Photographing food can be a tricky process, although certainly a delicious one. The shot above was taken in real time, in a real dining setting where no special lighting was used. At times like this, we feel a shot from above helps focus on the food, rather than the surroundings. (Sometimes an I-Phone’s special settings help with focusing. But if your real-deal camera is available with high-powered settings, it could even be more dramatic.) Our Moto: if you can’t resist it, shoot it!
The staged macaroon shot above allowed us to stage, light, and enhance the placement of the food, tablecloth, and plate for maximum attractiveness. But it definitely lacks the spontaneity of real food under real circumstances. They may look yummy (and they were); but it’s clear they were meticulously prepped for their “close up.”
Adding people to a spontaneous photo of food in natural light can be tricky. It may be hard to capture the food’s most appealing qualities without studio-quality light, but the spontaneity adds a human realism that can be missing in staged shots. The food is not as delectable as food “staged” on a plate, but the human interaction with the food makes a viewer “project” themselves in the shot, and therefore into the food buying experience.
A chef’s artfulness with food can be a key component in beautiful food photography. A fine chef will make presentation a key aspect of his or her food presentation. When done well, a photographer’s work is half-way completed before you even focus the lens. When we see beautifully presented food like this, we almost always snap a shot!
Ultimately, food photography should make your mouth water. It should make you want to dive into your screen for a big, succulent bite. It if it appeals to your tongue (and your stomach), shoot it!