What I've learnt over the past year - 10 tips to improve your food photography
I've managed to cram in a lot of learning, experimenting and exploring over the past year. Food photography really has become such a beautiful passion for me, one that has also blossomed into a career that I hope to keep growing this year.
What with starting my own business, building my own website, doing a range of photography, styling, editing and business courses, as well as actually getting a few paid jobs, it is all gradually coming together.
And what better way to celebrate my one year DSLR birthday with a review of the past year and what I've learnt about all things food photography and styling!
My top 10 takeaway TIPS from my year in food photography
Lighting is everything. Yes really, it's absolutely essential and you need to figure this out. Find that beautiful side or backlight, seek out that perfect little window or open door that lets that light stream in and you're good to go!
You do need the right tools (a DSLR comes in handy, as well as a tripod), but you also need to learn the right techniques. And then of course a touch of creativity and intuition will take you a long way in helping you create your unique style.
Photos don't usually come out of the camera looking amazing. They actually often look a little dull and boring! I used to wonder why I couldn't recreate the amazing photos I saw on Instagram. That's because I didn't realise how much editing (in Lightroom and the like) played a huge part in the final look and feel of the images. Lightroom and all things editing is now one of my favourite parts of the photography process. Yes I have to make sure I capture my subject perfectly, but then the rest comes alive with different stories to tell in Lightroom.
It's important to capture your hero shot, the one you have in mind when setting up your scene, or the one your client needs, but then HAVE FUN, LET GO, and GET CREATIVE! I've often found some of my best shots end up being the ones where I just explore different angles, move around the table and play with my scene - you just never know what you might end up capturing!
Uneven numbers are the best when it comes to styling and composition! There's nothing like 4 pieces of fruit or 4 plates to make a photo look just weird. Weird I know right? I love to work in 3s and 5s, creating triangles and unevenness that somehow just creates balance in a photo.
Speaking of balance, this is one of the trickiest things to get right in a photo. There's colour to think about, number of props, layers, textures...so much to think about! But your brain does start to get it after a lot of practice and then it hopefully gets a little easier! There really is so much to learn when it comes to styling and composition and it's important to learn about this from as many sources as you can.
Sourcing props is fun and expensive! I'm in a bit of denial when it comes to my handmade ceramics collection and how much that has cost me. But it really gives me such joy to own such unique pieces that help tell a story and make my food look beautiful. Op shops and antique shops are also great, as well as finding old rusty things in your husband's shed!
Specific themes and Instagram challenges can really help focus your work and harness your creativity. It's really easy to get stuck in a rut when you're freelancing and just working on your own projects a lot of the time. But being part of a community and challenging yourself with different tasks and themes can be so inspiring and it's usually where I produce my best work that I can then put in my portfolio.
There really is a lot involved when it comes to creating beautiful food photography - food prep, styling, photography, editing.... the list goes on. You really do need to learn all these things (or pay someone to do it for you!) in order to create images that really stand out and look professional. I would highly recommend doing guided online courses (more personal and intensive) focusing on all the areas you need help with. I've done them all and now feel a lot more confident and complete as a food photographer, ready to tackle on the world!
Practice, practice, practice! It's what we all have to do if we want to get really good at something. I still have a lot of work to do to keep improving my craft, especially as I have my eyes set on becoming a truly incredible photographer and getting some amazing jobs in the industry. But because I absolutely love what I do, it doesn't feel at all like work. It's just what I feel like doing with all my spare time!
So there you have it, a little summary of some of my favourite things I've learnt over the past year. I hope you feel inspired and motivated to keep improving your photography. Let me know what you're working on or if you have any questions. And come and join me on Instagram @locavorephotography on my food photography journey!