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Food Photography Tips For The Amateur

Sarah Koszyk, MA RD

Food Photography Tips For The Amateur

When it comes to online marketing, cookbooks, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, you name the media, we are instantly attracted to those succulent-looking food photos. Your digital images can capture your audience, engage them into trying your recipe or food item, and enhance their experience of enjoyment. Now is the time to make people’s mouths water with your photos and develop your camera skills to get the magazine-worthy shots you want. Here are the top 5 food photography tips from the experts.

Tip #1: Camera Basics: Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, co-founder of the blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, and co-author of the cookbook, No Whine With Dinner, recommends to read your camera manual and learn how to use it! Even if using a Smart Phone, which can also provide excellent photos, learn about the features. Tri-pods are highly recommended so the camera can be still enough to take a sharp photo. Also, Bissex suggests having a remote control to take the photo because sometimes pushing down on the shutter can move the camera, resulting in a blurry shot.

Tip #2: Lighting Basics: Natural light is always best, advises Bissex. If the day is gloomy, try shooting near a window. You can also purchase some start-up lighting equipment for low cost. Bissex uses a white foam board, purchased at a local craft store, to reflect the outside light. It’s functional and affordable.

Tip #3: Essential Props: Maria Zebrowski, personal chef, food stylist, and cookbook author with over 25 years experience, states to have different surfaces such as wood, glass, tiles, table cloths, and more for different looks and feel of the various dishes you are highlighting. Go out and buy a few different napkins, placemats, plates, and bowls to add to the theme of the recipe or food item you are shooting. Bissex also suggests including seasonal props for use during holidays such as Easter, Christmas, etc.

Tip #4: Styling The Food: Zebrowski specializes in food styling, so it’s important to have ascorbic acid to prevent darkening of some foods. Spray bottles are great for a fine water mist to make your food glisten. A small torch and barbecue coil will put grill marks onto your food for that fresh-off-the-barbecue look.  Always have an assortment of herbs and spices to sprinkle over the food or place around the food for further décor. Great tip: put food on white colored plates so the food “pops” and then layer the food with garnishes for color and use colored linens & placemats.  “The key is to not overwhelm the food. Your food is the star,” reminds Zebrowski.

Tip #5: Angles.  Both Bissex & Zebrowski inform about the rule of thirds by using different angles to capture the food and not necessarily always having the food in the exact center of the photo. Both experts suggest looking at other websites to get examples.

Food photography is always a work-in-progress and every day can be a new learning day full of creativity and fun. Here are some additional websites and references to grow your skills:

Otis School Of Design in Southern California has a food photography seminar OR you can check out your local schools and see what seminars/classes they have to offer

International Association of Culinary Professionals is an organization full of many food stylists and photographers with a yearly conference and many workshops

Healthy Aperture, A unique food photo gallery

Taste Spotting, A community driven visual potluck

Food Gauker, Food for your eyes

White On Rice Couple, Food photography blog

Beatric Peltre, Food photography and styling

You can also shadow a food stylist in your area! Reach out and contact one today. Happy shooting!

Sarah Koszyk is the founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach at Eating Free, an online adult weight management program. She also provides in-person nutrition coaching at a private practice, MV Nutrition, in San Francisco, CA, where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Sarah Koszyk is founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog focusing on recipes, family health tips, and videos with kids cooking in the kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach specializing in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.

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