7 myths about food photography - debunked

The 7 myths of food photography




1. Natural light is best. NO! This is one of my biggest pet-peeves in food photography advice. Natural light is great, it's there, it's free and it takes up less space, but artificial constant light is NOT inferior. If it were, why on earth would the top photographers be using it?? It doesn't make sense. Admittedly there is a learning curve to mastering artificial light but this should not deter you, or lead you into believing it produces poorer quality results because this is simply not true.

2. Your background should be plain, simple and neutral. Not entirely. Rachel Korinek of Two Loves Studio has some great examples of photographs that feature patterned and tiled backdrops, and in these cases the patterning actually adds to the feel and story of the shot. The idea that a patterned backdrop will distact from the main subject is a little oversimplified. A backdrop with bright colours and patterns certainly can be too much, but when the colours are complementary (yellow and blue for example, as in the photo below), it can work highly to your creative advantage.

Rachel Korinek Tiled cocktail photographyRachel Korinek of Two Loves Studio proves how patterned backgrounds can dramatically enhance a photo. Credit @Rachel Korinek


3. You need to use the rule of odds for a more harmonious photo. The idea goes that odd number actually creates a better balance because our eyes have a focus point, rather than two similar elements "competing" for our eyes' attention. While this is certainly true, it doesn't mean it's always true. I learned pretty early on that my overhead photos of larger dishes often work better when there are two bowls as the subjects, rather than three. Something about having 3 of the same dish of the same size often made the image feel a bit cumbersome and overwhelmed. 

Granola bows for food photography styling by Sugar Hammock

 4. You need props to tell the story. Having no props can tell just as compelling a story as having many props in a scene. There is definitely something to be said for the beautiful minimalist photography of fresh produce and close-up textured macro shots. In these types of photos, the produce and its colour and texture takes center stage, and having many props would only take away from this.

5. Avoid direct light, it's too harsh. Use a diffuser for a softer look. If you want a softer look then yes by all means, diffuse that light. But who's to say you don't want direct light? That harsh summertime direct light can actually make for some pretty impressive drinks and cocktail photography.


direct light for food photography



6. iPhone will give you just as good results as DSLRs nowadays. Ah, this one is controversial. If you are a food blogger taking photos for your own website and your own recipes with no interest in doing commercial or studio work, then yes, the newest models provide some fantastic results nowadays. 

HOWEVER...

If you were to turn up on set to a shoot or a restaurant for a day of work, and you have nothing more than your smartphone, it will probably not go down well, no matter how much you convince the client of your vsco skills. The simple fact is that a quality 24-70mm or Sigma 105mm macro Art lens will give you a focus, a depth of field and a bokeh that even the best iphone just cannot match...yet.


7. You need a 24-70mm, a Canon 5D M IV/ Nikon D850 and the entire Manfrotto tripod and c-stand range. So this final one may seem to stand in slight contrast to what I just said ealier about smartphone vs high quality lens and body, but the point here is more about not needing the most expensive lenses. You may often hear food photographers talking about how x, y or z gadget really "elevated their photography" and while I certainly do not discredit this, I also realise that they may be in a different stage of their career to me or simply have different needs. To me, a good tool is one that gets the job done well and if that with a mid-to-lower range Vanguard tripod then absolutely no problem to start with that. And remember, buying second hand is always an option too.

7 myths of food photography debunked

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