Tips to improve your food photography

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE GAP BETWEEN THE BEAUTY OF YOUR FOOD AND THE IMAGES YOU TAKE


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If you own a restaurant or you are a food blogger you know how important it is to show great photos of your dishes. After all, it’s because of the images that people are drawn to your website/blog.
But how to achieve this on your own? Here are some tips to get you started.

The lighting

Forget about the idea of “the more light, the better”: lighting in photography is not about quantity, but quality. We don’t want to use the yellowish kind of artificial light you have in your home or in your restaurant, because in most cases it’s really unflattering and difficult to control. What we want is pure indirect daylight: set the table near a big window, where the sun doesn’t get directly, and turn off all the other lights.
Now take a photo and see the difference.

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Tell a story

To give more visual power to your food images you need to tell a story. For example, if you’re photographing a breakfast meal, include a beautiful cappuccino in your pic; if it’s a cake, include some utensils or egg shells. 
Garnishing your photo will also improve your image tremendously: add some raw ingredients, like a sliced lemon or some fresh herbs.

Find some interesting backdrops

Your dish might be looking great, but if you put the plate on a plastic table your food won’t look so incredible anymore. The best surfaces for food photography are wood, stone and monochromatic, depending on the mood you want to give to your images. 
Nobody says they need to be “real” wood or stone: instead of looking for expensive rustic tables, buy posters or scrapbook paper that look similar to wood or stone; you can also use cutting boards or pastry boards. 
Your food will look stunning.

Invest in a good camera/lens

To take a good photo you don’t need expensive gear, true. But it helps.
Without going into complicated technicalities, a good camera with a good lens will capture better light, will sharpen the photo and will make the colors pop. It’s an investment that can really make the difference in your food photography.

Mind the angle

What is it that you’re photographing? What’s important to highlight? Not all the food is the same, and neither is the camera angle you should use.
As a general rule, in food photography you want to place your camera between 25 and 75 degrees in relation to your subject. It’s a very versatile angle and it works most of the times. 
If you are taking photos of something flat, like a pizza, you might however take the photo from a 90 degree angle (the so-called “birds eye view”). The same goes with dishes where you want to show the layers or the height of the food, like burgers or cakes: in that case you want to place the camera at 0 degree, for a straight-on view.


Editing

To make your food look even better, learn how to use simple editing software. I personally use Adobe Lightroom, but anything will do: you just need some tools to enhance the photo, correct the lighting and adjust the contrast.


Have fun!

Personally, I believe that taking photos of food is incredibly fun. I love to play with the colors and the textures. If you don’t agree with me, then you should ask someone else to photograph your food: it takes passion to show passion.

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Looking for the perfect wedding photographer?

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Planning a wedding is not an easy task, there’s many important decisions to be made, like the venue, the dress, the flowers. The wedding photographer is one of your most crucial choices: your wedding photographs will last a lifetime, they are the images that you will show to your children, grandchildren, to your friends and relatives. 

Your first instinct is to start a google search with the words “wedding photographer + city-you-live-in”, and that gives you an endless list of very talented people. There are so many wedding photographers out there, and they each have a different vision of how to capture your wedding day.

Now you feel overwhelmed, I know, but that’s why I want to share this article with you: how can you choose the wedding photographer that fits your wishes and your needs?

First of all, ask around

Even in the age of internet and social media, personal referrals are still the best way to find a wedding photographer. Ask your family and friends: they probably share the same taste and have a similar budget to you; and if they were happy with their photographs, there’s a good chance you will be too. They will tell you about their experience with that particular photographer, from the first meeting to the photo delivery.

The style

Once you have some names in mind, have a look at their portfolio, website, instagram feed. Ask yourself if you like the images you see, and what you like about them: whether is the classic posed portraits or spontaneous candid images, or whether is the strong contrast and colours or the natural feel; try to narrow down what draws your attention.

But be realistic: if you’ve chosen a small and intimate venue downtown for your wedding, look for inspiration within that concept, rather than falling in love with open, airy outdoor wedding photos. 

What about their personality?

It might sound unnecessary, but their personality will affect the way they work with you. Remember that passion is the key, and if they’re passionate about their work not only will they give you their best, but they will walk the extra mile to meet your needs. 

Honesty is also another quality to look for: ask them what are their weaknesses. A professional  photographer will definitely tell you.

Tell them what you want

They might have extensive experience in shooting weddings, but wedding photographers can’t read your mind. Talk to them in detail about what you wish for.

Don’t take for granted that they will take a photo of every person attending the wedding: they don’t know your guests, and have no idea whether someone is your best friend or a distant relative. In this regard, I’ve found very useful to make a list of people that bride and groom want to be photographed with: for example their grandma, siblings, childhood friends.

Agree on the details

Think carefully about the price. If you are spending a lot of money on your wedding day and you want to save on the photographer, you might regret it later. Remember that with time your own memory will fade, and the only thing that will stand the test of time is your wedding photographs. How much are you willing to pay for magical memories?

