I started taking pictures of my food (and other people’s ??) well before I started a blog, and even before Instagram was a thing. Obviously, the obsession’s only gotten worse since then.
So trust me when I say, I understand how difficult it can be to make food look beautiful. Making things tasty is quite a challenge in itself, but making it look good is even harder.
But, whether you’re an avid food blogger yourself, or a teeny-tiny bit addicted to Instagram, sometimes, making home-cooked dishes look supermodel-perfect in front of the camera does matter.
If you’re not sure where to start, below are a few easy tips* to up your food styling & photography game (and achieve that drool-worthy shot every time!)
1. Get inspired
When you’re eating out, flicking through your favourite food mag or reading your favourite food blogs, take note of what looks appealing and what doesn’t.
As for any form of art, there’s a lot you can pick up from looking at and analysing other people’s work.
Angles,composition, props… there’s so much going into a beautiful food pictures and finding what makes you hungry is the first step to being able to create that feeling in your own pictures.
I like to save my favourite pictures onto a Pinterest board so I can refer to it for inspiration or for times I struggle to put things together.
2. Tell the story of the dish through its picture
As the proverb goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, which is why you should try to let the picture express as much as possible about the dish it features.
An easy way to do that is to feature some of the ingredients in their whole, pre-cooked shape in the picture.
Another way to go about it is to include elements that inspired the recipe, the way food stylist Mademoiselle Poirot did, including cobnuts, autumn leaves and even garden scissors in the styling of this autumnal hazelnut torte at an event I recently attended.
No matter what you go for, make sure you keep your props, colors, and serving sizes consistent with the atmosphere the dish is meant to evoke, and that you get a few ‘in progress’ shots as well as they’re often more inviting than the final set.
3. Favour natural light
There’s nothing better than natural light when it comes to food photography.
Now, I know that can be a little bit tricky at times (looking at you, night-at-4-PM-November!), but it truly is worth it. Ideally, you want the light to come from a large-ish window, from the side of your frame.
It’s best to take a few test shots around your flat/house until you find the best spot for you to settle in for ultimate results!
4. Let’s get messy!
Pouring, dripping, overflowing… sometimes, a little mess is all you need to take your picture to the next delicious level!
Melting ice cream, crumbled up cookies, pancakes dripping with syrup… in many cases, a bit of a mess communicates movement, dynamism, and the pleasure of eating.
So if it makes you hungry, get messy (just keep in mind you’ll also be the one cleaning it up later though!)
5. Use a tripod
Angle, composition, movement, and possibly a bit of pouring action on the side… food photography is serious work and more often than not, two hands are simply not enough.
A tripod is an unexpensive piece of equipment (I payed about £30 for mine) that’s well worth investing in as it will make your job much easier!
6. An extra set of hands (or several) is always good
Even with a tripod, I find it much easier to control the outcome if I’m not trying to balance everything up all by myself.
Whether it’s to sprinkle icing sugar on top of your latest GBBO-worthy masterpiece or to help you polish it all off post-photography, an extra steady pair of hands, fresh eyes and tastebuds are the very best tool you could have on your food styling & photography set!
*This article & tips were inspired by an event I recently attended with Curry’s and Neff but wasn’t in any way sponsored and all words, pictures and opinion my own.