Tell someone at a cocktail party you’re a food photographer and the response you’re likely to get is “wow!” Food photography is one of those subsets of general photography that makes people stand up and take notice. Why? Because everyone likes food. And everyone likes beautiful food.

Of course, all specialties of photography require a particular skill set and attitude and food photography is no exception. If you’re a move fast, shoot from the hip and be their kind of photographer, food’s probably not going to appeal to you.

But if you’re methodical, studious and like to study a scene and tweak it for hours at a time, you’ve got the right raw materials. And there is one way to learn: shoot and shoot and shoot again. Here are a few tips to begin with.

1. Get your food basics right

Life becomes easier when you are always around things that you like and can relate to. In this case, being a foodie helps because you need to get your basics correct when it comes to food. You don’t have to be a chef, and if you enjoy learning about new cuisines, then you will relish this experience. At some point in time it might be important for you to differentiate between ice cream, sorbet and gelato. You need to always bear in mind that to illustrate the essence of a food, you must first know what makes it special.


2.Get the concept of light and composition clear

Light and composition is imperative for any kind of photography but is especially essential for still life and food work. The best part of food photography is that you don’t need any expensive equipment for lighting (although certain types of shots, like splash and pour shots, do call for specialized gear). All you need to know is the correct usage of the available tools. For most beginners, good window light, a sturdy tripod and some reflector cards are sufficient to get the images rolling.


3.Get to know the difference between food for consumption and food for photography

A lot of manipulation and styling is required for food photography -again you don’t have to be a food stylist to know about it. Just a little practice is helpful enough, like for a week you can shoot everything you eat just before eating it. This will give you an understanding of the hard work that goes into food styling.


4.Get to know what creates an emotional response in your audience

The aroma and the taste of the food trigger emotional and biological responses. It generates reactions from all our senses. As a photographer you’ll have to carry all these emotions using only a two dimensional visual representation.

You will have to work extra hard and make those visual cues stand out to generate such mixed emotions from the audience.

Observe how you and others around react to a great meal. Discover what triggers their emotional and biological responses and incorporate them in your work. Use all the visual tricks up your sleeve like selective focus, hard light, chiaroscuro and contrasting colors and get close to the food to work your magic!


5.Get to know what others have done before you and how you react to their work

Another way is to observe and learn from the work of other photographers and artists who do the type of work you enjoy. While studying their work you can find out what appeals to you and you can incorporate the same in your work.

Finally you need to understand that it’s a process, an ongoing cycle. One thing that makes food photography stand apart from other kinds of photography is the fact that it’s not dependent on models, locations and wardrobes. All you have to do is go to the store, buy food and shoot!


~Zahid Javali