Thanks to food-centric blogs and websites, food photography has become very popular.
But coming up with creative food photography ideas can be tricky. Luckily, we have some for you!
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15. Use Reflections for Stylish Commercial Shots
Creating a photo to sell a product is challenging. Nothing can remain unchecked. Lights, depth of field, colours, style, and mood, all must work together perfectly to make the product interesting, appealing and desirable.
Adding a reflection is a creative way of adding interest to the image. A highly polished reflection can look slick and stylish. I like using Plexiglas as a reflective surface for creative photography.
You can also shoot electronic goods that are used in the food industry. This is typically seen with coffeemakers.
Be aware that if you want to upload these kinds of images to microstock agencies, all visible brands must be removed.
You can hide them with a careful arrangement of the items in the scene. Or you can use Photoshop to get rid of them in post-processing.
14. Create a Concept to Add Interest to Your Food Photography
Conceptual photography is quite challenging, but this is what I like best. The challenge is to come up with a simple concept. And then craft an image to convey it in a photographically appealing and interesting way.
A simple, yet powerful, way to create a conceptual photograph with food is to adopt a minimalist style. This keeps the scene simple. And you should use single ingredients rather than complete dishes.
Look at your favourite food and drinks to get new ideas. I’m a coffeeholic so much of my food photography involves coffee.
Often, tea and coffee are seen the way black and white are – opposites. But coffee and tea can definitely coexist in photographic harmony. Yin and Yang is the perfect symbol to convey the concept.
13. Play With Food Characteristics to Add Emotion
We all know some foods are associated with emotions or feelings. Coffee makes you nervous and sleepless, and pepper makes you sneeze. Red peppers are hot.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new associations!
12. Capture the Viewer’s Attention With Food Acrobatics
Organising food in a gravity-defying orientation is always a good way to capture the viewer’s attention.
Obviously, this can be challenging. You’ll need a frame or wiring support to keep the food in equilibrium. And then you’ll have to shoot the scene without food, but with same lighting setup.
That way, you can use the second image to remove the frame and supports from the final image.
11. Add Splashes for a Dynamic Image
To ensure you freeze the splash, you have to use fast shutter speed. It is easier to use a flash.
To capture the splash, put your camera in continuous shooting mode and start capturing the photo an instant before you drop the item that will create the splash.
You can use sugar cubes, fruits, vegetables or the beverage itself.
10. Use Props to Create Funny Food Photography
Sometimes you can use props to get creative with food photography. Have a look around for weird, interesting or funny items when visiting kitchen stores and markets.
I had quite a lot of fun photographing an egg cup. A small piece of cauliflower stained with cinnamon powder made a perfect brain for my prop.
Don’t be afraid to reinterpret images of other photographers. The photo below is quite a common concept.
To make it different, I took a small chick toy my son has. I placed it way back and out of focus to give the idea of the chicken leaving its egg prison for good.
9. Reinvent Food Preparation Methods for New Ideas
Think of alternative ways to prepare or consume food.
You should push yourself to think out of the box for this to find interesting food photography ideas.
I had a lime squeezer for cocktails which I never used. It came in handy to tell the story of a different way to make a fresh cup of coffee using capsules.
If you don’t show the action, but the aftermath of the process, you have to pay attention to add details that will let the viewer understand your photo.
I did this with the squeezer stained with coffee, the broken and slightly squashed capsules.
Since the process would be quite messy, I made sure the Plexiglas was dirty near the capsules.
You can experiment with the same concept in multiple ways. Don’t stop right after the first setup.
8. Get Inspired by Other Artists
You can take advantage of the ideas you see in commercial campaigns. In 1986, when I was a child, there was a commercial about fruit juices on TV.
It had a small kid climbing a huge pear, and stabbing it with a straw to drink the fresh juice. Here is how I have reused the concept.
You could even build landscapes using food items. Check out the work of Carl Warner. He is photographing food landscapes built from various ingredients. My favourites are the ones with pizza and pasta.
7. Keep it Simple to Represent the Essence of the Dish
Find a simple way to represent a dish. I am Italian, and pasta is one of our best-known foods.
This is how I represented it in the most simple and minimalistic way I could think of. In Italy, pasta dishes are never overcomplicated.
This photo is the perfect representation of what pasta stands for in Italian cuisine. Fresh and simple local ingredients that make Italian food so delicious.
6. Slice the Food Up for a Cool Deconstructed Shot
A common technique in food photography is food deconstruction.
- For this kind of food photography, you have to consider building some supports and find a clever way to remove them in editing.
A common idea is to slice fruit or vegetable and have it floating mid-air.
5. Create a Fresh Perspective With a Food Pile
Sweets can be piled up in many ways, like this chocolate tower.
A less obvious pile is this one, where the colourful macarons rest on the coffee forming an arch.
Slabs of white chocolate with hazelnuts can be arranged in such a way that they resemble a white mountain.
I like to do that on reflective Plexiglas and in a low key style.
4. Create Messages With Food
You can use food to draw and write. Here I wrote the word TEA and sketched a cup of hot tea using tea leaves.
As with a lot of the pictures in this article, it’s important that your backdrop is white.
I had a sheet of transparent Plexiglas suspended with two chairs. I arranged the food to create images, symbols and words on this sheet.
To ensure the background came out white, I lit the Plexiglas from below with a flash fitted with a small, foldable, Lastolite Ezybox softbox.
3. Experiment With Colourful Food for Playful Images
Coloured food is fun to work with. You can create colourful carousels using macarons or other colourful sweets.
Smarties are a must-have item if you want to try new food photography ideas. They are small and brightly coloured. You can arrange them in various shapes and forms or toss them around.
2. Create Unique Images With Rotten Food
This is quite a weird idea, but rotten food can be beautiful to photograph. This is due to its colours and texture, like the rotten and dried up orange in the image below.
Mould can also create interesting effects on vegetables. And don’t forget mouldy cheese when you are looking for unique ideas!
1. Create an Atmosphere to Suit the Food
Try to create an atmosphere to immerse your food in. You can think of the food’s origins or where it is usually consumed. A friend of mine is Finnish, and she gifted me a bottle of liquor.
While not 100% correct, when I think Finnish, I think Vikings. So I borrowed her drinking horn, threw some smoke around using a tea boiler and lit the scene with a couple of flashes to create a moody and mysterious atmosphere.
A happy accident improved the image in a dramatic way. To light the bottle from behind and hide the flash, I turned my speed light upside down, but I forgot to remove the foot.
The result is that the shape of the flash foot cast a shadow on the background resembling a horned Viking helmet. As if there were a Viking’s soul inside the bottle.
Bonus Tip: The Infinity Canvas
As you noticed, most of my images are low key or high key and very minimal. I don’t usually clutter the scene with many items.
I love this style, but it is also practical. You can shoot anywhere you can place a couple of 50x50cm boards of Plexiglas for the floor and backdrop of the scene.
These make it easy to remove structures supporting the food and gives you an infinite canvas to play with.
To create an infinity canvas, get your background and floor to be pure white or pure black. This way, you can use the crop tool in Photoshop to enlarge the image and alter your original composition. See in the examples below.
An infinity canvas will allow you to make room for text. This is useful if you decide to sell or submit your images to a microstock agency for advertising.
I hope this article will inspire you to experiment with creative food photography. All you need is some food photography props, a couple of flashguns, some food and a crazy idea.
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