Create beautiful photographs of the food that you cook at home with just a few simple steps.
If you enjoy taking photos of a kitchen creation, it can be easily incorporated into the ritual of cooking itself. I usually take my daily food pictures with my iphone. Just one snap and off I go and eat it all up!
Create a background
I have a few props to set up at the ready, especially while waiting for water to boil or things to cook. I create a simple scene and a mood on a table surface so that it is ready for when the food is cooked. After all, you want to eat the food as soon as it’s cooked and while it’s still warm.
Backgrounds can be simple, like the table itself or pieces of fabric such as tablecloth or napkins. Chopping boards and serving trays add an element of style and homeliness to the image. Plain walls and areas with no personal clutter work well, otherwise make birds’ eye view shots.
Props give food a sense of belonging and personality; you can have lots of fun with it. Sometimes it can be as simple as the book you’re reading or cutlery and kitchen utensils – whatever it is you need to eat the food or to serve the food.
Look at the frame of the picture and see how the props and food are angled. Avoid pointing things towards one direction, or it might look too composed.
One way is to fill the frame with items in a zig zag, from top to bottom, so that the eye can move all around the picture. Avoid things that aren’t relevant to the picture, for example a TV remote control.
Ideally, the image is there to create a desirable mood for the dish or ingredient and is supposed to bring on food envy and make people want to recreat the dish.
Get the lighting right
Food photographs are hugely dependant on good natural daylight and it should be used whenever possible, even if it means preparing dinner at breakfast during the winter months. Daylight adds a natural dimension to food because it will show the true and natural colours of ingredients.
Always bring the food to the nearest window to take a photo if you can. If using artificial lighting, place the food underneath the lamp to light it to avoid shadows or invest in a daylight bulb.
Strike a pose
Styling the dish is the second important element. Sometimes I prepare a styled plate of food with a small amount with every ingredient visible, but never as much as I would eat. Showing a huge plate of food is never that appetising to the viewer.
Be minimal with garnishes and sauces. Try not to cover everything in gravy but instead have a jug of gravy on the side. When plating the food, try not to use any burnt bits or overcooked ingredients that have lost their shape. Place the best looking bits on top to show it off.
If the dish is complicated, like a roast dinner, it is best to use fewer props. If it is simplistic, like pasta with pesto, go for more props. When selecting a mood for the picture, consider the weather and the seasons. Think about the main colours of the food, for instance if it’s a plate of pasta with green ingredients, add a dash of red or yellow somewhere, be it with a slice of chilli or lemon or the red handle of a parmesan grater.