Food photography is probably one of the most saturated photography genres out there. But why? Well, firstly, it’s because everybody loves food and people indulge in it every day. We sit in front of our food at least three times a day. So, it’s a photography subject that’s around us all the time.
Beyond that, almost everyone wants to show off what they’re eating and where they’re eating it. That’s especially true when people are at fancy restaurants or cafes; you’d rarely see people doing food photography in a simple food court!!
In the past decade or so, food photography has also become much easier to do. People these days are continually equipped with impressive smartphone cameras that they can use at any time. Easy access to a great smartphone camera, combined with the pull of social media likes and shares, both encourage people to take pictures of their food and drink to share with all of their followers online.
While it’s true that anyone can start doing food photography, becoming a master of this photography genre is not so easy. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a smartphone camera. You could even be sitting at the table with a DSLR like the Canon 80D. The fact remains that taking impressive photographs of your brunch plate is not so easy. What you’ll need are a few tips used by food photography masters to step your game up.
So, without further delay, here are the five top tips for better food photography with your Canon 80D.
Natural light is every foodie photographer’s best friend. In case you’re not familiar with the term yet, it means using sunlight to illuminate your photo instead of using a flash.
But what benefit do you get from using natural light? Well, natural light tends to be much gentler. Plus, since it’s more natural, people subconsciously react more positively to it. When you combine those two benefits with food photography in particular, what you get are exceptionally tantalising (and delicious!) snapshots.
So, with natural light, your photos aren’t just showing people a pretty plate of food. You’re actively making them hungry for that food as well. Your pictures jump off the screen right at your viewers.
Getting more natural light is easy if you’re doing food photography in your own kitchen. But what if you’re out at a restaurant or a coffee house? How do you get more natural light when you and your Canon 80D are heading out?
The first step you can take is to plan your visit ahead of time. To be a great food photographer, preparation is vital! So, take a good look at the venue’s layout. Sit closer to windows where natural light is abundant.
The best position might also depend on the time of day. Depending on where the venue is, one side might get more natural light in the morning or even the afternoon.
Alternatively, you could also dine alfresco! Sit outside where you know there will be plenty of natural light for you to enjoy.
Set The Scene
If you’re going to plan and prepare to make the most of the venue’s natural light, why not take it a few steps further? Even though your Canon 80D will focus mainly on the food, you can also put some work into preparing the environment around it.
Don’t forget; your food photos also capture a bit of the table and venue in the background!
If you’re doing your food photography in public, your options might be limited. The staff might not allow you to move things around too much. But if you’re at home, go crazy!
Start with the furniture, like the table and chairs. For example, you could focus your viewer’s eyes strictly onto the table by removing all of the chairs. Or, you could make sure that only one chair is visible in the background, to create a more romantic, one-on-one kind of vibe in your photos. As you can see, these ideas don’t require any additional equipment that you have to pay for. Instead, you’re using what’s already present in your environment, in creative ways that nobody has thought of before!
Pay close attention to whatever’s in the background too. It’s always a good idea to leverage neutral backgrounds in food photography so that the focus stays on the food itself. Too many bright colours, patterns, or general activity in the background could distract the viewer and take away attention from your main subject.
Also, don’t be afraid to play around with shadows. Even if you’re using natural light and the shadows aren’t ideal, you could always turn your table around!
Use A Tripod Or Makeshift Mount
A tripod can be a food photographer’s best friend in many ways.
Firstly, a tripod can help you to keep your camera perfectly still when taking a photo of your food. Sometimes, it’s only natural that our hands get a little shaky while we hold our cameras. That’s especially true when our camera position keeps our hands at some awkward and unusual angles. With a tripod, the camera stays still for as long as you need it to.
An excellent example of this is when you try to do a flat lay, which is very popular when it comes to food photography. To ‘flat lay’ means to place the camera directly above the food that you’re capturing. No matter how tall or short you are, doing that can be quite a challenge, though not as much if you were using a tripod.
On top of that, with a tripod, you’ll be able to make the most of the Canon 80D’s abilities. Perhaps you’d like to set the camera to slower shutter speeds just to see how your food photos turn out. If that’s the case, a tripod will do a much better job at holding the camera steady for as long as necessary.
If you don’t feel like investing in a tripod yet, or if you’d prefer not to use one in a crowded restaurant, you can get creative with it! Try using something in your surrounding as a camera mount. Look around the restaurant, and you might see a shelf where you can place your camera to get the same results.
Let’s be clear: we’re not talking about props like funny hats, wigs, and fake moustaches here! When it comes to food photography with your Canon 80D, props are… well they can be anything that’s NOT food.
The purpose of a photography prop is to add a bit more depth to the photos that you’re taking. After all, you don’t want your food photos to look plain and boring like it’s from a menu or catalogue, do you?
So, what can you use as props? Well, start with whatever is on the table. Cutlery, like forks and knives, makes for very simple but elegant props for food photography. That’s especially true if the venue that you chose has good taste, and invested in some very photogenic cutlery. Even a well-positioned pair of chopsticks can add a bit of flair to an already-delicious looking picture of your meal.
Some food photographers like to get a bit messy. Salt on a dark table or pepper on a brightly-coloured one; that might be a place to start. Typically, if you’re photographing pastries or baked goods in general, sprinkled flour is an often-used prop. Of course, doing this at a restaurant might not be a good idea. The owners and other patrons might not take too kindly to you sprinkling condiments everywhere! But if you’re at home, then let your creativity loose!
Naturally, you can always stick to other props that might fit the overall vibe of your photos. Books are great props for cafe food, or you can even use your nice wallet and glasses in the same way as well.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve heard this a million times, and you’re going to get this piece of advice once more. The key to being good at any genre of photography is to practice with your Canon 80D continually! You’ll understand this advice much better when you realise the benefits of continual practice. Here’s what you need to know: there are two primary reasons why practice is crucial for food photography.
The first is that food isn’t like other kinds of photography subjects. So, even if you’re great at portrait photography or wildlife photography, you still need to adjust your skills to take pictures of food. As you get better at this genre, your repertoire of technical photography skills will improve overall. In other words, when you get better at food photography, you’ll become a much better photographer in general.
Second, continual practice allows you to discover what your tastes, preferences, and style are. Every photographer has a unique style, you see. As a photographer, your snapshots will become more appealing when people can recognise your signature style. For photographers, that signature style becomes much like a unique signature. So, how do you develop that signature style? You guessed it! You develop that style through practice!
The good news is that practicing food photography is easy! You don’t need to go out into the wild or rent a studio. Even simple home-cooked food can make for excellent food photography practice!