My Biggest Food Photography Mistakes.. and How You Can Avoid Them
Here are a few of the biggest food photography mistakes I’ve made and how to correct them. Take my experiences and don’t do what I did. This is more of a cautionary tale.
About 3 years ago, I started a blog, it was a way to share what I was making, my love for eating, and my creative food photo taking juices. I thought I was a good photographer, not great, but good enough.
I took my first photo and learned that I wasn’t as great as I’d thought. What I saw through the viewfinder was NOT what I saw when I uploaded my photos. I had a fancy camera, what I thought was a good eye, and a desire to take beautiful photos. But, that didn’t show in my photos.
Womp womp. Seriously, I thought I had all the tools, the eye, I should be able to take pretty food photos. But I wasn’t.
It took hundreds of hours of practice, multiple books, so many random blog posts, a photography ecourse, and frustrations.
Just last fall (and a good 2+ years after my first blog), I attended Blog Brulee (and was onto my 3rd blog, ha!), Blog Brulee is a healthy food blogger conference in Vermont. Katie, pro chef and pro food photographer behind the scenes at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, taught us how she sets up her photos. A lightbulb went off and things clicked. That moment drastically changed my food photography. Katie didn’t share anything ground-breakingly different, she shared her simple and inexpensive methods to shoot better photos, yet that was the groundbreaking part.
To compound this newfound knowledge, I started checking out hundreds of food photos each day while reviewing photo submissions to Healthy Aperture. Learning how & what I liked, and what made those photos pop helped me determine my style and get my photos noticed by important people representing big food brands as well as prospective clients.
Here are 3 things I do now to make sure my food photos pop & why I do them.
No more darkly lit, messy, and ugly photos.
1. Use natural sunlight
Take a look at these photos. Unnatural (or room lights) cast harsh shadows, grubby light, and ugly onto what could be really pretty food, but you can’t see the pretty food behind the ugly light.
HOW TO FIX: set up next to a big window, or take your food & camera outside. This is stupid easy, but EVERYTHING! Turn off all the lights in your house and let the natural sunlight illuminate your photo.
2. Don’t let multiple subjects compete for the spotlight
It’s natural to want to keep everything in focus when you’re shooting food. It’s natural to want to show detail on everything, but that desire to show all detail confuses your viewers. When there’s too much to want to focus on, we tend to close the page and move on.
HOW TO FIX: Choose one ‘hero’ subject to highlight, let the rest be blurred out and not compete for the attention.
3. Blurry photo
When you’ve got low lighting, you’ve got to open up that lens to let in as much light as possible…. but with that comes some shakiness if you’re holding your camera, which I always did. It seemed easier and quicker to hold the camera instead of set up a tripod. It’s true, it’s easier and you’ve got more control. But lesbehonest, this picture SUCKS for a few reasons, one of which, it’s completely out of focus. And all ease aside, if you’ve got a blurry confusing photo, it doesn’t matter.
HOW TO FIX: Invest in a tripod. End of story. A tripod will actually open up your world, you’ll be able to take photos in lower light & they’ll actually turn out pretty. You can also get steady & beautiful overhead shots with a tripod that has an extendable arm. It’s truly magic guys, magic.
So with all of that, do you want to take food photos that pop? Do you want to stop taking boring, confusing, unappetizing photos?
Are you ready to grab the attention of food brands and prospective clients? Stephanie McKercher, of The Grateful Grazer blog (check out her awesome post on food photography) and I have teamed together to teach you how to take beautiful food photos that pop. We have created an ecourse focused on how to take pretty photos, not just how pretty photos are taken, but how to actually take them, and in terms you understand. Click here for more info.
P.S. WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE COURSE?
Together Steph and Rebecca share a great arsenal of ammo aimed to help you become a better food photographer. They are great at supporting you along your journey and really do want to see you improve and succeed. The ebook plus their support is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their food photography skills.
Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CD, CDE of www.yourchoicenutrition.com
Rebecca and Stephanie really put together an awesome program! It opened my eyes to so much about food photography and I have tweaked how I take and edit my photos and I even purchased a tripod, at their suggestion, to make my photos less blurry! I can’t wait to use it and to continue to use their suggestions! – Lauren Pendergast, RDN, CDN
The ebook was easy to read with great pictures and instructions. It went step by step through the basics of food photography. They were supportive and made things sounds simple enough to try, yet they were very understanding that learning is a process and they were supportive of being creative and learning from mistakes. I would recommend it to anyone who is feeling lost about how to get started with food photography.
-Jaylynn Skidmore, RD
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