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Food photography: the art of photographing your dishes

Food photography: the art of photographing your dishes

We are inundated with cooking shows, celebrity chefs and lifestyle journalists, and so we often find ourselves cooking at home. When the recipe turns out well and we manage to make the dish look good too, we are often keen to take a photo of it to post on Facebook or on our blogs. 

However, taking photographs of food is far from easy. Food photography has become a discipline of its own, thanks to advertising and marketing.  Dishes are dressed up to look like models on the catwalk and immortalized by professional photographers in order for the images to do them justice and show just how tasty they are. 

Aspiring food photographers can learn from the professionals when it comes to the secrets of capturing their culinary creations on film. First of all, food photography requires natural light. Flash photography, especially with digital cameras, can flatten the appearance of dishes and make them lose their vitality. The ideal conditions would involve natural light filtered through a sheet of white paper or a curtain, and should come from behind or one side, rather than using direct sunlight. You should also pay careful attention to the set. The dish should be the focus of the image, so you should avoid any other elements that might distract the viewer, such as spilt food or kitchen utensils.  These could ruin the image, unless of course you want to include a spoon or a ladle in the photo to show that the dish is ready to be served. The most professional images generally have a totally white background, but you may want to include the warm, welcoming atmosphere of your kitchen in the photo. We recommend that you always use a macro setting on your camera, which focuses on the food and makes the colors pop, rather than blending the similar shades together or creating a monochrome effect (especially with shades of brown) which will not look good in a photo. 

Obviously, everyone should experiment, and choose whether to take the photo from above, or follow the latest trend of using a more spontaneous shot, preferably with an angle of about 45 degrees. You need to have a steady hand, or alternatively get hold of a tripod. 

The food should be photographed as soon as it’s ready, as even after just a few minutes, it won’t look as good. You can also tell the story of all the preparation, as the real icing on the cake (preferably with an amarena on top!).