Posted November 4, 2015 by Casey McCallister

With photography, composition is everything. How you frame a photograph tells a story and evokes an emotional response in the viewer. So, what if you’re a food photographer? You may be thinking to yourself that the compositions create themselves. Make sure the food is within the frame, right? There’s so much more to it than just that. Composition as a rule is guiding your eye to the most important features of a photograph and making your viewer feel hungry is what food photography is all about. A great composition is one that appears effortless. Here are some tips to take your food photos to the next level.

1. Rule of Thirds

The very first rule you learn when picking up the photography skill is arguably on of the most important when it comes to food photography. If you place a tic tac toe board on your photograph, always remember to put the important focal points on areas of the photograph where the lines intersect. This will help to deliver focus to the most vital areas of the scene.
(Photo by: Schaffer Visuals)

2. Identify Your Focal Point

Each image has a focal point. When it comes to food photography, the food itself is not always it. Sometimes, the food can serve secondary to the ambiance or the focal point can even be a single item on the plate itself. Make sure that it is immediate obvious to what the viewer should be looking at.
(Photo by: Leslie Rodriguez)

3. Be Aware of Your Background

Not all restaurants photography friendly. They can be dark or full of distracting elements. A photographer is responsible for everything included in the frame and a good photographer will make sure all objects add something to the photograph rather than taking away.
Photo by: Rafael Marxuach)

4. Use Props

Props can be both good and bad. Make sure any props added to your image aid in telling of the story. Never add props just for props sake.
(Photo by: Schaffer Visuals)
(Photo by: Jerry Deutsch)

5. Some Angles Are Better Than Others

In order to give the client multiple options, it is always safest to shoot as many angles of your food as possible . That said, some food is more appealing at certain angles than others. I recommend shooting at 90 degrees all the way to 0 degrees with varying shots in between.
(Photo by: Luisa Rupenian)

6. Fill The Frame

The devil is in the details holds very true for food photography. Show off vibrant colors and important details by getting in close and filling the entire photographic frame. Use a macro lens if focus is a problem.

(Photo by: Mark Richardson)

(Photo by: Leslie Rodriguez)

7. Use Color and Negative Space

Contrast is one of the main elements of a great photo composition. Food can be full of vibrant colors and important details. Use it to your advantage.
(Photo by: Robert Dodds)

8. Presentation Can Make Uninteresting Food Interesting

This quinoa would not have the same appeal as a simple package on a table. However, using a wooden table, emptying the product onto the table and using the container as a label works well to show off the food in a proper environment.

(Photo by: Luke Walter)

9. Add a Human Element

It may seem counterintuitive, but including a person in a food photograph can provide an emotional connection with the photograph, placing themselves in the scene.
(Photo by: Melissa Valladares)

(Photo by: Leslie Rodriguez)

10. Isolate a Subject With High Depth of Field

Sometimes the easiest way to show off a subject is by blurring the rest of the scene. Emphasize a portion of your meal by shooting at an aperture of f/2.8 or wider.
(Photo by: Luisa Rupenian)

About Casey McCallister

I am an adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer from San Francisco and the growth hacker at SmartShoot. I enjoy traveling and spending time in nature.

Keep in touch: @caseymac

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