Food Photography Part II: Dos and Don'ts

The long-awaited sequel (if you hadn't forgotten) to Food Photography Part I: The Food Picture Ritual.

These are what I do personally.  I actually eat the food I take pictures of.  I'm not a professional, I've never taken a photography class, I'm learning as I go.  But I wouldn't post my food photos if I didn't like how they turned out.
If you're going for a different aesthetic than mine, that's totally fine.  In my book, there's no one way to do anything.
Except you still shouldn't use flash to take pictures of food.  You'll thank me.

The Blergh's 9 Food Photography Do's and Dont's

DO use natural light. 


DON'T go for the ~golden hour~ glow. That "golden hour" time frame- just after dawn, 7-9 in the morning, and just before dusk, 5-8 in the morning, is still good if you snap the photos away from the sunlight of sun. But the same golden light that makes us glow can wash out and/or shade the food's colors.
Too much glow :)


DON'T
use flash unless you want your food to look greasy and messy and unappetizing.
I used flash so this looks like a mass of organs,
but it was actually delicious.

DON'T use filters.


DO follow the rule of thirds.  This was something my eighth grade visual arts teacher drilled into me and I've come to realize that it improves almost any image, not just a drawing or painting.  You should be able to divide the image into three parts both horizontally and vertically, so that if you drew lines it would look like a grid with nine boxes.  Don't forget, the subject doesn't necessarily have to be in the center.


DON'T use dirty dishes.  Unless you're going for the "whole mess of goulash" aesthetic, which can be good.  I've been craving goulash because I read this book in which they nicknamed a guy "Goulash" for his affinity for hot foods so I need to see if I can make a vegetarian goulash.  Anywho.  Keep a damp washcloth handy for wiping up accidental drops, smears, and crumbs.  Sometimes they add to a photo and often they detract, so use your judgement.
Accidental drops/smears/crumbs are not the same thing as an artful sprinkling across a plate, but this is already a weird paragraph so I won't get into that too deeply.  Look at @annelinawaller and @you_did_pumpkinlove to get a better idea.
Granted, this may have looked gross anyways.

DO photograph fast.  A food that's been out too long shows it.  Plus you probably want to eat that food while it's still hot/cold/fresh.


DO keep it real.  Like I previously mentioned, and unlike a professional, I eat the food I photograph.  So if the food turns out gross, I won't post it.  This has only happened once, and that's a story for later, haha.
This also means even though I love those photos with the towering pancake stacks or smoothie bowls loaded with a ground seed you can only find for three million dollars on an island off the coast of Malaysia, what I have and now is good and plentiful, albeit less glamorous.  Taking photos of food is a way of giving thanks for it.

Show me your food photos by email, on Instagram, or on Facebook. You can also kvetch at me in the comments below.

World peace and love,

Heather <3

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