Stepping Into The Food Photography Scene
The world of food photography and blogging is full of drool worthy photos and videos. While it may seem like a saturated market, there’s always room for more gorgeous content, especially if it’s something you truly love to do.
The 'Sean' half of Brightside has a long history in the world of video & photography. He’s been dropping camera knowledge on me since we first got together, in 2011. But it wasn’t until about three years ago, when both of our day jobs abruptly came to an end, that we took the plunge and started working for ourselves full-time as a production team of two.
We decided to dive deeper into the food photo+video world a little over a year ago. Being a married, kid-free, self-employed couple in the lower half of our 30’s, we try to take advantage of our ability to stroll out for a tasty beverage & bite as often as we can. But…we are in our 30’s nonetheless, so we really love grabbing a six pack and whipping up some tasty chow in our comfy clothes at home!
We love chatting about food (and beer!), thinking of new recipes and tweaking old favorites. We realized that we should absolutely be combining our love of filling our bellies with deliciousness and our passion for video & photography. And so The Craft Chew was born! The name was inspired by our love of craft brews, tasty chews and a little nod to our pup, Chewy! The Craft Chew has definitely evolved over the last year and we’re always trying to step our game up!
Here's a quick look behind the scenes at how we make our food photos happen right in our own kitchen!
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One of the biggest investments you'll make, as a food photographer, is going to be your camera (and lenses, which we'll chat about next!). You can definitely snap great quality photos on most phones these days, which is great for your insta! But if you're looking to take your food pics to the next level, you'll want to invest in either a DSLR or mirrorless camera. (<-- Check out those links for a great range of both DSLR & mirrorless options.)
We're still rocking the Canon 5d Mark II, a DSLR which is kind of a grandma in tech terms, but she's old & wise and still works like a champ! We also shoot with the mirrorless, Sony a7III. Both are great cameras for the job, but more often than not, we use the Canon for shooting photos and the Sony for video.
For food photography, you can get a great range with the Canon 100mm macro and Canon 35mm. These guys aren't super cheap, but they're great lenses to have in your arsenal. If you're just starting out and looking for a more budget friendly lens, look no further than the Nifty Fifty. This Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens is pretty great for the price and will only run you about $125.
Here's a look at our little garden gnome through the perspective of the 100mm, the 50mm and the 35mm. These were all taken at the same distance from the gnome, but you can see the different looks that you'd get from each focal length.
Lighting is one of the most crucial elements to any great food photo. A lot of food photographers seek out natural light to brighten up their tasty subjects, which is why a nice, big window can be your wingman while shooting. But, what if you have a day job and you're trying to hone your skills after the sun goes down??
Don't fret! It is possible to get that naturally lit look all with the help of artificial lighting. We do a lot of our food blog shooting at night, so, the majority of our food photos aren't lit by the sun.
In comes our handy dandy Aputure 120D! We use this continuous light for almost every shoot that we go on, especially our food shoots. Throw on a softbox to perfectly disperse the light and you've got yourself one beautifully lit subject. There are a lot of great options as far as softboxes are concerned, but we've been using this Phottix Softbox for a little over a year now. Our favorite thing about this specific softbox is how easy it is to set up and break down.
So now that we've covered cameras, lenses & lighting, let's talk about setting the scene for your photos.
In our last post, we talked about a cheap and easy way to create stunning backdrops for your food photos. Using a thin piece of plywood and some high quality contact paper, you can create tons of great backdrops that are lightweight, versatile (two-sided!) and really easy to tuck away when you're not using.
These can be used as a flatlay, for overhead style photos, like these.
Or, with the help of a light stand and clamp, it can be used as a backdrop for head-on shots, like these.
You can read all about how to make these backdrops for your own food photos right here!
My favorite part of setting the food scene has got to be the props! This is where your personal style and creativity really get to shine through. Props include the essentials (like plates, bowls, utensils, pots & pans and linens) and any other fun pieces that add something unique (like old cutting boards, antique kitchen tools, wine decanters, etc.). They can be brand new purchases or thrift store finds, sleek & modern or funky & vintage. You could even combine new and old to create a unique style all your own.
A lot of our props are old, family hand-me-downs (check out those *gently* used utensils!). But, we've also found some great, inexpensive prop plates from places like Target, Crate & Barrel, CB2, Home Goods and World Market. Whether they're new or old, one thing all of our props have in common is their matte finish. We try to avoid anything too glossy or reflective that can spit out too much glare and take away from the main focus of your image.
Finally, the real MPV of your food photos! The goal is to create drool worthy photos that inspire people to dive in, make that recipe, go to that restaurant or even lick that screen! Think of recipes with a nice mix of bright and colorful ingredients that will pop. Or, if you're photographing something delicious that doesn't seem to be that photogenic on its own, pretty props and colorful garnishes will be your friend!
Stay tuned for another post detailing some of the food styling tricks we've learned along the way. But in the meantime, you can get busy creating your own delicious recipes and stunning food photos!