Food Photography Essentials
Makelight is in right in the middle of its "month of food" with Food Photography & Styling running at the moment and the second instalment Food Photography & Styling Level Two coming up at the end of the month.
Emily has once again teamed up with renowned food photographer Catherine Frawely to co-teach these exciting classes aimed at improving your styling as well as your images.
We chatted to Catherine about the fundamentals of food photography, to get her take on the essential things she thinks are important for styling and shooting beautiful food images.
What drew you to food photography specifically, as opposed to other forms of photography?
I'm drawn to portraiture, lifestyle and travel images and, of course, food. I read cook books like others read fiction. It's the imagery that draws me to a book or recipe. Great food photography is beautiful, enticing and makes you want to lick the page.
Can you share one essential piece of advice for taking images of food versus other subjects?
Natural light is essential.
What are the best foods for beginners to work with?
To start out the most satisfying food to photograph is a dessert, cake, macarons, cup cakes, etc. Definitely start with that rather than trying to photograph steak or a stew or meat in general.
Are there any foods that are too difficult to photograph and should be avoided?
All food can be photographed and can be done so beautifully or strikingly. Meat is a harder subject to make look appealing, so it's probably not the best thing to start with if you are new to food photography.
Are the stories we hear about all the strange things done to food to make for better photographs true? Or are these myths of the business?
Things have moved on! Nearly all the food images you see are real, just cooked, served beautifully and photographed in natural light.
Is there a general rule in food photography about how much images should be edited? Is it okay to use apps like PicTapGo and A Color Story to edit food images?
Everyone has their own style, editing likes and dislikes. I personally edit very little bumping contrast, a little sharpening, possibly a little colour correction if an image is too warm/cool. I use VSCO on my phone, and Lightroom & Photoshop on my computer. I feel food in particular doesn't really benefit from a strong filter as it changes the colour of the food to something unnatural.
Anyone following your blog or your Instagram feed knows about your unique and beautiful props. Where do you get these?
Anyone who has taken Emily's class with me will know that I credit our prop stash to Michael (my husband). He's just great at sourcing and finding things.
He scours Ebay, charity shops - local ones - and whenever we travel car boot sales and antique markets. Sometimes a great plate is just from M&S or Zara Home or even Tiger. Every so often they stock a great plate or cup or spoon! He/we are just always on the look out.
Can a woman who loves taking images of food but hates cooking become a food photographer? Where should the beginner in this situation source food?
If you don't want to make it then buy it: local delis and bakers or buy fruit and veg from the markets and start with great produce. If you want to photograph cooked food maybe search for a cook or home economist who will do an exchange where they create the dishes and you provide them with the images.
If you want to create gorgeously styled images of your own recipes and meals, find out more about our new food photography course co-taught by Emily and Catherine.