Shooting food has become one of the fastest growing hobbies and loved subject for travel photography. Anyway the task to capture a nice food shot is not so simple and maybe can be useful for you some practical tips, because you will need some important factor to capture good shots. A clean and taste plate is not to so simple to shoot. Indeed you will need the right light and composition that stay in a vibrant atmosphere. Also going in the street and take photo of smoking street food is not simple. In fact you have to know how framing the images or control the shadows. Then you need the right light and an adequate gear. So it’s time to give you some advice to how photography food when you travel.
Planning and Preparation
If you are interesting in photography food, you should doing some research on the local dishes and the best places to eat of your next destinations. Be curios about the tradition and culture, because helps to have a rough idea of what you are going to find rather than just turn up. So before leaving visit any bookshop and head for the cook book section. Then when you arrive, you start experience wonderful local cuisine and you want capture the atmosphere, the colors and try to keep the smelling flavors. Instead of shooting places like local food markets with all the fishes piled high, try to design setting that can give context and mood to your shot. At start walking around the area and find your corner and choose the perspective. Once you have the frame sit and wait the right moment. Instead of the street you can go to some local restaurant or doing a class of local cuisine give you another kind of photography where you have to compose more the frame and use different kind of light.
For those looking to capture food photography when travel I’ve compiled a list of basic equipment that I would recommend getting, in order.
- zoom lenses for start, then macro lenses
- A good Tripod
- Homemade reflector
- Color checker
- Artificial light
Food looks best in natural light, as long as it is not in direct sunlight. This is good news for travelers, because it means you can travel light. It’s even better if you are able to sit outside in the shade to eat, as you will have plenty of good, diffused light. This daylight helps to keep the food looking much more natural. If you have to shoot insight one of the best places to photograph food is by a window where there is plenty of natural light . Anyway in many occasion is better been supported by flash bounced off a ceiling or wall to give more balanced lighting that cuts out the shadows.
The best direction of light is from the side or back. Simply move the dish and yourself to find the best lighting angle. Other option is use light from the top, where the source comes straight down, but it can be difficult to find natural top lighting unless you are outside.
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Other element really important of photography food travel is a colour. Indeed you will need a good knowledge of the colour wheel and which colours contrast well. This information will help to create an harmony and balance on your capture. Well know as formula by the painters create an harmony with complementary colors. For example a strong colour like orange balanced with muted versions of its complementary colour, blue helps to balance. Another common technique come from beginner painters that often don’t paint shadows dark enough, thus not giving a illusion of depth.
At the end i give you a simple advice. When you travel shoot everything you eat just before you eat it. You’ll quickly understand how much work needs to go into manipulating and styling food for photography. So you will understand that food produced for consumption is not the same as food produced for photography. You don’t need to be a food stylist, but you do need to understand the processes and methods that go into food styling. At the end remember to capture the food to look its best, not taste its best!!!
Ever we have to photography food in a responsible, ethical and respectful way. Before each trip everyone has to inform and take regarding the seriousness of the sanctions. Also you can read my article about responsible travel photography.