We’ve all been fairly guilty of taking our phones out during dinner and trying to take that perfect food shot for the gram! However, from the unflattering camera flash in a dark restaurant to bad photos made worse with icky filters, good food photography is becoming more and more of an art. Moreover, photography tips have started to seem very redundant because of a plethora of issues. Like how food photography techniques can hardly be understood with a lack of practice. Or how professional food photography is becoming increasingly competitive.
Now, if you happen to go through my Instagram, you will notice that the photographs of all my desserts are stylized and shot systematically and in a very aesthetic manner. However, a lot of people tell me they don’t photograph their food because they don’t have a fancy camera. Especially for people who are just starting out and don’t really have any fancy equipment, to begin with, Food Photography can get really intimidating. Recently, I shared an article on Food Photography tips for beginners that I believe you must know in order to get a sense of Food Photography. Because of the love and enthusiasm, you guys showed to that post, I bring to you a Food Photography 2.0, where I elaborate on how to click some great food photos using just a simple device like a smartphone.
Keep these food photography tips handy and you’ll see your food photography getting better in no time!
Why I started focusing on Food Photography
When I started my journey as a baker-blogger at the age of 16, I, firstly was unaware that I would end up with such a huge family of beautiful people exactly like the person reading this blog. But, I knew I wanted to be different and experimental with my ways. With a concise knowledge of baking, I started thinking about ways in which I could elevate whatever I am baking. Trust me, even if your desserts look gorgeous, only good pictures with good props will do them justice. Thus, began my journey in Food Photography.
Although I now shoot with my Canon 700D and it allows me to achieve a lot of depth in my pictures, I started just fine with my iPad. If you are just starting out, don’t let the absence of particular equipment stop you from achieving what you wish for with your pictures. You do you!
Take out your smartphone and get at it!
Common Food Photography mistakes
- One of the most common mistakes that people make while shooting food is not ‘exposing’ the photo properly. When you take photos in a hurry, you don’t give your phone enough time to adjust the settings automatically. As a result, the image can be too bright or too dark.
- Using the phone’s flash for clicking food pictures is a big no-no when you’re aiming for a great shot as it ends up making your photos look artificial and unflattering. Flash photography is extremely tricky and in most cases, doesn’t really work well in making a good image.
- As they say, the composition is what tells the story behind a picture and it’s absolutely true! If your subject is not placed correctly or your background is too cluttered, all your effort will go to vain. Mastering the basic concept of composition is necessary to produce quality images consistently.
- I honestly believe that editing filters are both a boon and a bane in smartphone photography. Although they make editing so much easier, using them too much can make a photo look over-processed. Knowing how to edit your photos the perfect amount is extremely important to achieve a good image!
How to do Food Photography in the right manner
Just like any other type of photography, when it comes to phone photography, there are certain rules that you need to follow to make the most of the stunning textures, colors, and shapes:
Adjusting the light properly is the first step behind every food photography technique
I have always emphasized on the fact that light is the secret behind good food photography! Always prefer shooting in natural light because using artificial light sources like bulbs or flashes tend to spoil the mood and texture of the food you’re shooting. For those stunning and moody shots, try shooting next to your kitchen window, or the window of a restaurant. When you’re working with a smartphone camera, you don’t have the same control over things like shutter speed and aperture that you do in a DSLR or mirrorless camera, so to avoid grainy photos with high ISO’s, make sure your light is sufficient.
Ensuring that the exposure is right
In photography, ‘exposure’ is the amount of light which reaches your camera sensor. Exposure plays an important role in setting the mood of a picture. Smartphones today usually have an “exposure lock”, which can be used to lock in your shot at a certain exposure level or light level. To do this, tap on the screen of your phone and you will see an icon of sun appear. Move your finger up or down and you will see your exposure adjust accordingly. Moreover, if you’re shooting outside, most phones will have the feature of handling the exposure on their own. Just tap the screen two times to let your camera naturally focus.
The right angle matters
Shooting angles is one of the very important factors that need to be considered while composing your photograph! You must’ve heard about photography terms like flatlays and side angles, which are the most preferred angles in which food shots are taken. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the angles because what works with one dish may not work with another dish. So keep moving your dish and props around and make sure to leave room for creativity!
Style your food right
When taking pictures of food, you want the background to be neutral. The food is the star, and anything else in the image needs to support it and not detract from it. Before you start shooting, make sure that there is no mess around your subject. It’s easy to overlook splashes on the plate or unattractive crumbs in your shots. Simplify your scene to force your audience to focus on the food. It will make the shot look much more in-place.
The composition is key
It’s important to always try to have some negative space in the image. Negative space is the area in the image that is empty. Positive space is the area that is taken up by your subject.
Negative space ensures that the focus stays on the main subject. Having every part of your frame full of objects can give the viewer a claustrophobic feeling. As I always say, the composition of a photo should tell a story and that is precisely what makes a good photograph!
Following the “Rules”
One of the most frequently used Rules of Photography is the Rule of Thirds. Think of your scene as being divided into a 3×3 block grid by splitting it with two horizontal and two vertical lines. Place your focal points along those intersections and lines. The result will be more pleasing to the eyes of your audience. It may take a while to get used to lining up your shot in this way but will become second nature after a little bit of time using it.
Which editing apps to use
I personally am not a very big fan of using filters on my food pictures. For minimalistic editing, I go for apps like VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom. There are many other editing apps that you can use to edit your photos but these are three I’d most recommend. It’s very important that you’re aware of the exposure, contrast, shadows, etc. that your photo needs so that you don’t end up over editing your photos.
Practicing is the key to acing food photography
Food Photography is a skill that one cannot learn overnight. Keep these techniques in mind and practice them every single day! If you are not satisfied with your shot, shoot again with the intention that what you shoot today will be better than what you shot yesterday. And most importantly, don’t give up and don’t lose faith as nobody gets better at food photography overnight. It’s a skill that you learn over time and with practice, you’ll see yourself improving in no time!
These were some of my top food photography tips using a smartphone. I hope these tips help you improve your food photography and get better at it. I’m sure you’ll be able to get better pictures if you keep these simple photography tips in mind. You can also check out my article on (Food Styling tips for beginners) that will help you make your food visually appealing and instagrammable!