Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Improve Your Food Photography Techniques

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Food photography is arguably one of the most challenging types of photography out there. Like painting, you start with a blank canvas and build. Layer upon layer, you construct the photo until you reach the perfect balance between reality and art.

Everything in the photo is a decision. Every piece is perfectly placed by the photographer.

Starting out is frustrating, I know. You’re the chef, stylist, and the photographer. Once you reach technical proficiency with the camera, what’s next? I have been, and in a lot of ways still am, in that position. So, how do you improve your food photography beyond the basics? You work on the story. Food photography Miami Hialeah

#1 – CHOOSE YOUR ANGLE Food photography Miami Hialeah

There are really only a few camera angles in food photography that you see again and again, but you need to make the one you choose, a conscious decision. Where you place the camera will affect the type of story you’re trying to tell.

Think of the food beforehand. Its size, shape, height and what is unique about it. Then place the camera where you think best highlights these qualities. Some dishes look great when you shoot from right in front of the food, and others are best suited when you are looking down from directly above the table. Take a look at the cupcakes below; their spiraled and delicate toppings really stand out when shot from in front, yet the viewer doesn’t even see the size or shape when photographed from above. Food photography Miami Hialeah

On the other hand, it’s difficult to see all the ingredients and beautiful shape of these salmon tacos when shot from the front, so the shot from above was definitely the way to tell this story. Food photography Miami Hialeah

#2 – SURROUND YOUR HERO

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

When shooting from the front of the food try to keep a great foreground and background to play with.

Food photography Miami Hialeah

 Use these empty spaces to tell more of a story. Surround your main dish with ingredients and props that relate to the food. Ingredients, sauces, oils, and cooking utensils could indicate how the dish was made.

Tins, jars, herbs, glasses, fabrics, and linens could speak about the origin of the dish or the season in which it is served. Placing a few of these in the foreground and background will definitely elevate your story and give it depth.

#3 – NATURAL IS BEST MODIFIED

Light is king and acquiring a few tools to help you control it will bring your food photography up to the next level.

Food photography Miami Hialeah

Poor use of light will ruin your story and immediately turn off your audience. Food photography Miami Hialeah

So making sure light doesn’t distract will help out your food photos big time.

Placing a diffuser between the window and your table is first on the list. When working with direct sunlight, a diffusor (or even a thin white bed sheet) will greatly improve the quality of light. Softening those hard, dark shadows and bright highlights caused by direct sunlight. Food photography Miami Hialeah

Next up are white and black cards. Food photography Miami Hialeah

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

 You can make these yourself using foam core boards, bought at any craft store. Size them to fit your needs, using white cards to bounce light into shadow areas, revealing important details, or black cards to make shadows stronger for more contrast. Food photography Miami Hialeah

Here is a little secret, when working with natural light. I call it, blocking (sometimes also called “gobos”). Sometimes that pesky natural light will fall on your background or props, causing them to be as bright or even brighter than your subject. Food photography Miami Hialeah

Since the viewer will always look at the brightest spot in your photo first, if it’s not your subject, it can harm your story. You can use your black cards to block light from hitting areas that will compete with your subject. This is also a very important technique for creating darker, low-key styled images.

#4 – OUR OLD FRIENDS LINES AND LAYERS Food photography Miami Hialeah

 

With all these props and ingredients in the frame, how will we ever get the audience to look at our subject? Well, bring on the trusty techniques of composing with lines and layers.

You can use props or ingredients to create lines and layered effects in your images. This is a compositional technique used by photographers to lead their audience’s eyes to the main subject. Food photography Miami Hialeah

You can use various props to create lines. Like this spoon, which forms a nice line, directing the viewer straight to the bowl of baked peaches and ice cream.

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Since shooting from above always gets you more graphic images, there are plenty of chances to create some great lines here as well. Some could be quite literal like this cutlery leading to the round of Brie – or more abstract, like how the knife and pomegranate seeds create lines, framing our subject. Food photography Miami Hialeah

Good lighting is key to emphasizing the textures and color balance of your food photograph. Choosing the right lighting for your food involves thinking about what parts of the food you’d want to emphasize. Maybe you want to showcase the juiciness of a freshly cooked cut of beef—or show-off the unique texture of a perfectly sliced piece of cheese. Food photography Miami Hialeah

Here are some things to keep in mind to get the best lighting for your photograph: Food photography Miami Hialeah

  1. Light from the side: Lighting from the side of your food is a great way to bring out the shadows and bright spots of certain food textures—such as bread, meat, and cheese. This is especially important when photographing food that balances a lot of textures, like sandwiches and burgers.
  2. Watch for harsh shadows: You want to bring out the textures of your food, but harsh shadows can be off-putting and unappetizing. If you notice a lot of harsh shadows in-frame, try to adjust the angle of either your light or camera to balance out the shading in the frame and bring out the texture in the food. Food photography Miami Hialeah

    Food Photography Miami Hialeah

    Food Photography Miami Hialeah

  3. Use soft, diffused light: Harsh shadows can also be prevented by using softer lighting. If you’re taking a picture under natural light—it’s best to do this by a window on an overcast day. If you’re taking pictures in-studio—try using a reflective surface to bounce and diffuse natural or artificial light onto your subject. Food photography Miami Hialeah
  4. Avoid lighting from the front: Lighting from the front has a tendency to create harsh bright spots in your photograph, meaning that textured foods won’t be contrasted to in a way that emphasizes the texture in the photographic. This can make your food appear bland and tasteless. Food photography Miami Hialeah

The composition of Food Photography Food photography Miami Hialeah

Your food is plated, your lights are hot—the next thing to think about is the way that you want to frame your food image. There’s no right or wrong way to frame a food picture—but here are a couple of guidelines on the aspects of photography that you want to keep in mind when trying to get a shot that best emphasizes the strengths of your food. Food photography Miami Hialeah

The food is plated beautifully and there’s some interesting balance to the composition. Everything appears well lit and the image is a great start to a perfect food photograph, but let’s touch it up a bit to really bring out the flavor of the photograph.

Here are some editing steps we took on this photograph that you’ll want to do on your own photograph:

  1. Sharpen the Image: Generally speaking, your image should be fairly sharp assuming you’ve used a steady camera and clear lighting. However, some adjustments to the sharpness of the image will give the edges more definition and help to differentiate aspects of the image.

In Photoshop and other photo-editing platforms, you can sharpen an image by applying what’s called an Unsharp Mask. Unsharp Mask filters increase the contrast between adjacent pixels, giving the edges of your image a more defined look.

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Food Photography Miami Hialeah

Radius: This controls how many pixels adjacent to high-contrast edges will be affected by the filter. If your photo contains fewer, larger objects you can adjust this to a higher radius of about 2. For images with more intricate elements and sharper lines, you’ll want to use a lower radius between 0.05 and 1. For our image above, we’ve used a radius of 0.7 because there are a lot of sharp lines on the dishes.

Amount: This option controls the amount of contrast that will be applied to the edges of the image. Usually, with food pictures, it’s best to keep this minimal. A high amount of sharpening can give a more “gritty” feel to your photographs, and while this may work for some types of photography, gritty food can appear unappetizing.

Threshold: This adjusts how much of the image is affected by the filter. A value of 0 will apply the filter to the entire image. As you adjust the threshold, high-contrast areas of the photograph will be sharpened while low-contrast areas will not be.

In the above example, we’ve kept the threshold at 0 because the abundance of lines in it benefits from a lower threshold, but feel free to adjust this a little higher if your food photograph contains larger objects and fewer lines.

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