Photography is an art that takes careful consideration of lighting, angle, focus, and composition. Apply this to your dinner pictures, and you can teeter on the boundary between barf-able and brag-able.
You don’t need to go to a digital camera store to buy a set of expensive digital cameras with aperture control and various millimeters of lenses. Even pro photographers get just as much versatility out of their phone as their equipment. But you still need to think like a pro!
Natural light is king. sit next to a window if you’re in a restaurant or go outside if you have food of your own. natural light is soft but powerful and gives your food a glow a lightbulb just can’t give.
- Tip! If your natural light makes too much shadow on one side, have you or a friend hold up a napkin or piece of paper to reflect some light back into those crevasses. Just don’t get the paper itself in the shot.
Whatever you do, don’t use your flash. It lakes things look flat and gross and fake.
People who make their living serving food know how to present it. If it’s arranged on your plate already, don’t touch it before you take your picture. Go for different or unusual angles, include other things on the table, but get a good dose of the original presentation before messing with it.
Keep steady. All that pretty food will be a mystery if it comes out blurry. There are still digital cameras with macro modes, great for getting VERY close and personal with your food and capturing textures. Most phones these days have macro modes, too, so explore a little to find settings you like.
- Tip! Brace your arms against a wall or the table, or even set your camera on the table to get the most stable, clear shot. This is especially important for macro photos and low-light areas.
Photography has a rule of thirds. Mentally split your shot with two lines to create three columns and two more lines to create three rows. Where the lines of that 3×3 grid intersect, that’s where you want your focus to be. You’ll find lots of phones and point and shoot digital cameras with grids you can turn on and off to help guide you.
It’s not all about the food! Get some shiny silverware in there, a wine glass, salt and pepper. Even the paper wrapper of street food gives it that authentic, spur-of-the-moment feel. Chopsticks enhance the mood of a Japanese dish and lifting a piece of pie on your fork is the difference between a boring lump of rust and a gorgeous pastry filled with striking color. See this reference for more.