Some people say that money makes the world turn, but let’s be honest, food is the real culprit, and businesses know it. But how do you make your food look as good as it tastes? When it’s time to expand beyond the world of Instagram-quality food shots, you’re going to need a few things to make your drinks and dishes look crave-worthy.
A space. One of the best ways to generate clean photos is to make sure you have a distraction free, if not solid, background. If you are going to take your photos in an open room where there is furniture in the background, make it relevant to the photo. For example: If you are advertising happy hour specials for a bar, have an out-of-focus bartender filling drinks or sprucing up the counter. Blurred, colored lights also make for a great backdrop.
A concept. What “feel” should the food have? Is it a steak special for a romantic evening? Is it a breakfast combo? $4.99 lunch taquitos? Make sure that your background reflects the time of day in which your food is intended to be served. Point: Don’t photograph a breakfast platter in the evening or a dark-lit room. Eggs are not romantic or sexy.
A color scheme. Bring out the best attributes of your dish by making its main colors stand out. You can do this by taking the colors of a small detail in the food and placing something of a similar color in the background. For example, if you are sprinkling a pasta dish with ground peppers, you could place an out-of-focus bread roll on the plate to draw out the organic reddish-brown tones.
Proper lighting. Using a close, bright light may make your food more visible, but it will not bring out the natural color variations in a freshly-cooked entree. Never place a light directly in front of the subject of your photo; rather, use a key light and back light to portray the food’s most accurate natural appearance.
Make it glisten. Make salads appear more crisp and drinks more cold by spritzing water on them. Make fried foods look fresh by rubbing on a little olive oil. If it makes the food look more appetizing, try it-just don’t eat it later.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Adjust angles, light intensity, backgrounds and accent items until you feel your shot does the job. Make sure to have at least one other set of eyes check it out, since you may see more in your mind than in the photo.
Keep it clean. Does your glass have soap residue? Are there crumbs on the table? Is there an un-bussed table in the background of your shot? Make sure everything looks exactly as you would want to have it served to you, and you’re guaranteed to create mouth-watering shots that are sure to bring in customers.
Here are some of our favorite food and drink shots we’ve taken through the years: