One of the first instances of my heinous food photos from the beginning of TBB. We’ve all got to start somewhere; this was my starting line. I had no clue what I was doing. I hadn’t done much research, I was using an iPhone 4, and had only been blogging for a few months. Let’s fast forward to now.
Get the recipe here!
Get the recipe here!
This is where I am today. I am fully aware that I am not an expert, and I can tell you right now: I learn something new everyday. I am still “in progress”, but I think we can all agree my photos are a hell of a lot better than they were two years ago. Today, I’m going to give you some insight into the three biggest components of food photography that I wish I would’ve known from the start.
1. Let’s start with the camera.
Okay, I’m going to give you some tough love here. PSA for all bloggers: photos are so much more important than you may realize. Especially food bloggers. People eat with their eyes. You can use your descriptive imagery and impressive synonyms for “delicious” all you want, but if your food photos are fugly, nobody is going to want to try your recipes. I’m sorry, but it’s true!
I went about a year and a half using an iPhone for my blog. Let’s take a peek into the evolution of my photos, with the transition from iPhone 4, iPhone 6, to DSLR.
I do believe that you can take good photos with an advanced smartphone. But if your blog revolves around food, an investment in a nice DSLR camera, in my opinion, is the best investment you can make. I saw a noticeable increase in my traffic once my photos were more appealing and sophisticated. Now, a change of device is not the end all, be all. You can have a fancy, shmancy camera and still have sucky photos. Like…
But, it is a big step in the right direction. If you cannot afford a nice DSLR or even the latest smartphone, this next tip can help you tremendously.
2. NATURAL LIGHT ONLY!
Okay, not only. If you can afford lighting equipment, go for it. There are also makeshift ways to enhance the lighting in your home for instances when, say, you finished making a recipe, it came out perfect, but it took so long that the sun already went down. But for simplicity’s sake, I’m all about that natural light. I struggled ever so much with my apartment(s) in college, but I’m lucky enough to now use a bay window in my house, in addition to a spot near one of our sliding glass doors. Find any space near a window and use that as your setup.
It’s important to understand the difference between types of natural light, as well. Hard light is the brightest; basically, sunlight on a day or time of day where there is not a cloud in the sky. Not the best option for food photography. Below is an example of a photo I took using hard light. This combination of brightness and shadows is not optimal.
The type of light I prefer for my food photos is soft light, which is a combination of natural light and shade, usually from clouds. You can manipulate hard light by utilizing your window shades to achieve the soft light you’re aiming for. Additionally, placing a light sheet over your window or using photo boards (I’ll get to that!) work, as well. Make sure to turn off all of the surrounding artificial light in your area when using natural light.
Get the recipe here!
3. Photo boards will change your life.
Another cheap tip for better photos: invest in a few photo boards. Remember in grade school when you had to make a presentation on a board and present it in front of class? (I bet kids use iPads now, or something…) Well, we still use them, but for a different purpose. The backdrop for your photos is the third most important and easy-to-fix component for better food photography. I have a collection of white and black photo boards that I use for back drops and light manipulation.
I love the clean, crisp look of a white background for photos. It makes the colors of the food pop, and the props you use to complement the food stand out that much more.
You can also put old, battered baking pans to use. I love the rustic look when using baking pans as a platform, as seen in the waffles and asparagus photos above. The latest addition to my collection is a marble slab I purchased at Homegoods for $12! Yes, people, Instagram and general food photography is not always what it seems. I don’t have beautiful, white granite countertops. I have a little slab of marble that, in my opinion, enhances my photos a great deal.
There you have it. Three simple tips to better food photography. As I continue reading, researching and learning, I will carry on sharing the knowledge I obtain. However, these were the three tips that have helped me the most, so far, in my journey to better photography.
Additionally, these articles have helped me a bunch, too:
7 Photography Resources that Changed my Blog from In It for the Long Run
Photography Tutorials from Minimalist Baker
Food Photography Tips for Food Bloggers from Cookie and Kate
Ten Household Items That Can Improve Your Food Photography from Pinch of Yum