Tips on food photography

We like to encourage our Members to submit photographs of the food they make to accompany the recipes in the EYB Library, but we understand that some people might be hesitant to add photos because they feel like they aren’t good enough. We want you to banish those thoughts, because even imperfect shots can add a lot of context to the recipe. That said, most of us could use a little help with making our photos the best they can be, and a recent post from Pop Photo will do just that. In the article, veteran cookbook photographer Jim Sullivan shares tips for flattering food photography.

Sullivan begins with the styling of the food. He says that the subject matter of the photo influences how he will position the food, and how much of it he will include in the shot. He illustrates this with an example of how he would style sushi vs. a sandwich: “If it’s two pieces of nigiri, I want to have some negative space,” he says. “I might have a little bit of the table and plate in there as reference, but the negative space to draw your attention to the nigiri is important.”

If there is one cardinal rule for photography it is that lighting matters. Sullivan provides suggestions for how to find the most flattering light for different surfaces. “The best light is a cloudy day. Soft light,” he says. Sullivan also reminds us that shadows can play an important role in the image, setting the mood for the shot.  “I approach food just like portraiture. In portraits, you want to focus on and flatter the eyes and pay attention to how shadows fall across someone’s face,” he notes.

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  • sarahkalsbeek  on  January 14, 2022

    Love these tips! Unfortunately, as a busy working mom, almost all my food is cooked and eaten when it’s already dark out! So daytime lighting isn’t in the cards, and that’s something I’ve had to learn to live with, which is hard when I look at all the lovely lighting of other homecook’s photos in places like Instagram. Such is life!

  • sayeater  on  January 18, 2022

    The lighting is always a problem. I have recessed overhead lights in kitchen and eating areas that cast the worst shadows. I’m always amazed by what other people are able to do though!

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