Friday, March 26, 2010

food photography

My blogger friend over at Designs by Gollum is conducting a food photography contest right now, and thinking about my own entry has made me a bit reminiscent for the days when I didn't know how to take pictures of food...4 months ago.  Remember this?

The best buttermilk pancakes in the world, and I have to show them off like's like I had pushed the plate as far away from me as if it was plutonium and not my favorite breakfast of all time.  What was I thinking??? 

I've learned a lot since that blog post.  So in light of Gollum's theme of photography tips, here's my own collection...

Get close to your subject!  This has to be the number one lesson I've learned.  If I treated these sweet potatoes like I had treated my pancakes, you'd miss out on all of their delicious beauty.

Get the optimal mix of colors in your photo.  I seriously fluffed this dish with a fork for about 10 minutes until I had just the right mix of cranberry, carrot, celery, and couscous showing through.  If it had been a sea of couscous with one sad little cranberry sticking up...well, you would have just felt sorry for the lonely cranberry...

Food with delightful insides always looks better with the insides showing.  Forget taking pictures of the outsides of wraps, burritos, and turnovers - break them open!  Invite your guests to just smell the apple and see the flakes of the crust after you've broken it...hmmmm! 

Same principle goes for bread...slice it up!  Show it's functionality (this bread makes great sandwiches) as well as its beautiful outer crust. 

More is better.  I've learned never to showcase just one piece of food unless it's worth getting really up close (like my sweet potato).  In many cases, it's best just to show the whole this pita.  This picture brings back those feelings that I used to have as a kid when I'd look at a play area full of those little balls....I just want to dive right on in!

When showcasing a soup, highlight the food and not the broth.  A picture of a bowl of broth...not appetizing.  But, if you drain a bit of the broth out and get the yummy goodness that is the heart of the soup...well, now that's a meal worth photographing!

Put it on your plate.  While some meals look good in their original just-been-pulled-from-the-oven state, most look best after they've been served.  Take this chicken pot pie - in it's original dish, all you could see was a crust.  The crust was lovely, Pioneer Woman would just doesn't make my skirt fly up.  Put it on a plate, though...

Go for a little bokeh.  Bokeh is a photography term that refers to the fact that part of the picture is in focus and part of it is out of focus.  This is a great technique for food!  In this photo, the piece of vegetable tart in the foreground is in focus, but you can still see the rest of the slightly out-of-focus behind it.  It's a way to artistically get all of your food into one photo.  My favorite thing about it - it draws the eye to what's this case, to that flaky crust-filled goodness!

So, that's what I've learned.  I'm no professional photographer.  In fact, I'm not even sure you could call me advanced...or intermediate.  Many of my pictures are still when you can see my shadow on top of the food I'm photographing...

Does my shadow make me look fat???

Nevermind that.  :-)  And good luck on all of your own food photography!  I encourage everyone to check out Design by Gollum's food photography tips (and her lovely food photos...don't view while starving).  The Pioneer Woman also has some great resources, where you can learn all about bokeh, among other things. 

Until then, I'll leave you with one last tip: if a food is delicious, the picture probably will be too...


  1. GREAT post and wonderful advise....oh, and some scrumptous looking food too :)


  2. These are GREAT photos and tips!! I can never get enough of them. Your food looks delicious and inviting. Now I'm off to the kitchen for a muffin! :-) Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Very interesting! I never knew it was called bokeh. I always called it "being out of focus from shallow depth of field." I think bokeh is a lot easier to say.

    It was also fun to see how your photographs have improved, and how your work makes it look so natural… like the couscous fluffing! Looks like it fluffed itself!

  4. Awesome post! Thanks for the great tips!


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