Basic Food Photography Tips

When you have a food blog, I think one of the most important elements in your blog must be the photos. The photos must be good enough to emphasize your description of the food, well, at least clear and appetizing. If your photos don't speak for themselves, how can you convince your readers that the food actually as good as how you described?

I have been frequently asked to do a food photography tutorial, I actually don't know how to teach you guys because I always shoot with my own style and I believe everyone has their own style of shooting. If I describe my own photos, I think they're mostly close-ups (I like to show the texture to emphasize the appetite), clean and (some people mentioned) bright! Some like their photos to be underexposed, but I think I love them when they're a little overexposed. To be honest, I don't even follow the rules and technique of photography, just follow my own instinct.

I think it's a must for me to take pictures of my food before actually eating them. I understand that I am mentally strange, but since I see everyone's doing it, I think everyone's sick lately hahaha! #neveralone. Some just love to do it, some might be food bloggers in disguise, but mostly I think because of the social networks, we all such an attention seekers and a little mainstream. Anyway, you can take photos of your food everywhere on certain situations, and this time I'll be helping you guys with my tips and trick for food photography.

1. Own a camera!
I think it's essential that you own a camera, trust me, the sensor of a compact camera comparing to your phone camera is different, and there are so many cheap cameras with decent quality in the market. You don't need to have a heavy-ass thousands of dollars worth of DSLR camera, just a decent compact camera with nice handy features will help you enough, but if you can afford it, I would still recommend DSLR or "Mirrorless Cameras" more for the end result, still, you don't need the most expensive one. On the next post, I'll be helping you guys with food photography editing tutorial to emphasize the photos. I am currently using Nikon D3000 to take photos that you guys see in my blog (that's the cheapest Nikon DSLR on the market at the moment) with Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 prime lens. and Samsung Galaxy Camera GC100 for direct uploads. I use my Samsung Galaxy Camera to take photos of landscape (such a handy travelling camera). I have another camera that I use for a more commercial purpose, but the main reason I bring my Nikon D3000 along is because it's light and handy and when you know how to use it, that is such an amazing weapon.

Some people say it's not about the gun, it's about the man behind the gun, but still, you need to have the gun right :).

2. Understand your Shooting Equipment
This one is slightly essential, not only for food photography, but on the general photography as well. Know your camera and lens to maximize the output. My lens (Nikkor 35mm f/1.8) has a wider range than 50mm and is good enough for close up shooting, (and sometimes landscapes), so I tend to take close-up shots of the food to bring out the texture and the more blurry background. Another important tips related to the equipment, just remember to always hold your camera steady, and steadier during low light to prevent the blurry crap.

3. Visualize the picture you'd love to have in mind!
Along with knowing your equipment, most of the times when food are served on my table, I see the food and in a flash got the visualization of the picture that I want to have and I knew how I wanted the picture to be, and since I am used to shooting with my camera and lens, the visualization that I had in mind match the picture that I wanted to have, including the cropping. It's a little tricky to explain to you but most of the times I did have that visualization of how I wanted the photo of the food to turn out.

4. Good lighting
Trust me, the best kind of light for food photography is natural daylight. I think natural daylight just brings out the beauty of the food more alive, it sometimes can even be better than studio light. Most of the times if I have to shoot with the help of natural daylight, the best hour for me is around 9-11AM or whenever when the sunlight is not overpowering and tend to be "harder" and that "yellow ray" starts to disturb your frame.

Giving you guys examples of good natural daylight and overpowering natural daylight.
These photos were taken at Union Plaza Senayan around 4PM. If you've ever been to UNION, the lighting  during the day is kinda tricky, especially since the restaurant's wall and ceiling were mostly glass and sunlight can easily make its way inside. The first two photos were the examples of good daylight.

At times, when the sunlight gets really strong and randomly spread at certain areas, it gets irritating. This one is the example of the bad one. The overpowering daylight turns off the color.

5. Learn to shoot in Manual mode
It's not that you are not allowed to shoot in "Auto" or whatever mode you want, it's just that at certain point, the quality of a picture created when you shoot in Manual mode can be pretty surpising, in a good way, for there is certain range that can't be reached by "Auto". I always shoot in "Manual" and I really suggest everyone who's about to learn more about photography to get used shooting in Manual :).

6. Practice times infinity
The key is to practice practice practice. On my early days learning about photography, my photos were rubbish, but at that time I thought they were cool as hell. I still need to learn more and practice everyday, but at least I know my photos are a lot more decent looking now.

7. Browse for Reference
It's not a sin to look online and actually looking for references, I do that a lot even until now from whenever sources I can find, sometimes when you see others take better photos than you, you tend to pace yourself more and eventually learn to take better looking photos (or is it just meh? HAHAHA), So you end up not only learning, but also pacing yourself. Experience is such a teacher.

8. When everything fails, just never stop shooting or be creative!
There are certain situations where the situation itself ruin everything you have in mind, then I would suggest you to keep on shooting, sometimes whenever I am so stuck and mad at the photos that I took, I will just keep shooting and shooting, sometimes the result is pretty surprising and even better than the one I originally wanted, well, never stop shooting!

This was taken at E&O Jakarta and God knows how dark E&O is at night, this was taken with the help of guess what? Cellphone flashlight! It might not be a really good picture but at least it's clear. Prove that the simplest thing can actually help, when there is a little light, there is a way!

9. Ask for opinions
Humans are social human beings, and therefore, in a way we kinda need others help to improve ourselves and to complete one another. We can't always be too confident of ourselves, and we can always reflect to people's opinion and critiques to our works to get the most out of ourselves. As a human being and (ehm) blogger's perspective, you need to know how to handle critics :).

I hope my tips will help you guys in optimizing your food photography skill, but for the style, they're all yours. Thank you for reading guys :). Feel free to comment and add up your own tips on the comment box. We can help one another ^^.