I’m really excited you guys are enjoying this three part food photography series! As I mentioned before, I’m not a photography expert but I did double my pageviews in three months this year and had dozens of my recipes accepted to Foodgawker.
I also have one of my recipes being featured in a magazine next month. My improved photography had everything to do with those things and I couldn’t be happier to share with you some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
In part one, we reviewed the importance of good lighting and how to get it. In part two, we discussed how close is too close for food pictures and we discovered the best way to get a guaranteed shot every time. If you missed part one and part two, I recommend you go back and read them! With that, let’s get the third and last tip of 3 Ways To Make Your Food Photography Stand Out!
3 Ways To Make Food Photography Stand Out
Tip#3: Accessorize Your Food Like It’s Your Running Gear
Would you leave home without your running shoes, shorts or Garmin for a race? Then why would you take a picture of food by its lonesome self and post it on your blog? Just saying…
Food looks really sad when it’s alone. Accessorizing food is a lot like putting together an outfit. You may have the swankiest skinny jeans, but without the right shirt, shoes and jewelry it’s just a pair of jeans and those jeans look bland. Staging gives food life and draws people in. You bring food to life by accessorizing it just like you do clothes.
An example of Tomato Peanut Butter Quinoa Soup. Notice two bowls of soup with a gingham linen in the background, two spoons and two bowls of soup. Notice the soup is also accessorized with quinoa, slivered almonds and green onions.
Had I not accessorized what was inside the bowl, it would have looked like this. A lot of red and pretty bland. The added layers and textures are more interesting than just a bowl of red soup. Think about which bowl you would be more drawn to.
Since I started blogging, I’ve collected several props for food photography (which are tax deductible) to accessorize my shoots with. I reuse many of them so I certainly get my money out of them! Towels, fabrics, linens (you can buy 1/2 yards at the fabric store for very cheap), ornate bowls, plates, glasses and utensils to name a few.
I like to accessorize in 3’s. I find odd numbered things look best together. Things like linens, a small plate of food, fresh produce, herbs or utensils are great ways to accessorize. Stacking plates and bowls or layering multiple dish towels is another way to accessorize.
When you’re buying, think small, small, small. Things always look bigger in pictures. Using smaller accessories makes the food feel bigger and they don’t overwhelm the eye.
An example of Grain Free Pumpkin Gingerbread Granola. Notice two different style bowls stacked, a spoon, a glass of milk & a linen. Those things bring the food to life. A single bowl of granola would have been much less interesting. Time for breakfast!
Also, don’t be afraid of making a purposeful mess with recipe ingredients. Herbs, leafy greens, oats, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds and eggs are food accessories I keep on hand in my pantry to make a purposeful mess for shoots for whenever I need them.
Another example with 4 Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies. Check out this mess! I placed the cookies then tossed oats & chocolate chips around them. I didn’t intentionally place them. I let them fall where gravity took them to make it appear natural to the eye.
My advice to you is flip through a magazine until you find a picture of a food that attracts you. Examine the details of that photo. Then ask yourself what do I like about this photo? I’m guessing it’s the combination of patterns, colors, textures and accessories that made that image stand out to you.
Write those things down so the next time you shoot you can reference it and work on your food staging. Food staging brings food to life and tells a story. Think about telling a story. It’s snack time! Dinner’s on! What’s baking?
Here’s an example of a chili I shot a few months ago. When I staged this shot, I was trying to say I just finished cooking, dinner’s ready, it’s time to eat!
Next to lighting (my first tip in this series), I feel food styling is the most important part of getting an eye catching shot. The same way you gather up your running gear the night before a race to make sure it goes together, you should do the same for your food.
I hope you found this series of tips helpful and easy to understand. I know when I started I felt like everything I read out there was written in a foreign language. It took a lot of trial and error and I’m still learning! I learned all of this and more by reading this photography book which I highly recommend you buy. I still reference it to this day. It was the best money I ever spent.
Also, checkout my store for my photography and baking accessory favorites. These are tools and props I use regularly. As I discover new things, I add them to the store so be sure to check back from time to time. Snap happy!