I think it’s safe to assume that most of us food bloggers don’t own huge photo studios and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of professional photo and lighting equipment. If you’re like me, we tend to make the most out of our digital cameras, the kitchen table and whatever little light comes in through the kitchen window. However, you don’t need a degree in photography or an expensive camera to take great pictures and with a little creativity, you can take great photographs right in the comfort of your dining room.
Not so long ago, the camera itself was a complicated instrument and scared away most would-be photographers. Not to mention the added costs of developing and the wait for the photos to be printed only to find out that the shots were out-of-focus, blurry or over/under exposed. There was so much that could go wrong. But digital cameras have taken all the guesswork out of photography with instant previews and retouching software.
There are two aspects to food photography. One is taking the pictures and the other is food decoration or plating. Without decorating the plate, even the best photographer can’t make the food look appetizing. Using the colors, textures and patterns in the food with beautiful settings and backgrounds can make even the simplest and most boring food look appetizing. Today we will concentrate more about the plating that makes the food look beautiful, more than the photography itself.
I have used for this particular project a simple Maharashtrian dish called ‘Shikran’. Shikran is a simple, but delicious dish made from bananas, sugar and milk mixed in a bowl. When you look at the dish the way it is traditionally presented, it looks bland and unappetizing.
Making something so plain and colorless look appetizing is very difficult, but with a little effort, it can be achieved. For any dish choosing the right background as well as plates is as important as the food itself. Since the dish itself is so white and colorless, I have used a plate as well as a tablecloth with colors that contrast the food. Choosing a dish with a unique shape and color adds character to the dish.
Photography is a more an illusion than reality. And sometimes, in favour making the food look good, I might cook the dish differently than one would if it was actually being eaten. In this case, I have chosen not to prepare the dish at all. Rather assemble it on the plate itself to give it a better appearance and allow the natural textures of the banana to come through. Then proceed to build the dish step-by-step as illustrated in the photographs.
Finally, when the dish is ready, make sure it is in a place that gets very good diffused light. And then find a perfect angle to take your shot. Try a few different angles exploring the way light reflects of the food, the angles where the colors and texture are best. Take lots of pictures with different camera settings from each angle. After the shoot review and chose the best shots. Once you choose a shot feel free to process it using photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Corel Photopaint. Image editing is a great way to enhance your photos.
A few simple rules that will help you take great pictures:
- Smaller portions always look more appetizing and intimate than large plates
- Make sure that the dishes aren’t stained and the utensils are clean
- The immediate backgrounds are just as important as the subject and can help set a tone for the photograph or even tell a story
- Choose a bright day when photographing in natural light
- Make sure you’re shooting in diffused light. Direct light tends to create sharp and unappealing shadows
- Avoid using the flash, as it will overpower any other source of light
- Use of fresh herbs for garnish makes the food look prettier. However, make sure you don’t overdo it
- Take a number of photos with different camera settings and chose the best one to display
Indrajeet Chandrachud is an award winning art director with experience in print, direct, digital, and broadcast. He is also blogs about food at Adhi Potoba. More on his food blogging can be found on his profile at food-india .
Posted in: Food Culture |