Food Photography with Smartphones—
Appetizing photographs of delicious looking foods styled in the best way possible are flooding the Instagram. Posting food pictures every-time you hit a restaurant or bar is now as important as the food itself & you don’t always need a DSLR. Here are some tips that will help you get better at food photography with a smartphone camera—
Turn the Flash OFF
Artificial light/white box in professional photography is meant to light up certain parts of a scene. Smartphone flash, however, just throws a direct beam of light and highlight the scene randomly. Result is usually a ruined photograph. Most of the details you’d wish to capture might be lost in the harsh light.
This is a general guideline. Whenever you want (and it’s possible) to take closer shot, physically move closer and then click a photo. Digital zoom of your smartphone only make your photographs pixelated.
Always move closer to click a macro food shot or a detail shot of your food and never zoom manually. Also, it’s relatively better to crop photos than ruin them with excessive zooming.
Most smartphone cameras have exposure control that works like in DSLR cameras. Of course it not as good as in DSLRs, but still it’s better to have more control.
Exposure control basically adjusts the amount of light interacting with the sensors. It allows you to change the amount of light in a photo.
Food photography is generally carried out indoors and you might already be struggling with low light. In such cases, it’s fine to click overexopsed photos. Usually, a little overexposure (than your usual smartphone photos) in low light conditions gives correct exposure.
But make sure you don’t overdo it. Exposing more than necessary will wash-out important details of your food photograph. Don’t overexpose to such an extent that the details can’t be recovered in post-processing. I believe that’s the last thing any photographer would ever want to happen.
It’s best to click photos in natural lighting only. Artificial lighting might get you better exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, etc. But that doesn’t mean the food will look as appetizing as it actually was. Artificial light might make it seem artificial. Natural light is the environment we live in and would like to have food that looks natural. It’s best to keep it that way only.
You should alter natural light to your needs. If the sunlight is too strong for your scene, put curtains on windows to soften it. Light from some directions can be blocked to get better contrast in photos.
Contrasts create a ‘complimentary & contradictory’ sense in images (I know that sounds too fancy 🙂 ).
Light colored foods like vanilla ice-cream (yum-yum!!) requires a darker plate or dark table top. And obviously dark foods need simple white plates.
The contrasts achieved will make photos attract more attention. This definitely is something most of your clients and publishers ask for.
Overhead shots make things simpler. If inclined angles don’t present your subject the way you wish, you should try overhead shots. Instagram is flooded with such pictures.
These shots often cover all props, tableware and even the table surface. This obviously opens new ways of composing and styling your food. You can try various props and cutlery.
You won’t be able to capture motion in food photography like you can in a horizontal shot. Also, textures and color of your food are best captured in shots ‘closer’ than overhead ones.
Take lots of photos
Simple probability: Taking 10 or 15 photos have better chances of getting a great photograph than in clicking one or two of them. Mastering food photography demands a lot of time, practice and patience. The more photos you click with slight changes, the better you’ll understand its various aspects. Take multiple (almost similar) photos and analyze to learn how small changes can significantly improve your food photography.
The more you immerse in food photography, the better you get at it. Play with props, clutter things around, try different angles….