5 tips for capturing the perfect food photo

5 tips for capturing the perfect food photo

Easy does it

Text: Neville Hopwood for IHG Insider Guide to Travelling for Culinary Exploration

Neville Hopwood, Dubai-based professional photographer, reveals the secrets to drool-worthy snaps

Photographing food can be one of the most difficult and time consuming types of photography. Whoever sees your images must feel a connection with it. If you are photographing food, your picture must entice your viewers to eat it. In its purest state, you need to follow a few simple guidelines in order to achieve this. Shooting food is about inviting others to dine with you. In food photography, an image says more than a thousand flavours.


1. Know your equipment

The first step to creating a better image is to understand your equipment inside out. Know the software that your phone or camera is using to capture images and what the different settings can achieve. Try out all the different settings so you know what the end result looks like. Practice makes perfect, so spend as much time as you can learning about your equipment's functions. 

2. Focus, focus, focus 

Set the focus on the main point of the plate or food that you want to capture. Some smartphone cameras come with an auto-focus option that will help you do just that. Otherwise, you might need to help the camera focus by tapping on a part of the image. If you are still unsatisfied with the images, try smartphone apps such as Pro Camera which has a focus feature. For cameras, many point-and-shoot models auto-focus on the image. Try depressing the capture button halfway to help the camera focus the shot. 


3. Composition is key

Not all food shots need to have the dish dead-centre. Try composing an interesting image where the subject isn't centred and think about dividing your screen between left and right, top and bottom and place the dish in a few positions — off-centre, left, right, etc. for different effects. Top down or close up? It all depends on the lighting — try to choose a well-lit table in the restaurant and avoid any harsh direct light. "A shallow depth of field where only one element of a dish is in focus can add an artistic look and feel. On the other hand, focusing the entire dish and its setting is thought of as a more traditional approach, but also requires more lights and more time to arrange," explained Neville.

Food photography tips

4. Pay attention to the light  

"Lighting is key to making any photograph successful. Some types of food, such as steak, require warmer colours such as yellow or red, whereas others, such as Mediterranean dishes, can look more appetising when using brighter white lighting," shares Neville. Look for where the light source is coming from and move the food so it is well lit, especially on the areas you wish to highlight. If you are shooting at night, use your smartphone's torch to create an additional light source.


5. Keep it simple

Use natural light where you can, pay attention to the colours, textures and depth of the dish and try not to always aim for perfection. Crumbs on the table? They can add an interesting perspective to the shot. 


Keen to discover more nifty tips from experts in the F&B industry? Turn to InterContinental Hotels & ResortsInsider Guide to Travelling for Culinary Exploration. The comprehensive tome provides invaluable insights into art and dining across Asia, Middle East, and Africa.