Culinary photography: Beautiful Food

Five simple tips for food photography

Recently I have done a culinary photo session in Belgium for Altavilla – a family “kitchen at home” restaurant serving Gent area.

Photographs of Italian dishes: vitello tonnato, fiori di zucchini, and more

I enjoyed this work – because the food was delicious and because I like the concept behind Altavilla. Ann, the owner, loves Italy and Italian cuisine. Italian cuisine with a personal touch, the dishes prepared right at the client’s kitchen to make any party more special. Ann’s passion for cooking and artistic approach to it make you rediscover traditional dishes. I had a chance to taste the creations that you see here and they were simply delicious (filled zucchini flowers being my favorites!).

When you have made a special dish (or are served one), you often love to share the beautiful images with your friends, sometimes along with the recipes.

Here are my five simple tips for photographing food

1. The lighting. For food photography available light usually works the best. It will make the food look more natural and tasty. You can use the light coming from a large window, for example. If available light is not sufficient, your lens will require a longer time to collect more light. In that case use a tripod or place your camera on something stable: you will avoid the blur caused by camera shake. Food is a thankful object for tripod: it will not run away! If you use flash on a SRL camera, consider using a diffuser (for reflex camera’s you can obtain one even for the built-in flash) or bounced light from the wall or the ceiling (with external flash).

Foto van een schaal met Italiaanse bruschetta met mozarella en groenten.

2. The setting. Simple background will allow you to keep the attention on the dish. White usually works very well for that matter.

Foto van Italiaanse salade met tomaat, uien, paprica en bruschetta in een schaal.

3. Experiment with viewpoints. We usually look at food from the same angle when eating. Photograph your dish from unusual angles. For example, I climbed a ladder to shoot these dishes from above.

Foto van schaal met mozarella en groenten.Foto van een schaal met pasta van boven.

4. Detail vs context. Come close to your object and use a macro lens or macro setting on your camera to enlarge details. Concentrating on a part of a dish and blurring away the rest can look fascinating. But choose your depth of field (the focus area) consciously: the thinnest focus area is not necessarily the best! Now switch your lenses and viewpoint and allow a wider setting into your images: other objects on the table, parts of the interior, people eating and chatting. Try to capture the same dish in different ways.

Macro foto van een salade met radijs.Foto van een mooi gerecht met gerookte zalm.

5. Editing. Add some light when adjusting the exposure and choose a warmer tint when doing the color correction. This will make the food look more attractive.

Macro foto van gevulde gourgettebloemen op een schaal.

What are your favorite tips on food photography?

Find out more about my photography workshops and one-on-one (live and distance) mentoring sessions.