There’s a really great ad campaign inside Wegmans supermarkets around the Northeast (and in portions of Maryland and Virginia as well). Right near the salad bar, there are four different colored banners hanging above the grub — one green, one purple, one orange and one yellow. The message? “Eat More Colors.”
But it wouldn’t be nearly as effective at making tummies rumble if it wasn’t for the gorgeous food-centric photography that drives the point home. In fact, that’s always the job of foodie photogs: Get consumers interested by showing how delicious these colors are. When your job focuses on such an immediate subject as food, suddenly debates like digital camera vs film camera don’t seem to matter anymore. All that matters is the food. Here’s what you need to know to capture it the right way.
The fresher, the better
Leftovers stashed away in plastic containers are some of the greatest conveniences of the modern world. But that doesn’t mean they’re glamorous or particularly photogenic. Instead of lining up your counter with all sorts of frozen edibles, opt for fresh, crisp, whole foods whenever you’re organizing a digital camera shoot.
Bad lighting makes for a bad photo, and with food, a bad photo makes for a lost appetite. When you’re dealing with hot food, as Digital Photography School’s Darlene Hildebrandt suggests, load it up with light so that the natural steam will show up above the platter. If you’re shooting inside your own kitchen, angle your shots so a little natural light from your windows comes in just behind the food. Use what you can in your immediate area.
Propping up your scenes
You’re trying to capture the essence of a salad, so why not decorate the scene around it with some fresh tomatoes and heads of lettuce? Or if those are too bulky, opt for colorful cabbages and carrots instead. The trick is to work with whatever natural foods you have around you and incorporate them into the scene organically as background flair. Again, it’s all about making your viewers work up an appetite, so give their stomachs something to growl over.
Knowing your equipment
This one should go without saying, but make sure to get familiar with your hardware before you get serious about a particular foodie shoot. Get as much general information on digital cameras as you can find, learn the main differences of the digital camera vs film camera debate, then choose the gear you think will best benefit your scenes. Pop into photo stores and see if the folks behind the counter have any pointers they’d be willing to give you.
No matter your shooting preference — digital camera vs film camera, full stomach vs famished — the only thing that should matter in your photography is the food. Make it look good and make people want to take a bite. When done right, food-centric photography has the ability to change people’s minds (and their eating habits) for the better. More on this.