The Complete Guide to Food Photography [Actualizado]

Maybe a prioriuntil now, no one thought from the outset that his dream was to do food photography. I don’t know, I think maybe we usually dream of another type of photography evident such as advertising, portraits, documentaries. Maybe it’s because when I imagine one of my dishes it doesn’t seem like the most photogenic thing in the world πŸ˜‰ . But the truth is that over time it has been shown that gastronomic photography is pure art, pure inspiration, that there are images of food that are capable of taking your breath away, making your eyes widen, make you salivate or move your intestines with hunger. .

If you are not a big fan of kitchens or social networks like Pinterest or Instagram, you may be imagining the image of a boring and ugly dish on a menu board faded by the sun. No colleague, that was before, now they do real tricks, magical compositions and impeccable staging. And you, yes you, who love to cook so much or who have the even greater luck that someone does it for you, you can get, with practice and patience, to enter fully into this magical world and make us eat through the eyes, sigh seeing a cauliflower soup, or move to tears with a raspberry cake πŸ˜‰ . Let’s see where to start.

What is food photography?

Gastronomic photography is the photography of food that produces attractive and suggestive images that invite you to consume said food. It is a Product photographyfocused on food, since the idea is to use it in advertising, packaging, restaurant menus or even cookbooks.

It can also be understood as a still life or still life if its purposes are not commercial.

Recommended material for gastronomic photography

One of the best things about food photography is that you can get into it and try it with relatively little investment. You don’t need a photo studio or too much material that you probably don’t have.

Camera with manual settings and interchangeable lenses

Your usual reflex camera or your EVIL camera would be ideal to be able to photograph in manual mode and make the most of all the possibilities of lighting, focus, etc.

If you don’t have one, don’t let this stop you, shoot with what you have, many advanced compact cameras can give you equally good results. Even a smartphone, if you follow these tips and tricks to photograph with your mobile.

If you do not have another type of camera, do not hesitate, a mobile phone with the appropriate advice can help you

Tripod

Using a tripod is essential, mainly because sharpness is one of the keys to any type of product photography. Sharpness allows us to see the detail of textures and color, absolutely essential when working with food. When we say we eat with our eyes, it’s true πŸ˜‰ .

The tripod will also allow you work the composition properly and slowly. You will thus be able to observe carefully through the viewfinder and get up to change and improve what you think without changing the frame or the angle.

A tripod will allow you to work on the composition and gain sharpness

Lenses for food photography

As for the best target, every master has his own trickbut the ones that probably won’t let you down are:

  • 50mm or medium focal length: It is the king of lenses, the one that most resembles the human eye, and it is usually a very bright lens (f/1.4 of/1.8), which translates into the possibility of playing with reduced depths of field. In addition, it is not as prohibitively expensive as other lenses of the same brightness and it will be useful for almost any type of photography.
  • Long focal macro lens: A long macro lens (60mm to 105mm) with an f/2.8 aperture would be ideal. They are around 500 to 800 Euros depending on the brand. Here are our macro lens recommendations πŸ˜‰ .

Reflector

It can be very useful to have a reflector, depending on the place where you are going to take your photographs. They will allow you to redirect and model the light, they are very cheap and they will also serve you for other types of images such as portraits.

You have this 5-in-1 set with different features for only €15.99 Although any white surface can help you reflect light.

Diffuser

A simple white curtain or tissue paper in front of a window can serve as the best study in the world. The curtain will serve to transform the hard light into soft light and reduce a possible exaggerated contrast (very rapid transition from light to shadow) of very marked shadows.

culinary props

  • Money of various shades. Nothing very elaborate is needed, with some cardboard, a smooth wall, wood, etc., it will be more than enough to start. If you are looking for something more elaborate or professional, you can use a cement background like this one.or other types such as wood or marble.
  • Crockery diverse: plates of different sizes, designs, old-style or modern spoons, pots, tablecloths, napkins… You can expand your collection to the point of madness πŸ˜‰ But make sure they are designs that don’t steal the spotlight from the food. Less is more.
  • woods on which to place the dishes. They are very photogenic, natural, add texture to the image and can help you enhance the dishes. Also slate, marble, etc., will be useful to you (or throw funds as I said before).
  • Accessories such as salt shakers, nutcrackers, teapots, coffee pots and other culinary items that can help you complete the story of your plate.
  • a vaporizer of water will help you appear fresh in vegetables and fruits.
You will need varied props to unleash your imagination

