This week I’m going to try something different with my post. It’s not going to be a recipe post again. I just didn’t find the time to test the recipe that I developed the other day. I have been busy with my exams and I haven’t spent that much time in the kitchen. So, I hope that you still enjoy reading something different for a change. After the food photography interview (Depositphotos in English and Russian translation) that I had a few weeks ago I have had many questions about photography.
I thought that it might be interesting to share some of my tips that have helped me with my food photography. I’m not saying that I know everything and I like to think that I’m at the beginning of my food photography journey. I still have so much to learn! These are just my tips and I don’t give you a tutorial here. I just think that I might have some tips to share with you that I hope are useful for you as well. It’s actually not only for food photography. Some of the tips are for all photography in general. Many of the tips might be too basic but I hope that you will find something new as well. Let me know if this is helpful and you would like to read more about food photography? Would you like to read more about behind the scene?
10 tips to improve your food photography:
1. Practice! It’s all about practice and working long hours by yourself. I usually like to try different angles with every dish. Some dishes look better with overhead shots (like smoothie bowls), some look better from the side. You just have to find the best angle and you will get there!
2. Never stop learning. There are so many ways to learn about food photography even for free. YouTube is full of photography tutorials with shooting tips. If you would like to spend some money, then Udemy or Lynda are also some places where you can take online courses. When I started, then I spend endless hours on watching videos and learning and I still take online courses. There are some food photography courses in Udemy as well (here or here). Some are a little bit old but at least you will get the basics for your photography. You just have to watch the videos or read about it and you will learn so much about photography.
Get to know your camera and you will make amazing images. If you already aren’t shooting in manual mode and RAW format, then you just have to learn how to do it. When I learned how to shoot in manual mode and changed my file format to RAW, then I started to see some progress. Actually, the first time I tried to shoot RAW files I changed my files to JPG again because RAW files took a lot of space in your memory card and I didn’t know how to manage the files. Now I try to keep fewer images and more quality ones and obviously I bought many new memory cards.
3. Learn how to edit your images. Master Adobe Lightroom. I think it’s the best editing software you can have and I’m not going to hide that it’s my FAVORITE program. Many years ago I tried Picasa or other free software but now it’s only Lightroom! It seems to me that almost everybody is using Adobe Creative Cloud. I do need to pay monthly for this (about 12 euros per month) but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. What do you get for that?
- Adobe Lightroom – this is my favorite and I use it almost every day.
- Adobe Photoshop – I don’t use this one as often as Lightroom but it’s still useful.
- Other programs such as Spark and Illustrator that I recently discovered. I mostly use this for graphics (when you would like to edit videos with Adobe Premier, then it’s a little bit more expensive).
- App for your phone. I recently started to use Lightroom app on my phone and I just love it! So easy and quick.
- Cloud. You can sync your images to the cloud and you can make sure that you will not lose any work and you will always have a backup.
- Adobe Stock – you can purchase images from there.
- Organize images. You will have the best catalog system for all of your images! You can even catalog your hard drive which is one of my favorite parts. There are even options for smart previews which mean that you can be sure that your computer hard drive isn’t full all the time. That means you can have the access to your images all the time and you can even edit. When you connect your computer to your hard drive, then it makes them all the adjustment that you have made with editing.
The problem with Youtube videos most of the time is that there aren’t a lot of structure but with paid courses, you will get everything on your plate with structure. You just have to watch the videos or read about it and you will learn so much about editing. Because almost every photographer is using it, then it’s easier to find courses for this as well. You can learn everything! I still don’t know everything about Lightroom and there are just so many features to explore. In the future, I’m going to take some new courses.
4. Get to know your camera and you will make amazing images. If you already aren’t shooting in manual mode and RAW format, then you just have to learn how to do it. I think there isn’t any other solution. When I learned how to shoot in manual mode and changed my file format to RAW, then I started to see some progress. When you shoot still images, then you just have to have a low shutter speed to get sharp images. Trust me on this.
Make sure that you know the photography basics (ISO, shutter speed, exposure, aperture). If you don’t know, then take a basic course and you will learn a lot. When I started then I really struggled with this because I didn’t really want to learn the technical side. I’m usually not good with technology. As you can see in this image 2015 it’s bad. I didn’t shoot this image RAW. There’s a problem with focus, exposure, and light. I shoot this in a dark room and didn’t use manual mode. The image from 2017 I shoot in a RAW file and manual mode. I used natural light and stand next to the window without direct sunlight. The most fun part is that I used the SAME CAMERA!
5. Love food! This one is obvious. If you would like to shoot food, then you obviously have to love it. Right now I work alone so I don’t have anyone who cooks or styles the food. I have to do everything by myself and later I also have to eat it! When you love food, then it’s always easier to tell the story and not give up.
6. Get inspired! Search some images on the Internet or go the restaurant and get some inspiration from other. However, be careful not to copy others. I can spend endless hours looking at amazing images on Pinterest or Instagram to gather some inspiration. There are just so many ideas for food styling that you just have to explore. Sometimes you see just a little detail on the image that helps you with another good idea. I also like to look how chefs are plating the food in the restaurant. They always seem to know the best tricks. When you have spent some time on the Internet, then you have to stop and get your own ideas.
7. Have a digital detox and boost your creative side. We live in a time when it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with information. Especially, when your work is online and you almost always look at your screen. It might be hard to concentrate or get new creative ideas. You might start comparing yourself to others and feel bad. Sometimes you might feel that everything has already been photographed and there isn’t a point for you to do that. However, there’s always something. You just have to find it even when it takes time.
When I feel uninspired and overwhelmed I like to put all the electronics away and just relax. I usually do something active. I go for a run, do some yoga or play some tennis. Sometimes I just like to read something inspiring or go to the nature to clear my mind. Spending some quality time with my family and friends is an important part. No phones and other electronics. Quite often when I’m in the ‘relax mode’ without electronics, I have so many ideas what I should cook or shoot next. After this digital detox, I’m usually so productive and I have more creative ideas.
8. Find the light. Photography is all about the light. You have to find it to make sure that your food looks delicious. Usually, you don’t need studio lighting and you can manage to get great images with natural light as well. You just have to find a good window without direct sunlight (or use a diffuser) and that works perfectly. In the winter time, it’s so dark in Estonia and it’s hard to use only natural light. So, I use artificial light (softbox) and some reflectors. Just play around with the light and you will get there.
9. Don’t shoot hungry. There have been so many times when I have missed the shot because I’m so eager to eat all the food. I think that I’ve got the shot but the truth is that my hunger is speaking to me. I can’t shoot food when I’m too hungry. I’m just a little be too impatient to shoot images that I like.
10. Tell the story. Always try to think what is your goal with this image. What would you like to say? The story might be Sunday pancakes with family or just the process of baking the cake or cookies for your dog.