Lately I’ve been photographing a lot of food stories, including my most recent visit to the Toronto Underground Market. Food is an important and integral aspect of traveling – it is a window into culture, it brings friends and family together, it can improve a bad travel day. To help travel bloggers capture great photos of food that looks just as great as the dishes taste, here is a beginner’s guide to food photography for travel bloggers.
Lighting: use natural light
The first rule of thumb in food photography is to avoid using your on-camera flash if at all possible. Unless you’re a pro with strobes, the best source of light for illuminating food is natural light. If you’re photographing outside during daylight, find some soft shade and you’re golden. If you’re visiting a restaurant, request a table by the window.
Styling: minimize clutter
Food styling is no easy feat considering it’s its own profession, but you can also manage some basic styling when photographing food on the road. First you want to make sure that the arrangement of the food itself looks appealing and appetizing. Then check everything else. Does the tablecloth look particularly drab? Can you put the food on a differently shaped plate? Should you add a spoon – or take one away? All of these details help set the mood of the photograph. Remember that keeping the image simple and clean is never a bad option, it helps the camera focus on the subject.
Angle: get moving
There are two basic angles that’s my go to: the bird’s eye view and the close up. For the bird’s eye view, I stand on a chair and shoot straight down onto the food. When that’s not possible, I get the shot by standing up and positioning myself directly over the food. For the close up, I get right into the details, focusing on a particular element of the food that I really want to highlight. In contrast to the bird’s eye, the close up requires you to get low and close to the food.
Flash: don’t do it
I already said this but let me underscore it once more: please please please do not use flash in your food pictures. This is one of the most repeated mistakes I see bloggers make. The harsh light from on-camera flash make the food look flat and lifeless. It almost never results in an appetizing image.