How to improve composition and take your food photography to a higher level
Proper composition and food styling are important ingredients of food photography. If you want to take your food photos to a higher level, Joanie Simon of The Bite Shot introduces a mini-series of videos to help you improve composition and take delicious-looking photos of food.
The series consists of three videos, each discussing different elements of composition and giving plenty of examples. Joanie relies on the book Mastering Composition by Richard Garvey-Williams. In the first part, Joanie explains the concept of visual weight or the “balance” in an image.
In food photography, you generally want to create well-balanced images with evenly distributed visual weight.
You need to think about the size of the elements in an image you want to take. For example, a larger element will have a larger visual weight, so you have to take this into consideration when arranging food and props for the photo.
Similarly, elements with more visual interest will also appear heavier. These are the eye-catching elements with more texture, pattern or color, for example.
Generally speaking, elements at the top of the frame feel heavier than those at the bottom. When it comes to left vs. right, there’s an interesting difference here. Depending on your culture and how you read (right to left or left to right), you might tend to place more visual weight on one side versus the other.
Finally, negative space is its own element, so you should take that into account when you are composing the shot.
Make sure to watch the video for many interesting examples and detailed explanations:
The use of lines
Lines are a powerful tool for guiding your viewers’ eyes through the image. In the second video, Joanie talks about how you can use lines in food photography to create more visual interest.
When we talk about lines, these can be literal or implied lines. The literal lines are, well, literally visible in an image. As for the implied lines, we can’t see them, but we can imagine them as we’re looking at the photo. Implied lines can be created by using the elements of the same color, same shape, or by using similar components.
There are several types of lines you can create within an image. Horizontal lines usually give us a feeling of balance, serenity, and calmness in an image. Vertical lines create a sense of height, grandeur, and assertiveness. There are also diagonal lines, which help to create a feeling of energy and movement. Finally, there are curved lines, which emphasize organic, natural shapes of food. Sort of a “visual garnish,” as Joanie calls them.
In the third video of the series, Joanie discusses the concept of salience and how we utilize different techniques in order to drive the eye to the subject. It’s about the impact the image will have on the viewer.
Generally speaking, no matter how many elements your photo has, there should be only one primary element. You want the viewers’ eves to be drawn to this primary element, and arranging the composition properly will help you achieve it.
Salience can be achieved in a variety of ways. One of them is isolating your subject from the background, which can be achieved by decluttering the background, using a shallow depth of field, or literally filling the frame with your main subject.
Another way to achieve salience is utilizing the lines in your image. They will help guide the viewers’ eyes to the main subject. You can also utilize the light to achieve salience. For example, you can make the main subject the brightest so it stands out from the other elements.
Finally, framing can help you drive the eyes to the main subject. You can create a frame within a frame and create a shape around your main subject.
Once again, make sure to watch the video for some excellent examples and explanations:
These tips can easily be applied to other types of photography, not just food. But personally, food photography is one of my favorite genres, and I have found these videos very helpful, well-explained and interesting to watch. I hope you have, too!
[via The Bite Shot]
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.