Two easy tips for helping with your lighting for food photography.
A bird has just tweeted in my ear that today is International Food Photography Day. We've already quite a few articles here on Photocritic that delve into the mystery of making brown gack look tasty and cold chicken appear hot. But seeing as most people aren't going to be pulling out their dSLRs in Le Gavroche or the French Laundry to take photos of their dinner (or at least, I hope not), we thought that we'd focus on smartphone food photography today, for when you don't have a controllable aperture or variable shutter speeds at your disposal.
1. Get closer
We probably sound like a broken record here at Photocritic, urging people to get closer, but we really do mean it. And we definitely mean it for food photography. Lean in.
2. Look for the light
Use natural light, and lots of it, to photograph food. Avoid flash wherever possible, especially smartphone flash. It's rarely a good look.
3. Alter your angles.
Experiment with different angles when it comes to food photography. Up high, down low, looking across your food. Give it a whirl!
4. Check the background
You really do not want clutter distracting from your food. So check for spills, crumbs, and cruet sets in the background. Think about using this tip in conjunction with getting closer and altering your angles for maximum impact.
5. Unwobble the white balance
Wobbly white balance can manage to make even the most delicious, fragrant, and beautiful dish look unappetising. Whites need to look white and not tinged with mouldy greens or unnatural blues. Fire-up Snapseed, load up your image, and push that 'Warmth' slider around until the colours look right.
6. Sprinkle some editing magic
As well as adjusting the white balance of your food photos, don't forget to give them a quick crop if they need it—especially to slice away anything extraneous or distracting in the background—and to increase the brightness and contrast a smidge. That will give your image a bolder and more appealing feel.
I don't tend to add filters to my food photos, but if that's your thing, Mayfair gives reliably good results in Instagram, I like Vanilla in EyeEm, and ColorVibe is good in Flickr. But it doesn't hurt to play around yourself!
7. Be selective
It doesn't matter how tasty your chickpea curry actually is, making it look appealing can be very difficult without some serious styling. The colours are dull and the textures uninteresting. The best photos of food make you want to reach into the image and snatch the cherry off of the top of the cake. They tend to be bright and full of feeling. So be selective in what you photograph. Think about colour, texture, and pattern.
And now you can put your new-found skills to use by entering the Fujifilm and Pink Lady Snap the Rainbow competition!
The winners of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2014 were unveiled earlier this week, with the over all prize of £5,000 going to Tessa Bunney for her photo Noodle Making, drawn from the Food in Action category. According to Andy Macdonald, who sat on the judging panel: 'The competition was intensely fierce, there were 6000 images entered internationally and the standard was phenomenal. Tessa’s image stood out from the rest, however, for its beautiful composition, the expression of utter absorption on its subject’s face, and the capture of a perfect moment in time as the noodle dough flies through the air.'
What do you think? Is this is a competition-winning entry? Do you agree with the judges about the shot perfectly capturing a moment in time? We've put some of the other category-winning images here so that you can compare, along with two of the Young People's entries, too.
From over 6,000 entries, 400 potential winners have been selected for the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition and among them there's a welter of images from photographers aged under 17. Youngsters were able to enter their photos into three age categories—under 10, 11 to 14, and 15 to 17—and provided that they featured food, they were fair game for the competition. Now that the entries have been shortlisted, the judges, who include Yotam Ottolenghi and Jay Rayner, will whittle down their lists further. Overall winners can be selected to receive their awards on 23 April and be exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London between Thursday 24 and Sunday 27 April 2014.
Winners from the young people's categories will be presented with vouchers to put towards new camera kit!
You can take a look at all of the shortlisted young people's photos, together with the adult short-listed images, on the special Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Shortlisted Gallery.