How Not to do Food Photography

This was intended to be a food photography post, however, after looking at the final shots I decided to go with “how not to do food photography”! Let me explain..

I made some ginger biscuits the other day and thought I’d try my hand at some food photography. I set up a makeshift studio on the dining table with a white sheet and a plate to put the biscuits on. I started using natural light from the window to light the shot, but went with an off camera flash as it allows more control of the light. The thing I didn’t think about was the strong shadow I was creating with the flash being off at an angle, what with not using any reflectors! Perhaps a second flash to cancel out some of the shadows would’ve helped too.

The actual focus of the shots and the layout were alright, but as I learned through some internetting, there’s a bit more to it than that.

I found out there are such people as “food stylists”, who basically make the food look absolutely immaculate, right down to the last crumb! Then there are the props that go in the shot to complement the food being photographed. The only things I used were a white plate and a white sheet across the table. This for me worked quite well as it gives all the focus to the biscuits as well as creating a nice contrast.

So I’ll show you a couple of the photos I took and explain why they’re basically useless..
(All these photos are unedited, straight from the camera so I can show you what I mean)

The first shot here is slightly overexposed, but could be corrected in post-processing. The thing that annoyed me in this photo is the crumb hanging off the biscuit on the left, which once you’ve seen it is very distracting! I’d also need to use a greater depth of field so that the whole plate is in focus.

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This one is a view from above showing the huge shadow. Also note the creases all over the sheet, which would of course need ironing out. Also, the biscuits aren’t evenly round, which in the world of food photography, would probably be frowned upon!

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The last shot I actually quite like. The things that I would change are the crumbs all over the place, maybe a greater depth of field and again the sheet is covered in creases! Not too bad, though.

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I’ve actually learned quite a bit during this shoot, namely that it takes a lot more than just baking food and photographing it! Never mind, as Thomas Palmer said (I think it was him, please correct me if I’m wrong), “if at first you don’t succeed, try try try again!” Stay tuned for another attempt soon, hopefully much better next time! Definitely one to try again.

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2 responses to “How Not to do Food Photography

  1. I like that last shot too – the biscuits actually look like something you’d want to eat! Agree about the crumbs, they are distracting and spoil the effect, but I don’t mind the sheet in that picture. I find that a lot of food pictures are over-styled. You’ll never be able to reproduce anything looking like it at home, and that’s always a disappointment.

    • Thanks! Yeah I agree about the over styling of many food shots, I just thought I’d pick out a lot of the things that would probably be picked on. The major thing that spoiled the photos was the harsh shadow which would definitely be something I’d change in the future.

      And yes, the biscuits were definitely very nice even if I do say so myself!!

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