So many moments of our lives revolve around food such as everyday meals with family, special events, indulgences, weekend take-out, sick bed meals, etc. Food is an integral part of our lives and photographing the food can help tell our stories.
Often I will take a few photos before eating; my friends and family are used to me asking that they wait a moment so I can take a few photos. If the background will help to tell my story, I will take a pull-back shot, including some of the surroundings, the decor, the people, anything that is relevant to the food I am photographing. They don’t need to be perfectly framed, I don’t worry about some of the photography rules such as “rule of thirds”, cutting off limbs, etc. I want to frame my photo to include what will help to tell my story, often the photo needs to be taken quickly, so what is important is capturing the moment, not how perfect the framing is. Of course, I do my best in that moment to achieve the best framing I can but I am more concerned with the story than getting the perfectly framed photo.
Next, I like to get in close and capture more details of the food and less of the surroundings. By changing your perspective and the angle of the shot this provides different views of the food. Try framing your photo from different angles, looking up, down and from the side. I love to compose a shot from above, if I am able to get up over it, and shoot downwards at the food, trying to get all of the food into the frame. Then I will come in closer, framing a portion of the food, for more of a close-up. Next, I will come in closer, on a horizontal level with the food, for a few shots, and often will rise up slightly to then focus on the closest focal point while the framing pans across the food.
Pay attention to what and where the light source is in relationship to the food. Indoor lighting can be challenging and I especially abhor tungsten lights for food photography, preferring natural light through a window or door, or bouncing light with a speedlite (not an option when photographing with my phone which I often use, it’s convenient). I’d rather turn a light off or block the lighting, if possible, positioning my body between the light source and the food.
When at home, I have to be creative about where I photograph food, as the lighting is limited and space is an issue. I often put a plate out on the porch railing with a 12×12 paper propped against the house for a backdrop, or on the kitchen floor.
Whether the food is the main attraction or just part of the story you want to tell, take a moment, take some photos, and include the food in your storytelling.