My 10 food photography tips for food bloggers? How to improve as a food blogger?
But first, a quick backstory …
…. food photography didn’t come naturally to me. I struggled. A lot. To be honest, I don’t have that artistic mind & my food photography has developed over time.
Skip this part: TYPICAL INTERNET DISCLAIMER
Before I go on, I need to make a little disclaimer because photography is very subjective and these are just my thoughts. I don’t know everything and I’m still learning & I just share my own experience. It’s not a tutorial.
After the food photography interview* that I had a few weeks ago, I have had many questions about photography.
* This interview was in 2017 (blog post update: 28.10.2018).
Basic blablabla + Some More
Many of the tips & hacks might be too basic, but I hope that you will find something new as well.
My photography tips as a food blogger:
1. Practice! I’m not talented!
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 have to find the best angle, and you will get there!
Like every other thing, I believe it’s just practicing.
I have learned everything about photography by myself, mostly by watching tutorials on the Internet. I can spend endless hours talking about photography or looking at amazing photography.
How did I got started?
Special gift …
… in one condition!
My interest in photography began seven years ago when I got my first DSLR camera. It was a Nikon D90 which I got as a gift from my lovely father. I’m a very lucky girl.
It was a fantastic gift, but the only condition was that I had to take 200 different images every month. We are still laughing that I only have the blog because I have to shoot 200 pictures every month. As you can see, it’s all about shooting A LOT of images.
2. Never stop learning
We have a magical Internet! Thank you! Nowadays there are so many places where I can learn about photography. All I need to do is go Google or Youtube, and I can find thousands of tutorials for free. Yes, that’s right!? FOR FREE!
Of course, you still need a connection. Blablablaa … BUT in Estonia, we still have free WIFI in many places. That’s why I consider it free.
I took a photography course when I was at university. HOWEVER, the courses on the Internet are always way better. I can’t even describe how bad those university courses were. The Internet is just the best.
However, sometimes I like to take some cheap 10 dollars Udemy courses. Why? Time! Most free videos aren’t organized. Time is valuable for all of us, and I wish I would have taken those courses earlier.
Still, I don’t like to want to buy 500 -1000 dollar course. Maybe one day but right now I’m cheap! I have just learned basic photography and some editing from there. I just have to apply all the photography basics to food photography …
3. Editing Magic
Editing is an essential part of food photography, and I find the best program is Adobe Lightroom. No questions asked!
No filters for me, thanks!
It costs only about 12 euros per month for me, but it’s my favorite, and I use it every day. I know nowadays iI can use all kinds of filters. However, if I would like to get my unique style, then I believe there’s no other way.
4. Get to know your camera: MANUAL MODE + RAW
If you already aren’t shooting in manual mode and RAW format, then you have to learn how to do it. I think there isn’t any other solution. I started to see progress once I learned how to shoot in manual mode and changed my file format to RAW. When I do still photography, then I have to have a low shutter speed to get sharp images. Trust me on this.
Basics: ISO, shutter speed, exposure, aperture
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 struggled with this because I didn’t 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 shot this in a dark room and didn’t use manual mode. In contrast, the image from 2017 I shoot in a RAW and I used manual mode. I used natural light and stood next to the window without direct sunlight. The most fun part is that I used the SAME CAMERA!
5. Love food, obviously …
If you would like to shoot food, then you have to love it. Otherwise, you might give up too soon. In addition, when you love food, then it’s always easier to tell the story because you are passionate about it.
Right now I work alone, so I don’t have anyone who cooks or styles the food. First of all, I have to do everything by myself. Secondly, I also have to eat it and I don’t like to waste food. When you love food, then it’s always easier to tell the story and not give up.
6. Get inspired: Internet + Chefs
Search some images on the Internet or go to the restaurant and get some inspiration from others. 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 at 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 ideas.
7. Digital Detox: Overwhelmed
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.
“Relax Mode”: New Ideas
When I felt 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 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 about what I should cook or shoot next. I’m usually more productive, and I have more creative ideas.
The mind keeps working …
The best part is that while I do my workout out, my mind keeps working. Quite often I find the answers while I have my “break.” Also, the idea is to develop some kind of routine for the body. It’s almost like a bedtime routine for kids (or myself).
Anyways, a few years ago I did quite a lot of research on that topic. For example, a great book where I read about this topic was Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina.
8. Find the light: Window + Not Direct
Photography is all about light. I have to find it to make sure that my food looks delicious. Usually, you don’t need studio lighting, and you can manage to get great images with natural light as well. Therefore, I like to use a good window without direct sunlight (or use a diffuser). So far, that has worked for me perfectly.
STUDIO LIGHT STRUGGLE?!
In the winter time, it’s so dark in here, and it’s hard to use only natural light.
Yes, I bought a studio light kit. I failed.
Usually, I use natural light. However, in winter time in Estonia, there is sometimes only about 4-5 hours of daylight. There are days when the weather is just so dark almost all the time. Thus, a year ago I ordered a studio light kit.
What did I realize? Those softboxes I ordered were small & BAD. I don’t like it whatsoever. After a while, I end up spending more money to get a proper light kit. Lesson learned.
9. Don’t shoot hangry: Cold food reality
Countless times 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.
Yes, that’s why quite often I just end up eating cold food …
10. Tell the story: #comfyjumpers #hands #people #pets
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. Whatever you prefer.
#COMFYJUMPERS & #CARDIGANS
That’s one of my favorite ways to tell the story. At least I try. To be honest. I need to confess. Again. Sometimes I choose clothes only for my food photography! That’s right. I have many white & grey jumpers that I like to switch all the time only for my food photography.
#PEOPLE & #HANDS
Yes, I know that it’s another “classic” Instagram CLICHÉ but including people to your images works. At least, that’s what the market research tells me. Viewers love to see the storyline and other people as “props”.
I’m sure you all have seen these kinds of images all around the Internet. However, you can always make your version.
About a year ago one of the agencies that I work with ordered images for dog cookies. Because of that, it was perfect timing since I was “babysitting” my friends’ dogs. My favorite models!
Classical Comment Begging 123 🙄
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