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FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY - FEW POINTERS !!!


Photography is more of an Art than Science.  Photography is a great hobby and can help to express yourself.    Each and every person look pictures in different ways so it absolutely depends on their liking and their nature of interest.  

Few months back Lubna of "Yummy Food" asked me to do a guest post on food photography for her blog.  It was good opportunity to share my thoughts on which I am learning it everyday and still in learning process :) .  I am reposting it here just for my record.   Here are few pointers which I follow every time.   

Without writing more Introduction lets jump right into the meat of it.

Get to know your Camera:

For a starter, it does not really matter about what kind of camera you have.  Having to have a DSLR to get a great picture is a MYTH.  Regardless of the type of camera, first get to understand and feel comfortable with your camera.  You need to spend time to read your camera manual and to understand what it says and play around with the camera.  This will help you to understand what the manual says and how to do it with the camera.

There are two kind of major camera types – Point and Shoot and.  Most of the Point and Shoot camera’s in the market today have different modes.  Each mode is for a particular purpose; understand the purpose of the modes as well as the options available in each mode.  Then play around with taking pictures of the same subject in different modes, this will help you understand the outcome in each of the modes.  After you do this kind of exercise on different types, you will have a feel for the modes and it will be intuitive to you as to what mode has to be used based on the subject, lighting, day or night.

Once you have mastered the different modes available in the camera, the next thing is to break the rules and go with your creative ideas to use different modes regardless of the subject and lighting.  This will help you discover new things which will not me mentioned in the books or manual.

Evolution of my Food Blog:

When I Started:
When I started my food blog I did not have props or a DSLR.  I started with point and shoot camera and with what was available to me in terms of utensils.  Based on those my way of photographing was to take the raw ingredients of the food and make them stand out with my Garnishing. 

With my point and shoot camera and my simple plating:




Later:

I got my DSLR and started exploring it, but I was shooting in Auto mode along with creative modes.  Even though it was Auto mode and other modes using a DSLR made a lot of difference to the pictures, then I started to use some props for my pictures and using the props and DSLR took a different direction my style of pictures compared to the initial days.

This is my first picture in Manual Mode 





Until Now:

Then I started to take pictures in full manual mode and this opened a world of possibilities and I started learning and exploring manual photography.  I fell in love with taking pictures in manual mode.

My latest picture


Food Photography:

Let’s get into specifics of food photography now. 

In Food Photography “Food” should be the star in the picture and nothing other than food. 

I am not going to touch about photography basics like Aperture, ISO, shutter speed, white balance because there is lot of literature about this available in the Internet.

I am going to give you some take away points that I follow while taking food pictures.

1.Light:

When you see the word Light a lot of people would think about Flash, that’s correct.  But in the world of food photography “Natural Light” is the key source for good pictures.  Natural light will bring out the real colors of the subject.  I only use Natural light source for my food pictures with table setup beside a window.  Light from different directions and different angles has the ability to change the personality of a photograph.  So Play with different angles, light and composition.  .
 
2. Fresh Ingredients:

Food is best when the ingredients are fresh.  Fresh ingredients also have a vibrant color to it.  Using Fresh ingredients along with food in the pictures makes the picture speak out.

3.Composing the Subject:

With any kind of photography composing the subject is analogous to the blueprint of a building.  Planning is the key to a successful photo; don’t get afraid that it’s a long process.  Trust me a small planning would go a long way.  When I say planning I would visualize what all the things which would be the subject as well as how they have to be placed for the photo.  Once you place it in the way you visualized, snap a picture or two and look at it, this will help to make some small changes.  Finally when you keep the food on the plate then the whole stage is set for it.

4. Reflector:

Reflectors come in different colors (Gold, Silver, and White etc).  I use a white foam board as a Reflector to bounce the light back on to the subject and also to avoid shadows.  White foam boards are not very expensive. 

5. Composition:

Earlier I have written about composing.  Composing is about planning on how the things should be placed for the picture.  Composition is specific to the pattern of placing the food in the picture.  You can use the square in the view finder of the camera as a guideline and plan to keep the food in the center of the square.  I try to do this to the possible extent.


Food Styling:

Food styling is one of my favorite things in food photography. This does not require an introduction as to what this is, the word speaks for itself.  Food styling is an ocean.  With imagination, the possibilities are endless in food styling.  You can create different moods in the picture based on your styling.

I am going to touch a few things which I do in food styling.

1. Garnishing:

As I have mentioned in the evolution part, in the starting days of my blog, garnishing my food went a long way.  Garnishing is about adding the feather to the cap.  Be it a simple or a complicated dish, garnishing makes the dish very appealing and inviting to the eyes.
Keep it simple and neat. 

Things I would use for Garnishing:
a.Raw ingredients used in making the food
b.Herbs and Spices
c.Accompaniments which pair well with the food
d.A Simple carved vegetable like lemon wedges, sliced chilli etc

Whether you use the above or some other items, keep it simple and elegant.

2. Theme:

Theme is the backdrop for the dish.  There are different themes which you can use like Rustic, Modern, White, Colorful, Event based etc.  I choose my theme based on my mood. 

Here are the sample pictures for few themes.

Rustic:

Authentic Bengali dessert with rustic look. Usually Mishti Doi is served in the pot. in that case to give both authentic and rustic look, the dish is in the pot and the environment is rustic.






Modern:

Simple and elegant garnish with modern look.









White based:

Since the dish is very colorful I choose to keep the base as white, so that the dish would standout.





Colorful:

According to the complimentary color scheme in the color wheel, opposite colors makes a perfect couple, so in that case Green background and the color of cranberry makes a beautiful color contrast here.  When I was in school, I read my aunt's home science record book which contained information about the basics of color, color scheme etc.  Those information really helped me with my color compositions.

