And because I love to bake, I enjoy experimenting with food photography myself. Last April, I attended a session on the topic at Tacoma’s first ever FoodCamp 253. Food photographer Clare Barboza (whom I interviewed for a recent post) led the presentation, using her own work to demonstrate the tips she shared, some of which are paraphrased below (with permission).
It’s all about the light. Turn off your flash and use available light. Avoid harsh direct light because it will produce strong shadows and make food look unappetizing.
Consider your composition. Diagonals in photography often make a stronger composition. Try putting your subject off-center, or crop out part of the subject.
Think outside the box and keep it real. Take a photo when the food is perfect, then take a bite, re-plate, and shoot again. Show the crumbs and the mess.
I encourage you to check out Clare’s blog and site to see these concepts in action. She has also photographed books, including CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. Careful: if you’re not hungry now, you will be after browsing her photos!
Clare’s tips about lighting echo my own experience. I’ve made a few decent-looking images with diffused flash or available light, but soft natural light is ideal. Flash (especially when pointed directly at food) highlights imperfections and makes things like frosting look shiny and greasy.
For reference, the lead photo in this post (coconut cupcakes) was taken with diffused flash, and the cheesecake shot was lit by the overhead lighting. The rest of the photos in this post took advantage of natural light, mostly diffused in some way. The brownies have the most direct natural lighting, which created some harsh shadows.
Also, I find that food photos featuring bright colors, wood, or white backgrounds are the most appealing. A plate with a pattern can sometimes be distracting, and dark-colored dishes seem to keep the food from standing out in the frame.
If you’re interested in food photography and located in or near Tacoma, Social Media Club Tacoma is putting on an event tomorrow, April 10, that features a panel of several local food bloggers, including myself. Come join us at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters to talk about food, blogging, and social media—there will be homemade treats made by the bloggers!