Photographing Food: Part 1 of 3

Super Photo Magic School

With all the beautiful summer produce and picnics occurring, I thought it's high time to run a series on photographing food. Food makes the best subject, especially for beginners. Why? It doesn't move, it doesn't talk back or give you attitude, it arrives on time and when you are done making art out of it, you can feast! Over the next few weeks, I'm going address a few tips on shooting food. Let's dig in!

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1) Start with a natural light source. Things get exponentially easier when you set a scene on a table with a large window at one side or just picking up your scene and shooting outdoors. When I first began photographing food, it was at dinner time (naturally!) and I was taking pictures with the overhead light on in the kitchen, at night. I later realized if I just shifted my cooking/shooting schedule around to mid morning/day, my results were instantly improved! Give it a shot.

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2) Use props you love. Got a tea towel inherited from your Grandma? A collection of spoons from a few years of collecting? Or a handmade bowl purchased in a far away land? The props can help tell the story of the food; they are the supporting cast that define the feel and atmosphere. Choose wisely and edit if the scene looks too busy. Starting with some beloved items will enable you to love your first foray into food photography and you'll smile as you work, always a good thing.

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3) Shoot from Multiple Angles. When I'm photographing food, I think of 3 angles; from straight above (overhead), 3/4 tall (the "classic" food angle) and flush/straight on with the food (very close up usually). I start with my secure "money" 3 angles then I start to think about pushing and getting more creative. In the end I say to myself, "How would I never shoot this scene?" And whatever comes to mind, I attempt that look. I'm surprised the seemingly random, imperfect images are often times my favorite — they can look the most real and unpretentious.

How about you, do you have any favorite techniques while photographing food?

xoxo, Leela the Photo Magician

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)