We’ve all made our share of “instafamous” meals. But did you ever notice that when you try to document your culinary creations in photographs, the food can lose its appetite appeal? We certainly have. Food photography is a lot harder than it looks, so we thought call in a pro to help us all improve our game.
We talked to food photographer, Michael Shay at Polara Studio in Portland, Oregon to gain a few pointers. Michael has shot Pacific’s food photography for more than a decade, so he had a wealth of useful tips to share. The next time you snap a “selfie” of your soup or your salmon, keep these things in mind.
- Come closer. Most people try to shoot food from too far away. Move in a little tighter and let the various ingredients speak for themselves.
- Stay simple. The same way a few ingredients taste better in recipes, being minimal in photography helps the food’s ingredients really shine in photos.
- Consider lighting. Natural northern light gives food a beautiful, soft look. Try using a white piece of paper or board off to the side of the food you’re photographing to diffuse any harsh light and give the food a rich, natural glow.
- Be complementary. Warm-colored foods photograph best in cool dishes. Cool-colored foods are complemented by warm-colored bowls and plates.
- Choose a palette. Don’t go too crazy with multiple backgrounds or an array of colored dishes. Find a color scheme and stick with it.
- Give props. Most food looks best propped with ingredients that are scaled to the size of the dish you are shooting. Don’t piece something small like peppercorns next to a large crock of soup.
- Set the table. When shooting a table scene, give the photo a bright feeling of life. Transmit the sense of people being present with things like lemon slices or icy cold water.
- Tidy up. Food photography shouldn’t ever look too messy. Wipe down plates regularly with rags or Q-tips to boost the appetite appeal.
- Blow it up. Download your photos and look at them larger on the computer. Often you’ll see details you overlooked that can be improved for the next shot.
Just a little extra attention will make your food look as good as it tastes. Do you have a favorite way to shoot food? Tell us all your tasty secrets.