Talk to your wedding photographer and ask about the price in details, in order to avoid surprises: is the transport included? And what happens if you ask them to stay for one more hour? 

Also, ask them how many wedding photographs you will receive, when you will receive them, and how (digital file? prints?). 

Now relax

If you have chosen a professional photographer, you can now relax, as they will take care of everything for you. You can enjoy your wedding day with your family and friends, and trust the photographer to create the memories you desire.

Photo reportage: the yoga master

I got to Varanasi by train, at night.
I was thrown into an ocean of chaos, dirt and humanity.
It’s not up to me to explain what Varanasi is: its complexity is so tremendous that it would be presumptuous of me to give you a comprehensive picture.

But I want to tell you another story, that has little if nothing to do with it.
One afternoon in Varanasi I decided to stay away from the temples and the ghats, to avoid the tourists, the beggars and the boatmen asking if I wanted a boat ride. I got lost in a labyrinth of narrow streets and small houses that look all alike.
Around sunset, as I was still wandering in the streets, I was lucky enough to step into a yard where some boys were training. With them there was who I believe being their guru.
None of them could speak any English, unfortunately, so communication was based on instinct and hand gestures. They tried to teach me some yoga positions that I couldn’t possibly repeat, and laughed at my clumsiness. Then I made clear that I wanted to take some pictures of them, and as soon as they saw the camera they all started posing and showing me what they were capable of. Their pride and skills were undeniable, their joy contagious. Then, as the sun set below the horizon, they all left me for the evening prayer ceremony by the ghat.
This is, by far, the best set of photographs I took during my journey in India.

Miserere mei

Good Friday is the day catholics recall the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All over the catholic world grief is commemorated with images of the cross, of the beaten body of Jesus and of the mourning Virgin. It’s the day of death.

Not far from where I was born there is a beautiful little town called Vico del Gargano. I arrived there at 8 in the morning, on Good Friday. 
Every year, on that day, at that time, the members of the five local brotherhoods wear their traditional robes and start carrying around wooden sculptures of Jesus and the Virgin. They go to all the twelve churches of the old town, singing out loud gloomy and sorrowful hymns in Latin. They walk all day by foot, in penance.
It’s a day of great spiritual involvement for everyone, even for non believers like me.
This is one of the few places where these timeless and ancient traditions are still on, unchanged. And if it wasn’t for their sneakers, their smartphones and their sunglasses, it would be really hard to tell in which year you’re in.

Venice, the femme fatale

A malarian swamp, hit by the tide, seems like the worst place ever to lay the foundations of a city. Unless you have to escape the axes of the Barbarian warriors, come to burn, steal and kill. It’s the 5th century, the Roman Empire is on its knees, the system is collapsing, everybody’s on their own. It’s chaos. 
That swamp doesn’t look so bad now, does it? 

Those few miles of shallow water between Venice and the mainland are the very same reason why the city has grown into one of the most fascinating places in the world. Far from the mainland’s politics and schemes, Venice has always been different from any other place.
A city built from fear turned into a diamond embedded along the Italian east coast. 
By walking aimlessly in the narrow streets of Venice you can feel the great beauty of this timeless and unique city: the signs of its decadent splendour and its glamorous past leave you breathless at every corner. The dream of every photographer. Then suddenly the thought hits you: this is not just a city, just a location, just the venue of some events in history; Venice is itself the main character of its own story, where people and wars and events are only temporary elements of its own personal tale.

If Venice was a person, it’d be a woman. It would be the femme fatale that stares at you across a crowded room, she’d be the mysterious lady that grabs your soul and conquers you by charm. The embellished facades of the buildings become her embroidered gown, the Byzantine architecture is her jewellery, the perfume of the incense her seductive scent, the vivacity of the markets her impudent laugh, the Canal Grande the spine along which you want to run your fingers. 
Venice is the irresistible sin you want to get lost in.

From day to night

I took this photo when I was in south of Italy, some weeks ago.
I was at the daily market, taking some pictures, and went for a walk along the beach, to have a look at the fishing boats. Facing the sea there is a beautiful medieval castle, built by the Hohenstaufen during the 13th century. It’s surprisingly well preserved, and despite the fact that this has always been a land of battles and occupations, time has only scratched its walls.
Anyway, when I went home and looked at this photo I saw nothing.

Was about to bin it, but then at a second look I saw some potential. 
What if I change something?
What if it was taken at night? 
But I can’t go back at night.
Then what if I make it look like it was taken at night?
So I turned my laptop on, opened my notebook, grabbed my graphic tablet and started playing around: I darkened it, I added some blue, desaturated a bit, painted the lights, the flares, the rain. Different kinds of rain, ‘cause otherwise it would look too fake. A bit of fog here and there.
I had to stop myself after a while, ‘cause the possibilities were unlimited.
It doesn't look great, it was just a fun thing to do, I didn’t even put that much effort in making it look like a very realistic scene, but it opened a whole new world of opportunities: editing photos is an art itself, and your only limit is your imagination.

