The hit TV series, MasterChef, has led many of us to call ourselves amateur foodies, whipping up beef wellingtons, handmade gnocchi with burnt butter sauce, delightful black forest cakes – even a croquembouche or two in our home kitchens. Of course, to show off your gourmet creations, you need some professional looking photographs to do them justice.
Food photography can be tricky and requires some careful preparation – in fact food stylists can spend days preparing for a single meal shoot or buy 200 heads of garlic to find three that are perfect for the shot. Here are some tips and tricks to get the tastiest and most tantalizing morsels in your food photographs:
- Play with angles – your natural inclining will be to look down on the food from a 45 degree angle as that's how your dinner plate arrives at your table. But different types of food have their own good and bad sides and not all food presents at its best when you're looking down at it. Get close up macro shots for detailed texture and experiment with angles and perspective.
- Style your shot – food styling is a laborious chore but you can take some good tips on board. Style your food to look its best by presenting it on white crockery against a relevant background. Consider pairing dishes with their ingredients or include interesting looking utensils and cutlery in your shots. Cut into your food to present beautiful cross sections and tasty looking morsels.
- Work quickly, but thoughtfully – food stylists recommend working quickly as food starts to wilt, dry out and go limp with the passage of time. However, take advantage of the fact that your subject matter will not walk away from the set. Spend time setting up your shot, moving around and changing positions to maximize your time.
- Experiment with equipment – digital cameras let you take plenty of shots and experiment with different settings. Digital SLRs like EOS cameras allow you to adjust the white balance as you go, which can brighten up the colors of your food and make dishes look more appetizing. Get up close with your zoom lens and with your feet.
- Cheat – if you're not going to be eating the food, you can try some nifty cheats and tricks from the pros. Use mash for ice cream that will not melt, glue for milk that will not make cereal soggy or motor oil on pancakes instead of syrup. Meanwhile, for the fresh out of the oven steam, microwave water soaked cotton balls and place them behind food.
When it comes to great looking food photos – practice makes perfect. You can take photos of beautifully decorated meals at your favorite restaurant or cafe. With the right food styling and photography experience, even the most boring takeaway box can be made to look like a gourmet feast.