Picture Perfect Food
by Lenora Dannelke
A good food photo will set your mouth watering. You may even imagine the aroma. But how do you compose and capture those images that get tummies rumbling?
Just ask Good Taste’s photographer, Ryan Hulvat who has a passion for food. “I have a curiosity about food – what I’m eating, where it comes from, and how it’s made,” he says. “And there are a lot of similarities between becoming a chef and becoming photographer. They both have an apprenticeship process where you learn techniques from different people you work with.”
Of course, the advent of social media has unleashed an army of food bloggers ready to document every bite. Whether you have a serious interest in joining these ranks or just want to get a nice shot of the scrumptious-looking plate that a server has set in front of you to post on Facebook, good results are attainable with a bit of practice and by following these few guidelines.
Getting the light right is paramount for a good food photo. “It’s all about lighting, and natural light is best,” Hulvat says.
Props can enhance a food photo, but don’t get carried away with clutter. Try adding a glass with a beverage, a napkin, or a fork or spoon in the foreground or background.
The plate food shouldn’t be overcrowded or over-garnished. The subject can easily be “lost” in a too busy arrangement.
Try different angles and point of view. Shooting from a lower angle or top down can provide interesting perspectives.
A dish with height is usually most photogenic, and successful shots have food that is clearly identifiable. Hulvat notes that some of the tastiest cuisines can be a challenge to photograph, such an dishes blanketed in cheese or sauces.
Learn to shoot quickly. Sauces that have separated and whipped cream on desserts that has gone droopy will not look appetizing.
Consider hosting a food photo-shoot cocktail party. Trot out a variety of colorful drinks, glassware and garnishes, plus artfully prepared hors d’oeuvres for guests to photograph. Compare results, pick out your favorites, then share them with the world.