The mountain calls you

“Guhkkin davvin Dávggáid vuolde sabmá suolggai Sámieanan”
(Far up North 'neath Ursa Major Gently rises Saamiland)
Sami national anthem

I have spent perhaps the most beautiful days of my life exploring the area around Lyngseidet, in the north of Norway.
I had never been in the Arctic, and I was expecting merciless cold and thick darkness.
Found neither: the full moon reflecting on the snow and the sun teasing from below the horizon gave enough light to take good photographs, and the clothes I got were so warm that the cold and the wind were soon forgotten.
I had already heard locals talking about their lands, and got very curious by the fact that in their stories the mountain was a vivid presence. “The mountain calls you”, they said. Like a person, something alive. A sort of spirit. Now that I’ve seen it with my eyes I can understand what they meant: the constant presence of these high mountains, with their big vertical slopes that make them so close to you, is a reminder of how small and insignificant we truly are. For centuries people here have lived and died at the foot of the mountain, depending on the weather, adjusting their daily life according to the elements. If you want to survive, you will have to adjust to the world, not the other way around.
There is no escape, there is no mercy.
And yes, the mountain does call you, to show you how magic nature can be. It gives you everything if you’re willing to embrace it. It shows you the slow relentless passage of time through the rocks split by the ice. It shows you its silent strength through the cracks over the icy surface of the sea, broken by the tide. It shows you all the shades of pink through the clouds in the sky. It shows you its rage, by smacking the ground with the sharp wind. It shows you the spirit of the ancient gods, evoked by the northern lights.
Never in my life I’ve felt so mortal and at the mercy of the elements.
Never in my life I’ve felt so in tune with the world.

A day at the market

 

Since I left my hometown I have naturally absorbed the big city’s habits and made the urban routine mine. Even more so when I moved to Copenhagen: the cold modern hub in the north. One of these habits is buying food at the supermarket where everything is selected, packed and wrapped; you don’t even need to have any interaction with other people.
So when I had a walk at the daily market during my Christmas holidays in south of Italy, I felt a bit like a tourist. I had forgotten about all the different colours, noises and perfumes. The genuine feeling of buying fresh fish, still alive. The farmers offering you a taste of fruit. The smell of the cheese stalls. The sacks of local almonds. The boys yelling. How much per kilo. Counting your coins.
I returned back home with plenty of photos and a bag full of mussels and clams.
What a great meal we had.

January

These days everyone is talking about the cold, the snow, the storm and blablabla.
So I want to give my contribution with this photo taken a year ago, January 2016.
I had just started working with Nixonbui, a Copenhagen based menswear brand.
We were planning some fashion photographs for their website. So to reflect the brand’s philosophy, made of tribal traditions and urban attitude, we decided to simply take some clothes and go shoot outside.
In the nature. 
In the coldest days of the year.
We went to a park in Copenhagen, near Vestamager. The weather was perfect for the kind of vibe we were looking for: misty and foggy. The water was a sheet of ice and the colours were enhanced by the clouds. It was so cold though that after a while I couldn’t feel my fingers.
And yeah I got mocked all day ‘cause I was wearing sneakers in the frozen mud (I’m a city girl).
But the outcome was spectacular.

Photo reportage: abandoned airport

Yesterday I joined François, the ultimate Copenhagen Urban Explorer, in one of his tours: we biked to the abandoned military airport near Værløse, 20 km northwest of Copenhagen. 
We had a stroll among the remains of the glorious Danish air force, stepping cautiously on broken glasses and rotten beams.
I took some photos to show you how time has turned the site into a powerful image of vandalism.

Photo reportange: Milan

I spent some beautiful days in Milan last week.
I didn’t know the city, as I hadn’t been there before, but I loved its coherence and its contradictions from the first moment: elegance, style and subtle religiousness, avant-garde and tradition, noise and silence. This is what Milan gave me.
I wanted to improve my street photography skills, and show things as I was experiencing them.
Here you can see some photos I took with my invisible compact camera.

The colour of sun and wheat

As a wedding photographer, there’s one thing that I notice every time I step into a church: tones and colours. 
Here in Denmark there’s a lot of white and grey, sometimes blue tiles, sometimes red bricks, and a lot of dark wood: usually, the atmosphere is quite cold.
In the warm south of Europe the dominant colour is yellow. The colour of sun and wheat.
Where I am from, it’s very common to find old buildings made of tuff: palaces and churches with big, rough, porous bricks. It looks like a soft sponge that you can squeeze. 
In some other areas, like in Sicily, the most common rock is yellow marble.
These rocks contribute to give your photos a sense of warmth that you couldn’t achieve otherwise.
And as a wedding photographer, that’s very important.