How to step up your food photography game?
It is no secret that there is more to food photography than just photography. Photography also involves the art of styling, composition, colour play and so much more. The integral role of professional stylists in composing frames is to make them look as aesthetically appealing as possible. This ranges from doing the actual cooking and presentation to selecting the crockery and curating the entire table spread. Stylists prepare the food to make it look stunning in real life and then add elements to paint a picture by cohesively working with a photographer who ensures that the frame, lighting, and composition are perfect to freeze it.
So, food photography is not as simple as it looks. There are so many layers to it. Let us take a look at a few pointers to seriously switch up your food photography game.
Choose and prepare ingredients wisely
When you work with a dish, your ingredients must shine–literally and figuratively. But, not everything has to be picture perfect. They must look natural. That being said, it might be wise to look for ingredients that are in good shape and unblemished, especially if they are going to be showcased raw.
And once you have sourced the ingredients, think about how you’re going to prep them. When it comes to images, the flavour can come at the expense of appearance. Play with your ingredients. Place them in different ways and experiment to decide which setup looks the best.
Pictures speak a million words
Every professional photographer knows that the photograph should express the most about the dish in the frame. Often, the process of setting up is simply more interesting than the final product itself. You will learn about the ingredients. How they look, observe their vibrant hues, feel the textures, how they smell and so much more. And, when the camera captures that, the result is magical.
Let the dish and your props do all the talking.
Keep it simple and realistic
There are good garnishes and then there are non-functional ones. The food needs to look real, and edible. If you cannot imagine putting the dish in your mouth, the garnish, the plating, crockery or the dish itself might be lacking. Every single element in the frame should gel, or uplift one another. Clashing components will result in a poorly executed image and ultimately confuse the viewer.
It is good to be messy
We all love a little mess in the images. A little mess communicates dynamism, movement, and the unfiltered pleasure of eating. But, know the difference between a good mess and dirty. If you are going to embrace the mess, ensure that it makes you feel hungry. If it makes you feel like you will have to clean up later, that is a big no-no.
Convey a story
The job of a food stylist isn’t just composing a pretty picture. It is to bring the dish or product to life. You can show anything from raw ingredients to a finished product with the right crockery or props. For example, you have to shoot a cake. Are you going for a rustic approach with ingredients strewn across the frame or does the image have to scream “birthday” in caps? You decide what you want to convey to the consumer. It must evoke the emotions of viewers.
Play with levels and break boundaries
To add depth and height to an image, play with the food and the props. Introduce display cubes or boards. Add dimensions to an otherwise flat image. Place ingredients on a chopping board. Or, the cake on a cake stand. Add different vantage points for the viewer’s eyes. Make them think about the why and how of an image. Go beyond just an aesthetic frame.
There is a thing as “too much”
Styling can make or break the frame. The best thing one can do is keep it simple. Do not clutter the scene or add too many props. Just because there is space to cram more elements to the frame, does not mean you have to do it. Take test shots and see how every single element works with the rest of the scene. Remove and add until you have achieved the perfect frame for your photographer to work their magic.
Food Recipes, or any kind of photography for that matter is a cohesive balance of just the right pairings. Whilst it is easier to achieve balance in the kitchen by adding or altering seasoning, it is equally important to style just right. Anybody can compose a frame to click pictures. But, it certainly takes a trained eye to curate a well balanced, skillfully paired scene. That being said, practise styling as much as you can and you will succeed.