(Help) Food photography

115
35
Joined Jun 6, 2017
Hi all!

Don't know if this is exactly the correct place to post this.

Does anyone have some cool material yo learn more about food photography?

I've downloaded a bunch of youtube videos, and will be googling for articles and such, but maybe someone here knows some other good options to learn a little more about this aspect of cuisine.

I would like to start stepping up my photo game for my personal portfolio.

Any input will be highly appreciated!
 
613
405
Joined Apr 25, 2011
I have a few places to suggest, but i don't know if it is proper to post on this site. I'm sure you'll come across them of something similar with your google searches.

However, In my experience you should study two things: Photography itself and The Art of Plating.

As I'm sure you are aware, photography is an art-form all to itself and you would be amazed to find out how complex it can be. My tip would be to start with lighting. Take something you made and plate it as pretty as you can. Take a picture in as many different light sources as you can. Do natural and artificial lighting. Try different levels of brightness and color warmth. Then compare. You will be astounded to see how much different the same plate can look in different environments. For example the light from a sunset at dusk on your patio table compared to on the kitchen counter under fluorescent lighting will look like two completely different dishes. Then, you can try different angles in the different lights.

Plating is another art form all to itself. It is a true canvas of visual art. Go to a home goods store and buy different colored/patterned plates and place settings. Along with arrangement on the plate. and its location (picnic table, dining table, cutting board, etc.)

Key is, just mess around and try different things. Expensive equipment and fancy filters are great, but the eye for the light and plate are the keys to a good shot. Good Luck, Have fun!
 
792
289
Joined May 25, 2015
I used to do commercial photography around 18 years ago. Product shots and portraits, not so much food but it is much the same and different. I quit when I couldn't make money anymore because everybody with a cell phone became a photographer. My advice is to forget You tube, you need to concentrate on lighting which you aren't going to do with very well with an on camera flash. You're going to need a lighting setup (preferably strobes) and modifiers (soft boxes, umbrellas, etc) if you are going to pursue this seriously. I would recommend you read:

Light Science and Magic
by Fil Hunter and Paul Faqua, ISBN 0-240-80275-6
The Lighting Cookbook by Jenni Bidner, ISBN 0-8174-4196-4

After that is the plating. Most professional photographers use "food stylists". It's not just the plating, it's doing what's necessary to make the food look good to the camera which doesn't necessarily mean you would want to eat it if you were to have it placed in front of you in a restaurant. I have no references for books but I'm sure if you Google "food styling" and "food photography" you will find some.

Good luck and have fun!
 
115
35
Joined Jun 6, 2017
I have a few places to suggest, but i don't know if it is proper to post on this site. I'm sure you'll come across them of something similar with your google searches.

However, In my experience you should study two things: Photography itself and The Art of Plating.

As I'm sure you are aware, photography is an art-form all to itself and you would be amazed to find out how complex it can be. My tip would be to start with lighting. Take something you made and plate it as pretty as you can. Take a picture in as many different light sources as you can. Do natural and artificial lighting. Try different levels of brightness and color warmth. Then compare. You will be astounded to see how much different the same plate can look in different environments. For example the light from a sunset at dusk on your patio table compared to on the kitchen counter under fluorescent lighting will look like two completely different dishes. Then, you can try different angles in the different lights.

Plating is another art form all to itself. It is a true canvas of visual art. Go to a home goods store and buy different colored/patterned plates and place settings. Along with arrangement on the plate. and its location (picnic table, dining table, cutting board, etc.)

Key is, just mess around and try different things. Expensive equipment and fancy filters are great, but the eye for the light and plate are the keys to a good shot. Good Luck, Have fun!

I used to do commercial photography around 18 years ago. Product shots and portraits, not so much food but it is much the same and different. I quit when I couldn't make money anymore because everybody with a cell phone became a photographer. My advice is to forget You tube, you need to concentrate on lighting which you aren't going to do with very well with an on camera flash. You're going to need a lighting setup (preferably strobes) and modifiers (soft boxes, umbrellas, etc) if you are going to pursue this seriously. I would recommend you read:

Light Science and Magic
by Fil Hunter and Paul Faqua, ISBN 0-240-80275-6
The Lighting Cookbook by Jenni Bidner, ISBN 0-8174-4196-4

After that is the plating. Most professional photographers use "food stylists". It's not just the plating, it's doing what's necessary to make the food look good to the camera which doesn't necessarily mean you would want to eat it if you were to have it placed in front of you in a restaurant. I have no references for books but I'm sure if you Google "food styling" and "food photography" you will find some.

Good luck and have fun!

Thanks both for the extensive advice and comments!

I want to clarify that I want to step in this part of culinary arts just to be able to take above-average photos of my (still) amateur cooking. So, no professional pursuit here, at least for now. But I want to be able to showcase what I do without being the typical crappy photo, understanding that I won't be able to go full pro either.

My main interest is cooking, but I want to learn about plating, styling and photographing too.

Thanks again and I'll be looking for any other advice anyone else want to give.
 
360
90
Joined Jan 25, 2013
in these days of electronic photography, play with it. your camera should be able to display camera settings on each shot. camera on a tripod is almost required. some movable lights also(some with daylight bulbs, some with soft white bulbs). make a sample plate. take photos from directly overhead then work in steps to 45* angle. joy now is you can look at your pictures right after you took them, not hours or days later when film had to be processed and prints made.
 
7,675
842
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I have been giving a lot of thought to setting up a photo station, ready for when I want to take a food photo. A few lamps should do the trick, and a flat surface I can decorate with place settings of various colors. Has anyone done anything like this? What are some equipment I would need? And why is a tripod absolutely necessary?
 
