7 Practical Tips on How to Shoot Food Photos When You Travel

7 Practical Tips on How to Shoot Food Photos When You Travel featured

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A meaningful visit to any particular travel destination would not be complete without sampling the gastronomic delights that the place has to offer. Food is an important aspect of any culture, and to partake in a city or country’s food offerings is to acquaint yourself with their culture.

But if you’re the type who loves to document the food experiences from your many travels, it’s important that you know how to photograph these dishes properly to ensure that you are doing them justice.

And while you obviously can’t convey the distinct flavors and aromas of food through an image, you can show off the mouthwatering colors, textures, and the overall presentation of the dish simply by snapping a good photo.

7 Practical Tips on How to Shoot Food Photos When You Travel

How to Shoot Food Photos When You

Find ample natural light

You can easily recreate the effect of natural light with the right lighting equipment, but it isn’t always possible to utilize such tools when you’re traveling. You may be dining in a place where flash photography is forbidden or frowned upon, or you may simply have no room in your bag for the extra lighting gear.

If you’re unable to use artificial light sources, that’s fine – nothing beats real natural light when shooting food, as it allows you to capture the true-to-life colors of a certain ingredient or dish. Varying degrees of sunlight depending on weather also add depth to the frame, allowing your audience to better understand the setting and context wherein your food photos were taken.

When dining indoors, pick a seat near the window or any other spot that allows the sunlight streaming in from the windows to reach you. If the cafe is in an enclosed area, have your meals served outdoors instead. This should give you enough natural light to play around with.

How to Shoot Food Photos When You

Use items on the table to create better lighting

As previously mentioned, bringing additional photography gear when traveling isn’t always an option, which means that you’re often left with just a camera and a lens on hand, and perhaps an external flash. In such cases, make the best of the situation by checking your table for anything that can help you create better lighting for your photo.

If the menu is printed on white paper, you can prop it up beside the dish and bounce your flash against it to create more diffused lighting. A white plate can also serve as a reflector, which can help you manipulate the direction of the light (whether from your flash or from a natural light source) and ensure that the food is well-lit for the photo.

If there is a candle on your table, you can use it as the primary lighting source for your photo for a more dramatic look. Play around with whatever’s available to see what kind of lighting you can come up with.

How to Shoot Food Photos When You

Add props to improve your composition

Apart from lighting, the composition is one of the most important factors that make up a good photo. You can try out different composition techniques, but keep in mind that it is extremely important to create proper balance and symmetry to ensure the best outcome.

For this reason, sometimes simply photographing the dish isn’t enough. In some cases, you may need to make use of props to balance out the elements in your photo, as well as to add context and visual interest.

Use whatever’s available—utensils, the salt shaker, or even a table napkin. Just mix and match the items on your table to create the composition that you want, but make sure to keep the props to a minimum to avoid detracting focus from the food.

Props can also help you hide any undesirable elements that you don’t want to include in your photo. For instance, if the pattern of the tablecloth is too distracting, you can use a plain cloth napkin to conceal it, giving you a clean canvas to work with.

How to Shoot Food Photos When You

Take photos at various angles

Photographing food is usually best done using the overhead perspective. However, you can experiment with different vantage points until you achieve the angle that can properly showcase the size, amount, and the mouthwatering appearance of the food on your plate.

Keep in mind that some angles are more suited for certain types of food than others. An overhead shot is best used for pizza or anything served in a bowl, such as ramen or soup, while close-up shots taken at eye level are best used for burgers or sandwiches as they provide a good view of all the layers.

How to Shoot Food Photos When You

Be mindful of your focus

Normally you would want the entire dish to be in focus, but there will be times when you’ll want to highlight a particular detail to make the food look more appealing or to showcase a particular feature of the dish that you find interesting.

Choosing a point of focus allows you to draw the eye to a specific part of the photo, so make sure to decide your point of focus beforehand.

Whether you want the whole frame to be in focus or if you want to keep only a certain portion in focus is up to you. If you decide to focus on one particular section of the photo, make sure to choose the appropriate aperture settings to create the desired depth of field.

A wide aperture (the smaller the f-number, the larger the aperture) creates a shallow depth of field, which gives you a nice blurred background with only a certain part of the photo in focus.

How to Shoot Food Photos When You

Incorporate the human element

One way to make your image stand out is to add the human element. It can be as simple as inserting your hand into the frame and capturing yourself interacting with the food in front of you, but you can also include other people (perhaps your server or the chef) for a better context.

This technique “humanizes” the photo and makes it more unique, more engaging, and in most cases, more interesting. People are more likely to connect with your food photos on a more personal level when they are able to see the dish being eaten and enjoyed, as it evokes their desire to eat the food as well.

While this tip isn’t always necessary, it can be helpful for certain compositions. Ultimately, it all depends on how you want people to view the photo, and the message you want to convey.

breathtaking photos of kerala

Ask permission

And finally, always observe the most important rule you should remember when taking photos in a foreign country (or any unfamiliar place): ask permission. This should be observed at all times, but it is particularly important when including people in your food photos. Certain countries have rules and laws in place against unauthorized photography, so it’s simply better to be safe than sorry.

Also, some people might not be comfortable with you taking photos of their food stalls and stores, so the decent thing to do is to ask for their approval before snapping away.

So there you have it – seven tips to help you navigate food photography during travel. Keep in mind that these are just tips to help you create better travel food photos, and are not meant to be strict guidelines for you to follow. Let your creative juices flow and, if all else fails, just put your camera away and enjoy the food!

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#FOODPHOTOGRAPY #TRAVEL | Learn how to bring out the life out of your food in photos with few tricks and small tweaks and transform them to something amazing!

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11 thoughts on “7 Practical Tips on How to Shoot Food Photos When You Travel

  1. David says:

    The 7 techniques are simple and easy to follow. Varying the angle produces more impressive photos. Totally agree with the article. Kudos for the lightened photos!

  2. Mau says:

    I’m jealous of people who could take great shots of food. Whenever I take photographs, they do not give the food justice! Thanks for the tip regarding asking for permission– you’re right, I haven’t really thought that it’s possible that a restaurant do not want their dishes photographed. Same goes with the people who will be in the shot.

  3. mbtan says:

    The food photos show different angles for taking a good view. The focus is on the food and the lighting is good. I like how the photos were taken.

  4. Marc Rodelnard Hamili says:

    Taking photos at various angles always has a unique look to add to a photograph. Especially with food. Food that is shot on a top view with a little tilt to the left is always a good shot of food for me.

  5. P Siason says:

    These are very helpful tips but the best one for me is ask for permission. We should always remember to ask permission when taking photos that will include people especially when we are in another country. It shows politeness and courtesy. Observe courtesy before shooting those yummy photos!

  6. Era says:

    As I was reading the whole thing, the only thing that I can say is the tips that you gave is so simple yet practical! It’s true that you need the right angle and lighting to make your food photography delicious and elegant.

  7. Marie says:

    I just tried your tips and my photos turned out great! Taking shots in different angles and proper lighting does make a great difference. The picture looks way better than the real version and I’m not even complaining. Thank you for a very helpful article.

  8. Jesza says:

    I agree with all the simple yet effective techniques that you have given us. I love the way you make it easier and without using so much professional photography tools because not all of us can afford and buy those things.

  9. Mincy says:

    Yes I agree to this. It’s really going to be captured well if good lighting is once of the considerations. and also creativity and good angle.

  10. Chatingale says:

    Yes, a very good lighting is an important thing to keep in mind when taking photos. I admire people who take photos with creativity. They create appealing photos which really catches the eyes.

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