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blog feature 27
A picture really does tell a thousand words, especially in today’s social media obsessed world. Food porn – photos of food designed to make mouths water – are pored over by foodies on food blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and the Foodspotting website.

Learn how to take professional shots of your dishes to get them queuing round the corner for a table…

Why does it matter?

Everyone’s a food photographer these days, which means you’ll have to up your game. Whether it’s posting your dish of the day on Instagram (using the #Foodstagram hashtag, of course), sharing photos of your new menu with journalists, being able to take good photos of your dishes is a must. But if we can learn anything from Martha Stewart’s attempt at food photography, it’s that it shouldn’t be attempted unless you know what you’re doing. If your chefs have created a delicious new dish, make sure you do it justice with your photo.

Should you let diners snap your food?

Foodies (especially food bloggers) love taking snaps of what they’re eating to share with their friends. But it poses a dilemma for the catering industry: should you allow diners to whip their cameras out in a restaurant? You can’t control the quality of their photos, and the constant flash can be annoying for other diners. On the other hand, it means free publicity for you if they say something nice to their social media followers. Some restaurants in New York have chosen to ban cameras entirely, while others encourage it. What’s your policy on food photography?

16 food photography top tips

Armed with an entry-level DSLR, anyone can take great photos if you know a few tricks of the trade…

  1. Want that glossy sheen you see in the best food magazines? Lyndsay Ostrom from the Pinch of Yum blog has an insider tip we like: have an oil spray handy and spray it over your finished dish to make it glisten.
  2. Kate from the Cookie and Kate blog loves using natural light, and suggests venturing outside the kitchen to find the best light. She also warns against using the flash – a big no-no.
  3. Try to time your shoot so it’s an hour before sunset, when the light’s at its most flattering.
  4. Use a white board to bounce light onto the plate and minimise shadows or a black board to bring out shadows where you want them.
  5. Mix it up. Take shots from an interesting angle, side-on or climb up to take a shot from above to add variety. You don’t have to get the whole plate in the photo, either.
  6. Find your focal point. Pick one thing on the plate, whether it’s a perfectly ripe strawberry or a stream of sauce oozing from a melt-in-the-middle pudding. Focus on that one star and let the rest of the shot appear more blurry.
  7. The best food photos tend to have one thing in common: height. Stack your food up or layer garnishes and toppings to please the eye.
  8. Be ruthless when assembling the dish and discard anything that doesn’t look picture perfect. Use Coco Chanel’s rule for accessories and remove the last prop or garnish you added before you take your snap to keep things simple.
  9. Don’t overcook the food — you want it to be as colourful as possible and keep its shape.
  10. Get a tripod. The slightest wobble of your hand and you’ll get a blurry photo.
  11. Make use of your camera’s macro setting or lens to focus on the details in the food.
  12. Make use of food props like a wooden platter or a cake knife to set the scene. Try to pick a theme or colour scheme first so it doesn’t look to messy. The food should always be the star.
  13. Bring our your best cake stands and cutlery to give your photo the wow factor, or use crockery with an unusual design to add interest. Stick to plain plates in a block colour, or simply use a white dish so the food stands out.
  14. Lots of food photographers like to incorporate a few raw ingredients that went into the finished dish into the shot to tell a story.
  15. Get to grips with photo editing software to lightly touch up your work.
  16. Keep your plates clean by wiping around the edge. The tiniest blob of sauce will show up in a close-up shot using a macro lens.

A professional food photographer could give you the edge over the competition, or someone from your team could go on a course so you can do it in-house. Leith’s School of Food and Wine runs some of the most respected food styling and photography courses around if you’d like to give it a go.

Why not share some of your best photos with us by tweeting them to @BunzlLockhart?


Lockhart Catering on 28 November 2013 4:59 AM

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