This week I wanted to tackle food photography. This sounds easy enough in theory, except…I don’t cook. I could go to a restaurant and take a great picture of a gorgeous plate of food, but we never eat out. So. Instead of giving you some artful pictures of chips and salsa or cereal, I asked my pal Meghan to give some food photography tips. She makes things like homemade marshmallows. That just blows my mind!
Two of my hobbies are taking photos and cooking. Having said that, I am far from professional grade at either of those things. I suppose that’s why they’re called hobbies, right?
I can comfortably say that I’m better at cooking than I am at photography. Which poses an interesting dilemma when I have a recipe I’d like to share. There’s really no getting around photographing your food if you’re going to post the recipe on the Internet. People want to see what they’re going to be cooking and eating. Plus, recipe posts can be pretty boring if it’s just the recipe.
I’ve learned a few general rules of thumb that have helped to improve my food photography. These are things anyone can do. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too, and it’s not even anything you need a fancy camera for.
Rule 1: Use as much natural light as possible
This can be somewhat difficult because a lot of the things I want to photograph are dinner recipes and it’s oftentimes dark outside at dinner time. If you know that you’re cooking something that you want to photograph and it’s going to be dark, try to make it early so you can get your photos before the sun goes down.
I took this photo during the day:
The natural light casts a really lovely glow on these rolls that are ready to go into the oven. The next photo, however, was taken at night using overhead lights and a flash:
It looks okay, but the flash really washes it out.
Rule 2: Use white dishes whenever possible
Less is more when it comes to food photography. It’s okay to add in some extra items, but white dishes will really make your food “pop” off of the plate.
This photo also reminds me to tell you to really look at how your food is positioned before you start snapping away. The piece of lettuce sticking up in the middle of the shot drives me insane.
Rule 3: Don’t be afraid to include props or splashes of color
While referring back to Rule 2, it’s perfectly acceptable to add some color and interest into your photos.
If there is a “theme” to your recipe, run with it. Just make sure it doesn’t take the focus off of your food.
Rule 4: Have fun!
This isn’t rocket science. If you love the food that you’re cooking and don’t take yourself too seriously, it will come across in your photos.
If you need recipe inspiration, my favorite go to recipe finders are food.com and the HP ePrint Martha’s Everyday Food app on my HP printer. I am a huge fan of being able to check out other people’s reviews and I especially love that the HP Recipe app can be used alongside the Coupons.com app, so I can find a recipe and then print out applicable coupons to take to the store with me.
Now, go find yourself a recipe and get cooking!
Heather again. Thanks to Meghan! Applause! A few things I want to add about other things you can do with your food photos:
-Snap photos of your easy-to-prepare feasts to share with family and friends. Print food photographs to frame and decorate your home or to make into greeting cards.
-Get creative: Add a personal spin to your favorite recipes, take step-by-step photographs, and start creating your own recipe cards and/or family cookbook!
Where do you like to get your recipes? What are some of the creative things you do with your photos? Share them below!
Want more information on different HP apps? You can find them here, thanks to my awesome photo partners.
Sloane Reed says:
My first ‘real’ job was at a community newspaper doing advertising sales. Because the staff was so small we were all multi-taskers and my duties often included writing articles…..and taking pictures. Mostly I photographed people or landmarks, easy enough, but food proved difficult for me. It was like a 50/50 chance that I’d get something brilliant or terrible from my usual method [pointing and shooting without much discretion[. I would have loved to see an article like this back in the day!
With that being said, your tips are really good and easy-to-follow. The photos turned out well. I must say though, in response to your second tip, some of my best food pictures have been on colored dishes though I agree with you overall that white usually works best. It’s so important that you mention to have a good time with it because– novice or professional– I think people’s best work [whatever their hobbies may be] comes from a place of fun.
This has been bugging me all day –
If you dont cook or eat out then what do you eat?
Ha!! We warm up a lot of food. We eat lots of pre-packaged diet foods, like weight watchers and lean cuisine. Mike cook on occasion – he grills on our BBQ. And every now and then I make pasta – I’m actually really good at pasta!!
Hi Heather, I love reading your blog every day but I never comment. I didn’t really cook until I came across weelicious.com. The recipes are soo easy and delicious and some of them do not require very many ingredients. You should check it out if you haven’t already
Jennifer Young says:
Heather, any chance you know where that glass in the last picture is from? We got a set for our wedding, and all but one has broken…would love to get more…thanks!
I personally like to use white dishes with a line or something on them for my food photos. I also have a great collection of woven placemats that my mom made for me, so I use those for most of photo shoots.
Natural light is definitely good, but if you realize that you want to photograph a dish and it’s already too dark inside to take the photo, I highly suggest going outside! Often the light outdoors is good long after a window shot won’t work. Also, you can use a sheet of white paper to reflect light onto your food if there are too many shadows AND it works very well with a daylight bulb to give you a more diffused light when you can’t get natural daylight.
Action pictures while cooking are great too, if you’re blogging about the recipe. I imagine it’d be especially cute if you have children help you in the kitchen!
My favorite recipe site is allrecipes.com.