Fun Photo Tip #3 - foodphotogirl Blog at - 75472


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Fun Photo Tip #3 
Feb. 9, 2009 7:58 pm 
Updated: Oct. 21, 2010 4:58 am

Hi Everyone! I hope there has been some fun, exciting photo taking going on! :)

So in my last blog I talked about shooting in different angles and how it helps make the food look more interesting. In this blog, I will talk about how to make your shot more compositionally interesting. Composition is the placement of all of the objects, including anything in the foreground and the background.

When I set up my shot I generally like to place my main object to the left or to the right of the frame (most my shots are done vertically). It's ok to cut out part of the dish and part of the food, as long there's enough of it showing for others to be able to tell what it is. Also when you crop in part of the plate and food, you're given the chance to zoom into a specific area of the food getting a great detail shot (works great for desserts). The reason why I like to place my main subject to the right or to the left is because it makes the shot look a little more interesting. Instead of looking right into the middle of the shot, your eyes will move around, giving it a sense of movement (the technical term is called the rule of thirds).

When an object is placed to the right or left of the frame you could add silverware/utensils in the foreground. I generally like to place them on the opposite side of the main dish (i.e. the food is on the left so I place a fork on the right). You can also add something to the background such as bowls, stacked plates, the casserole dish the food was cooked in, a beverage, etc. Personally, I like to place my background objects on the opposite side of the main dish too (it's almost parallel to the foreground element). Now with all of the objects combined in the shot there's movement. Your eye will to go one element to another. When placing objects for the foreground and background make sure there's enough distance between them and the food (especially the background). If they are too close to the food everything could blend in together which can cause a lack of dimension. Also when shooting with a point and shoot camera try using the macro feature. In most cameras the standard set up will focus on everything in the shot, therefore everything in the shot will be in focus, which could cause confusion as to where to look first and what in the photo is the dominate object.

You don't always have to use utensils or bowls for the foreground or background. You could also use more of the same object. For example, if you have appetizers you could place one to the left of the frame of your shot and place the second behind it to the right and place a third one behind the second one off to the left a little. If you're using a DSLR camera you have the choice of which object you want to focus on, the one in the front, middle, or background. Point and shoot cameras generally focus on the foreground or in the middle, dependng on how close  the lens is to the object. Sometimes they will focus on the background and it's usually because the camera is too close to the objects in the foreground.

Now give it a shot! Try arranging objects around and see how movement can be formed. There's really no right or wrong way to arrange the objects, so just have fun and experiment with it.

There you have it! Now you know some of the key elements of taking a great food shot. I hope you have fun experimenting with lighting, angles, and composition, as well as getting that great shot!

Happy cooking and shooting!
These cucumber appetizers are placed in a way that creates movement.
Photo Detail
I cropped into the plate and part of the crepes, which allowed me to get a more detailed shot.
Photo Detail
This cherry treat was shot with a foreground and a background as well as placed off to the left.
Photo Detail
Feb. 10, 2009 3:44 am
Thanks for the tips! I'm trying to get better shots for a cookbook, so your advice couldn't have come at a better time.
Feb. 10, 2009 5:57 am
Feb. 10, 2009 6:37 am
Thanks! Great photos!
Feb. 10, 2009 4:36 pm
You make it sound & look soo easy!!!
Feb. 12, 2009 7:43 am
I find your blog so interesting, I'm trying so hard to get good (shooting for just good right now) photo's. I'm using my husbands "fancy" camera and don't know a lot about it. Your tips are so helpful and if I ever get this camera figured out I intend to employ every one of your ideas. Keep 'em coming. They are great. Great pictures!
Feb. 12, 2009 10:25 pm
Great blog! Thanks for the tips.
Feb. 15, 2009 12:10 pm
Well all your tips landed me on the top spot of the home page on Sunday the 15th. Tip #1 really worked like a charm! See how the cut in half cupcake lit up! Thank you, and keep the tips coming! ♥
Feb. 16, 2009 9:45 am
Thanks again, foodphotogirl! Your knowledge is so much appreciated!
May 6, 2009 7:54 am
Just learned about your blog! Thanks so much for the tips!!!
Jul. 19, 2009 6:45 am
Do you make the food that you photograph?
Oct. 21, 2010 4:58 am
wow....and here I was just pointing and happily clicking away! thanks for the tips! :)
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Home Town
Boise, Idaho, USA
Living In
Seattle, Washington, USA

Member Since
Jun. 2008

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Asian, Italian, Vegetarian, Dessert

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About Me
Originally from Idaho, I moved to Seattle to pursue a photography career. After meeting a few chefs-in-training I became inspired to photograph food. I got lucky after graduating from school and landed a job shooting food for various clients. Photography aside, I don't do a whole lot of cooking since I live by myself. I try to bake for my boyfriend whenever he visits me (he lives in Boise still) and he cooks for me during his visits. He's trying to learn to cook vegetarian and I must say he's doing well considering he's Italian. :) I would like to start cooking more so I don't keep eating packaged food and not to mention to shoot food more on my free time.
My favorite things to cook
baked desserts
My favorite family cooking traditions
The women in my family get together and make candy for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don't get to participate anymore since I live away from them.
My cooking triumphs
I guess anything that's not only pretty, but edible.
My cooking tragedies
I tried making pierogies for Thanksgiving dinner in '08 and I didn't get the dough flat enough so in the end they were mostly soggy dough balls with bits of cheddar and sauerkraut. My dad was nice enough to eat a few. The rest were thrown in the trash.
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