Everyone knows that half the fun of traveling is finding new places to eat and discovering delicious new foods! If you’re anything like me, you want to take pictures of your food whenever you find something tasty and unique.
But have you ever taken a photo of an amazing looking dish, and it ends up looking…boring? What looks like a delicious dinner to you looks more like a mediocre meal in the picture. To capture what you are really seeing, you have to know how to take better food photos! Check out these simple tips for improving your food photography, and you can take your photos from bland to beautiful!
Using a Camera vs. a Smartphone
I always bring my camera when I travel, but I don’t always use it for my food photography. A lot of my food photography is taken on my phone while I’m traveling just because of convenience.
I don’t always want to pull a bulky camera out of my bag in a restaurant.
On the other hand, there are times when I want to use my camera because I know I will get better quality photos. I shoot food photography with either a wide-angle lens or a macro lens. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to make your food photos better no matter what kind of camera or phone you use. It’s not the gear you’re using, it’s the way you take the picture!
Angles are Important
Most food photos are taken from an angle (around 45 degrees) or from directly above. Professional food photographers often do flat lays of a whole spread of food by shooting from above. This is a great angle for showing several plates of food or the detail of one plate. For example, a pizza usually looks good from above because all the detail is on the top.
Shooting from a 45-degree angle is perfect for when the detail is on the side of the food. I use this technique when I’m taking photos of burgers and sandwiches or foods with lots of layers like parfaits or a stack of pancakes.
Lighting is Even More Important!
Every good photographer knows that lighting can make or break an image. Whether you’re shooting food or something else, lighting is everything.
If you’re eating in a dark restaurant, sitting by a window can help you get more natural light. If outdoor seating is available and the weather is nice, this can be a good option.
Natural light from a window is much more flattering than the yellow-tinged lights that most buildings have indoors. However, if you’re eating late at night, those lights are your only option. You can always edit your photos later to make the colors more appealing. Try not to use the flash on your phone or camera if at all possible. Flash can make your food (or really any subject you’re photographing) look washed out and flat.
Don’t Forget the Background
What’s behind your subject is just as important as the food you’re photographing. When you are arranging your plate and positioning your food to make it look good, don’t forget to check what’s around and behind your food. Check for any items you don’t want in your photos.
Another way to use the background to your advantage is to use the location as your background. Hold your macarons in front of the Eiffel Tower, or place your pasta in front of the window looking out on an Italian street. Even using a wall inside an ice cream shop can make a photo look Instagram-worthy.
Be Picky About Your Pictures
Some food tastes better than it looks, so you don’t have to feel like you need to take pictures of every single snack you eat. Be selective about the food you photograph.
Also, it’s best to take a photo of your food as soon as you get it. Your meal will look a lot tastier while it’s still steaming hot, and you definitely don’t want a picture of melted ice cream. Don’t take pictures of your food after you’ve already finished half of it if possible. Food with a few bites taken out of it just doesn’t look too appetizing.
I hope these tips help you improve your photography so you can remember the amazing meals you eat all over the world!
Remember that these are just tips, not rules. Don’t be afraid to use your style to create amazing photos that you’ll love! So the last tip is: Get creative, and just be you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary is the creator of the blog Life Full of Light, which helps women discover new travel destinations and capture the world with a camera. When she’s not traveling or practicing photography, she’s working full time as a medical technologist in her home state of Mississippi. She shares travel guides, photography tips, and lifestyle content on her website LifeFullofLight.com