Contrast colors, if you see



This picture shows the Monochromatic color scheme




Casual dish – a tea time snack:

Here is an example for casual snacking; the picture itself shows it’s a tea time snack.  By keeping a book, tea cup and a newspaper BG it tells us the story that is it casual appetizer...






Authentic look to the picture:

This is traditional sweet, to show it authenticity, the background and the bowl is choosing in the way to make the dish looks traditional.






3. Props:

Props refer to the utensils, cutleries, Flowers, Fabrics, decorative stuff etc which you are going to use in the picture.  Choose your props based on the theme which you are using.  This also works the other way.  Back home, I am big into props for a long time even before I started my food blog. Have been collecting props and using it for decoration in the house.  But all these things are back home and when I started my blog I did not have any of it with me.

When it comes to Props anything works, imagination is the limit.  I have become a Karung guni http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karung_guni], my Singapore friends will start laughing reading this.  Don’t get me wrong, I have not gone to that extent of going from house to house.

Here is an example to show how the waste things work as beautiful props …







5. Tips and Tricks:

I am sharing some of my tips and tricks with you.

a.Show the vegetables fresh by sprinkling some water.
b.When using Herbs for shooting, after sometime the Herbs will loose its freshness.  At the point of time replace with new herbs, so that the it will be fresh. (Follow this for food as well)
c.Don’t the dump the plate or bowl with truck load of food.
d.I always make it a point to shoot a picture which shows the texture of the food.  This is really important for the audience to know the texture of the food.
e.When presenting dishes which has vegetables pull a few of the vegetables and place it on the top of the dish to me it visible and appealing.
f. A little messiness like bite taken from the bowl, crackers etc , the empty messy plate gives a beautiful touch to the  photograph and makes others mouth water J

Inspiration of food photograph is everywhere so keep it in mind and create your own unique style.  Practice in different ways J   Practice makes perfect … Hope you all enjoy my food photography post.  Do drop me an email if you have any questions…


PriyaVaasu  – (March 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM)  

Very informative Pavithra!!! thanx for sharing!!! Amazing Clicks yaar!!!

Rathai  – (March 13, 2012 at 9:28 AM)  

I thoroughly loved this post! Very enjoyable post that also makes a good read to those interested in photography.

Hamaree Rasoi  – (March 13, 2012 at 9:47 AM)  

Thanks a lot for sharing such useful tips about photography.

Deepa
Hamaree Rasoi

Aarthi  – (March 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM)  

This is such a wonderful post..Thanks for posting it..Bookmarked..

Aarthi
http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/

Kanchan  – (March 13, 2012 at 10:41 AM)  

Wonderful post ! bookmarked for future references :)

radha  – (March 13, 2012 at 11:29 AM)  

Really good tips. However, sadly no DSLR, but maybe someday and I will come back here again.

priya  – (March 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM)  

Awesome photography tips..thk u very much

nithya  – (March 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM)  

Very nice post Pavithra. I am frequent visitor to your blog and you have never failed to impress me with your posts and pictures. I hardly comment - but today I wanted to appreciate your love for photography and cooking. Keep it coming!!

http://www.snapilyeverafter.blogspot.com/

geetha  – (March 13, 2012 at 1:21 PM)  

Wonderful tips.. Thanks for sharing.

Nitha  – (March 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM)  

Thats a good informative one..

Sowmya  – (March 13, 2012 at 8:28 PM)  

lovely post pavi..thanks for sharing..very informative ...:)

Priya dharshini  – (March 14, 2012 at 12:32 AM)  

Thats really great,pavithra..It is useful to read ur views and experiences in food photography..Wonderful post.

Sriya  – (March 14, 2012 at 10:10 AM)  

first time here ... glad to follow you ..very great tips ...thanks for sharing ..visit my blog
www.sriyafood.blogspot.com

Spandana  – (March 14, 2012 at 11:50 AM)  

very useful post pavithra thank you for sharing. some behind the scene pics would have been very useful too :-)

Archana  – (March 15, 2012 at 1:34 AM)  

Thanks a lot Pavitra. I wanted to buy a camera and the prices of DSLR had me swooning now thanks to you post i dont have to postpone buying a camera.

SpicyTasty  – (March 16, 2012 at 1:04 AM)  

It was good reading your post. Very useful. Can u also tell us what you use as a base to keep your plates. I see some wooden board and some colored bases. Looks cool. It ll be very useful if u share. Thanks.

Renata  – (March 16, 2012 at 4:32 AM)  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Pavithra, thanks for sharing your tricks, as your photography is absolutely gorgeous!

lata raja  – (March 16, 2012 at 5:40 AM)  

I am printing this out...not just pointers Pavithra, very detailed and well explained!

Anu Nandu  – (March 20, 2012 at 12:04 AM)  

Wonderful post Pavi. Thanks for knowledge sharing. You are one of the few bloggers with truly excellent pictures! Keep up the awesome work and join that elite club of food stylists soon. I'll be so proud that you are in there!

Princy Vinoth  – (April 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM)  

very informative.thanks for the post.

Turmeric n Spice  – (April 28, 2012 at 6:35 PM)  

Awesome post - your photography is oming along really brilliantly must confess am envious of it :)))) do u shoot in raw mode ?

LG  – (April 30, 2012 at 9:08 AM)  

Your pictures are always an inspiration, but it is nice to know that you are a Karung guni LOLz..well, your creative best is highlighted every where in your pictures. Thanks Pavitra for sharing.

Mullai Madavan  – (February 4, 2014 at 3:36 PM)  

Great post, luv your photography. Thanks for sharing!

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