The most underrated skill in my dietitian toolkit isn’t nutrient analysis or menu planning…
It’s really truly is food photography.
I’ve always been at my happiest while creating, so I fell in love with the photography aspect of food blogging from the very start – but I never knew then that it would help me grow my blog/nutrition business.
Mostly because when I first started, my photos were not exactly the most appetizing option on the menu…
I would longingly stare at mouthwatering food photos on Instagram and Pinterest but just felt lost. My photos were dark, yellow, grainy, and out of focus. They looked nothing like the ones I saw on big professional blogs and websites but I couldn’t tell you how or why other photos looked so much better than mine.
Thankfully for all of us, I picked up a few tips and tricks and got lots of practice along the way so you can look at healthy food photos that actually motivate you to create the recipe (and cook with more colorful whole foods at home).
I’ve been rounding up my best tips and (along with lovely co-instructor, Rebecca) putting them into a new food photography course for food bloggers, so I thought it would be fun to switch gears and talk about food photography today! (Even if you aren’t a food blogger, read on to learn some quick and easy tips for taking a killer food photo next time you’re traveling or posting to Instagram!)
Top 3 Food Photography Mistakes Newbies Make:
Food Photography Mistake #1: Taking food photos without good lighting
If you learn just one thing about food photography, it should be that lighting matters. Shooting food photos in dark restaurants or in the evenings can lead to graininess and harsh shadows. Using the flash or overhead kitchen lights gives your food an unappetizing yellow tone.
How to fix it:
Thankfully it doesn’t cost a lot of money to take perfectly-lit food photos. The only piece of equipment you really need is the sun but some additional basic supplies (like a white bed sheet and some foam boards from the dollar store) can really help you take photos that stand out (in a good way). For the most part, I shoot all of my website photos during the day using natural light but if you need to shoot food photos in the evening, you can invest in artificial lighting sets that get the job done almost as well as the real deal.
Food Photography Mistake #2: Shooting too close
I see this mistake all the time and I have surely been guilty of the crime of shooting my food way too up close and personal in the past too. Detail shots are great but trust me, we want to see the entire plate, not just ONE of your baby spinach leaves! 😉
How to fix it:
Set up your shot – and then take a step back or zoom out. Include the entire plate (or at least the majority of it) in your frame and provide some context by including some of the table or background in your shot. Leaving enough background also makes it easy to crop your photo into different sizes later, which can be really helpful if you want your photo to look great on your Instagram feed.
Food Photography Mistake #3: forgetting about props and styling
When I was first starting out, I had no clue what food styling even meant. I surely wasn’t thinking about the story I was telling – and it shows. Food photos without any props are just plain blah and boring. Boring photos definitely won’t help your delicious dish get noticed – or eaten.
How to fix it:
Start looking around online at food photos that stand out to you. What do you like about them? How did they lay napkins and how do the utensils look? Do you prefer neutrals or pops of bright color? Seek out inspiration from others and take bits and pieces until you begin to develop a food photography style that’s all your own.Food blogging newbie? Don't make one of these common food photography mistakes!Click To Tweet
Interested in learning more about the course?
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