My first food photo came elsewhere. While visiting my Dad after the death of his mom, my Grandmom (at age 98 and still independent right up to the end thank you very much), my wife made us all a consoling lemon meringue pie. It was magnificent to behold ... and that made me wonder what the iPad could do with that. The result wasn't bad, not bad at all ... but the pie was better. Still, posted to friends on Facebook, my efforts (well, my photo of my WIFE's efforts) were well received ... which was surprisingly gratifying.
Now, chefs at high end restaurants have become annoyed with this trend because so many people take lousy shots of their wonderful food. Considering how strongly presentation plays into how we feel about what we eat, I'm not surprised. Here are a few tips to consider for getting a shot the restauranteurs will appreciate.
- Angle: take time to consider the angle at which the food on the plate or in the serving dish will look best ... straight on is rarely best.
- Take time enough to look around the entire frame of the photo and make adjustments to distractions at the edges of the frame. Note that in my photo I forgot to check the leading edge carefully and ended up with that somewhat distracting, crooked runner in the foreground, an object off to the left side I should have removed, and I could have centered the pie better in the background. Still, for a whim and quick shot, it worked out okay for a first attempt.
- Features: what features of this food are most interesting to look at and how best can I capture them? For instance, the wave crests in the meringue are the most striking feature and the angle at which the photo was taken emphasize that.
- Check to see if the background is interesting. I shot intentionally against this background of cut glass bottles with colored water to keep the shot appealing.
- Lighting, lighting, lighting. The lighting in the shot can make or break any photo. The modern cameras are quite good at compensating for variable light conditions. However, if the lighting is poor (usually too dim rather than too bright) and the camera can't compensate, don't take the shot. It won't look good at all. Lighting probably should be number one on this list actually, but I'm under the 30 minute deadline so it's number five here.
- Take two, or more, shots. The first shot is not always the best shot and with digital photography, you're using nothing but a little time as the extra shots can be deleted when you get the one you want.
- Experiment with cropping. Many times a little cropping around the edges can make the central image pop.