It was love at first sight. You'd just tasted the most delicious, perfect morsel of food. It ticked all your boxes and had all your senses engaged - mouthwatering good looks, it smelt amazing, had flavours that were out of this world and I'm not sure about sound, but all you could hear was a harp playing because this dish must be heaven sent... (helloooo cheesy pickup line). It's 2016, so the only way to treasure the moment and scream your love from the rooftops was to photograph it with your phone, open Instagram, filter it with Valencia, or Mayfair, actually X-Pro II, add #omg #foodie #foodporn #foodstagram, and share it on all of your linked social accounts.. On waking the next morning you're feeling a little uneasy, there's not a single like, not a comment in sight. Looking back at your post, the dark and shadowy image of a grainy mound of food has a closer resemblance to that awful meal you ate at a sleepover once (I'm visualising meatloaf with brown broccoli and powdered gravy) than the plate of bliss you ate last night!
I'm definitely not an expert, but you're probably already aware that I love capturing my own culinary creations. Trust me when I say I don't do this to show off. I do it because I want to inspire people and share my love of beautiful food and produce with people in all it's honesty (it also makes me very, very happy on the inside). I recently created, styled and photographed 3 desserts in my own home for Rachel’s Gourmet Yoghurt, the pressure was on as I wasn’t doing it for myself, but for another brand. Each dish had to be unique in it’s own way and look as decadent as the flavour of the product I was cooking with. These images were pretty popular and after being asked a fair few times about my Instagram photos - I thought I'd dedicate this month's blog post to DIY food photography by giving you 3 quick tips for taking a photo that's less meatloaf and more magnifique.
TIP 1 - LIGHTING
THEY SAY LIGHTS FIRST, THEN CAMERA, ACTION FOR A REASON!
Ask any photographer and they will tell you lighting is everything! Unlike a bad selfie, monochromatic photos and food don’t compliment each other. Even if you own a super galactic smart phone, use a ‘professional’ editing app and have all the filters in the world your photo isn’t going to be great if it’s taken in poor lighting.
The best thing to do is find a good spot. Test out areas in your home that work best. If you’re out and about, start by looking for the best spot on the table and reposition yourself and your plate. Also, avoid shadows! Bad lighting and too many objects around the food (including the rectangle shape of your phone being projected downwards), won't do your plate of food any justice.
TIP 2 - GET A GOOD ANGLE
#SELFIESTICK #DUCKFACE #SKINNYTEAPOTARM #SHOULDERSBACK
Whether it’s the iconic shot of Marilyn Monroe with her breeze-caught dress, or Zoolander’s bluesteel, there’s certain poses that suit certain personalities and food’s no different.
There’s so many options when it comes to deciding on the best approach - overhead, flat lay, close up, all the angles - it’s really about finding what works for the food itself. An overhead shot of a pancake stack or a beautiful layer cake will never do it any justice because you’re missing out on all the good bits! When I get stuck, I think about what angle you would naturally be in to admire the food to appreciate it!
TIP 3 - DON'T TRY TOO HARD, DON’T OVER THINK IT
EVER TAKEN 30 PHOTOS AND THE FIRST ONE WAS THE BEST?
They say we eat with our eyes and there’s certainly a lot to feast on these days with photos of food being everywhere we look, but one of the most beautiful things for me when I’m admiring food photography is realism. The more you mess with it, the less realistic and dishonest the food becomes. The first thing I think of is TV commercials and advertising campaigns that glorify certain fast food restaurants. Everyone wonders why their burger doesn't look like the image from the drive-through menu they selected it from. It’s fast food, it’s been thrown together in a matter of minutes by a number of people, wrapped in plastic, shoved into a paper bag and hurled through a window into your car (maybe we'd sort a few International health issues by simply employing photographers to capture the honesty and ugliness?).
If you’re plating and capturing your own home cooked food, stick to your own way of doing it. Cleaning the sauce that’s been dropped all over the side of the plate is fine, but stay true to yourself! Try a flat lay of your family table or even take a shot of the roast still in the baking dish as you’ve taken it out of the oven! It’s meant to be an enjoyable moment! Which leads me to my biggest tip:
If the food is the priority, then sit back and enjoy it.
You’re not always going to be able to capture a perfect shot, or be able to show how delicious and amazing your experience was
logout of the social media mindset and check in to reality. I’m sure your friends will 'like' hearing about your experience even more so than seeing your grainy image that took you 10 minutes of fumbling and fiddling to get.
I hope my pointers have inspired you in some way and will help you on your future food-related endeavours. All comments welcome and feel free to leave me some love by clicking the heart at the bottom.
Until next time,