11 Quick food photography tips for chefs

7 May, 2018

11 Quick food photography tips for chefs
As a chef if you’ve ever needed to take some food photo’s its sometimes difficult to know what to do to make your dishes as ‘instagramable’ as possible. So, we asked some great food photographers in our network and have come up with 11 quick food photography tips you can start using today.

1 – Pick the freshest ingredients

If the skin looks wrinkled, scarred, or damaged take it out and get a new one – or angle it in a such way so as not to see the bad side. This seem obvious but sometimes it’s easy to miss. You’re often photographing these things really close up so even the tiniest flaws will show up. Check them over closely and be ruthless when you buy our vegetables.

2 – Keep it simple

Take out stuff you don’t need. Take out things on the table that are distracting and pair it down to just one plate of food.  If the food once cooked is unattractive only show a portion of it. Brown soup doesn’t really seem visually stimulating but if you have to do something with it, get creative with props and cropping and when in doubt follow the “more is less” rule of thumb.

3 – Lighting is everything

Backlight is key to texture and making it appetising looking. This will also allow any steam to show up in the image.  For example steam or smoke will show up prominently when lit from behind.

4 – Use simple props including raw ingredients

Simple plates, cutlery, etc. and raw ingredients make great extra props. Plates, placemats, and bowls can all make a real difference – but only one of each!  Stick to non-patterned plates and bowls so the food stands out more.

5 – Show a before and after shot

Showing steps in the cooking process including chopping, in the pot or in process helps people understand the final image. Show one shot before, and one after it’s cooked or step by step images. This works well for things that just don’t look all that great cooked!

6 – Show it cooking

Along the lines of the above tip showing the food cooking is sometimes better than showing the finished product.

7 – Add a human element

Adding a hand stirring a pot or holding a plate allows you to show scale and adds a human element which is often more appealing and real to viewers.

8 – Don’t cook it completely

When meats and vegetables are fully cooked they keep cooking after you remove them from the heat. So to keep them looking plump and juicy remove them from the stove or oven a bit early – take your photos, then put it back it to finish cooking before you eat it.

9 – Keep the plates clean

This goes without saying, but the plates and props holding the food must be absolutely 100% pristine and clean. When you shoot close up, like most food requires, any imperfections will show up and look like the dish is messy or incomplete.

10 – Vary your camera angle

Try different angles of view when shooting your food items from directly overhead, tilted, shooting into the edge of the plate or table, and so on.  Get creative and try to show it in a different way than most people would see it.

11 – Add a bit of oil

To make vegetables glisten brush them with a bit of olive oil, or mist a salad with water. It will make them look fresher.

Bonus Tip! Think about how you’re going to plate-up

As important as the food in the photography is how a dish is plated up before you start taking photos. Experiement with different styles to ensure it looks as appealing as possible. Here’s a great article that will help if you need some inspiration – https://www.theculinarypro.com/plate-presentations

And lastly, remember you don’t need a flashy SLR digital camera to start taking great food photo’s, any kind of today’s smart phones will do, so get snapping!


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