Food photography has never been more present in the world of photography as it is today. Especially in a world where social media exists, we are bombarded with what people are eating on Facebook, Instagram, and blogs. What really differentiates a good food photo from a bad food photo is presentation, lighting, and styling. As a photographer, I am always looking for ways to make a boring photo POP! I recently had to photograph donuts for a client and I simply could not bare to place the donuts on a regular table - the idea of photographing donuts up against a pink surface screamed at me!
This is how those donut photos turned out:
Camera & Lenses:
So what makes a great food photo, besides great light and sharp images? First, let's start with what camera and lenses I personally shoot with (and all these can be purchased at your local Samy's store, just an FYI)
I personally shoot with the Canon 5D Mark III for all my food photos. I like that the Canon 5D Mark III has tethering capabilities which I often use to show my clients throughout the shoot. Tethering is also super helpful if you have a stylist on set with you! Once in a while, I swap out the Mark III for my iPhone, which allows me to update an instagram on the spot.
Here are some examples of Instagram photos I've taken:
*you can follow my instagram @kimgenevieve
I have three lens preferences for shooting food. (1) The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide-Angle. I especially enjoy photographing with this lens because of the negative space I can capture along with the food styling. I understand that not everyone enjoys photographing with so much negative space, but for me, it's just part of my photo style. If I'm trying to get closer to the subject (the food) then I will play around with the (2) The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or (3) The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM. These are especially great for capturing logos on the subjects.
Photos captured with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide-Angle:
Photos captured with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM & the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM:
Color and Light:
I will admit that sometimes the thought of capturing a really great picture of my food will often inspire a date night at a new restaurant that has great light and/or colorful tables! Vietnamese & thai restaurants are my absolute favorite! Oftentimes, they have colorful tables and a variety of items to choose from, and well, I like to eat it too! If you want to photograph your food when you're out a restaurant, be sure to ask for the table right next to the window (just as long as the sun isn't directly on the table)
Play with your food!
Everyone has a different style of food photography, and for me, I honestly like to describe the experience as "playing with my food." Donuts and cereal are both extremely appealing to me and so are colorful tables and backdrops. Adding cocktails to the photos always add a certain pop! Another thing that might add to the theme of "playing with your food" are hands. This might be difficult if you're the only one photographing your food and no one is around, but if you find yourself on location with a crew of people, just have someone dig into the food while you're shooting, it will absolutely add a little life to your photos!
Props & Styling
Some of my fellow photographers here in LA have really inspired me to play around with props and styling within my food photos. Of course, some dishes look beyond beautiful on their own and don't necessarily need a bunch of props within the frame. However, food alone can sometimes be a little boring and this is when props really come into play. Adding a few utensils, a colorful napkin, or even a couple cocktails can really add life to a photo. Sometimes styling an image can be as simple as adding a pair of sunglasses in the corner of the photo along with a newspaper or magazine. These are great options if you're tying to take a photo of your coffee or tea in the morning. I always have fun with this when I'm taking photos for my instagram.
Food photography is so much fun, especially when you're getting creative at home with take-out! Although, make sure you're not too hungry because it can get pretty frustrating waiting around to devour your food! Don't forget to try different angles & levels. Constantly move the props around. Shoot from above & from the side. Just play around with it. This is the only way to figure out what shot looks best - and HAVE FUN!!!
Kimberly Genevieve is a lifestyle & editorial photographer based in Los Angeles, California. Her editorials merge California’s sun-kissed surfer aesthetic with chic urban fashion influences. She pulls inspiration from bright colors, everyday life, and the sunset strip.
Clients include: NBC, ELLE decor, Anthropologie, Wasteland, Drybar, Target, FIDM, American Express, Karen Kimmel, Hipp & Kirk, Designlovefest, Thames and Hudson Publishers, The Huffington Post, NIDO magazine, Bash Please, Crafting Community, RUE magazine, SQE Music, Mollie Makes magazine, WHIL, Nailbox, Orange Coast Magazine, Moon Juice, Oh Joy, Conde Nast, Nathan Turner, The Mama Circle, Splendid, Rachel Craven, Jeff Andrews, Agent 18, Live Fast Mag, and The Everygirl.