Whether you have a fancy pants camera (you know, a camera with pants) or are using the camera on your phone, everybody can benefit from a few pointers on getting great pictures of your food.We’ve all been there – at a restaurant, in our kitchen, snapping pic after pic of a plated meal but it’s too dark, too bright, not enough definition… it’s extremely frustrating and 90% of the time I would quit and just eat what I spent so much time on and say whatever.
Now that I’m blogging about food, I realize that I can’t very well give recipes if I keep eating the food before I capture it in a photo. Otherwise you all would be visually bored with this.
One of my priorities has been to work on my photography skills. I’ve seen countless food blogs and even cookbooks where the recipes are great but they are masked behind photos that don’t do the food justice. I’ve taken a class from Robert’s Photography, one that was far over my head but gave me just enough to comprehend how shutter speed, ISO’s and aperture all play a big part in getting the right photos.
**DISCLAIMER** I am not a photographer and I don’t claim to be one. However, these tips are important for anyone interested in learning how to take better photos of food for their blog or even just for enjoyment. I did invest in a Canon Rebel T3i because I have an interest in photography and take pictures for other freelance projects I work on. It was expensive and I will continue to invest in lenses and cute camera bags. Also, I have to work on these tips myself – these are just general rules I’m trying to abide by.
And… yes, I use Instagram. Not for the photos on my blog, unless I’m out without my Canon and need a replacement. I think the whole Instagram use is a discussion for another post, though. I’m also not going into Photoshop or other photo editing tools. I don’t find that to be a beginner discussion.
Tip #1: Before you change the settings on your camera, pay attention to your natural light.
- Are you near a window? Is it sunny or overcast outside? Put a big white sheet over the window to help filter the light. Consider moving your object closer or further away from the window. Experiment with taking photos outside and inside. Use this to see how natural light affects your subject.
- When using lamps and lighting inside your house, pay attention to where the light source is coming from. Notice how your body can cause shadows when you lean over food to take a photo. This can be especially frustrating when you try to take a photo directly above your object.
- I’ve been taking several pictures outside vs inside when I just can’t get that yellow tinge out of my photos. Nothing wrong with this when it’s 90 degrees outside, but when it’s freezing I’m going to have some problems. This is why I’ll be spending some time learning how to use the settings on my camera.
Tip #2: Change the scenery to keep it interesting.
- Don’t let your readers get bored with your photos or think that you took them all on the same day. Think about the background of the photo – can you take the photo in a different spot in your house? Maybe the living room vs your kitchen, or consider looking for colored foam core boards to stand up behind your object to quickly change the colors of your wall!
- Get some cheap fabric squares from a fabric store or use different dish towels to place underneath your plates. I have one dining room table that I take a lot of photos on, and just changing it from the wood of the table to a different color changes everything about the photo. Just make sure you don’t distract people away from the food with crazy patterns.
- Did you make apple butter? Put some apples in the photo! Use whole foods that correspond to your dish. It’s a great way to show people what your dish is about without having them read too much and may help draw them into your blog even more.
Tip #3: Look at photos of food, all the time.
- Unless you know what a great photo looks like, it’s hard to critique yourself. Tastespotting.com shows photos of food more than text and they only select the best photos submitted to them. It’s also where I find a majority of what I pin to Pinterest.
- Pick up a copy of Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin (I got a digital loan from the library). It’s advanced and meant for fancy cameras but she offers a lot of great advice and shows you how photos change with different settings. I think I’ll end up buying it as a reference book.
- Pay attention to photos in your favorite blogs. People end up creating a style that’s their own, and see if you can pick out what makes them different from another blogger.
I’d love to hear how you are talking your food photography! Please leave some tips in the comments section.