If you love food, and you love photography, it’s pretty understandable that you’d find the intersection of the two — food photography — an alluring and interesting new medium to explore. However, unlike people, places, and events, capturing food is as much about compositing, lighting, and setting as it is allowing your own story to be told, because you’re probably shooting food that either a.) you’ve made, or b.) have some other close attachment to. And most of the time, you’re probably shooting in your own home.
Unfortunately, when you’re shooting something close to you, you may start to notice that your photos tend to start to look the same. Break out of your food photography mould with these tips from professional photographers Todd Porter and Diane Cu, whose CreativeLive class, Story on the Plate, focuses on not only food photography, but story-telling through the medium.
Involve the whole gang: While the food is the focus of most food photos, it’s nice to include a little life, as well. “Let the hands show!” says Todd, who suggests “involving your whole family.” Whether it’s sticky kid fingers or a happy, mid-bite face, including your loved ones in your photos will help set them apart — after all, no one else has your family members!
Add color: Have you ever seen a black-and-white food photo? Maybe, but it’s rare — that’s because all of the textures and elements of food just look better when their colors are allowed to shine. Diane and Todd recommend using linens or even interesting dishes or other serving vessels to add unexpected color. And there’s no need to get fancy — even just “a bright blue cup,” says Todd, can express your personality and give your photos more dimension. “You can also add garnishes,” Diane suggests.
Move around: If you’re taking every photo on the same or similar surfaces, or with very similar light, consider moving your subjects around some. “Pick up the plate,” Diane says “and move it by a window or other light source.” Then, try taking some photos on different surfaces, including unusual ones, like “a concrete floor, a wooden table, a distressed table-top, anything like that,” says Diane. You can also lay down the aforementioned linens to create new surfaces, say Todd and Diane.
Want more great food photography tips? Check out Story on the Plate.