by Steve Oakey
When I’m checking out a casual dining place these days I want to see the food before I go. If the website doesn’t reveal too much I head to Instagram for a look. Seeing is believing, and liking what you see is a big part of the decision to eat somewhere. Great food photography makes the difference and average food photography can kill your appetite and make you look some place else.
More and more of our clients are understanding the need for great food photography, the role it plays, and taking the whole approach to it much more seriously. Great news for us because we love creating great food photography.
So, apart from having a whole bunch of great food photographers and food stylists on tap, here’s some of the key things we’ve found help achieve great food shots …
Know your audience
Understand the colours, crockery, backgrounds, light and shot angles that will appeal to the people who will see the final pictures. Always have them in mind for every shot, and benchmark as the shoot progresses so you don’t have a ‘chinese whispers’ photoreel at the end of a days shoot!
Know every shot before you start, every ingredient, dish and composition. This makes the time you have stretch, allowing you to be more creative, and also means you don’t make mistakes with the dishes. And, as reference, create a mood board of pictures that evoke what you’re trying to capture.
Open up the food
If it’s a pizza – cut it up. If it’s a pie – pull it apart. If it steams – show it steaming! We want to see the food being loved and not just sitting there looking pretty. Make it real and get stuck in. Sometimes opening up food can help boring dishes look super-tasty!
Get it moving
Whilst on your shoot, capture some cinemagraphs or moving footage. Capture a drizzle or ooze. It’s great for digital content. More and more brands are getting movement into their imagery.
Space for messages
Plan where your message goes on customer communications before you start. There is nothing worse than a message covering up what it shouldn’t. Top tip – we always remove all the food and take a picture of the empty set. These shots always come in handy as backgrounds or if you have to comp things together in the future.
If it’s a really social demographic you’re shooting for – get people in your shots. They can be out of focus or just sneaking in the shot. They will make it feel more real. Top tip – make sure you have perfectly clean hands for the shoot because you invariably double as a hand model.
Shoot the shooter
We like to take pictures of the photographer taking pictures and also document the whole process. It’s great creative content for social media.
Once you’ve got your banker shot, be bold and try something different. Experiment with focus depths and get the camera off the tripod – get it right in there. Be creative with the food and get messy until it’s gone too far, then you know you’ve got the most out of it!