Food photography has interested me ever since I started writing restaurant reviews as a journalist fresh out of college.
Often the publications I wrote for didn't have budget for a professional photographer, so I had to make do with a cheap camera and a beginner's understanding of photography. The results were less than impressive. (You can check out the good, bad and ugly on my Flickr stream.)
Yesterday, some coworkers and I gathered in a conference room to watch an online food photography workshop by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I didn't catch the whole class, but the portions I did watch contained some valuable lighting and styling tips.
Lighting Makes a Difference
Todd and Diane spent the first few hours demonstrating how different lighting angles can transform a shot and tell a story.
Check out their example below: the only difference in each shot is the direction of the light.
For further proof, take a look at these two shots of fried chicken. My iPhone photo of the television screen doesn't do either photo justice, but the differences are still clear.
The first shot is lit from the back, giving the chicken texture, dimension and an appetizing glow.
The second, right-hand shot has direct lighting, emphasizing the bare spots where the breading has flaked away and turning the chicken into a single, unappetizing mass.
Todd and Diane also shared a list of eight elements to consider for successful food styling:
This list could easily be applied to other types of photography as well.
Take A Food Photography Workshop
If you missed "Story on a Plate: Food Photography and Styling," you can buy anytime access for $129. And check out the photographers' food photography blog, White on Rice Couple, for more tips and inspiration.