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How to photograph food: secrets and tips from professionals
How to photograph food: secrets and tips from professionals

Food photography is a fairly serious and large area in the amateur and commercial filming environment. There are many professional masters in this genre, but becoming one is really not easy, as food photography involves a huge number of little things and rules that can really affect our assessment of these shots. Today we will try to learn more about them and understand how beautiful it is to photograph food.


Let's start by defining the correct name for when photographing food. In the slang of professionals, it is most correct to call this area the food genre. Translated into artistic language, this direction can be called still life. It is quite difficult to become a professional in this field, you need to know many composition rules, frame composition rules, as well as color compatibility.

Let's walk through the technique

In order to beautifully shoot food, you certainly need a camera or a smartphone with good optics.But here it is worth understanding that if you want to do it professionally, then you need to shoot at least on a mirror system with a crop format matrix. If possible, use full-frame models, as they are considered more professional, have more dynamic range, and generally slightly outperform crop-format cameras in all respects.

Required lenses

As for lenses. You can shoot with almost any lens, but, again, this is not always correct. Since the food genre is practically a subspecies of macro photography, we can say that macro lenses are best suited for these purposes. Most often they have a focal length of 85-100 mm and an aperture value of about 2-2.8. They are ideal for these tasks, have excellent sharpness at the edges and center of the frame, and also practically do not distort the space, since the angle of view of the lens with the focal distance of 85 mm is almost comparable to the angle of view of the human eye, so we can say that these lenses simply transmit the image as the human eye sees it. At the same time, there are both professional models and amateur ones.

food photo lens


Besides the camera and the lens, good lighting is very important in food photography. There are several types of lighting: soft, diffused light and hard. They are suitable for completely different purposes, as soft light gives us a very pleasant and smooth picture without unnecessary harsh shadows. Hard light is more comparable to sunlightwith light, as it produces rather harsh shadows and is not suitable for food photography in most cases. To get the right light at any time of the year, you can buy a synchronizer and a couple of flashes with diffusers. Everything, you are ready to take cool shots, but if you still do not have enough funds to buy the necessary studio equipment, you can use a natural light source, that is, the sun. You can put a platform in front of the window and shoot. But, since we know that sunlight is quite hard, we need a diffuser and some more equipment. More on how to photograph food at home, how to create a home studio in a bit. Let's learn the basics for now.

Composition techniques

So, we've sorted out the technique. But let's think logically, have you ever seen a photo of a meal where only the main course is in the frame? You will not find such a frame where there would be only one object in the center of the composition. Have you noticed that in each frame some grains, spices, herbs, beautiful cutlery are added, all this adds liveliness and naturalness to the frame, our eye has something to stop its gaze on, and this is the most important thing, here we do not have a beautiful person or nature, but the frame should catch the attention of the viewer, make him look at it again and again. Every little thing will help to do this, because it will be interesting for a person to consider the whole composition.

food photo

The foundation of everything

In order to take a beautiful picture, you need a good background. What for? All this because the whole point of foodphotography - to add volume to the frame, make it more attractive and appetizing, that is, the more textured things we use, the more voluminous our composition will seem. Currently, the masters of creating such sites are able to imitate almost any surface: concrete, wood, plaster and other materials. Moreover, if you look closely, there are practically no smooth and even structures among the textures of the backgrounds, almost always it is decorative plaster or aged wood. These surfaces come in a variety of sizes and don't cost much to save on.

Sample photo

Color Wheel

But there are tricks here too. As you have probably seen, photophones come in different colors, and the question arises which food is better to photograph against a turquoise background. The answer to it can be found in the theory of color. There is such a device as a color wheel. It is designed for people who work with the composition of clothes or objects in a frame so that they can correctly match the right color combinations.

Color wheel front side

On one side of the circle is a color mixing guide that shows the result of adding one color to another. On some color wheels, on the same side, there is a saturation scale that allows you to calibrate the color, it shows shades of black and white, roughly speaking, a gradient from black to white. On the other side of the color wheel is a color combination chart. What does she show? With this scheme, you can choose one, twoor three additional shades to one main. The first way is a complementary combination. This method is based on the contrast between two colors, that is, two opposite colors are selected along this circle, which in one composition will look bright and expressive. There is a split-complementary combination when we take one primary and two additional colors that are similar in tone. This method is also based on color contrast, but here it is not as pronounced as in the first method. There is also a triangular and rectangular combination, thanks to these combinations, you can choose two or three additional shades to the main range. The color wheel is one of the most important techniques in any genre of photography, and is also the main tool in coloring.

color wheel reverse side


And now about how to properly photograph food at home without professional equipment. We have already found out that if you do not have the funds to buy professional lighting equipment, then you can shoot using natural light, but the light from it turns out to be quite harsh for our purposes. What to do? There is an exit! First of all, we need to soften the flow of light. To do this, you can use a diffuser, which requires some means. Most often, diffusers cost no more than 3,000 rubles. But if you don't have the funds at all, you can go to a stationery, art or art store and buy the following things there: tracing paper, white foam board and black foam board, and stationery clips. Forwhy do we need all this? First, we need to cut out something like a frame from white foam board. Don't throw away the inside! She'll still need it! Next, according to the size of the frame, you cut out a piece of tracing paper, and attach it to this makeshift frame using clerical clips, so our diffuser is ready. From the inside of the white foam board, we get an impromptu reflector, since white foam board reflects light perfectly. A black sheet of foam board will act as a so-called black "flag", it is needed in order to filter out excess light and take photos in a "dark key". Next, we expose our diffuser in front of the window, and fill the shadows formed from the opposite side with the reflector. That's it, your home studio is ready.

Light scheme with natural light


Commercial food filming is a bit more difficult. How is food photographed for advertising? To do this, you need to have a fairly extensive arsenal of equipment, all kinds of flashes, nozzles and more. Yes, you may not have professional equipment, but only amateur, but in any case, you must first learn all the techniques of composition, color combinations, as well as retouching and processing programs. How to photograph food for a menu? Usually, when working, a person does not always have the opportunity to use natural light, since the institution can be located in a basement or poorly lit place. In this case, you have only one way in which you can shootthis session is the use of studio, artificial lighting, but here it is already much more difficult to create soft light that would not give hard shadows. To create it, you will need at least two flashes with softboxes. Most often, such shots are made on neutral, solid colors, so that they look harmonious on the menu and are not colorful and multi-colored.

commercial shooting


In general, food photography is a rather specific genre of art, since you need to choose different equipment. Composition techniques here play the biggest role in creating a beautiful shot. You need to know how to correctly decompose each seed or crumb so that they harmonize with each other and attract our eyes. It is best to start doing food photography from home shooting, to participate in specialized competitions for this genre of filming. Skill comes with experience, experiment, try different lighting schemes, shoot a variety of foods, as each dish requires a different approach. We hope that thanks to the article it became clear to you how to photograph food, you learned the basic techniques, shooting techniques, as well as technical details. All this will help you become a true professional in this field of art.

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