Food photographs can look delicious or off-putting. The resultant visual appeal depends on how you make the pictures. These tips are derived from suggestions by Andrew Scrivani who photographs food for New York Times.

  • Use natural light. Check where the natural light source is coming from and position the food in the best possible light. If you’re outdoors avoid bright light and strong shadows. If you’re indoors, select a position by a window. Set up some light reflectors, such as white menu pages or ask someone to hold a white magazine page so it reflects light etc.
  • Soft light is best. Gentle shadows are OK. Harsh shadows are not OK.
  • Shoot from above the food, or almost above. Allow for the current food fashion which is food stacked high on a plate. Show the height in your photo. If the plate has decorative swirls of jus, show them.
  • Set the correct camera focus. Do some test food photos at home, before you go to the restaurant or test kitchen.
  • Be selective of which foods are more photogenic than others. Browns and dark greens need special attention because they absorb light. This can make them seem flat, drab and uninteresting. So position the plate so the dark items get maximum light.
  • Study the photos in cook books, restaurant reviews, etc. See what other photographers think works best for different dishes and situations.
  • If the restaurant has photogenic premises, waitresses or waiters, include them in the shot. Ask permission from the owner/manager and the people in the photo. Get their names. Explain there is no model fee being offered. Send a “Thank you” letter, with a framed photo of their food dish within a few days.

By Brian Morris. Reproduced for educational purposes.

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