware, I tend to use BorrowLenses or Dodd if I need something in Chicago and fast.
Tasty Food Photography Ebook
22. From Los Angeles food photographer Jakob Layman – One of the best pieces of equipment I own is only $10 and fits in my back pocket. I always make sure to have a collapsible 12 inch reflector with me when shooting in a restaurant. It’s truly versatile, whether you’re bouncing light from the window to fill in shadows or blocking incandescent/bloom light from the dining room.
23. Antique stores and thrift stores have great food accessories that tend to be affordable. I also have a completely unhealthy love for Food52 items and have my eye on oyster leaves, ceramic griddles and vintage cutlery. These aren’t the cheapest food photo props out there, but don’t judge if they’ll show up in any of my photos in the near future.
24. I have booked the Woodville workshop for about 2 years now. I don’t need background food props, but if so, I’ll buy them for Woodville. (UPDATE: I have one and it’s awesome!).
25. If you shoot for Instagram, the best camera for food photography is the one that goes with you. The iPhone has a perfectly good camera for quick little things. For editorial and commercial photography work, I use my Canon 5d mk IV.
Restaurant Food Photography Tips And Trick For Managers
26. The best lens for food photography doesn’t exist. I use a Canon 24-70, but I’ve also been using a 35 prime for years. These days I’m also considering getting a 100mm macro lens. Shoot with what you have. Research what you want and over time you will slowly accumulate gear.
27. There is a time and a place for a wide angle lens. It drives me crazy when I hear photographers make statements like “never shoot food with a lens larger than 35mm”. It’s a creative field. There are no hard and fast rules. Everything is worth trying.
28. A sieve is a good thing to have! They are useful in different ways. I often use them for sifting flour for photos, but also for making tea and getting things out of boiling water with mine.
29. Always keep a full backup battery and extra SD cards or Compact Flash cards. Never. I’ve had almost every equipment failure possible (like the time my lens shook in Hawaii) and almost everything can be bypassed except one.
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