Recently i had been invited by my very talented blogger friend Rakshita Dwivedi from Recipe Dabba to take a live chat session on Facebook organised by her food group ‘Food Ki Chat‘ on the topic ‘Food Photography and More’ . I am thankful to Rakshita for considering me to take up the session and it’s really a moment of honor for me. Few days back on a discussion with Rakshita i came across few basic questions that is often asked by people who want to know more about food styling and food photography. Hence i thought to compile those set of questions here and try to answer them in the most easiest way that can make me readers understand and know a little more about food photography.
Below are the commonly asked questions by aspiring food stylists and photographers :
What made me pursue a career in food photography and food blogging?
Food blogging came totally unexpected to me. It was May 2014 when i first though to start a blog just to treasure my family recipes and keep my sanity in check. Being a foodie i always wanted to do something what i like, that is cooking. Initially it was all amateurish but later as i moved ahead every step taught me a new lesson and i gradually came to know that blogging can be taken up as a career also. Sooner or later, my blog started growing up and i gradually started getting recognition which again encouraged me to take it as a career. Food photography and blogging comes hand in hand. In today’s era, food styling and food photography has taken up blogging totally. Earlier just a clean picture of the dish with the recipe was considered to be good. But today, along with the recipe, the food needs styling and beautifully photographed as well. As they say “Jo dikhta hai wo bikta hai” same formula is applied here as well.
What are the basic requirements to click vivid pictures ?
If you are a food stylist, to get beautiful and eye catching, vivid pictures you need to have few basic things like a good camera with proper lens, good quality serving dishes, few props and a nice back drop.
What type of lighting techniques do you favor ?
A good photographer always uses the best out of natural light. Say no to ‘flash’. Basically there are three time zones to acquire three different kind of natural light. Morning, afternoon and early evening. Morning light is fresh and refined, where as afternoon light is sharp and sometimes difficult to handle as it saturates the pictures a bit. Evening light is low and is best to get dark and moody pictures.
What is food styling and why is it important? How to style food so it looks attractive? Please give some tips?
Food styling is an art! When we arrange or style a food to look even more attractive and appealing, it is known as food styling. People often get confused with ‘food art’ and food styling’. let me give you an example here : When you go to a restaurant and order your favorite food, specially in star hotel. You see the waiter brings you a dish that is platted in a very beautiful way. That plating done is ‘Food Art’. Where as a picture where the food is highlighted as the ‘Hero’ and also combined with various props like napkins, spoons/forks, some ingredients and over all displayed like a story is known as ‘Food Styling’.
- Never crowd the picture by adding lot of things/props.
- Always choose the correct props and the serving dish for the food.
- Always remember your food should be ‘The Hero’ of the picture, hence try to highlight the food more than anything else.
- Pick the correct background for your photograph. This should be chosen according to the mood of the picture. Example : If you want to style a summer drink, try to organize the set up in white and vibrant colors that gives a fresh summer feel. If you want to shot some fritters in monsoon, then try for a dark and moody set up.
- Arrange the layout and the composition and shoot few clicks to check if it’s looking good or not, else change the composition. Always choose the correct props and the serving dish for the food.
- Have a good color sense. Do not mismatch the colors and make the styling and picture look weird.
What type of equipment do you use to get such great results? Is everything done in a studio or how can we get similar effects in a home bound environment?
I basically depend on my camera that is Nikon D5200. Apart from that i use a tripod to get perfect clicks. By using a tripod the pictures never get blur or hazy. For food photography i have two basic lens , 50mm Nikkor F/1.8G AF Prime Lens and 100mm Macro lens (i am still not used to it). Other than that i have the basic VR kit lens (18mm-55mm)
I don’t have a professional studio, i click my pictures at home, post process it in PSLR and Picassa at times.
Do you have any suggestions to improve the quality of food pictures after they have been clicked?
Well there are 4 basic needs for a good quality picture.
- Good source of natural light/ No flash
- Correct lens and camera settings
- Good composition
- Post processing / editing
If the light is bright and good, if you have the correct lens and the right camera settings according to the light, good composition then 90% battle is won. People often carry a myth that post processing does miracles to a picture. Well it does, but only if you want to give a complete artificial look to your image. For me post processing is just to adjust brightness and color contrast and crop the image if required.
Which of your images do you like most and why?
Oh i like most of my images, but trust me with every next shoot i feel it was better than the previous one. So it’s a learning and a growing process where you learn from every picture and do better than before. Anyways i’ll share few of my current favorite pictures here. These pictures are my favorite as i love the styling and the natural light used in the image with minimum PP (post processing)
What’s your favorite food to photograph?
I love to style and photograph Indian desserts and drinks. I feel the dessert give a the liberty to create various compositions, they can be styled traditionally as well as contemporary. In either way they look beautiful and gorgeous.
What are some over used trends in food photography?
One of the over used trend that has been growing for advanced and enthusiast photographers and is a bit disturbing as well is the use of image editing workflow software. The market is dominated by Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture. Though the use of PSLR is important in food photography but one should not depend on that totally. Try learning your camera and use your own skills to get best results. Use PSLR just for minor editing.
Any tips for amateur food photographers, especially those with camera phones at the ready?
As i say food photography is an art and no teacher can teach you to hold and click with your camera. All you need is to know your camera well.
- Try learning the relationship between ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.
- Understand how these three work together in different light source.
- For food styling try to watch youtube videos, follow photography boards on pinterest etc.
- Find a place in your home where you can get the best source of light, it can be near a window, your kitchen platform, next to balcony etc. Please don’t shoot under tubelight and just say a big NO to flash.
- Try to shoot 500 pictures in a day (i learnt this from Farrukh Shadab). Once you click 500 images, it’s sure 450 shall go into trash and among those 50 images you will get only 4-5 correct that will be presentable. We all have gone through this phase, never feel tired to click images as there is only one key to become a successful food photographer and that is PRACTICE! The more you practice, the more you become skilled.
- For phone photographers, i would say that you are lucky to have advanced phones that have inbuilt ISO and Aperture. So all you need to do is shoot in natural light and keep your hands steady. Cook the food, style it beautifully, arrange a gorgeous composition and click in natural light. Different phone have different color scale and mode, hence it may differ while seeing on a laptop. So just edit it in PS and adjust the color – contrast and you are done!
What type or styles of food images seem to be the most popular in today’s market?
There’s no particular style getting popular in market. Every client has a different approach towards food photography and he/she demands accordingly.
I hope i was able to answer all the basic questions on food photography and more. If you still have anything left to ask, kindly drop me the query in comments below. I’ll be happy to help you. Thanks for stopping by!
Keep cooking and Keep Clicking in Style!
Love : Shaheen