Tricks that food photographers use to entice customers
In food photography, is everything as it seems?
How many of you have actually enjoyed a burger that looks like the one in the picture at our local restaurant? When was the last time you enjoyed a steak that looked as succulent as the one in the menu?
It doesn’t happen. Or at least, it very rarely happens. We accept it though - it’s all an illusion to lure us into buying and eating.
But that probably hasn’t stopped you from wondering how it’s done, has it? How do we make the food look so appetising?
Well they are the tricks of the trade.
Lighting & Angle
The angle from which a picture is taken makes a massive difference on the finished product. Taking from head on for example will affect the way the light falls on the subject. A 30 degree angle allows for inclusion of background props, props that can transform the image. One popular angle – especially with food bloggers – is the overhead shot. Taking the picture from directly above the subject. It makes creating a composition so much easier because it eliminates depth.
Angles transform any type of photography. In food, a simple change in angle can make the dullest meal look more appetising.
Have a play.
To food photographers the props are just as important as the food in the image. They can transport the viewer to a time or place, making the food so much more appealing. Props can include anything really. If, for example, the food is of a Texan BBQ flavour – the photographer could use props related to an American Ranch.
It’s all down to you as the photographer, but don’t forget how important props are!
"But its not real food is it?" is a common response to hearing what I do for as living. People assume there are lots of artificial things we do to the food - like shining it up with hair spray for example. I'm sorry to disappoint but the closest we might get to that is perhaps glazing some meat with olive oil. But I would say 99.9% of the time everything - certainly in my photos - it is real and edible. There is no major secret to shooting food. Choose the best ingredients you can find. Even when you are buying fruit and vegetables in the supermarket pick the best looking ones for example. Where possible shoot the recipes quickly, at their freshest. The exceptions are occasions like when you might want steam, or ice or ice cream. The tricks for those are blog all of their own and not something you need to worry about unless food photography becomes your profession.
To a professional retouching generally means Photoshop. Images can also be tweaked in the capture software. This can be anything from removing an unwanted crumb, changing colours - to adding multiple images together. For someone just wanting to improve their phone pics retouching can also be done. Anything from filters on apps like instagram to creating photo collages is available to all of us now.
It all really comes down to attention to detail. Consider everything in the scene - but however you do it keep it simple.
Food Photographer & Director