How to Improve Your Food Photography in 9 Easy Steps

“A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.”
George Bernard Shaw

One would think that getting a brand new latest model camera like the Lumix DH5 Panasonic Compact System Camera, Nikon D810 or Canon Mark IV for example, would allow you to become a pro photographer… well, one would be wrong! The equipment you are shooting with is important for sure but it isn’t everything. I am not a pro, and I still have a lot to learn but at the same time, I already possess some knowledge which I can share with you, knowledge which hopefully will allow you to shoot more mouth-watering pictures. I focus on food photography because this is what interests me but you can adapt my tips below to any still life subject.

So, let’s get started – how to improve your food photography in 9 easy steps!

Know your camera

Seems like a no-brainer, does it? But be honest with yourself, when was the last time you actually reached for the manual? Do you really know what all the buttons or sliders actually do? It doesn’t matter what camera you have, if you don’t know all its functions, you will never be able to get the most out of it. Most people buy a new DSLR, set it on auto and hope for the best… well, this really isn’t the way to go.

Invest in some photo lighting

You can have the most expensive, top of the range camera but without some good lighting, you still will not be able to take a decent photo. It would be ideal to be able to shoot in all natural light all of the time but this isn’t always a realistic option. And no, you don’t have to sell your car in order to obtain some photo lights. Check eBay or Amazon, you can get a set of continuous softbox lighting for £30 or so… and yes, they do work well…

Understand the light

Once you have the lights in hand, you need to understand how to light your object. Food should never be light from the front. Ideally, you want to backlight your dish or set the light on the side (try an 11 or 1 o’clock lighting position) but never in front. In addition to your new light, play with diffusers or fill cards… it all depends on your needs; they will allow you to mellow the light or reduce harsh shadows especially if you are shooting with one light only.

Take care of your background

The dish is always the hero of your shot but everything else you see around it is equally important. Most people struggle with backgrounds but actually, the lack of a nice background is very easy to fix… look for inspirations all around you – wallpaper, tiles, wooden or vinyl flooring boards, old cupboard doors… Pop to your local DIY shop and ask for some samples of pieces of wallpaper you like, buy a length of clip on flooring and when you get home simply cut it into 3 shorter lengths and connect them as intended and tada… you have a wooden looking board done.

Work on composition

When you are setting your shot, look through your camera, pay attention to all the details you can see. Make sure your background is clear of clutter as well as clear of any dust or stray hairs… Decide on the angle of the shot, prop accordingly and frame. Remember about the rule of thirds, negative space and a colour wheel. Sounds like a lot but practise makes it easy.

Pay attention to props

I know that props can make or break the food shot. I personally lack in this department, I have an entire cupboard full of cooking props but I hardly ever use them… like I said before I am still learning and it looks like I am kind of stuck for the moment on the styling front. Summer is coming and with it car boot or yard sales, which are perfect for stocking up with unusual kitchen utensils like old plates, cups or glasses.

Plate your food right

Your food is your hero so make sure it looks as good as possible. Don’t just flop a spoonful of mashed potatoes on the plate next to your beautiful, juicy steak… place it with purpose, shape it and keep the plate clean. I see so many pictures of food which to all intents and purposes looks like road kill… it might be the best pasta bake ever created but if you present it so it resembles a dog’s dinner no one is going to cook it, trust me. Some dishes are hard to plate nicely, maybe try shooting them as the bubble away in your cooking pot or for baked goods whilst they are still on the baking tray… not everything has to be presented on a plate.

Shoot in RAW

No matter how great a photographer you will become or are now, your pictures will need some editing, even if it is just emphasising a small burst of colour, or the contrast… there is always something which didn’t go according to plan or could be improved. To make editing as easy as possible and to keep as much details as possible you have to shot in the RAW format. There is no compression between RAW and a .jpg file during and after any editing process and once you start shooting in RAW, you will understand why…

Practise, practise, practise

This is the best advice I can give you. Practise makes us better, we learn from our mistakes and next time we will know how to fix what went wrong during the previous shoot. Practise with your camera settings, with different angles, different lighting or colour… there is no better way to learn than practise!

I could write and write and write, as the topic of photography is never ending but as I am not writing a novel I will stop here. I hope that those few tips will help you understand what’s important and allow you to start taking better pictures.

