A feast for the eyes – how to show food in a favourable light
Veronika Studer is a passionate cook and baker. Yet her passion goes beyond cooking: it also includes food styling and attractively staged and lit photos of food and dishes. After all, it’s well-known that food should be a feast for the eyes, too! Here, she gives a few tips for successful food photography using a smartphone.
The most important aspects of food photography: Attractive staging
A huge part of our life revolves around food. It is essential for our wellbeing and therefore it just seems natural that a beautifully staged photo of our meal will make you hungry. Food isn’t just essential but also wonderfully varied. Because it comes in so many possible shapes, textures and colours, it is never boring to photograph.
Nobody is born a food stylist or photographer. It is something that we learn with time, a great deal of patience and lots of practice. You too can learn the necessary technical knowledge and basic creative skills and then experiment with them: To get started, cook the same delicious food you see in magazines or on Instagram and then stage it attractively before photographing it. You can be everything at the same time: chef, photographer and stylist in one.
Basic knowledge of photography is a requirement
Once you have learned the basics, you can progress further on your own, find your own style and your personal, distinctive visual language. The amount of food photos on the Internet is huge, but a beautiful, well composed picture always stands out, even if it was taken with a smartphone. Be brave and don’t be afraid to try out new things; experiment with composition, which will ultimately set your photos apart from the others. You can tell stories and spark emotions!
Food photography using a smartphone
The camera itself is just an instrument with which you capture your vision. It doesn’t matter how professional your equipment is, unless you learn how to use and control it to get the best out of it. The truth is that smartphone cameras today can already take really high-quality photos!
Whenever we talk about smartphone food photos, Instagram and other social media platforms immediately spring to mind. It’s not enough to simply press the shutter release to set yourself apart from the sheer endless mass of food photos here. A well taken smartphone photo is an art and can certainly be used for your blog and even in printed form. Certain basics like shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, light composition and last but not least, styling have to be paid attention to regardless of whether you’re using a professional camera or smartphone. Another important factor is the image size your smartphone camera can produce and how many focus points it has, especially if you want to use the photos on your blog, Instagram or other media.
There are several apps that practically upgrade your mobile phone to an SLR camera. I use VSCO and ProCamera, but there are also many other apps that fulfil this purpose. They allow you to manually set the white balance, ISO value and lighting using a slider. There is also the option of activating a grid overlay on the screen that helps with the composition and also ensures that the subject is not wonky – one of the first basics that no professional photographer ignores.
You can get virtually any technical help to take wonderful photos with a smartphone. If you only want to take food photos with a smartphone, investing in an external shutter release and tripod is just as important as with digital cameras, because, firstly, you have your hands free to style or readjust the frame as a result, and secondly, because the photos are then more focused than when you press the shutter release by hand.
Several important points must be noted when taking photos with a smartphone. Most importantly: never use the built-in flash.
The angles you use when taking photos with a smartphone are also different to those with a digital camera. The smartphone camera’s lens works as a wide angle lens, which is why shots from an angle between 25 and 75 degrees lead to strange looking photos, due to the distortion. Overhead and straight-on angles work perfectly though. This is also the reason why most of the food photography that can be seen on Instagram is taken from above. If you want to take photos with a smartphone and capture the subject up-close, then move nearer to it and never use the zoom function. Pictures become pixelated with the digital zoom and quickly lose a lot of quality.
It is possible to edit photos directly on the smartphone – there are several apps on offer for this. Lightroom and Photoshop even have a mobile version with which you can easily and quickly edit the brightness, contrast, sharpness and saturation of photos. The use of filters is trendy, but I recommend you use them rather sparingly, as changing the colours too much can lead to the food losing its real beauty. So try to keep the photos as natural as possible.
It is possible to edit photos directly on the smartphone with the help of various apps
I’ve been very interested in visual arts since my early childhood. Although I painted, drew and made models, I had never considered choosing photography as a profession. The whole thing started with me moving to Switzerland and starting a food blog. I needed something to cheer me up – a project. Something that I had total control over, which included challenges at the same time.
I instantly fell in love with the world of food photography and food styling, which is why I’m also very grateful that I can combine my two major passions in my work.
Today I work as a food and lifestyle photographer for magazines and various companies in the food industry. I always try to fill the photos with life because I believe that every plate of food tells a story. I love being inspired and try to go through life with my eyes open, because inspiration can come from many unexpected corners