As the week comes to an end, so does my little photography series on the blog. As promised, today I’ll talk a little about food photography, hopefully some of my lifestyle bloggers out there will find this helpful.
Go ahead. Laugh. I seriously can’t even believe that I actually posted that picture on the left (Chef Ramsay would not be impressed!). Of course, at the time when I did, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Trust me when I tell you that the dish itself was delicious, but the way I presented it is just horrifying and maybe even a bit disgusting and I doubt that anyone would be wiling to actually try that recipe out. When posting recipes on your blog, you need pay special attention to not only your photography but the presentation and composition of your dish as well. You want to engage the reader, you want them to be excited and eager to try your recipes out, you want to make their mouth water, and you will not accomplish that if your food looks like the image on the left. Sorry. Let’s see if I can squeeze a few more chuckles out of you:
Notice anything similar about all of those images? They all have that ugly, yellow cast and it’s all because they were taken late in the day when natural light was not an option. Remember when few days a go I told you that it’s all about natural light? Well, I wasn’t lying. I love cooking, it’s one of my favorite things to do and I really wanted to start featuring my recipes here on the blog. The problem was, I usually cook after I get home from work (obviously) and I would have no other choice but to take my pictures late in the day. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to take that perfect shot, without good lighting it’s simply impossible.
When I finally realized that my evening sessions photographing food were not giving me results that I wanted, I had to make certain sacrifices. Now, I only prepare my food-related posts on the weekends or my days off when I have a lot of free time in the morning and-you guessed it- lots of natural light to work with. That means no more sleeping in on Saturday mornings :) . With results like these, I don’t think I’ll complain about that too much though:
I think I already mentioned that I take pictures of my food by that big kitchen window/door that I showed your here. Because my light source is coming only from one side (right) I had to figure out a way to get that beautiful, natural light to bounce off the left side to create an even, stable and unifrom look. That’s when my $15.00 reflector/diffuser comes in handy. I got it on Amazon right here. It’s a round, collapsible disk that has 5 different reflectors: silver, gold, white, black, and translucent fabric. I use the white one and place it across my light source (if my window is on the right side of my dish, I place the reflector on the left side, allowing it to bounce the light off it) and it creates a great fill light, getting rid of the shadows and making my image look brighter. If you don’t have a reflector and/or don’t want to buy one, you can also use a white piece of paper, white cardboard or white piece of foam board.
Look at the difference between these two images, the one on the left was taken only with the light coming through the window, whereas the one of on the right was taken using the reflector.
Composition is also very important when it comes to food photography, but I won’t go into too much detail with that. I was terrified to see that on one of my old pictures I actually used a paper plate (oh, the horror!). I would obviously recommend that you try avoiding that. As I said before, I use my 50mm to take pictures of my recipes. I like to place some fruit or vegetables whenever composing my images, I scatter some tomatoes somewhere behind or next to my plate, etc., I think that it makes them more inviting and creates a nice background as well. I also have some old, used and run-down cutting boards that I like to use and my collection of dishes and other kitchen-related knick-knacks has grown over the last couple of months. My favorite place to go is Home Goods, they always have huge collections of unique plates, mugs, cups, bowls, boards, colorful placemats, dishtowels, rags etc. and usually it’s all at a very reasonable price.
Lastly, I want to quickly show you how my husband and I made this cute little wood palette that I have been using for my food photography over the last couple of months.
I think that above tutorial is pretty much self-explanatory :) . We got all of the supplies at Home Depot for probably around $30.00-$40.00. The strip boards are 1×3. If you don’t have a nail gun, you can also use good old hammer :) . I bought two paint samples (for about 3 bucks each) white, and baby blue. I first painted each side with the primer and then went over with the paint. I didn’t want the palette to look too “perfect” so I did sort of a messy job when painting it blue, that way some of that white primer is showing through, making it look a bit run-down, which is exactly what I wanted. Cool thing about this is that if I happen to get bored of these two colors, I can always buy more paint samples and simply paint it over to whatever color I wish. I didn’t use any specific measurements, I basically told my husband how big I wanted it to be and we just took it from there. I could probably get away with only using one “layer” and just paint it a different color on the other side, but since we had a lot of pieces of those strip boards, we decided to use them on the other side, creating a small wood palette. In case you’re wondering, mine isn’t too heavy and I have no problems moving it around, picking it up and carrying it with me around the house if I need to (carrying it around looking for a spot with good lighting of course, I don’t just carry it with me for sh*ts and giggles ;) ).
Annnd that would be all for today. I hope you guys found this helpful, if you have any questions about anything, just let me know and if you know of anyone who could use these tips, please share this post with them (shameless plug :D ). This whole photography-week has been a great success, can’t thank you all enough and now I’m gonna try to have hubby take me out to lunch so we can celebrate hehe. Every excuse is good, right?