Food Photography Tip of the Week |14|
How to photograph food while traveling with minimal equipment.
Maybe you have your food photography setup nailed at home. Your bowls, plates, towels, random forks + spoons, etc. are all within arm’s reach. You have white boards for bouncing light, black boards for adding shadows, and possibly a tripod. You have your favorite window and know how to use the light.
But what do you do when you’re out of your house with minimal photography equipment and you need to take food photos with natural light?
Below are a few observations and tips I’ve come up with over the years when working in a new place.
10 Tips for Photographing Food On the Go
- Find the light. Even on a rainy day in Cleveland you can find enough light for your photos. Setting up next to a large window or sliding glass doors will give you more light to work with.
- Keep the styling simple. If you’re not bringing props with you this is the time to keep your setup simple. Focus on the food.
- Gather just a few props. You really don’t need much, but at the same time all plates/bowls do not photograph well. Look for any white plates or bowls, wooden spoons, baking sheets, wire cooling racks, plain kitchen towels, etc.
- Take overhead shots. If you’re photographing on the floor and/or you don’t have backdrops to work with overhead shots are your answer. Simply use a pan, plate, towel, etc. as your surface to shoot on.
- Turn off all overhead + surrounding lights. This can be easy to forget, especially if you’re shooting in an unfamiliar place. Keeping surrounding lights can give your photos a yellow/orange look and take away from the natural shadows.
- Be resourceful. Are you trying to minimize shadows or get more light in your photos? Instead of using your typical white matte board, try having a family member or friend hold up a white plate to help bounce light. You can even use a roll of paper towels! Just unroll a few sheets and keep it held up while you shoot.
- Go outside! Maybe your parents or friends have a deck or picnic table with weathered wood. Maybe your summer recipe would work well photographed on a blanket in the grass. Don’t limit yourself to photographing inside!
- Back to basics. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel while you’re away [I mean, unless you really want to]. Focus on what you know works and don’t stress. Simplicity is key!
- Ask for help. If you have a friends or family around I’m sure they wouldn’t mind lending a hand and watching you work. Just remind them that they’ll be rewarded with food after!
- Get creative with your phone. Maybe you aren’t traveling without your fancy camera. I get it. They’re a pain to haul around and pretty fragile and expensive to replace. You can still create beautiful blog-worthy photos with your phone! Follow all of the steps above but just point + shoot with your pocket-sized camera. Edit on your phone, upload to your blog, and there you go!
I think the most important things to remember are keeping your setup simple, finding soft light, and getting creative. Instead of becoming frustrated while photographing in a new environment try to have fun with the challenge. You might be surprised with the results!
While at home I was working in a space about 2 feet wide and 4 feet long. I could have moved the kitchen table to give me more space but it really wasn’t necessary. The light was fairly minimal and the photos worked best when taken on the floor.
The light dropped off quickly right behind the food so I kept all of my final shots overhead for this recipe. The light was muted with a soft, shadowy quality. Had it been full sun I may have needed to block some of the light or choose a different window to work next to.
For this shot the folded over towel and wooden spoon were all I needed. You would never guess the below photo had the setup that you see above. Pretty bare bones!
What challenges have you faced while photographing in an unfamiliar environment? Have you had success photographing on the go?