The malls may be open, but the crowds outside are still enough to make one anxious, especially since COVID-19 hasn’t been eradicated yet. For the foodies who love taking photos of their meals before digging in, you can take this chance to flaunt your cooking skills and take some mouth-watering photos of your dishes at the same time.
Here are four tips from Big 3 Media that you can use to snap your next Instagram-worthy grub photo—right in the comfort of your home, armed only with your smartphone.
1. Plate your food well
Since you aren’t in a restaurant, plating your food is perhaps the most crucial part of good food photography. Since food presentation is a big part of food advertisements, make sure that you arrange your cooked dishes well.
Some tips include choosing a plate of the right size and using moist ingredients at the base of the dish. Placing odd amounts of food around the plate, such as a sprinkle of coriander, will add personality to your dish and make it look like a restaurant dish!
Most importantly, don’t overcrowd your photo. How do you do that?
Use the grid feature in your smartphone to compose your shot well. This helps you apply the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a type of composition in which an image is divided equally into thirds. The best image will have its focal point, which is your food, placed at the intersection of the lines.
The grid helps you divide your photo into nine equal portions. Make sure you have enough negative space around your food. Negative space in the photo is the portion of the image that isn’t filled up; having sufficient negative space will give your viewer breathing room to appreciate your photo.
2. Be creative with light sources
Sunlight is your best friend in food photos. Even if you have the best food composition, food photos won’t turn out as well without good lighting. Find a well-lit place to take your food photos! Photos taken during the “golden hour” will tend to look better as the sunlight is softer.
However, finding sunlight is not always easy, so you can use external lighting such as study lamps. Diffusing the light is important in these cases, so that the light is not overly harsh or unnatural. You can use baking paper to diffuse the light.
3. Use props around the house
You don’t need fancy gear to create good food photos. With a smartphone, you’ll need to improvise and make the most of what you have. Items around the house can be used as equipment. One example is using a spray bottle of water and tissue to create a mist on glass cups, to create the illusion of the glass being cold. You can also layer cooking oil onto food to make the food in the photo shine and look more appealing.
Your phone is likely to also have a feature called ‘exposure lock’, which will help you keep your images lit and yet not overexposed. Just tap on the screen to see a sun icon pop up, and adjust your exposure to your liking.
You can also use a piece of parchment paper as the perfect neutral flat lay background for your food. Dried flowers also make great props, as they make your dish look rustic and homely. A white cloth will also make your food photos look clean and minimalistic, which adds to the aesthetic value of the photo! Other props you can use as decorations are ingredients like chilli padi and nuts.
4. Focus on your food—make use of your phone’s wide-angle lens
Make your food the star of your shot! By pulling it to the forefront of your photo, eyes will naturally be drawn towards it, focusing on what you really want to show. Smartphone cameras have a wide-angle lens, which can distort your image at some angles. To get the least distortion, you can shoot overhead, which is why flat lay food photos are so often seen on food blogs.
The flat lay style, however, doesn’t work for every type of food. For food like burgers, you will have to take the photo straight on—the wide-angle lens will make your ingredients look bigger as well.
Use angles to bring out the best side of your food. For example, squeezing out the filling in an egg custard bun before taking a photo of it will make your viewers’ mouths water. If the background is too distracting, an aerial view would work best to showcase the ingredients in the dish. This way, you won’t accidentally capture irrelevant details behind the dish.
Fantastic food photography isn’t only achievable in restaurants and eateries outside. With a good grasp on phone photography and some good cooking and plating skills, you’ll be on your way to taking mouth-watering food photos.