Foodstyling

Attractive compositions that make you hungry

More than just knowledge about the camera settings is required to be able to create an attractive food photo. A good understanding of how the picture’s various elements should be put together to create a balanced and attractive photo is essential.

The composition is just as important as the recipe

Careful compositions are the key to impressing with your food photos and making viewers hungry for more. Food photography is so much more than just a snapshot before eating. It may seem simple to light a beautiful, balanced food photo, but the truth is that all these pictures are always carefully composed. You have to understand basic composition techniques to be able to create attractive photos that evoke feelings in the viewer. These are not rigid rules but serve more as guidance that should be considered when taking a successful photo.

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An appetite can be stimulated with the right composition, even if a meal is not shown
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Experiment to find your own personal visual language

The composition rules from professional photography can also be applied to smartphone photography. Experiment time and again with framing, positioning and styling, just like with a digital camera, and plan your photo shoot in advance. This helps create a vision, boost your self-confidence and develop your personal style.

The rule of thirds

You have probably already heard of the rule of thirds but don’t know exactly what it means or how this rule is applied to food photography. Our eyes are naturally drawn to a balanced picture. You may therefore already apply these techniques without realising. The point of these techniques is to find the right balance between the props and the food to generate interest. Everyone sees and interprets a picture differently. Which is why it is important to find your own creativity and style using these guidelines.
Let’s take a look at how the rule of thirds works. It may seem more complicated than it actually is but I can assure you that applying this concept will help you gain self-confidence in composing your photos. Simply imagine a frame that is divided into nine squares of the same size.

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Grid for the rule of thirds

This tool will help you create balance in your photos and motivate the viewer by attracting their attention to the parts of the photo where the eyes are automatically drawn, namely where the lines intersect. The food does not have to be in the middle but the subject should be positioned on or near the intersections along the grid to create a balanced picture.

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The tomato sauce was photographed taking the rule of thirds into account

The golden ratio

Another helpful technique is based on the golden ratio, which is also known as the Fibonacci spiral or golden spiral. Don’t worry, we’re not going to get side-tracked into the field of science or take a maths course – this technique does not require any mathematical calculations but it does allow you nevertheless to create aesthetically appealing pictures. To put it simply, the golden ratio is roughly 1.618 to 1.
If you now place rectangles in this ratio over a picture, you get a curve that looks just like the shape of a Nautilus shell.

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The golden ratio

But what does this complicated sounding golden ratio have to do with food photography? Where the rule of thirds requires you to place the object along imaginary lines, the golden ratio suggests placing the main subject on the smallest box in this spiral and other elements of the picture along the rest of the curve to guide the viewer’s eye through the picture and create movement.

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The various elements were placed along the curve so that the final result is right in the eye of the spiral
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The phi grid

One interpretation of the golden ratio is the phi grid: Based on the Fibonacci spiral you can create a grid and will get something that is close to the rule of thirds. However, this grid is not an exact division of the frame, as the phi grid’s centre lines are closer together. This technique will also help improve your composition skills. The difference between the rule of thirds and the phi grid seems minimal but you can achieve very different results with these two techniques.

Regardless of how you develop your own personal style and very own visual language, it never does any harm to know, consider and also break the various principles of composition now and again, if required.

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Rule of thirds, golden ratio and phi grid – certain rules help with successful composition

The aforementioned tools are to help you take better and more professional photos, as it’s the composition that distinguishes an outstanding photo and gives it its structure in the end, but not every composition rule will work equally well with every photo.
I studied my own photos time and time again to find out how they could be even better. It’s a never-ending process.

Veronika Studer

Veronika Studer

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.

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