Gastronomic photography consists of attracting people’s attention through images of food dishes. Besides attracting, it seeks to impress by showing the textures, volumes and colors that have the elements of any dish.
Today, with all the boom in social networks and social marketing, the image has taken on another dimension and gastronomic photography is at a much higher level than it was before.
In this post, we will walk through the theory of gastronomic photography, we will give you the best tips and tricks to take dream pictures of every delicious dish you pose in front of your camera.
Our goal is to help entrepreneurs in photography or gastronomy to discover how to sell a plate of food through an image that communicates and awakens the desire to eat.
Food photography: The first bite is with the eyes
The power of a good image is well known, that’s why catering and hotel companies pay a lot of attention to capture the essence of their food with a good photo.
The first bite we take of your dishes is when we see the images of any promo, menu or brochure that promotes the consumption of a specific dish or food.
Therefore, it is important that you master this technique. As a photographer, you will expand your portfolio of services, as an entrepreneur in the food area, you will know how to take the images you need and you will learn what can be done with a camera to sell more.
Elements to take into account when taking pictures of food
Photography is the hobby or pastime of many people, but it is also the work of others.
When we are looking to sell more, with the support of photography, we need someone who knows the elements that make up a good image. They must master the audiovisual language and the camera will be at the service of your ideas.
Lighting is fundamental in photography, but to capture good images of any food, lighting is your best ally.
Don’t forget the image composition
The composition is the way in which the different objects that will form the image are arranged or placed, within the frame of the image.
To achieve a correct composition of your images you can resort to the existing rules of composition. These basic rules help to position each element of the image in the right place.
Among them are the composition guidelines we have:
Rule of Thirds
It is a matter of imaginatively dividing the photo into nine equal parts, thanks to two vertical and two horizontal lines. Surely your camera or phone already has that function, so taking the picture is a simple task.
When the lines are joined, four strong points are formed where the plates should be placed so that the photograph is balanced
If you have two dishes within the image, they should not be placed face to face, but diagonally at the strong points.
Keep in mind the “less is more” rule
As in many other areas, the “less is more” can also be applied to the field of photography.
Placing many elements in a single photograph confuses people, since they are not clear about what you mean, they will have to go back to the image to understand it.
Unless confusing your audience is your intention, compose your image with the necessary elements.
Remember that we are looking for an image that will cause you to eat the dish you see in the image, so it should look natural and appetizing.
To achieve this, it involves some human element. People will feel close to your image and will not see it forced.
Where is it best to take the photo from?
Depending on the angle you use to capture an image you can give a message or another, so the audiovisual language must be known and respected.
This is the only way to make sure you give the right message. It is the most effective way to achieve the expected results.
Let’s look at the different types of angles you can use to capture a photo.
The popular “45º angle”
It’s the view we naturally have of our food. That’s why it’s very natural for us to see a dish from this position.
To take a photo at this angle you must place the camera above the plate, forming an angle of 45˚ with respect to it.
To make it easy, place the plate on a table, sit down as if you were going to eat it. From that position make the capture.
This type of angle of photography is achieved by placing yourself above the plate, but with a view perpendicular to it.
He is one of the most employed in gastronomic photography. It describes the dish by showing each of the elements that make it up.
The normal plane is the one used to take a portrait of any person. With this type of shot, you will get more artistic images of your plate.
Pay attention to the background elements when using this shot. By taking a picture from a normal angle, you give the image much more depth and the background wall will be seen more than the table and its decoration.
Ideally, when capturing a dish, take pictures from different angles, so you make sure you have enough material to achieve your goal: sell more through your photographs.
The light, which makes the magic of photography possible
As we told you before, without a good illumination, all the elements of the dish will not be visible, it could even impoverish the image of your dish, obtaining an opposite effect to the one desired.
Knowing how to play with lighting allows you to give a different sense and character to your photograph, accentuating or attenuating specific details of each composition
This type of lighting is the most used in the field of food photography.
Emphasize the textures and volume of the ingredients in your dish
High and low key photos
Better known as tonal cues, they are a form of illumination that produces feelings and emotions in people by observing your photography.
In high key photos, light tones prevail and it has a great luminosity. These images are almost always low contrast.
On the other hand, in low key, the lighting is placed in a determined way so that no element that you want to highlight in the photograph is lost
Use soft light as an ally
Sometimes, the direct flash to your dishes is very invasive. It ends up overexposing the image and does not allow the elements of the food dish photo to be perfectly observed.
