It’s quite common now to go out and find people huddling over food with their phones because let’s face it, the camera “eats” the food before you do.
It’s a known fact that our generation is becoming dependent on visuals on social media to decide on whether that food is worth trying out or not. There have been times when I browse through food delivery websites like foodpanda to figure out what I’d want to eat and how I decide is wholly based on how much the pictures can entice me.
And then I find out that through an interview foodpanda did with one of their top photographers, there is more to it than just whipping out a fancy camera to take that money shot.
These are the 8 tips shared by a professional food photographer so you can use them to impress your friends the next time you go for lunch.
1) Find out what your REAL subject is when taking food photos.
Mistake number one that I always commit—not bothering to figure out what the photo’s focus is.
A flatlay shot is always the norm, but getting the focus on the right subject depends on a few factors. You have to take into consideration the lighting of the area as well as have a good eye on what can give that aesthetic oomph.
Of course, make sure the food looks presentable too.
Tip 1: “One of the most important things to consider is authenticity and to stay true to your individual style. Once you have your own style, you should stick to it, as it will serve as an expression of your personality.”
2) Your canggih smartphone is enough.
Yes, your smartphone is more than enough. No need to lug that DSLR around or any other professional camera.
Not to say that cameras don’t give that extra benefit, but smartphones nowadays come with so many functions and settings built into the camera app itself that it can be confusing on whether it was taken with a phone or not.
So long as you take tip 1 into consideration and get the lighting and angles right, your photo can easily pass off as professional.
Tip 2: “You can also always edit pictures with the help of white balance settings or playing with one of the countless photography apps.”
3) Show the flavour of the dish by scattering ingredients around.
The name of the food usually gives a good idea on what it tastes like but a better way to give the right vibe is by adding raw ingredients.
People don’t really think much about it and rarely bother with this step, but the contents of the dish itself actually plays a huge role in food photography.
We all have seen those dishes that just don’t photograph well, no matter how much you try. So adding fresh ingredients would be a nice touch to enhance the picture.
Raw ingredients also make for great extra props because it can make the photo look fresh while bright colours would give that nice pop.
Tip 3: “The next time you order food that is not photogenic, consider using fresh ingredients with great colours available in your kitchen. Feel free to arrange them nicely and test the angle.”
4) Simplicity is always the best, don’t over lah.
As always, simplicity is key.
I know we’re always tempted to add a lot in the dish itself to make it look full and appetising but overdoing could make it seem cluttered.
The plate should be nicely arranged but not in an overwhelming way. Try envisioning how much of the outer white space of the plate you can keep clear.
Tip 4: “Just use a small portion of your meal to take the photo, and then later on enjoy it in its entirety.”
5) Adding that human touch can make all the difference.
Some people might think that a good food photo only has to feature the dish, but those hands of yours can make it both natural and relatable.
It gives viewers an impression of seeing the food from your perspective and makes them feel like they’re somehow included in as well.
Tip 5: “You could take a picture holding cutlery, or you could simply lay your hand on the side. Holding ingredients in hand (rosemary, cranberry etc.) is a great idea. Just test the angles and you’re sure to take a perfect shot.”
6) Get the best angle possible.
Just like how you have your best face angles, so do food.
You can say angles are like a visual language that connects you with your audience. How you see the food and photograph it will be how the viewer perceives it. So making sure the angle gives the best impression the food has is vital.
Tip 6: “My two favourite are the top angle and the front angle. Of course, there a lot of different angles that work, but these are my personal favorite when taking food pictures.”
7) If you’re not a professional photographer, don’t act like one.
There’s really no need for you to invest in any technical additions like ring lights or props. With most things creative, improvisation is the best method.
Look around your surroundings and figure out what can be used to make that shot better.
Tip 7: “You could try decorating with a wooden board to place your food, white baking paper or paper bag as a background or use a napkin to take out excess oil from some dishes because oily dishes don’t photograph well and it will taste just the same.”
8) Follow this one golden rule always.
It might seem like an obvious fact, but many are unaware on how much this can impact your photo. The golden rule is to always keep the plate clean, especially when shooting close-ups.
Even if there are small smudges or minor imperfections, it could easily make the food look unappealing which is a big no-no.
Tip 8: “Set up your perfect shot before your meal arrives because food comes last in the composition process. Arrangement is important, as it is the key to a successful picture.”
Now that you have these tips, you can keep them in mind the next time you’re out with friends or family in that hipster café.
Food photography can be a little time consuming, especially because there are many things to consider. But when you get that perfect photo, nothing feels better than looking at it again and remembering the flavours that came with it.
Just don’t take too long until those meals get cold!
This article was written in collaboration with foodpanda Malaysia. Since its creation, the on-demand food delivery service has grown to more than 14,000 partner restaurants in more than 30 cities across 9 Asian countries globally. Active in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Philippines, Bangladesh and Brunei. It belongs to Delivery Hero, worldwide leader of the food delivery industry.
Feature Image Credit: foodpanda