Food photography is one of the most popular photography styles because (most people) love to look at delicious meals almost as much as they enjoy eating them!
Whether you like to take photos of dishes on your travels or shoot in local restaurants, read on for five tips for improving your food photography from the best food photographer in Dubai.
1. Understand how to adjust artificial light
The most important aspect of photography is lighting.
No matter what kind of photograph you are taking, the lighting you use will have a significant impact on the resulting image as it determines the brightness and atmosphere. This is especially true for food photography, as you want to ensure you capture the full vibrancy and texture of the dish.
Whenever possible, you want to take your food photographs in natural light as this produces a beautiful quality image. However, in many cases, that won’t be possible as restaurants are frequently dark, and shooting throughout the day means changing light.
If you only know how to work in natural light, this can be an issue because you can’t always wait until the light is perfect to take a picture.
Therefore, you will want to use an artificial light source to ensure you can always get the shot you want. It takes some time to understand this kind of lighting setup and will require some trial and error; however, with practice, you’ll find that you can reproduce the beauty of natural light by using an artificial light source.
2. Utilize a tripod and remote trigger
To be considered high-quality, your food photographs can’t be grainy or blurry. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to achieve if you are holding your camera in your hands. Instead, it is highly recommended that you use a tripod to take razor-sharp photos.
Working with a tripod provides you with greater control over your settings and makes it easier to shoot in low light conditions. Plus, when you have your camera in a fixed position, you can set up the frame exactly how you envision it before beginning to shoot.
Often food photographers work with a tripod and remote trigger. This allows you to set up your camera on a tripod, test the positioning for exposure and prop placement, and then make small adjustments as needed.
Using a remote trigger frees up your hands to manipulate the light or include them in the shot (for drizzling dressing or holding a glass).
3. Incorporate props
As you move forward with your food photography projects, you are going to quickly realize the importance of props for bringing a special touch to each photograph.
If you are taking photos of your own food, then one of the first props you want to purchase is a wooden cutting board, as it will work wonders when it comes to adding visual interest. Similarly, a marble slab also makes for a beautiful background and can lighten up photos that have dark colored food.
For bakers, parchment paper is a cheap option that adds texture and boosts photo composition. And, of course, beautiful bowls, plates, and utensils help to take your photographs to the next level.
If you are shooting food in a restaurant, you will want to confirm the shot list and necessary props with the owner before you begin. During these talks, always discuss the creative direction and aesthetic the restaurant desires, as this will dictate the prop style.
In many cases, the restaurant will want to use their own branded props, but it is still recommended that you bring along some basic items such as linen, dishes, and cutlery.
4. Learn post processing
Once you have taken photographs, your work isn’t done.
All professional photographers in Abu Dhabi (and across the world) use post-processing software to ensure their photographs look as good as possible. To reap the benefits of this software, make sure to shoot your photographs in raw mode, as this captures more data that can then be manipulated during post-processing.
Learning how to use this software creates significant potential for transforming your images. For example, you can adjust exposure, apply curves to contrast each tone range, fine-tune colors, sharpen the image, remove unwanted elements, lighten or darken specific areas, and apply gradients.
More advanced editing techniques include combining multiple photographs and creating layers that only affect specific areas of an image. In other words, there are unlimited amounts of edits you can make on your photographs, as long as you know what to do.
Two of the most popular options of photo-processing software are Adobe® Lightroom® and Photoshop®. As most photographers use one of these, you can find plenty of information online to start learning the skills you need.
5. Digest beautiful food imagery
Whether you are new to the world of food photography or have a successful career, you always want to prioritize learning. This is key to being an excellent photographer as it feeds your creativity and imagination, while also keeping you interested in your work.
For a food photographer, this may mean learning about global cuisines, experimenting with different vegetables, or exploring local farms in your area – anything that keeps you thinking and understanding.
Similarly, you also want to frequently digest beautiful food imagery produced by others.
By opening yourself up to other people’s work, you will continue to fuel your creativity and find inspiration in the different ways that people see the world.
You see, everything you consume seeps into your subconscious, which then affects the way your brain approaches your shoots.
When looking at other photographer’s work, please don’t fall into the comparison trap, but instead, think of it as part of your lifelong study. Be conscious of the images you consume and slow down to consider why the photographer shot it in that specific way and why (or why not) it attracts you.
Taking the time to reflect on other people’s photographs instead of just mindlessly consuming them on social media will help make it a beneficial learning experience rather than a counterproductive activity.
Are you a budding food photographer? What aspects are you finding the most challenging? Alternatively, if you have some experience, what tips and tricks helped you the most?
Let us know your thoughts and any relevant insights in the comments below!
American artist Shea Winter Roggio is a documentary and fine art photographer living in Dubai, UAE. Shea Winter Photography LLC provides documentary, editorial and commercial photography services, along with video, television and film production services, and retails photographic souvenirs such as fine art prints, canvas and frames.