To avoid that, it is better to start using softer lighting, which will give a more favorable appearance to the dish you want to photograph.
Natural light: the most convenient option
Using natural light to take food photography gives the dishes a very spontaneous look.
Although it’s the most difficult to control when taking a picture, over time you’ll see that it can be your greatest ally, especially when you don’t have sophisticated lighting equipment.
The perfect photo, the one that makes you eat
Many times you see pictures of food and want to try to make yours look the same or better.
For this reason, many food photographers invite you to look at all the details that make up the image that is considered perfect before recreating it.
In addition to that, here are some other little tips that will make a difference in your pictures.
- Combine warm and cold colors in your food to give contrast and interest to your photography. For example, a good way to do this is to combine the green of the lettuce with the red of the tomato.
- If you want your picture to show the freshness of the dish, you must take the pictures when the food is just served, so you can see the smoke coming out of it. To guarantee your results, take several photos.
- More than just taking pictures of the dishes, try to capture the moments when food or drinks are served, so you can give your pictures movement.
- Not all elements in culinary photography should be perfectly placed at all times. Sometimes the best photo is the one with wine drops or cake crumbs on the table.
- To emphasize the textures of the dish, try to add shadows that give it volume. A simple method to achieve this is to place your plate near a window to take advantage of the shadow created by natural light.
- Take pictures of the food dishes from various perspectives and angles, so you can see which one is the most suitable for each dish.
- If you want your food to have great color in the picture, take the pictures before and during the cooking process.
- If you want your image to have a sense of depth, choose an element of the dish that takes the lead role. It’s almost always the one with the warm colour and the rest of the food decorates the dish, and you’ll also get great clarity.
- To capture the freshness of the food on the plate, you shouldn’t let too much time go by to take the picture. After a few minutes, the food no longer looks the way you want it to.
Pictures will not always come out on the first attempt, so don’t get frustrated if they don’t come out as you expect. With time and practice you will achieve that all the elements that you want to join in the picture will combine and the result you want will come out.
Set your camera for gastronomy photography
Each setting you configure on your camera works a specific action. If you learn its functions and how they influence image capture, you’ll have the ability to make great images.
Here’s what the basics of a camera are for:
- ISO: It tells you what proportion of light you will use to take a picture. This controls the amount of light that enters the camera. The lower the ISO, the darker the picture and the higher the lighter the picture.
- Diaphragm opening: It is in charge of regulating the lighting that passes from the lens to the sensor in the camera. It is usually used in culinary photography to emphasize the main element of the dish.
- Speed: Using different shooting speeds achieves great effects in the final photographs. If you want to capture the movement in an image you must have a great illumination and a high speed; however, if you want to show the path of the movement, you must use a slower speed.
- Spot metering mode: This mode is suitable for photographing specific elements that do not have movement.
- Type of focus: There are manual and automatic focus modes whose job is to capture the image in a sharp way. If you are just starting out in photography, autofocus will help you a lot.
- White Balance: This is a function that the camera has to maintain a balance between the different colors.
Photography is a process with many edges, you must control each variable so that everything goes as you think.
To learn more about the controls, the best thing to do is to capture an image, apply a change, capture another image and observe the changes obtained.
Need inspiration? Here are the tips for you
In social networks you can find many examples of how to execute gastronomic photographs. The most used by the photographers’ guild are Instagram and Pinterest. You can also try your luck with Reddit.
Review images and identify which are the most outstanding elements of each dish, they will help you find the style you identify with the most and encourage you to put it into practice.
And if you don’t feel that you’re attracted to the style in any one photo, make up your own mind to create your own style
Video tips for understanding how to take food photos
More than studying theory, you must put it into practice. That’s why we bring you a video from the Rapiboy Quick Ship channel so that you know how to test each element we explain.
Just by using your cell phone, you will learn the different ways you can capture good pictures of food dishes.
You must also practice using the different types of angles, lighting and tricks that we explain. Little by little, you will see how the quality of your photos improves.
Products you need to capture your best photos
To capture good pictures you must have all the elements. Crockery, glasses, cutlery, tablecloths, containers are some of the utensils you can include in your composition.
In Greenuso, our online shop, you will find a large catalogue of ecological products ideal to support the photography service that you can offer to any restaurant.
The textures of the products made from sugar cane fibers, the originality of the bioplastic containers or the unbreakable glasses, are products that can give a differentiating touch to your images.
We invite you to visit our virtual shop and get to know the vast range of products we have at your disposal.