Food photography for beginners

If you're thinking about taking photography to the next level, food photography could be the way forward! It's an increasingly popular hobby and can create profits once you've acquired the right skills and built a reasonable portfolio of work.

Ways to make money from food photography

Some of the ways you can earn money by taking pictures of food include:

  • Market your services to restaurants, hotels and takeaways. Many of these businesses rely heavily on the internet, as the images of food displayed needs to be unique and appealing while highlighting their meals in the best possible light.
  • Work with local magazines and newspapers to highlight all the food outlets in your area
  • Get in touch with food manufacturers and suppliers to provide high-quality images of the products they make
  • Set up your own foodie website or blog

There are many more ways you can earn a little extra cash from your food photography hobby, and as you learn more about photographing foods the opportunities will present themselves.

How to get started with food photography

One of the best ways to learn more about food photography is to follow some of the most influential online photographers on social media. This can also provide you with loads of hints and tips on the sort of images that create the most interest and ways to tag your pictures appropriately.

Tips for taking pictures

  • The most important factor to bear in mind when setting up any photo shoot is the light intensity and the way it impacts on the food you are displaying. Ideally, you should aim to take photos using natural lights, and should only use your flash or any overhead lighting when absolutely necessary.

  • The best way to select the right light source is to inspect the food from all angles, and do not feel you have to take the picture in one room. If the best available light source is in your bedroom or living space, then simply set up your "stage" accordingly.

  • When staging any image, try to minimise the amount of clutter in the background. Keep in mind that the food should always be centre stage, and anything else is likely to distract.

  • Take lots of images from a variety of angles as this way, you're sure to learn all the tricks of food display and what appeals most to viewers. For example, you can take photos from above and at angles of 45-degrees then choose your best photos once you've had a look at all the finished products.

Common food photography problems

Some of the most common issues faced by all food photographers include:

  • Blurry images which are caused by a shaky camera. One way to avoid this altogether is to opt for a camera tripod and use a remote control, as this ensures the camera is completely still during all shooting. The other tip is to select a faster shutter speed, which means you just need to change the aperture opening or move somewhere with more light. You could also increase ISO, which cuts the level of light required, however, this does reduce overall image quality.

  • Issues with unrealistic looking colours which tends to be down to the white setting within the camera or editing software. Simply amend the white balance to benefit from more realistic colour effects. Use RAW formats for all photography as this is easier to adjust in editing.

  • It's important to be able to adjust the depth and contrast of food images which means opting for the right lenses. You won't reach professional standards without the right lenses, and your final edits can then be much more comprehensive and achieve the quality levels required.

Do I need a specialist camera for food photography?

In the early stages of your new hobby, any kind of "point and shoot" camera will be fine, just so long as you take the time to read up on best use and the different settings. Read through the camera user manual so you can learn all about macro settings, and the variety of ways to take photos with your device. You will also benefit from regular readings of trade magazines as they can offer lots of tips and guidance.

Once you've learnt most of the tricks of the trade, and established a style of photography you prefer, you'll be in a far better position to think about the right camera. Of course, if you decide to turn professional, the camera you choose will need to be of the right standard and you'll also need to invest in a variety of different lenses. You may even want a few good cameras, as different types of food or photography jobs will require different kit.

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