This is a second part my article ’10 Tips For Beginning Food Photographer’ (Read part 1 here). I glad what you like my advices about food photography. It’s inspiring to write more and more things about this not easy way.
And I promise writing new tips about food photography. And now read second part.
Camera angle to shoot food and viewer’s comfort
Unfortunately, people are lazy. Me too. And when I visit some cosy restaurant and see that all photos in its menu were shot from above, I want to get up and eat the dish standing on a table. Since this is how photographer shot it and this is how it was presented to me. And I’m lazy. And I better avoid ordering this dish, than will eat it standing on a table.
Put in front of you savoury duck breast with yummy teriyaki sauce. It is still warm, aromatic and steaming. It makes your mouth water… but I got a bit carried away. What is the angle of the dish towards you? Yes, it’s 45 degrees. And since you learnt how to sit at the table and use cutlery till the present moment – it has been the most comfortable angle to see a dish. You’ve been watching food at this very angle for many years. That’s why don’t make your viewer stand up on a table and eat food from high angle. Not all tables are stable.
And yes, I don’t want you to always shoot food at 45-degree angle. Sometimes it’s impossible and the best angle is a high one. That’s why take a hold on yourself and be different.
Create a story, be original
Remember: viewers never buy dish in the photo, they buy emotion. The emotion they remember from their experience. Let’s make an example. Close your eyes and imagine Olivier salad. What’s the first thing you’re thinking about? Taste? Hardly. This is an emotion you remember. New Year, the family gathered together, enjoyment of holiday and happiness. And also vodka. Because there can be no Olivier without vodka.
Here you are: ready story to shoot this plain dish. Crystal bowl with Olivier, a Soviet plate, a steamy small glass of vodka and a spoon, with which caring mother or wife puts on your plate our favourite salad, which is absolutely non-photographic. All that is left is to drink a glass dry and have a bite of this canonical salad.
Every dish has its own story. And people live with associations. And this is what makes food photographer’s work much easier.
But if you don’t want to use already existing associative array, then you can create your own one. And bring up your own audience. This is the only way to create new moments of life to remember.
Everything, absolutely everything I’ve mentioned above is composition. And if to put technical composition (geometry, light and colour) on a scale together with a story and a plot, the latter will win. A photo can be of a really bad quality, but if it contains a plot, an emotion – it will have thousand ‘likes’ on you Facebook page, while a properly exposed and super sharp picture without a story will be buried under hundreds of similar ones. Luckily or not, but this is how it works.
And a few more useful recommendations. At least, I hope they are useful
Think both as a chef and a hungry customer
Food photographer is not just a person with a camera. Food photographer must be able and fond of cooking, must understand quality and composition of ingredients, know names and origin of dishes, and be able to differ Spanish apricot from the local one. This is inevitable price you have to pay for the pleasure of shooting.
That’s why bother the chefs you know with questions, attend culinary courses and watch how these wizards create their masterpieces. And become a customer. Enjoy food in new restaurants, watch the reaction of viewers to photos and look at photos of others as a hungry customer, and by no means as a photographer.
In such a way, you’ll understand your partners from both sides, you’ll understand what people need and this will make you a better photographer. And, of course, you’ll become a bit more popular at this far from easy market.
Invest money and time in your education
Some people think that buying a camera automatically makes them photographers. And only after some time passes they understand that this is not quite true. Someone realises this in a month, someone in a year, and someone needs the whole life for this.
Learn from those who are better than you, learn from books and articles. Watch videos and attend master-classes. This will help you improve your skills enough to come over your fears and uncertainty in a few months and just shoot and shoot then. Shoot better, smarter, with improved quality. Learn, sometimes it’s a great fun.
And now, just stop reading and start shooting!
Only practice will help you to get more experience, to work out your own style and to be always sure of your result. Because all articles you read, books and seminars will be forgotten in three months if you don’t use your knowledge in practice. This means that in three months you will remember absolutely nothing from that useful workshop, you spend so much money and efforts for, if you won’t practice. Just do it. Shoot a lot. Never think. You’ll think about it later.
With this, I will part with you and will go shooting lots of tasty and wonderful dishes. And I’ll eat them, of course. Which means gaining extra weight – a price you have to pay for a pleasure to shoot, what you like. But we will talk about this next time.
It’s rather difficult to put all my shooting experience in just 10 tips, since there are much more rules, and every day we open more and more new things, with each new examined and analysed photo we’re becoming more and more involved with a wonderful world of food-photography.
But if to speak about the basics which I needed when I just started shooting food, I can single out the following 10 tips. So, let’s start.