Food photography 101: Things I learned from events

I love to take photos regardless of the subject but one thing that I realized is that one of the hardest subject is actually food. Why? You can retouch it but it must still be in line with the concept of the chef or cook or probably the item that you are promoting. Let me share you my experience in one of the cooking competitions that I covered before:

My food photography is usually done by phone but when I started to use a professional camera, it was even harder. Here's something that I'd like to share to you so you can also practice it!

*These are all raw photos.

 Play with the angles
Each angle gives different perspective so try to play with it. If you plan to use it for your Instagram, I highly suggest that you practice taking your subjects in the middle because whenever you post, it's gotta be the rule of square. If you take photos of food, make sure to follow this format:

1. For Instagram, you may want to take portrait and landscape because Instagram automatically resizes it to square once posted or you may arrange it on whatever size you'd like to.

2. For Facebook, landscape is still the best to date especially when you are planning to post in an album format.

3. For blog, it is highly suggested that you take landscape shots unless you take similar-sized portrait shots so you can post it in groups.

You may want to take different shots for all the purposes I stated above.

Use accents
If you are not so confident with the food design yet, you may want to try adding accents on your food. Accents may include adding chopsticks or side dishes which makes it look appealing for your post. This may also result for a better flatlay shot.

Focus on what matters
Talking about the basics, if you are promoting a sauce or a certain ingredient, you may want to highlight that portion of the food. Focus is always the key but you may still want to include other accents as a part of the background but I highly suggest that when you promote a certain ingredient, avoid doing a flatlay for it as it wouldn't highlight what's necessary.

Decide on a certain perspective
If you are going for a themed food photography style, make sure that there's somehow a pre-format for your album's shots, For these two, you'll easily notice that it has a slant angle and doesn't really follow the rule of square. This style is typically used for restaurant menus.

Show the strength (best parts) of the food
Presentation is the initial thing that you'll notice when you are served with food. Good presentation increases your cravings and gives you a sense of feeling that the food would be delectable. You can easily distinguish the best part of the food upon your initial sight of it. Here's something to consider, 'which part of the food catches my attention the most?' Right there and then, you already know which angle to take.

There are plenty of food that has a good presentation but pretty hard to take

I'll be sharing you my experience about a certain food (the second in these photos). Among the food in the competition, it took my attention because of its colors and design. However, since it was in a square shape format and whichever angle I am about to take, there would still be blurs in whatever angle. As for the first one, the design would look extremely common when you take from the eye level so it's best that you do the low shot angle. The safest for this kind of situations would always be the low shot angle.

Maximize the space

This dish has been presented in a really huge plate so it's quite hard for me to balance the sizing of the photo. Thus, you may want to cut the whole plate (since it's not so necessary in the dish) and you might add the side dish on the photo. If there's not side dish, you may add any accent on the side to maximize the space, it may be spoon or some table decor.

Make sure that the color pops up

People appreciate food that pops out with colors especially when we talk about Korean food (which focuses on the idea of balance in food) If the food is already colorful, make sure that it is highlighted in the photo. If you are not so confident with the food color, you may enhance it through apps like Lightroom.

Take advantage of the background
 The unusual design of plates could be an advantage, make use of plain colors for place mats to help enhance the highlight of the photo. In this sample, you can notice the play on the use of horizontal balance and contrasting angles of the plate to the background. This gives a different visual effect when you post it.

 Focus on the food design - use balance in the photo

If the food design gives a sense of balance, usually those that include soups or is served in a circular shape is best shot with the use of deep focus photography, wherein there's no part of the photo that goes blur.

Note: All these photos were my shots during the Global Taste of Korea a few years ago and you can check it in Korean Cultural Center's Facebook Page.

Any other techniques you know? Share it with us in the comment section!