What is Food Photography
From a technical point of view, Food photography is a part of Product photography, which is a branch of commercial photography. Food photography is also very popular as a part o travel photography. A lot of travel bloggers are using pictures of the food to make their travel portfolio more attractive.
In the current situation on the camera market, it is not so much important what kind of camera you choose for food photography. If you are a serious pro photographer, you probably prefer a full-frame camera. Both DSLR and Mirrorless are a perfect choice nowadays.
Of course, if you are on the budget, you won’t make a mistake if you go for a crop sensor. More impact will have the choice of lenses.
Should the megapixel resolution be an essential factor? Well, it depends on what you intend to do with your food photography shots.
If you do not plan to produce images for high-quality professional restaurant brochures or road billboards, you don’t have to pay attention to how many megapixels your camera has.
The vast majority of today’s cameras have 24MB or more, which is enough for most of the food photography shooting situations.
What should be a feature to focus on is the ability to shoot RAW. It is recommended you will edit all images in postprocessing using Lightroom, Photoshop or other editing software. But again: even quite cheap cameras have this ability today.
Another feature of your camera you should take into consideration is the manual focusing and focus indication in the Live view mode. It is crucial because you can see before triggering the shutter button the exact area of the image that is in focus.
If you are shooting moving or dynamic capturing images, you will appreciate having continuous shooting mode.
Just imagine you shoot a raspberry falling int a liquid like water or milk. You want to capture the splash, and the drops it the raspberry just hit the liquid surface.
This is exactly the situation where you should use continuous shooting mode.
You hold down the shutter button, the camera is making more images in the sequence, and you can choose the right shot afterward.
Lenses for food photography
One of the essential components that influence the quality of food images is the lens. If you plan to shoot serious food photography, your preference should be a prime lens. A prime lens has the advantage of lower distortion and higher sharpness.
The focal length is another critical parameter when choosing the right lens. In most cases, you will prefer macro lenses like 80 mm or 105 mm.
But there are also situations you want to include more area into the food shot, so in that case, you should go with 50 mm or even lens.
Of course, you can also use a wide-angle lens, for example, 28 mm, and move the camera closer to the photographed subject. But you will face the distortion of the image in that case, which is quite present in wider lenses.
Of course, zoom lenses are also the right choice. For example, a high quality 24-70 mm lenses are a perfect choice too. And the zoom option is welcomed because you can set what will be in the final frame.
Prime lenses are more expensive. But if you have an important project, you can even rent any equipment, including lenses nowadays.
There is another essential thing, and it is whether you use a full-frame camera or a crop frame one.
The difference is that the same shot with the same lens on the crop sensor camera will be smaller comparing to the full-frame camera.
Maximum aperture is another crucial parameter to look at. Aperture is expressing how much light is the lens passing trough, and also it defines the depth of sharpness of photographed objects.
As we already mentioned, most of the food photography shots are done with stabilization. Yes, there are situations you shoot the food handheld, but in vast majority cases, you have to be stabilized on the tripod.
You can shoot your food images in your studio or simply in your kitchen. Here you should invest in a robust and rock-solid tripod.
Another feature you might be interested in is the ability to shoot so-called overhead food shots. Here are more tripods with a multi-angle central column.
This allows you to mount the camera on the arm created of this central column and shoot everything under the camera.
Lighting for Food photography
Light is the differentiator of excellent and weak food photographs. The worst approach is to point the camera right to the plate of the food, switch the on-camera flash on, and shoot.
You should always avoid using an on-camera flash, especially in the case of food photography.
It is better to switch off the flash and use natural light.
Anyway, I would always prefer to use artificial light in food photography. You can use off-camera flash, or even a small LED light source could help you to achieve excellent results.
The most simple and still effective setup is to use a light source behind the food, use a softbox, and put the camera practically on the same height level as the food is.
If you can use more lights, do it, of course. In that case, you can make creative lighting to impress even more.
Food composition and angle of shooting are also fundamental. My golden rule is to be at almost the same height level as the food plate.
Using the macro lenses allows you to be very close and express the small details that create the overall feeling of the shot.
Using the right depth of field, you can control what well be in focus and will be blurred.
There are extremes in food photography where the photographer is shooting artificial food to achieve the best colors or a fresh look.
I many cases, it is better not to overcook the food just because it looks better. Bear in mind you cook not for the taste and eating but the look.
For example, if you shoot the broccoli, leave it in the boiling water only for a minute to keep the fresh look and beautiful color.
If you prepare it well, it will taste excellent but will be looking yellowish and muddy.
You can use other props that are maybe extreme, but for example, using glycerine, you can achieve perfect wet look or water drops. Or using the motor oil on the steak will have a super tasty look.
Editing finally chosen images in food photography is a must. Depending on the light source, you should edit and set the right white balance. Another part is color correction, and vibrancy and saturation increasing in many cases.
In some cases, you will have to clone out any unwanted props used during photographing.
Here you can start the editing with the presets and continue to fine-tune the image case by case.
I always start with file handling and selecting my favorite images and set the basic editing in Lightroom. And if there is a need for more in-depth editing, I switch in Photoshop.
Food photography is becoming more and more popular.
Not only in the professional photographer’s community but also in the family of travel bloggers. And practically anybody having the smartphone in the restaurant could become a food photographer.
The best evidence of that is to check any social media where you can find tons of stunning pictures of the food from an exotic country around the worlds