Have you ever wondered why your food photos don’t get noticed? You create incredible recipes and no one seems to pay much attention? You’re so proud of that recipe and you’re so excited to blog it, post it on Facebook and share it with the world only to get a few likes and perhaps a comment here and there. If you wonder why I am writing a blog about this it’s because photography is a passion of mine. I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia for photography. Even though I majored in fashion photography the rules of quality equipment still apply for food photos and I thought I’d give you some information that may benefit you.
People eat with their eyes. Your image that you portray of your culinary masterpiece drives people to want to dig right in. Your food photos are the next best thing to smell-evision for your food lover friends.
There may be more than just the poor food photos, which more often than not are caused by poor lighting and a poor camera. While your composition may be an issue, the type of camera you use are usually the culprit of poor quality food photos and lack of response from your followers. Think about it, when you see another food fan page on Facebook posting a yummy looking dish what draws you? Usually the type of dish it is such as seafood or anything chocolate seems to be a HUGE fan favorite, so that may draw you in. But just look around and you can easily tell the people who use a phone camera and the food fan pages that use a better quality digital camera. Just some food for thought.
You also have seen the food photos someone has posted taken while out to dinner too. While it’s great to share those images, even though usually a poor quality due to the camera and the lighting, the responses are usually pretty good. Why is that if the food photos are less than par? It’s because people love to dine out and people love to see your ventures and the ventures of others. So that being said, you are limited as to your quality images when your dining out but there is inexpensive options for your food photos at home if you don’t want to drag your Nikon to dinner.
For under $200 you can buy a decent digital camera for your food photos. And for under $200 you can also buy 2-3 lights with stands and a light box. Now some of you will say that is a lot of money, well that depends if you think your Facebook food fan page and your food blog are just a hobby or something you are truly passionate about. After all, you don’t post a mediocre recipe do you? There may also come a day when you decide to create a cookbook and then what?
So I compiled a few things that I suggest you look into. I buy all my equipment from Stroud Foto because I prefer good customer service than the huge stores like Best Buy who usually have little to no knowledge of cameras. If you are in need of a camera and or lighting equipment my friend Dave from Stroud Foto can assist, tell him Michael Van Horn sent you.
Here are some very basic things you might want to know or might help you.
DSLR Camera: If you are serious about food photography this is the best choice, however not for $200. Here you will find a full-frame 35mm sensor and a crop-sensor for far less. Keep in mind, you can get a decent camera for $200 bucks, but do not expect the control of depth of field and other incredible features as a full-frame 35mm with sensor. Regardless, way better than a phone camera! In case you wonder what I prefer, Nikon…I’m totally a Nikon guy and Nikkor lenses too.
Lenses: The lenses are imperative. One of the best choices would be a 40mm-85mm lens. As you become more addicted to taking great food photos you can explore the benefits of other type lenses.
Tripods: I have seen some really cheap tripods out there. Because you are often shooting in low-lighting conditions, your shutter speed will be way too slow for you to keep it stabilized. Make the investment because sooner or later you’ll wish you had.
Light-box: While it’s pretty simple to make your own I prefer one that can pop up in a moments flash and be taken down just as quickly. They can be relatively small or you can opt for a larger type. Mine is about 3-feet square. Some have removable tops, which is awesome for taking shots straight down. You want your light defused for a softer lighting feel so this is pretty important. I’d say if on a budget make your own.
Lighting: Usually because of weather conditions and not proper control of outside lighting, you will usually take photos inside. For this you will need three lights; one for a backlight, a filler light and a main light. Keep in mind that if not using reflectors you will have some areas in your food photos that may get blown out slightly. That’s the benefit of a light-box to defuse the light.
Just like computers and technology, cameras just keep getting better and better with a multitude of features. Here is my opinion on this, make the investment on a better camera because it will last a lifetime.