Images of food are all around us. It is an ever expanding area of product photography that has, over the last few years, become hugely popular on Instagram. From simple packaged products to fully staged dinner tables the variety of food imagery is as wide as any genre of photography. I thought it was about time that I added a few simple shots to my portfolio.

The first step in creating your food image is, of course, to select your desired product.  The images shown in the blog post include sweet and savoury, from the bakery and from the salad bar. 

The next step is to decide the style.  Is it a simple product shot, a hero shot, do you want props and staging, close up or wider view.

Most food photography is done with a single light source as this replicates the consumers normal view when sitting near a window in a restaurant or in a kitchen.  Often they are taken using diffused natural light to further reenforce that impression.

For most of these images I used a single daylight balanced studio light fitted with a softbox and a variety of white reflectors and black flags to direct the light where I wanted.

The cakes, on the left, were lit from the right and sprinkled with icing sugar to help give some substance to the work surface.  I deliberately aimed for a dark theme to this image so that the cake stood out.

The featured image for this post takes us from sweet to savoury.  Sticking with the dark theme, this pizza was taken straight from the oven and smelled gorgeous (it tasted nice as well 😀 ).  

This image was staged to add a degree of context to the food whilst still having it fill the frame.  The beer bottle and glass were strategically places and the cutter brought in to give you a feeling that you were about to sit and enjoy a lovely meal.

Once again this was lit with a single light positioned roughly behind the glass.  Shooting towards the light like this helps to emphasise the shadows created by the toppings and, as such, brings out the texture.

Staying with a savoury taste this close up of a beef pie was staged and lit to emphasise the richness of the filling and place it in the traditional context of a simple old fashioned pub meal.

The filling was allowed to run towards the camera to help lead you eye into the image and the whole frame cropped to emphasise the pie.  The peas, potatoes and cutlery were all specifically placed to enhance the composition.

In this images the context of the product was enhanced by the addition of the latte coffee and the newspaper.  By adding the wooded board and the serviettes it has helped to separate the teacakes from the table and add a splash of colour.

Once again a single light was used and reflectors placed to reduce the shadows.

A simple cheat here was the fact that the teacakes were toasted and placed on the plate.  Melted butter was then poured over them to ensure a good spread.  Once this has soaked in the small lumps of butter were added and then melted using a hot air gun to get exactly the appearance I wanted.

Returning to the sweet theme, this image is a composite of several shots to achieve the desired effect.

The creme caramels were chilled in the freezer for a short time to ensure they didn’t wilt too much.   The dark caramel sauce was further darkened using a browning agent and was thickened with glucose syrup so that ran slower and created the nice pouring effect.  The liquid was poured slowly from several locations to capture a different ‘run’ on each of the caramels.  The best were then composited together along with a ‘clean’ plate and tidier bottom edges to create the final edit.

Once composited the pouring liquid was removed in photoshop along with several minor blemishes and any distracting reflections in the spoons.

The final image in this post is the only one which used more than one light.  In this case two speedlights were fired through softboxes to the left and right.    

Because this was a more artistic than realistic shot I needed to capture the individual items as they fell into the bowl.  Speedlights produce a much shorter flash duration and are ideal for this kind of photography.

The produce was dropped from specific height, sometimes individually and sometimes in clumps.  The shutter was fired remotely and the images were then selected and composited together to create the end result.

Once again I chose a black theme as this helps to make the colours of the produce ‘pop’.

So as you can see from the few examples there are several things to consider when photographing food.  However one thing is always constant, there is always something to eat when you’re finished 😀 .