When I started my food blog three years ago, I knew nothing about photographing food. I cooked a nice dish, wrote down the recipe, took a (horrendous) picture of my food, that looked ok to my untrained eye. Then I sat and waited for visitors to come to my blog. And guess what... Not many people were interested in a poorly exposed, can't-see-what-is-it-about plate of food.
So thanks to Foodgawker, that kept rejecting my ugly food photos, I realized that I must be doing something wrong... And here's what I did wrong that after I figured it out, took my photos from this to this.
No1 Realizing What Photography Actually Is
PHOTOGRAPHY=CONTROL & CAPTURE THE LIGHT
First and foremost, without understanding what photography is all about, you can't go far with it. Photography is one simple thing (or not so simple) control & capture the light to create a picture.
So photography is all about lighting. Whether you use artificial light or natural daylight, it all comes down to this---->How your subject gets affected by light and how this will result in a photo. You need to pay attention to have the right amount of light, also from which direction the light comes from, and the color of light (extreme importance in food photography).
Amount Of Light: Too much light will result in an overly exposed photo with less detail and sharpness.
Direction Of The Light: In photography, there are usually 3 ways side lighting, backlighting (most tricky), and front lighting (most boring results).
Color Of The Light: Or color temperature in a photographers language. The color of the light gets affected by the time of day, it's nice and white (what we need) during the first morning hours, it gets really harsh and yellow during noon when the sun is high up in the sky and gets blueish during late afternoon hours.
All these affect the result of your photo that's why most photographers either prefer to shoot on a cloudy day, when the light is soft or to shoot indoors using white daylight lamps. Go ahead and take a picture of yourself on direct sunlight on every one of these occasions to better understand the difference.
No2 I Watched This Video
Now If something gave me a head start in understanding photography composition, then this video is definitely it. Created from one of the best photographers, it explains so many things in only a few minutes.
No3 I Bought Lindsay's e-Book On Food Photography
Who's Lindsay? One of the top food bloggers at the moment with A-W-E-S-O-M-E pictures. If there's someone to learn from then she's the one. She explains everything so nicely in her food photography e-book that I highly recommend for you to read.
No4 I Bought Myself An Affordable DSLR +Lense
Every photographer that writes an article on food photography, will say that shooting in RAW format is very important. Because of the greater amount of detail you get in a photo, as well as the ability to edit that photo in a program later on. But to shoot photos in RAW you need to buy an SLR or DSLR camera. SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex while DSLR is basically a Digital SLR.
I was very skeptical about that. I mean do I really want to spend so much money on something I do as a hobby? The answer is simple, If you want your food blog to be more than a hobby and you're actually planning to make money from it than investing is unavoidable.
Personally, I'm so glad I made this investment for myself. It made a huge difference to my food photos and after a month, I had tripled my blog visitors.
And you don't even have to buy the most expensive camera to take awesome food photos. I bought a Nikon D3400 that's very affordable and is really great for the money you spend. Along with a 35mm lens to help me take even sharper pictures.
No5 Learned How To Edit A Photo In Lightroom
When I started editing photos, I used Photoshop. Which is great and very professional but not very into detail. Again I kept reading what every food photographer would say that Lightroom is the best. And decide to give it a go. That's when I went wow... Can I actually make photos look so great? My photos finally looked like those really great ones I saw online. The key to this? The white balance (which you can easily edit in Lightroom and so easily in other programs). You can edit the light in the photo, in so many ways which as we said is what photography is all about.
You can even buy Lightroom presets if you are a beginner with Lightroom. What are presets? Pre-made photo edits to give a photo a desired look. For example vintage, cool and other. Here are 5 free Lightroom presets by Skyler from We Eat Together for you to try!
No6 Stopped Stressing About It
My biggest headache was Composition. Every food photographer will say this -Lay the food down like you're telling a story with it. So ok, I'm taking a photo of a bowl of soup on a cloudy day (and use some soft light) add a piece of bread there and an old looking cloth (+extra coziness) and I'm telling you -it's a cold day and I'm enjoying a bowl of warm soup. Easy right?
That's not easy to do with each and every food. I mean what story can I say about cookies huh? Other than the fact they are crumbly and yummy? All you can do to work on your composition is this: STOP STRESSING ABOUT IT!
For me, it was that simple. I was getting really anxious oh, what I'm going to add next to this plate and this spoon and it ended up me forgetting the important elements of the recipe itself. For example, you have a nice and thick soup, zoom in and focus on that texture, or dip your spoon in and bring the photo to life. Forget all the clutter next to it.
You have a crumbly cookie take a bite, leave some crumbles and make the viewer want to grab it and eat it. Just stop stressing and enjoy the process it's the only thing that will help you get a better picture. Doing something we actually enjoy always brings better results!
So these are the things that helped me, an amateur, improve the skill of food photography. Remember, whatever happens, don't get disappointed and don't give up. It's a long way with many frustrating moments (taking 100 photos without even 1 being a decent one) just keep shooting and experimenting and you'll get there. I'm not an expert my self, but I'm definitely improving and so do you!