Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to begin to pursue turning my photography into a profession. In January, I created Brian Samuels Photography, my portfolio website, and it has been very exciting to see where that has taken me.
Most recently, I was asked by Babette, creator of BakeSpace.com & TECHmunch founder, to be a part of a panel on “Creating and Distributing Mouthwatering Multimedia Content” for their Boston TECHmunch conference, which is being held today.
Knowing that many of you will not be able to attend this conference, I wanted to provide a guide on some of my thoughts on food photography. I didn’t want this to be an epic post, so I kept things brief. Hopefully you will find a few of these points helpful.
1. Make the food the focus
The key to any good photograph is composition. This can be particularly difficult when using a point and shoot because you are limited in terms of the depth you are able to get. Therefore, keep the shot simple and have the food be the focus. Give it a little action by including a fork by the side of the bowl, or put down a colorful cloth under the plate to give the shot some life. I suggest shooting from in front of the subject as opposed to from above to give it a little depth.
2. Bring some life to the photograph with some action
The finished dish is a beautiful thing, but if you want to entice your audience, you must show some action. For example, with the above photograph I wanted to focus on the massive amounts of cheese and bread that accompanied the French Onion Soup. To do that, I had my husband dig in… pulling out a big spoon of baguette and oozing cheese… and that brings life to the image.
3. Use natural lighting whenever possible
Whether taking pictures of food at home or at a restaurant, natural light is ideal. If you are interested in taking pictures at a restaurant, I’d suggest making lunch reservations. This will provide you with wonderful light, but it will also most likely be less crowded, making it a more comfortable environment to take photographs.
4. Submitting to Tastespotting/Foodgawker/Food Porn Sites:
Even before starting a food blog, you were most likely aware of “food porn” sites like Foodgawker or Tastespotting. And many of you have probably gotten some photos up there and some of you haven’t. These sites can potentially bring a lot of traffic to your blogs and I know that is really enticing. That’s the main reason I submit my photographs every time I have a new blog post up. I want people to see it, go to my site, and leave a comment.
I have a few notes on submitting to these sites:
1. Keep things light – I will sometimes brighten the photographs a little before submitting because they tend to prefer them that way. If a picture has been rejected for being too dark, try this and then resubmit.
2. Crop your photos – Before submitting to Foodgawker, I suggest cropping your pictures, otherwise they will do it for you. This allows you to make sure that the subject fits nicely in the square box on their site.
3. Submit more than one photograph – With Foodgawker, you can submit up to 3 pictures at a time. If you have a couple to submit, it’s worth sending them in.
4. Resubmitting can work – There are many times when I resubmit a photo because it was not accepted the first time around. After making minor adjustments, I can sometimes get an image in.
5. They don’t like hands – I love shooting pictures with hands in them… we use our hands to eat, so why not?!?! But Tastespotting apparently does not like hands in their pictures, so it may not be worth submitting those to them.
There is a lot of pressure to be recognized by food porn websites, but I think the key is not letting it get you down if your photo is denied. For the sake of full disclosure, I have submitted to FoodGawker 242 times (41 acceptances, 201 rejections).
5. Have fun with it!
We do this because we find beauty in food and in the cooking process and taking pictures should always be an enjoyable experience. Have fun doing it and don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s the only way we’ll learn.
I hope you all found this post to be helpful and I am always happy to answer any questions people might have about my process. If you do, feel free to e-mail me at myfoodthoughts at gmail dot com.