The confusing world of food photography

I don’t have a DSLR, and I’ve just started using my new Olympus PEN mirrorless camera. All these while, I’ve gotten used to taking photos with my humble little iPhone, which is really a good camera. Quality and pixel issues aside, in the end, what really matters is that your photo gets good response on social media, especially Instagram ya?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
When the editing app V**O was so popular, but look at that glistening oily surface

I’ve titled this post so, is because you never know when you’re gonna take an amazing photo of the food that you’re enjoying. I haven’t really mastered the art of food photography to be honest. Sometimes, the restaurant environment, the plating of the food, the table-top design etc all affects the outcome of the photo in the end. But generally, I came to a conclusion that the following aspects gives rise to better looking food items:

Square photos; Round plates/bowls; Macro effect zoom on the food; ‘Quadrant out’ the round plate/bowl

Firstly, the contrast between the square frame and the roundness of the plates/dishes makes it more interesting in my opinion. And usually the rule with nice photos is always contrast, so give it a try and see if this works?

Square frame vs. roundness of the dish

Secondly, you might be surprised about the macro effect on the iphone camera. You must put your camera extremely close to the food to get that effect. Otherwise, it wouldn’t come off that way.

food focused but the surrounding blurred

Thirdly, another thing which I always try to do, is to not include the whole plate in the frame, with which I call the ‘quadrant-out’ effect. By doing so, it gives me some room to focus on the few details which the chef tries to put on the plate. The way the syrup is drizzled, that few garnishes on the plate could be highlighted in a flattering way.

you can totally see the little extra touches on this waffle

As for the background, I am not a fan of having the wall or a plain background as the backdrop of the food photo. I think it looks dull, and showing a little of the décor of the restaurant, or how busy the place is, adds some energy to something that is inanimate. Also, I’m not a fan of doing the flat lay thingy for food, because it makes the image very two-dimensional. Some dishes come in really interesting shapes and I believe taking it from atop will remove the efforts of the chef in plating the dish!

Recently, with my new Olympus-PEN, I decided not to square my photos anymore and test out the effect. Well, surprisingly perhaps you really don’t have to square them to make them look good. And I was glad the camera is able to capture the steam coming out of the food. But the general rules above still apply: macro effect, round dishes and quadrant effect.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food photography is really very subjective and very tricky. I must say sometimes I give up taking photos of the food because there isn’t much ‘feel’ from it. My opinions on how to take a nice food photo have generally received positive responses among my peers, and so I decided to share them here to see if you will agree with them. But once again I must say that I’m really not a pro, and there is still so much for me to learn with regards to food photography. As with anything else, it takes experience and soon enough you will gain this instinct that helps you to take really nice photos of the food that you enjoy.

I’ve decided to let the photos do the talking here. Perhaps my tips above are new to you, but why not try it out? Show me the photos that you take and we can all enjoy them? Hashtag them with supersponts or just leave a comment. I’ll be happy to help out if I can!

Cr: @jeeheng

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: