Capturing wonderful images of food is one of the ways we can celebrate a meal with friends and family. Food writer and photographer (and Hungerfree spokesperson) Dennis the Prescott knows a thing or two about fab food photography. This World Food Day, he shares his favourite tips.
1. The Story
Telling a great story should be the goal of every photograph. Food is chock-full of nostalgia and emotion. Photographing a great meal means styling, lighting, and shooting in a way that invokes a specific emotional response from the viewer. Is it a date night? Game day? A feast with friends? All very different experiences that require a distinct story.
For example, this delicious spread for a Friday family night.
2. The Hero
Every epic story needs a hero. Deciding on the hero element in the shot, be it a basil leaf on a 15 pound turkey, is essential in choosing your focus point, your overall composition, and ultimately where you hope to draw the viewers eye.
In this image, it’s hard to have your eyes avoid the lobster in the top right.
3. The Composition
Now that you've chosen your hero, it's time to consider the composition of the entire photograph. Composition fosters visual interest in photography. It helps to create drama, mood, and draw the viewers eye from one place to another as they study the image. Using odd numbers (3 basil leaves, 5 strawberries, 3 drinking glasses etc) and capitalizing on leading lines, like the cherry tomatoes below, will help create the strongest photographs.
4. The Movement
Movement in a food photograph helps to sell the story, and allows the viewer to easily imagine themselves in that scene. A drink being poured, a hand twirling pasta noodles around a fork, a drip of melted ice cream slowly working its way down the cone. Completely relatable and so very nostalgic. The best food photographs are moments in time that the viewer has experienced, can imagine themselves experiencing, or wishes to experience one day.
I hope you’re recalling birthday memories too!
5. Perfection is overrated
If things are too perfect in a photograph, they tend to seem...off. They tend to feel staged and slightly cold. A few greens, some sprinkled rock salt, or a drip or two of olive oil on the table top can make all the difference. Don't be afraid to draw outside the lines. Controlled chaos, like this Kenyan lamb stew, is perfect imperfection.
You can check out more of Dennis’ food photos
including some from his recent trip to Kenya, on his Instagram page.