Chances are, if you’re sitting down for a meal these days, you or someone near you is snapping a photo of their plate to post to their social media accounts. It might seem like a simple task, but taking a food photo requires a little bit of planning and thoughtfulness if you want it to turn out great. Lucky for me, I sit right across from the best in the biz – Luvo’s “Life-Stylist”, Photographer and Chef Gabriel Cabrera. Here’s his advice on what makes a great (and no-so-great) foodie photo:
“Make sure to use natural light as much as possible. Best case scenario is to sit near a window. Avoid direct sunlight as it will have way too much contrast and will make your food look harsh and laden with shadows. The “Holy Grail” of lighting is soft, diffused light, which happens early in the morning or during an overcast day. Pro Tip: Use a white piece of paper (or a menu) to reflect some light back onto the food to make it feel more “airy”. If you don’t have any natural light available, then try to look for an even light source like a neutral light bulb. Better yet, just enjoy your meal and take a photo some other time!”
“Either crop your photo really tight (translation: zoom in) or give it some room and place a few items around it. Keep it simple and clean (a fork, knife, and napkin should do). Avoid placing your food in a “grid” pattern where everything looks symmetrical; instead, play with the rule of odds (placing things in 3s, 5s, etc.).”
“Listen to your food and let it show its best attributes. For example, if it’s a salad, let the greens pop and look fresh – don’t squish them with tons of toppings. If it’s a smoothie, add some of the fruit you used to make it by the side or floating on top to add color, dimension and texture.With Luvo’s food, we already did some of the styling for you, so simply spruce it up by arranging some of the items so they look neat and clean the edges of the plates to avoid any splash marks.”
“There are (approximately) a gazillion apps out there to edit your photos and just as many filters to use with them. The best way to showcase food is without a filter – yes that’s right. Natural looking food is the best. Super saturated, faded, and grainy looking food is not appealing at all. Yes, you can lightly use filters to enhance the look of a photo, but don’t rely on them to turn an ok photo into something spectacular. If the photo is crap, the photo with the filter will look like filtered crap.”
A few editing app suggestions (used by the Luvo team):
- “Make sure the lens in your phone’s camera IS CLEAN. Nothing worse than a smudge-y looking photo.”
- “Don’t use flash! It looks fake and makes food look horrible.”
- “Simple backgrounds such as a white cloth work best. Avoid busy patterns.”
- “Do NOT use fake stuff such as plastic plates, cutlery, and/or glasses – they look cheap and will bring down the cool factor in your food.”
Finally, whether it’s a throwback to the pancakes your mother made you growing up or a creation from the hottest new Chef in town, tell a story with your picture and the caption below it. Food is love, it’s art, and it’s something we all have in common. It should be respected and celebrated!
What are the food photography tips you live by? Share them with us in the comment section or on Twitter at @Luvoinc.