Good luck and if you have any questions you know where to find me.

Would you add anything to my list?

* This is a collaborative post.

Blog Business Cards – Must Have for Bloggers on The Go

Blog Business Cards – Must Have for Bloggers on The GoBlog Business Cards - Must Have for Bloggers on The GoWell this small card can go a long way and for me and it is the number one must have thing for blogging.

Lately bloggers are gaining more and more respect as a media outlet, more and more companies are starting to work with us and value our opinions, and more and more money is being poured into supporting bloggers.

However like with every other business, first impressions count the most… you talk to someone who sells or offers something of interest to you, you would like to approach them to work with you… what better way of making that first impression than by passing over your blog business card?

I remember a blogger meet-up I attended a few months back when I already had Bark Time on a self-hosted domain but I still carried with me my old .worldpress business cards… every time I passed one over I had to explain… “Well, I have moved to a self-hosted site but the old domain will re-direct”… it occurred to me that this really wasn’t ideal. It was the time to get some new cards made.

Luckily StressFreePrint.co.uk once again agreed to create and print some business cards for Bark Time. After my first encounter with them in the summer of last year I was totally over the moon with their service (you can read my previous review here) and I really wanted to know if their outstanding service would be the same the second time around… well… it wasn’t… it was tenfold better!

The first time, I wanted some business cards but I knew in my heart that they aren’t forever… I knew that a domain change would be coming in the near future and that would demand a new card at some point in the future. Now this future is here and this time I knew that whatever we created would stay with me for a long time.

Blog Business Cards from StressFreePrint.co.ukStressFreePrint.co.uk works with you. You give them the outline brief and they create a design based on it. Well, I gave them the brief but once the first draft came back to me I hated it, despite being done exactly to my specification. I worked with Nilesh from their Artwork Team for days; we made countless changes until the card was perfect (in my opinion of course). There were moments when I was ready to quit and simply accept what we already had but I wasn’t letting myself off the hook until I was 100% satisfy with my new business card.

My New Blog Business Cards from StressFreePrint.co.ukThey arrived securely packed in hard plastic boxes, once I took one into my hand my senses were met with a smooth velvet like paper… pure pleasure to touch and hold. At this moment I knew that my cards were spot on, I really couldn’t ask for anymore; I had something which would help me with those ever so important first impressions.

If you need new business cards for your blog or any other business come to that, then StressFreePrint.co.uk is the way to go. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Do you have a blog business card?

We Are One!

We are OneLast Saturday – 29-03-2014 – I was celebrating my one year blogoversary 🙂

How the time flies by…

It is hard to believe that it’s already been a whole year.

When I started my little blog I had no idea what I will do with it… at first I wanted to challenge all dog toys manufacturers in order to find the perfect toy for giant breeds – I was fed up with toys which fell apart after only a few play sessions – but in the end I never actually did anything in that direction; another idea was to run a blog featuring our journey as foster family – this also didn’t take place – at the end of the day I ended up spending the whole year blogging about everything and nothing 😉 as per the title of my blog.

I have enjoyed this time a lot. A few times I have found that online ranting in my own personal space here actually helps… I guess you always feel better when you get something off your chest and sometimes in real life there is no one to rant at.

I was looking through my blog the other day and I removed some categories and added some new ones. I am struggling with “Winning world” – I actually didn’t post anything there for quite some time – should I remove it or keep it and do a catch up post and then keep going month by month? Unsure about this one…

During the last year I have had 2 posts which really stand out views wise – First Manuka Honey – How to buy a real deal post, in which I tried to educate readers about real manuka honey and secondly some priceless tips on how to groom and trim your Newfoundland, which was actually a reblog. These two posts alone have had over 11,000 views and bring new readers to my blog every day.

I have had over 20,000 views coming directly from search engines and almost 8,000 from Facebook alone.

Looking at the stats some numbers are really scary – it is showing that Akismet has protected my site from 16,164 spam comments already… wow! Good job Akismet and thank you!

During last year I posted 375 posts, used 1252 tags and got shared 2051 times…
I’ve made some new online friends but I am hoping that this year maybe I will get a chance to meet some of you in real life…

Thank you for being with me, for visiting my space and for your support.

Let’s hope next year will bring more lovely stories, pictures and some interesting facts.

Happy reading!