Simple And Effective Food Photography Techniques
One of my photography niches is food photography. It started awhile back when a friend asked me if I could shoot for his restaurant. It seems that many photography businesses started just like that, with a friend asking a shoot, or acknowledging a talent.
We all need to start somewhere, so this article shows a very simple yet effective food photography technique using only one or two lights. While simple, it is very effective and I still use this technique when shooting for clients today.
With food photography you want to show textures in your food, so the best way to show texture in the food is by placing your light to the side or the back of your subject. Normally I place my light (a studio strobe) at 45 degrees to the back of the subject through a softbox. At the opposite side I place another studio strobe set on lower power. Lastly, I sometimes place a silver reflector, or a mirror to fill in the shadows.
I normally use a 24-70 lens for the job and on rare occasions I use a macro lens. I shoot at around f5.6-f8, and very close to the subject, but I still get a shallow depth of field.
Normally my setup for food photography is very similar to this
Main light at 45 degrees back to the subject; Fill in light 45 degrees at the opposite side of the main light (with either softbox, reflector or mirror)
I use those illustration boards quite a bit and you can read more about them here.
The clean, on-white, look would look something like this.
Aside from the clean on white look, I like to play with the background by using textured surfaces or placing cloth in the background to get textures.
I also like to use cloth in the background to get some textures.
But if you frame right, you can probably use almost anything to provide either texture or context. In this photo I used a brick grill to provide a hint of context through the background.
If you are shooting in a restaurant, make sure to eye the place, chances are that you will have quite a lot of options for subtle or interesting backgrounds, like tables, table cloth, stacks of things in the kitchen and so on.
The last trick I wanted to mention is using flame to make your BBQ shots stand out a bit more, I still use the same lighting for this kind of shot. I use rubbing alcohol to create the flame, and dragged my shutter to get a good exposure on the flame.
This is it, it is the same basic lighting principles that we apply and you don’t
Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!