Top 10 Tips: How to Win at Food Photography | Ontario Culinary
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How to Win at Food Photography

Promoting food and food experiences requires a certain level of skill with a lens — whether it be on a camera or on a phone. Here’s a few tips for making your food photos shine!

1. Get the right lighting // Try not to use a flash

Natural light makes for the best photos. When you’re in a restaurant, try to sit next to a window. Outside, avoid shooting in bright sunlight – it will cause harsh shadows on the dish. If there is bad lighting, you can always edit/play with the lighting of the photo afterwards. If you’re using a phone, tap your screen when the camera is focusing to bring more light to darker areas.

2. Rule of Thirds // Get it straight 

The rule of thirds is when you divide up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines. You position the dish along those lines, or at the points where they meet. BONUS: Some cameras have a setting which overlays a rule of thirds grid onto your photo. The idea is that having the subject off-centre is more pleasing and natural to the eye. It also allows you to make creative use of negative space around the food. Also, a great tool that is easily forgotten is one that straightens your photo. This is key when you have a horizon, table, or window in your background.  

3. Find the best angle.

Don’t be afraid to stand up, move around and change your perspective. Depending on presentation, plate shape & size, or the food itself, it may photograph best from directly above. Other dishes that are built vertically (ice cream cones or cocktails, for example) make for more interesting photos at a lower angle. Also, more is more. Take photos from different angles and then edit, delete and/or choose your favourites after the fact.

4. Don’t let the food sit!

Well, this is pretty self-explanatory. Priorities, people. Greens wilt, meat becomes dry — and will affect the photo quality but ultimately, we would rather dive right in and enjoy our meal than wait 20 minutes to get that perfect shot.

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5. Use your background.

Less is more with backgrounds. Find something neutral or simple that will make the food or your dish the star of the photo. Or, use a striking background that will contrast against your subject to create interest.  

6. Appreciate the imperfections.

Crumbs, drips, and a little mess add charm. These details make a photo look more realistic and approachable for your audience.


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7. Be thoughtful.

Now, this is not always necessary, but take some time to compose your shot. What kind of story do you want to tell? Sometimes, it requires following all of the rules and creating a perfectly prepared shot, other times, a couple photos will do the trick. Telling a story (or having a well thought out caption) will help you to connect with your audience and make them want to know more about the food and/or restaurant!


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8. Use props.

Make use of what you have around you. Move glassware, cutlery, condiments, chairs, and/or centrepieces into the shot to add to the atmosphere. Use your friends and family to create an action shot with them breaking bread, so to speak. Props are great and useful but keep in mind that if it doesn’t add to the photo, it can be distracting.


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9. Consider colour.

A dish that is all one colour may taste delicious but has no depth on screen. You also want the colours of the food, plates and background elements to appear accurate. You don�t want your white rice, white plates, or white table cloth to look orange. When editing photos, instead of filters, use the individual adjust settings such as white balance, colour saturation, temperature, tint and fade to make your photo just right!

10. Trust your instincts.

Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be. Whether the light in the restaurant is off or the presentation just isn’t right, let it go. There are more meals where that came from. Ultimately, you’re there to #FeastOn!