If you’re a restaurant connoisseur or avid food blogger who’s picked up a DSLR camera and wondering where to begin, below are ten tips for beginners that I’ve picked up over the past few years, from lighting and framing to editing and lenses…
1. Most times, the best place to sit in a restaurant is near a window where natural light is most available. If this is not possible (such as an evening dinner or full restaurant) then position your plate as near as possible to any source of indoor lighting.
2. Avoid flash photography as it’ll reflect off the plate and potentially your food – particularly juices and sauces. I normally find it’s better to take a slightly underexposed shot and brighten it up with editing software.
3. Increase the ISO (sensitivity to light) on your DSLR in dimly-lit environments. I tend to avoid going above ISO 1600 as the image will be too grainy, but on occasions will use 2000. You’ll find once you fiddle with the exposure and contrast afterwards the graininess isn’t as obvious.
4. Try and take some unique perspectives of your food, a standard shot from a seated position may suffice, but it’s surprising how much more interesting the plate can look from near table level, overhead, further away? Don’t be scared to experiment – just make sure the company you keep are patient!
5. Don’t just focus on the dish itself, have a look at what is around you – can you fit in the fancy cutlery, the name or brand on the menu, your drink, another dish across the table? These details really help give your meal some perspective and communicates a lot more than just a single plate of food.
6. Capturing motion will energise your photos and are often the ones that turn out to be your favourite. Put your DSLR camera into shutter priority mode (or manual) and set the shutter speed to 1/125s or higher to freeze the action.
7. Consider purchasing a wifi memory card as that’ll allow you import images on the go to your smartphone. I’ve found this really useful as I can use the time travelling to or from a restaurant to upload an image to social media.
8. Editing from your mobile is easy enough with apps like Instagram, VSCO (to experiment with custom filters) and Snapseed which allows you to adjust sections of the image.
9. I love using the 35mm f/1.8 lens on a Nikon DSLR camera (around £160) and have seen similar results with the 50mm Canon lens (around £70). The wider aperture (lower number) will give you that dreamy depth of field look, I usually go for f/2.2-2.8 which you can set using Aperture-priority mode (or manual) on your DSLR.
10. Most of all have fun with it, I find food photography very enjoyable and rewarding.
Remember, cameras are tools for your vision so don’t get too caught up in having the latest DSLR or lens if you’ve not got the budget right now. If you have any further questions, drop me an email or leave a comment below – I’ll be happy to chat!