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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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.

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.

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.

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.

The importance of details in wedding photography

When we think about wedding photographs our mind goes to the main events of the day: the ceremony, the cake, the portraits.
Between these big moments though, there are small elements that are as relevant, and there is one thing that a good wedding photographer should never overlook: the details.
Shooting weddings is stressful, there is so much going on in one day. But months and months of planning go into that single day, and capturing all the aspects of it becomes crucial. It’s our job as wedding photographers to freeze in time something that took so much time and effort: couples may have dreamt about this day for a long time, thinking about every single detail, pondering over every aspect of their wedding day. Yes, even the place cards at the table.
It’s something they want to remember, and it's our responsibility to create their memories.
Many wedding photographers for example take lots of photos of the bride's dress, and then they neglect the shoes. If we try so see things from the bride's point of view, we'll soon understand the importance of details: she has carefully chosen her shoes among many, because of their fabric, colour, whatever. She wants to remember them. And yes of course she will have hundreds of photos with her shoes on, but a photo of the shoes before she even wears them will preserve their memory forever: it will be like the first time she saw them.

CPH Fashion Week

"Fashion is one of the most beautiful forms of art we have. It’s a form of art that every person gets to possess and create for themselves” Jim James

Twice a year Copenhagen hosts the Copenhagen Fashion Week, the largest fashion event in the nordic countries. The city gets crowded with designers, models, buyers, press, and it turns into a runway. You can feel the excitement, the hectic energy, and the glamorous beauty.
I had never been an active part of the Copenhagen Fashion Week, but this year Nixonbui and I worked together on the catalogue of his Spring/Summer 17 collection.
Stay tuned if you wanna see more photos ;)

What if it rains?

In Italy, especially in the south, if you plan your wedding between May and September you have almost no chances of rain. But now I live in Denmark and it rains A LOT in the nordic countries.
It took me a while to get used to shoot under the rain, but as a wedding photographer you have to work with what you get. When I finally stopped complaining about the rain, I noticed the endless possibilities that the “bad” weather gives you: the light is simply amazing, the rain makes all the colors pop, photos with umbrellas are nice and cute, people are more spontaneous and they tend to completely forget about the photographer. Besides, imagine the awesome story you will tell about how you nailed a big storm on your wedding day.
Like they say: wet bride, lucky bride.

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