2,563
537
Joined Apr 25, 2014
I have been giving a lot of thought to setting up a photo station, ready for when I want to take a food photo. A few lamps should do the trick, and a flat surface I can decorate with place settings of various colors. Has anyone done anything like this? What are some equipment I would need? And why is a tripod absolutely necessary?

If not a full photo station, at least you want to get some light umbrellas with the cfl photo bulbs. It really makes a difference and you don't have to white balance stuff.

The tripod keeps your picture from shaking. In low light situations or if you want to use a higher aperture number for different focus, it will take a longer exposure time. You simply can't hold it perfectly steady long enough.

A step further from the tripod is a remote shutter. It's like $12 for the amazon basic one which works pretty well. Then you don't even have movement from you pushing the button.

I put together this light up oyster display for a friendsgiving party. No way I could take this picture well without a tripod with the lighting conditions.
a3Tm2Qm.jpg
 
Last edited:
115
35
Joined Jun 6, 2017
I bought a table tripod that turned out to be pretty tiny for the work, but what I'm using is the 2 seconds delay on the shoot, so you diminish the movement from pressing the button. Just press it and hold your breath for two seconds :p

For my last two instagram posts I've uploaded photos taken using a couple suggestions from different posts (rule of thirds, white balance, shutter aperture, source of light, using props and actually thinking a little about what I want to show)...

I think the difference with previous posts it's really notorious. The last one was the fasted growing post I've ever had, I guess using the correct hashtags helps a lot, but also got a couple comments from professional bakers that ended up in interesting conversations and getting more feedback.

If anyone want to check and comment/leave feedback, here you go: www.instagram.com/thebrulo/
 
7,675
842
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I bought a table tripod that turned out to be pretty tiny for the work, but what I'm using is the 2 seconds delay on the shoot, so you diminish the movement from pressing the button. Just press it and hold your breath for two seconds :p

For my last two instagram posts I've uploaded photos taken using a couple suggestions from different posts (rule of thirds, white balance, shutter aperture, source of light, using props and actually thinking a little about what I want to show)...

I think the difference with previous posts it's really notorious. The last one was the fasted growing post I've ever had, I guess using the correct hashtags helps a lot, but also got a couple comments from professional bakers that ended up in interesting conversations and getting more feedback.

If anyone want to check and comment/leave feedback, here you go: www.instagram.com/thebrulo/
Great! Just followed you (koukoukooks)
 
58
6
Joined Nov 14, 2017
Once you get the proper photography equipment and training, you'll need to find out where your market is and see what opportunities are out there.
 
360
90
Joined Jan 25, 2013
if your camera has it, enable grid display which will put a grid on the screen so you can place stuff as it needs to be. i love digital transfer to computer so you can see pics within minutes of taking them and quickly crop, edit, and enhance
 
115
35
Joined Jun 6, 2017
if your camera has it, enable grid display which will put a grid on the screen so you can place stuff as it needs to be. i love digital transfer to computer so you can see pics within minutes of taking them and quickly crop, edit, and enhance

Yep that's exactly what I'm doing, then passing the photos to a Chromebook and making some quick tweaks with Polarr editor... It's neat, free and online :)
 
872
549
Joined May 28, 2015
My shorthand advice: these days, if you have a mobile phone with a good camera you can take excellent photos. I use a Samsung Galaxy S7 but iPhone and Google pixel also have great cameras. Shoot in daylight (not direct sun) from above and place the plate on neutral background. This photo was taken with Samsung Galaxy S7 in daylight.

20171118_160347.jpg
 
872
549
Joined May 28, 2015
And this, Samsung Galaxy S7 in daylight. No tweaking of the image post-production. I just set camera to auto. Some cooked rainbow chard awaiting its fate:

20171126_143128.jpg
 
613
405
Joined Apr 25, 2011
morning glory morning glory Your eye for photography rivals your culinary ability. Your posts are always “fit for print”. You inspired me to focus more on my photos, because yours were so good. Thanks
 
1,553
412
Joined Oct 23, 2008
morning glory morning glory definitely has an eye for photography, and what composition makes a nice food photo. I know it's somewhat old but I got pretty heavy into food photography for a few years.. I think in my sig is a link to "food photography for home cooks" which was just two articles I wrote to explain the basics. I have a video showing how to use GIMP to adjust the white point of your photos. If you start there, that info is still true. We're blessed to have mobile phones that have cameras as nice as they are. They are getting better every day.

EDIT: Apparently articles links are broken.. I can't seem to edit my own signature on this new platform so here are links.

Intro
https://cheftalk.com/ams/food-photography-for-at-home-cooks.27043/

Post Editing
https://cheftalk.com/ams/food-photography-for-at-home-cooks-post-editing.27342/
 
Last edited:
115
35
Joined Jun 6, 2017
Thanks everyone for the input!

One restriction I have is that I usually can only cook at night. A photographer friend recommended I get a frame (like the one you use for paintings, but a cheap one) and stick a cloth sheet to it, white light behind it and you can somewhat recreate a window with non direct sunlight.
 
1,553
412
Joined Oct 23, 2008
That's called a "scrim" and is meant to diffuse light so you do not have harsh shadows. I do mention that in my first article when comparing to natural daylight. You need to be thinking about total light and light color. A scrim is going to reduce the amount of light in your shot quite a bit so make sure you either have enough light to start, or add additional light. If you add a light, you want to add the same "color" light.. so kelvin temperature as your other lights.

Things are even better now with LED.. but this was a setup I had doing exactly what your friend was talking about with compact florescent.

8ac76d53_2409027319_3b68e83c1d_o.jpg
 
Top Bottom