5 Of My Favourite Food Photos and How I Did Them
For me, photography has been a very steep learning curve. And I had to learn a lot of it along the way. Today I'm sharing my five most favourite recipe photos from the blog, and letting you into the secrets of how I did each one, in the hope it might also help others.
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Before I got into food photography, I thought I would need all sorts of equipment to be able to take good photos. And, if you want to, and have the time, money and inclination, you can spend a lot on photography equipment - things like light boxes, editing tools, fancy lenses for every situation. I just use my DLSR Nikon 3500, natural daylight and a few different plates, platters and napkins. I'll maybe edit them a little on a dark day, that's all. Some incredible photographers I know just use their phone.
I wanted to share some of the knowledge I've gained over the years with you all - there's no point it being just in my head when it might help someone else. So here goes. Here are five of my favourite food photos, along with tips on how you can recreate them yourself.
Greek Kofta Mezze Salad
I've long been inspired by those beautifully crafted platters or bowls that you see on Instagram - all chiselled radishes and perfectly, symmetrically sliced avocados. So when I was going to photograph this kofta mezze platter, I decided to have a go myself. The most important thing was to photograph (as I always do) in natural light. A photo editing program like Lightroom (that's what I use) can correct lighting to an extent, but too much and it takes the vibrancy out of the colours. I photographed this on the kitchen worktop, next to the window. I stood on a chair and took the shot from directly above. I also took a little more care chopping and slicing the ingredients for that colourful look and created a kind of flow to the way the ingredients are positioned on the plate. I've also gone for some colour symmetry here: you'll notice that the orange of the apricot is balanced on the other side by the orange-brown of the bowl. The greens contrast with the red onion and olives, too.
Chinese Chicken Drumsticks
I'm not usually a massive fan of when a photo is cut off for dramatic effect, but here I found it just worked. When I'm not standing on a chair leaning over the kitchen worktop I'm crouched over the entrance to the back door. We have limestone tiles there, which helps reflect the light, giving a clean, bright look. I also love the way the light plays on the pak choi, showing up all the gloss from the sesame oil and the sesame seeds that contrast with the sweet, crisp skin of the chicken. Tasty.
Coconut and Berry Pies
I love a good, close up shot. The problem is, if you don't have the right lighting, the closer you get to the plate, you can end up shooting with your own shadow dulling the brightness of the food. And seriously. Messy food is totally in. Those days of the perfectly cut Black Forest Gateaux are all over. Messy is back. Hack into a pie or cake with a fork, watch the crumbs fall and the cream ooze out of the filling and take a shot. Don't think it has to be the old 1980s version of perfect - it doesn't.
Blackberry and Lime Iced Camomile Tea
This was a challenge for me, as I usually like bright, vivid colours on a white or light background. I decided that the dark blackberries would benefit from a darker photo. And it worked. I propped up a serving slate platter against the wall and placed another one on the floor (near the back door, as per the usual) and arranged the glass on top. I used a lime wedge as much for contrast as for flavour to lift the rest of the colours. And again, messy. Sloshed, iced tea, melted ice cubes.
I took this photo for a review of the burger cookbook Pornburger. Like the blackberry camomile tea, this photo was taken on a slate platter. The green of the leaves at the top and bottom of the photo seem to draw the eye upwards and add balance, as well as contrast with the red of the freshly sliced tomatoes. I love the way the lens captured the freshly washed tomato - you can see the beads of moisture on the tomato skin, and underneath it as it sits on the platter. Then there's the sheen on the onions and the smoky, crisp bacon.
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