My personal food photography journey started slightly earlier than my love for wedding and portrait photography. Since I cook a lot, one day Nasim suggested that I document it and possibly turn my recipes into a blog. It started with one single shot of the final look of the dish before we devoured it, and ended up developing into step-by-step recipes that started gaining popularity. Although I took a break from food photography, I still kept on getting questions regarding the craft of food photography. So, I decided to start writing articles dedicated to food photography tips and techniques and how to work with food in various situations.
In this first article on food photography basics, I will talk about where to chirp the inspiration for food photography and how to develop simple techniques for capturing food. As I mentioned above, my food photography experience started from actually cooking for my family. I believe that if you cook the food before you photograph it, you have a special connection with your subject (food!). You know what to eat it with, you know what color it will be and you have a sense of presentation, more or less. Even if you do not know how to cook, understanding food, knowing the background of the recipe or being just a food lover will give you tremendous flexibility to develop your personal unique style. With a little technical help like simple knowledge of design, color and shapes will add to the plethora of information to make your task a success.
For me, getting my eyes trained was a big goal. What I mean by that is, I thought if I exposed myself to as many food journals, recipe books, quality recipe blogs and food photography books, my mind eventually would come to terms with my desire to learn this craft. I like to think of this as a repetition process to train the brain.
My first step was to search for food blogs where I could find the content I needed. I signed up for Foodgawker and this ultimately gave me a good head start. Foodgawker is not just a site with pretty pictures – the recipes are often equally delicious. Small steps at a time, I kept on learning from other bloggers and developing my own style.
The second step was to get my hands on as many food journals I could; this would include spending some time in the library, looking through journals in book stores and purchasing the ones with the most content.
My third step involved purchasing books which would help me master technical skills as a food photographer. Among us there might be some who have an eye for design, color and patterns. But I consider myself a pretty average person, who needs to acquire skills of food styling by learning and training myself. I also think that no one is born a great photographer :) If one has a desire to learn, with the help of simple tools you can learn ample in order to deliver the photographic product. For food photography, I would start with learning the styling techniques along with understanding how light works. If you have been shooting for a while, learning the lighting side of food photography will be much easier for you. The initial knowledge can be gathered through various literature out there.
Remember that no book will give you complete training or knowledge of food photography. You will still need to learn and practice a lot. If you wish to have some material as a reference, here are my favorite books which teach the food styling and techniques to some extent:
Go to your nearest book store and if these are available give them a skim through and see what you like. I will be posting more and more techniques regarding food photography, along with different lighting techniques to show you what you can achieve at home using inexpensive lighting equipment. Also, I will teach you to use natural light to your advantage without using artificial lights.
I am looking forward to sharing more info with you soon and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me using the comments section below.