As announced on Facebook I participated in a food photography workshop with Luxembourg's favourite cookbook author Anne Faber last weekend. Even though I don't publish recipes on Clothes and Camera anymore, I still love myself a good #foodporn picture on my Instagram account. Furthermore I though that food photography tips are probably also applicable on the kind of beauty photography I do for my blog, so I was really curious about the tips she'd share with us. As they were really good and I learned quite a few photography hacks, I decided to share them with you in this post.
Light & Shadow
Obviously light is key in every photography genre. Anne recommended to take food pictures right in front of a window, or similar light spot, and working with a reflector on the opposite side of the light source. One of her genius tips was to use a white Styrofoam board as a reflector, which isn't only way cheaper than a professional tool, but can also be easily leaned against the table on which you want to photograph your food.
The reflector will make the picture brighter and take out some of the shadows. However Anne told us that sometimes you'll wanna keep the shadow, as it gives the picture a nice rustic touch. This can be particularly appealing when taking pictures of winter dishes.
One of the reasons why I admire Anne's food photography so much, is that she always uses the nicest backgrounds. However just like the reflector, those don't need to be expensive. For the picture above and below we simply used two old wooden boards that she painted white on one side. You can easily find things like these on the flea market or garbage dump. It's always good to have a few different ones that you can simply put on a not so nice table, and as the next point will show, they don't even need to be that large.
One astonishing thing about food photography that Anne told us, is that some professionals work with smaller sized plates and cutlery. While they may seem regular sized on the picture above, the spoon and cutting board are all quite small. Like this your whole composition will take less space, and you can photograph it on smaller spaces. Hence it doesn't always have to be a picture from above, as even small tables will leave enough space in the back to shoot from the front of a dish.
As you will also notice on the pictures in this post, a dish becomes even prettier when you add some matching stuff around. You'll make you dishes wanna look as if somebody was actually about to eat them or as if you had just finished preparing them. Therefor you can play with colours, textures and different items. It's always good to have a collection of really different kinds of crockery and again look for them on the flea market.
Talking of composition, it's always nice to imagine a story behind you picture so my idea for the picture below was a light Easter breakfast for two.
Of course your picture will need a focus and here it's always good to stay with the main item of your dish. For example for the soup picture Anne suggested we either put the focus on the front seam of the bowl, or the peas inside the soup. By the way do you know how Anne managed to keep the peas on the surface of the soup? She simply put a piece of potato in the middle of the bowl and placed the peas on top. Awesome, right?
Anne does all her editing with Lightroom, which seems to be so much simpler than Photoshop Elements, so I'm really considering getting it, too! A thing she uses a lot are frames that make the edges of the picture look a bit darker. She also revealed that it's okay to adjust the colours of some elements. For example my picture below is mainly pastel but the strawberries were really bright against the other colours. Therefor I removed a bit of their saturation (even though the result isn't perfect yet).
Did you know all of these hacks or could I inspire you to step up your own food photography game, too?
P.S.: If my post was not clear enough or if you'd like to read more about the event, you should check Merlanne's post (in German).