Recommended settings for food photography

Although it is impossible to concentrate the number of variables of light, scenery and tastes of each one, we can make some recommendations with which to start you until you find your own style or from which to start as a base:

  • ISO: An ISO value as low as possible will ensure that less noise appears in the image and, therefore, greater sharpness. This value is usually around 100 or 125, depending on the camera.
  • diaphragm opening: to highlight certain parts of the plate, we usually use diaphragm openings that allow us to work with a shallow depth of field (low values ​​such as f/1.4), in order to be able to isolate and emphasize the main subject, in this case, food.
  • Speed: if you are using a tripod and photographing a static element, in principle it should not be a problem, but if you want to add an artistic point to your compositions and photograph the movement (falling flour, salt, honey, spices… you name it) then You will have to remember that to freeze it you will need a lot of light and very high speeds and, to show its path, slower speeds.
  • Measurement mode punctual: It is the most precise and the most recommended for photographing static subjects. It is the one that will give you the best results, especially if there is a contrast of lights.
  • color space AdobeRGB: It is the one that stores the most color information, and in the case of ingredients and food in general, where everything enters our eyes, color is of vital importance.
  • histogram: do not trust your eyes, the only reliable test as far as a correct exposure is concerned is the histogram of the image and above all, a good interpretation of it.
  • RAW: More than likely you will be editing the image after you take it, so shooting RAW to have as much information available from the file will ensure the best results.
  • Focus Type: the most suitable for static subjects is AF-S or One Shot, as it is the most precise.
  • White Balance: controlling the dominant tonality of the scene (warm lights can tint the scene orange or cool lights blue or green) is an essential part of food photography. Remember that food should look natural and appetizing πŸ˜‰

Use the right settings as one more ingredient in the recipe

Composition in food photography

If you don’t know where to start, I recommend that you do so by sticking to the basic composition rules or regulations, which will give you good results to begin with and help you place the elements in an orderly way within the frame. The most used are:

  • rule of thirds: according to which, the center of interest of an image is located at the intersection caused by the division of the image into three horizontal and vertical thirds. That is where the point of greatest interest in photography is located.
  • negative space: everything that surrounds the main subject in a neutral way (without providing information) is known as negative space.
  • portrait format: I always encourage you to try this format in all photographic disciplines, but if in any it is almost essential it is in gastronomy (among others, of course πŸ˜‰ )
  • Less is more: Compositions crammed with randomly placed elements make the viewer’s eyes get lost in the chaos. It is better to put few or justified elements in the image, and guide the viewer’s gaze through the lines, the rule of thirds, etc.
  • Human factor: do not forget that in any image in which a human element appears, this takes on special importance, since it allows us to empathize and suggests closeness.
  • Color: It is essential to know how colors work at a compositional level to convey certain sensations.

The composition is essential, do not leave it to free will

Point of view

It is a field where you can unleash your creativity, as food photography allows numerous and daring points of view capable of completely transforming an image.

  • 45ΒΊ angle: They say that it is the angle from which we stand when we prepare to eat, and therefore we conceive it as a very natural angle.
  • zenithal: Allows compositions of several elements (or just one) from an elevated point of view (completely from above). If you use this point of view, it is very important that you try to make all elements in focus.
  • Normal: Or at eye level, it offers us a greater sensation of depth to be able to play with the different planes.

Don’t make the mistake of shooting all the photos from the same perspective. Sometimes going around the table and shooting from different points of view can reveal great photos that from the original perspective did not seem so interesting.

Lighting in food photography

Lighting is key in any type of photography but even more so, if possible, in the one where you are able to control and model it as you please, such as β€œstudio” images (whether this is homemade or not).

Make sure the food you are photographing is in the brightest light, and keep the following tips in mind.

  • side light: It is, surely, the most used lighting angle in gastronomic photography, since it emphasizes the volumes and textures of the elements.
  • High key and low key: If you go around the net looking for…