Hey, watch where you’re pointing that thing!
It’s difficult to be an amateur photographer. Unless you’re Bae Yong Joon with a $2,000 Hasselblad medium-format camera, most of us “make do” with our prosumer point-and-shooters, digicams or SLR cameras.
An expensive camera can’t take all the credit for a good photo, especially when many people have editing software to rescue photos from problems beyond the photographer’s control, such as poor lighting in a restaurant. It still takes a talented eye to capture a good photograph.
Some of us have digital SLRs for those “serious” shoots, but there’s nothing inconspicuous about getting out your SLR to take a photo of a favorite restaurant meal or a weird food display at the local grocery store.
I use both. I have a pocket-sized point-and-shoot for on-the-go shots and a digicam with fully manual focusing and exposure settings for stills taken during photo shoots. Important features to look for are color reproduction, accurate white balance (white looks white under light-bulb and fluorescent lights and on cloudy days), macro mode or the ability to change depth-of-field settings (“shallow” focus is a common element of professional photography), manual focus or the ability to lock focus on specific parts of an image, and low image “noise” (random multicolored dots in shadows of the image, often when taken in low light). (Digital Photography Review provides in-depth analysis of these features for many cameras on the market.)
Taking pictures of people is an even more arduous chore. I am the worst “model” in the world. I am so picky about what pictures of myself I like. Mid- and high-end modeling shoots often can take all day to get maybe a few photos that make the final cut for an advertising campaign. I don’t have the patience to stand there for three to four hours posing until the photographer and I are happy with the results.
Also most of us don’t have access to photographers who have the patience — or get paid good money to have the patience — to take 50 to 60 photos to get the perfect shot either.
That’s why many of us prefer to take pictures of food: the food doesn’t talk back, complain that the photo makes them look “fat” or “washed out,” or sneak in behind your back and delete the offending photos. (I do all three of these to my husband, so I speak from experience.)
However, even though food doesn’t verbally “talk back,” food photography is not easy, either, and I certainly am not a pro at it. But practice makes perfect, they say.
To take your food photos further, check out these sites:
- Digital Photography School: “Food Photography Techniques and Tips”
- Food Photography Blog: “Food Photography tips for food blogs and food bloggers, written by a professional food photographer” parts 1 and 2
- Digital Food Photos: Composition tips, lighting tips, food-styling tips
- PhotoDoto: “Big and tasty food photography tips roundup”
- BlogHer: “Helpful food photography tips from fellow bloggers”
- Boston.com: “A few food photography tips”
- O’Reilly Digital Media: “Tasteful food photography”
- Ask the Photographer: “Professional tips for better food photography”
- Shutterbug: “An insider’s look at food photography: ‘If you can shoot food, you can shoot anything!'”
- The Kitchn: “Food photography: Tips for newbies”