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Food Photography: A Matter Of Perspective
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Food Photography: A Matter Of Perspective

Some precious tips for food photography in the third episode of FDL's series on how to take better mobile food pictures: a look at the best way of shooting dish

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Here are some tips for food photography. Now that we’ve discussed the prevalence of mobile food photography and the best lighting, it’s time to start talking about tips. No matter the mobile tool, don't be afraid to play with your food a little, before photographing it. Don't do this at any of the 50 Best Restaurants; I don't want to receive your dry-cleaning bill when some of the best chefs in the world throw your meal in your lap because you tried to rearrange his plated creation. However, that meal you slaved to cook or the cookies your best friend baked just for you, that you really want to share on Instagram - sometimes, a little creative construction can make even the best looking food that much more photogenic.

If you’re on an iPhone user, remember that you can use your finger to tap on the screen and direct the camera where to focus and expose. This is particularly important with capturing food as an entire scene completely in focus does not generally make for a beautiful food photograph.

Ever wonder how soup with a garnish looks so incredible in cookbooks and online? Use a little trick that professionals have known forever: put a bowl in it! A smaller bowl, turned upside down and set in the soup will allow a garnish to sit close to the surface and give the appearance of perfectly floating, while hiding your prop and making your soup look effortlessly beautiful.

Think about perspective. Don’t just ‘point and shoot.’ Get low and shoot up, or shoot your food from above. With both tricks you offer a different perspective and you stand the chance of seeing your food in a more beautiful light.

It’s unfortunate, but meat can look like something very unappealing - approach this one with care! It’s likely you will know just by looking at your dish whether you should be photographing it, or eating it. Don’t assume everything needs to be captured. A good steak, in particular, is often better eaten than immortalized.

The more colorful the meal, the better it photographs! Brown and gray are bad; green, red, and yellow are good. Yes, it’s that simple. Don’t ignore texture. Sometimes getting up close to a dish to photograph the details can really make for a mouth-watering final image.

Look beyond just the finished dish - and particularly if you’re a traveler - seek to capture the process of eating beginning with where food is grown, continuing to where it is sold and ending when it is finally plated. Consider even photographing food as it comes out of the kitchen at a restaurant, capturing important condiments or elements of a finished meal. Capture the details of a meal beyond just the dish you eat; whether it’s silverware, place setting, menu, location name or just an entire dish instead of a close-up – don’t shy away from experimenting with composition. And think beyond food to also include immortalizing the drinks that you consume. Sometimes they’re the best part of a dining experience or an evening with friends.

Don’t skip dessert! Just like you wouldn’t fail to save room for it, don’t avoid photographing it. Sometimes desserts are the easiest culinary delights to shoot.

Jodi Ettenberg, author of the upcoming Food Traveler’s Handbook, says “…spend time pouring through the food photography that really resonates with you and dissect why it is that you feel strongly... Be it the angles or light sources or colours, it's very helpful to have pre-set ways to think about food on camera that you know you love. That way, if you're sitting down to photograph a meal, you can quickly roll through those scenarios in your head and compose a scene that works.” If food photography is important to you, treat it like anything that is – do your research. And then emulate what you admire.

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