When you see a beautiful food pic, your mouth starts to water. Blogger Paola of the food blog Cravings In Amsterdam has mastered the art of making you hungry with a picture. Considering that she's won our Happy Holidays contest and an honorable mention for the Spring Fling contest, she definitely knows how to work magic in the kitchen and make her creations shine through in the presentation. Take her Rhubarb Goat Cheese Thyme Tart, which sounds delicious, but was also perfectly styled with crimson tulips and a dark natural background to make the gorgeous tart pop.
Here are her tips on taking great food photos:
Natural light is always the best. I always shoot next to a window and during the day. But there are different kinds of natural light. When the sun is beaming straight onto the food, the light is too harsh and it can create shadows that are hard to work with. So, keep that in mind while shooting and don’t get restricted by taking pictures only in your kitchen. I sometimes set up everything next to a window in my living room when the light is too low or harsh in my kitchen.
Before you start cooking, plan how you are going to plate the dish and what angles you want to shoot. Set up all your props so they are ready as soon as you are done cooking. After you’ve taken the shots that you wanted, take extra pictures of other angles. Take more pictures than you think you need, you can always erase them later and your favorite shot might end up being one that you didn’t plan. Food can start to look less appetizing if you just let it stand for too long, and some dishes are better shot right after serving. For example, if you are taking a picture of a dish with a poached egg, it’s nice to shoot while the runny yolk is still oozing out. Or sometimes is nice to show steam coming out as it gives a just cooked effect.
Food is meant to be eaten and showing movement can make the shot more appealing. Like pouring icing on a sweet roll, showing a hand holding a sandwich with sauce pouring out a bit, or showing hands holding cutlery and digging into food.
Try using different backgrounds; you don’t need to have many tables to create different backgrounds. Head to your local hardware store, get some wood planks, glue them together and paint them. You can get creative with stains. Or create a distressed look by diluting the paint with some water, painting the board and then wiping some of the paint off by using a cloth or a sponge. You can keep layering it with paint and wiping it off until you find the effect that you like. It’s a cheap, easy way to create the illusion of different table tops. Just make sure to get matt paint so it doesn’t reflect light while you are shooting. I made the table top from the picture below myself. I like to use this black backdrop because it makes the food pop. I got a compressed wood sheet, which I just painted with black matte paint. I found this blog post from Love & Olive Oil; it's very useful for making these kinds of boards.
Use props to give dimension, add color and textures. You can use flowers, tea towels, different kinds of plates or cutlery. When getting plates, I find it nicer to use smaller plates. This way you need less food to fill it up, there is less empty space and this makes the food look more appealing. Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. It’s good to search for props at thrifts stores or online market places like EBay. You can find unique items and it’s good for your wallet. Plus vintage is always trendy. I’m really happy with some pieces of silver cutlery that I bought at a second hand store (because they are individual pieces and not from a set, they are cheap) and some tin plates that I found online.
I love to cook but by no means am I a professional food stylist or photographer. I like to get inspiration from Pinterest and other food bloggers on how to plate and arrange props. There are so many beautiful blogs where you can get ideas of how to style your own dishes.
Here are some of Paola’s favorite blogs and Pinterest boards:
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