One of the best tips for food photography you will receive is to start sketching more. Before going for a professional shoot, take a sketchbook or a notepad and draw your setup. This will help you come up with ideas and visualize your images before you go to shoot them. Draw compositional elements, textures, and even the lighting if you can to get a good base to work off of.
When it comes to photography of food, using principles of visual art can go a long way. Use harmony of colors and textures but also utilize contrast to create visual interest. This contrast can be used in many ways. You can include contrasting textures and colors to create interesting images. Place a white piece of smooth cake on a dark textured plate and you’ll see how these little decisions can create striking images.
If you’re into rustic food photography, be sure to include some textures in your shots. Maybe line the base of your plate or tray with a napkin or some sort of textured mat. When you add texture, your images will look more realistic and not seem like they’ve been manufactured in a lab.
Try to figure out what the most important aspect of a dish is. Maybe it’s a cake that is supposed to be fresh and moist or a curry that is supposed to look spicy. When you know what the food’s strength is, focus on that in your image. You can showcase different things based on how you light up your scene or edit your images.
As far as composition goes, don’t cram in the whole frame with objects to look at. Use some negative space in your images that add dynamism to the frame but also give the viewers some space to breathe.
To make your images more dynamic, you can incorporate some actions into your setups. For example, you could show someone pouring milk into a cup of coffee or a fork going through a cake. You shouldn’t force such actions but do use them if they make sense for your scene.
The best food photography out there puts the hero of the dish in focus. If you have multiple items on the plate, select the one that’s perfectly cooked and place it in front or on top, depending on your angle. A medium-rare steak that is perfectly seared with juices flowing out of it will look much better than one that is well-cooked and grey in the middle.
If you want to photography multiple items and are going for a creative shot, you can try a top-down shot and place different items at different heights. This will add some depth and dynamism to your food photography setup instead of making it look flat. For example, you can place something on a cake stand, or make a plate seem like it’s floating by placing it on top of a glass.
When you for professional shoots, always keep some backup memory cards and batteries with you. You never know if or when some of your equipment fails. And there’s nothing worse than not being able to take the photos you are being paid to take.
Don’t get too caught up with what settings you should use. Try out different settings and see what works best for the kind of image you wish to create. Be creative and you might end up with some great moody food photography that sets you apart from the rest.