I was once rated one of the six best food photographers in San Antonio, TX which I am positive was a clerical error, or an assignment given to someone who was looking to slip out of the office early that day. While I'd like to think that I could hold my own among the best, it's certainly not what I have branded myself as, well, to be fair I am terribly and niching down to begin with, but especially since I pulled the plug on the anna angenend blog, I rarely play with and photography my food anymore.
Every type of photography is so different, and each requiring their own skill set. Posing newborns is a whole set of skills not everyone may have. The stamina and organization to shoot a full wedding day is no joke. Helping families and individuals feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera for a session that is fun and capture genuine emotions is also its own skill set, and requires practice.
There are certain types of photography that I know are not meant for me. But capturing families most important memories. I LIVE for that. Taking crazy silly mom life photos, it's a part of me. Food photos? It's writing a story with an image, creating something just for the sake of being beautiful. It doesn’t have to be totally realistic, it just needs to create a FEELING and make someone want to jump into the photo. It's literally playing with my food. Photographing flatlays, products, or food wraps me up in a fantasy of a whole different life I imagine I could have one day, just photographing food or products...with feeling.
Anyway, without further ado. Here are the simple and basic five tips to keep in mind when you're playing with your food.
Possibly why food photos is one of my favorite things, is because it's like creating a micro reality. You can turn just two small square feet into a dreamy fantasy. You can totally fake it. Scroll the aisles of home depot, or the thrift ship to find interesting textures and colors that can be used for backdrops and props. Grab laminate, tiles, and poster boards to turn your table into a mini studio. For props, think of the flavors you are photographing and what they remind you of; Summer days? Being at the each? Cozy cold mornings? Use textures, props and colors to enhance the details for that story.
Often people use one large window, and face the table and props towards that window to photograph the items from various angles. This works, especially for bright and airy photos, or for creating some fun shadows angle the table sideways to the window, and play flowers between the light source and the props to create artsy shadows. Often there is a need do bright, simple, photos. But, these can appear very one dimensional and I gravitate towards the moody and dark imagery.
For this, I put my table by a window in evening light (it was super diffused low light) and used my ring light on the left side as a key light-this hits the coffee pour, and the sugar just right to add pops of highlights and dimension. I used a box on the side of the table opposite of the light, to block out any light pollution and subtly bounce some light back onto my props. The background? Just a chalkboard I pulled off my wall.
I do the bulk of my editing in lightroom, and only use photoshop if i need to remove certain prop items, blend backgrounds, or move stuff around. In lightroom I use one of my custom presets to start. Then I do detailing with brush edits. For these photos, around the edges I darkened the exposure, lowered the texture and brightened the shadows. This pushes the light and focus to the center of the images. On the main items, I turned up the clarity, texture, sharpness, and brightened shadows to make those areas pop out.
I hope you picked up some new tricks to inspire you! Please tag me in the food photos you take, I love to look at dreamy food images.
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What's your favorite food photo hack?