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How to photograph food

After completing your Nigella or Jamie Oliver influenced food masterpiece, you might next want to share it with the world. There are various reasons that people photograph food, from the professional restaurant looking to showcase their dishes, to the everyday photo blogger uploading their dinner to Instagram.

Good food photography is an art form in itself – the professionals use a wide range of advanced techniques. Take a gander at any recipe site or Facebook and you will no doubt find some fantastic images of quality food. However you don’t need to be so technical to achieve a great representation of what you have just cooked.

Posted on: Fri 31 Aug, 2012 by Gary Dean

Lighting your creation

As with all types of photography, you will need to shoot in good light if you want to achieve that great photo of your food.

Natural light will almost always show your food in the best possible way – in particular any concoction that features glazing, such as fruit, with always look more delectable under natural illumination.

Photographing food next to a window if indoors is the best course of action.


Framing and angles

You will need to think a little about the framing of your dish and the angle you shoot from.

Framing your food in the middle of the shot may not always be the right thing, so try experimenting with different positions. Cakes, for example, always look more interesting when slightly offset. Shooting from a different angle other than straight on could also give a more attention-grabbing picture, as would a close up.

If you have just baked a dish that still has the juices flowing or steam rising you may want to try and capture this. This is a skill in itself but if you practice then you should be able to achieve some good results. With this type of shot, timing is everything. You need to shoot as soon as the dish is taken from the oven. Have your tools and scene set up beforehand so all you need to do is click the button.


Backgrounds

Consider what type of background you might use to bring out the best of your food in the photograph. Whatever you choose has to be sympathetic towards the dish you are shooting and not distract by being too busy or cluttered.

If photographing a cake, a simple patterned tablecloth may be the best way to achieve a great shot. Think about a garnish that offers a contrasting colour scheme to the main subject too – although not so much as to draw attention away from your cooking.


Keeping it steady

Where possible use a steady surface to shoot from. This way, you avoid camera shake that will result in a poor quality image.

If you have no option but hold your camera then keep your arms tucked into your sides to steady the shot.


Flash it

If you are going to use a flash then be aware that it will flatten off your photograph. That’s the feel you are aiming for? Great! But if it’s not then it might be worth turning the flash off.

Be aware that a flash illuminates only the front facing part of the subject. Again, this could be a nice photograph, depending on what your end goal is.

As always, experimentation is the way to go with most photography – trying different approaches will give varied results but some may be keepers.

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