When I decided to start photographing food I didn't know what style or type of photographs I was going to take. I knew we had really nice food (thanks Val), and I also knew the type of shot I didn't want to take - a full plate of food from above with garish colours and over blown flash exposure......you know the type!
My first rule was to only use the light in the room....no flash. The very nature of food being moist meant that there would be too much reflection back from the dish itself. By default I went for my 50mm lens, great at low light photography but also perfect for getting a nice depth of field.
With that basic rule and the 50mm lens installed I started to work on my first dish. This tomato and basil bruscetta was a perfect candidate. The bright reds and green work as contrasting colours. I took several exposures and liked this one the best, with the camera at a slight angle enhancing the crop. With there being four servings, focussing on one of the middle plates enhanced the depth of field pulling you into the shot. I used a simple post processing filter to tone down some of the colour, and effect I've returned to again and again.
In this next shot I adopted the same technique though the depth comes from the same dish as opposed to several different ones - focussing on the middle burger. Getting down level with the food and at a slight angle added to the composition, and is a technique I come back to again and again. I used the same post processing with this shot too.
Feeling confident with the style I was developing I continued to refine my technique, so whether it was a humble piece of toast or a spicy soup the style worked. I also felt that cropping the dish didn't take anything away either, something important to bear in mind when working with a prime lens.
Working with the crop and depth of field I moved on to using something a little more basic. My newly acquired Zenit B (a 1960s classic film camera from the USSR) had a lovely lens, perfect for capturing the depth of field. My personal rule with film cameras is that I never do anything with the image when it comes out of the camera.....so no post processing!
I was really pleased how the photographs came out. Again getting low and almost level with the food, and not being afraid to crop the image as you can see from these two photographs. Both photographs are straight out of the camera on Kodak Gold film.
So if I was to impart any advice if you are interested in photographing your food, these are my personal rules :
- No flash!
- Get down and level with your food
- Work with the depth of field...a little bokeh goes a long way!
- Don't be afraid to crop
- Post processing is great but not essential