Here are four big mistakes food photographers keep making

Sep 8, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

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.

Here are four big mistakes food photographers keep making

Sep 8, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

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.

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Food photography is one of the genres that may seem relatively simple. At least that’s how I felt – until I actually started photographing food. There is so much to learn, and of course, there are many mistakes that food photographers make even past the beginner stage. In this video, Scott Choucino discusses four big mistakes food photographers make when they’re just starting out, but they often keep happening during the later stages of their career.

YouTube video

1. The direction of light

It’s important to get it right when you’re determining the direction of light (oh, this rhymes). There’s no right and wrong answer, but you should keep in mind that every kind of lighting that you choose will tell a different story.

In the western, world we read from left to right and this direction seems natural to us when observing anything else. So, to make the photo pleasing to the eye, you want the light to come from the left side of the image. On the other hand, if you want a bit of edge, mood, and drama – you can keep the same settings, but just change the direction of light to be right from left. For example, that would be perfect for Halloween images.

2. Not leveling the camera

When taking food photos, you want to make sure that the camera is perfectly level. This doesn’t only go for the horizon line, but pay attention that your fore and aft are perfectly level as well. This is something that can be fixed in post, but it doesn’t always look good, so it’s better to nail it in-camera. Use a spirit level to help you out.

3. Shallow depth of field

You bought that super-fast lens and of course, you want to use its huge aperture, right? Well… Shallow depth of field has its place in photography, sure. But when taking food photos, you don’t want to shoot wide open. Scott says that f/5.6 to f/8 is the “sweet spot” for food shots, but he often even stops down his lenses way more. When shooting food, no one really cares about the buttery bokeh. It’s more important to see the actual butter or whatever food there is in the scene.

4. Taking a picture just because it’s pretty

Finally, a mistake I keep making when taking food photos for my own blog. I try to make them relatively pretty, find or make a good light, and shoot! But okay, I am a bit lazy and I don’t have enough free time to spend on that blog. However, if you’re striving to become a professional food photographer, you don’t want to take a photo just because it’s pretty. Instead, you should shoot with intent, think your composition through, and think about what you want to show and emphasize.

Do you still make any of these mistakes?

[4 Mistakes Food Photographers Always Make via FStoppers]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

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.

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2 responses to “Here are four big mistakes food photographers keep making”

  1. Steven Naranjo Avatar
    Steven Naranjo

    I agree with number 3. I think a lot of us kind become addicting to f1.8 or shallower and forget that you can shoot at f4 or at f8 as you mentioned. I see it a lot with tight head shot using 1.8 but never try a larger fstop. Once I’m framing at the chest I like to trying other fstops. Full body is where I tend to keep it f2 or smaller.

  2. Phillip McCordall Avatar
    Phillip McCordall

    No decent pro food photographer would use a small format camera for any still life, being able to change the plane of focus is a must. A 5×4 camera is the only way to go in my opinion.