How to Style Food Like a Pro Photographer

Anyone who’s taken on the hurdle of photographing food can attest to the fact that it’s a deceptively hard task. Getting the perfect shot often takes a certain amount of finesse that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Luckily, the folks at Mango Street Lab have put together this short tutorial on the  fundamentals of food photography:

Understand the way light falls

Your position in relation to your main light source can have an enormous impact on the overall look of your image. More often than not, the more light you have to work with, the better. You’ll be able to capture a greater range of highlights and shadows, creating depth within a photograph. Often times, you’ll either want to directly face your light source or shoot to the side of your light. When you work with your back to light, you risk casting shadows and creating a rather flat image.

dimensional vs. flat light

Bring in texture, color, and layers

Don’t be afraid to experiment with color and texture. These elements give your photographs soul and help convey mood and atmosphere. Not only that, an interesting texture or color that contrasts with the rest of a scene can be a quick way to grab a viewers eye.

incorporating color into image

In addition, if you find that your scene seems to be missing something, it’s easy to get creative and build layers. In food photography, this can be as simple as bringing in extra plates, a centerpiece, or a second helping of whatever it is you’re photographing.

layering elements in scene

Think about your composition

Composition is one of the most crucial elements in conveying a story or message. For instance, a photograph containing a lot of negative space can draw a person’s attention to a single, solitary subject. A composition containing a number of different elements can conversely suggest activity or vibrancy by drawing the viewer’s eye all across the image.

recipe prep composition

Although these concepts can be applied to most situations to create better overall images, they’re essential to remember when it comes to food photography. Many chefs claim that their diners “eat with their eyes” before every even picking up their silverware. Following these simple steps is a sure-fire way of taking photos that make mouths water.

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