Becoming a professional photographer is a lot harder than you think and it requires more than just a good eye.Read More
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE GAP BETWEEN THE BEAUTY OF YOUR FOOD AND THE IMAGES YOU TAKE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
People usually believe that what photographers actually do is only go to places and take images. I get asked this question quite often: what do you do when you’re not shooting photos? Maybe they expect me to say that I have long walks by the sea, that I have hobbies or that I enjoy life in general.
The truth is that when you run a photography business on your own (actually, when you run ANY kind of business on your own), you have to cover all the roles of a small company: the principle is that, since you’re working alone, nobody is going to help you out except you.
You are responsible for everything and if you fail you can only blame yourself.
Think about every aspect of a small business: you have to find new clients, think about marketing strategies, be active on social media, write emails, take care of your website, stay updated with the new trends, study, read magazines and books, deal with your finances, be a book keeper and report your taxes.
Shooting is only a small part of the photographer’s daily life.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly love my job and I would never change it with anything else. After all we, photographers, got to this point because we turned our passion into our profession. Of course there are some aspects of our job that we find a bit boring, but so does any job.
All things considered, working as a photographer brings me so much joy that I don’t even feel like I’m working. Personally, I couldn’t imagine a better job.
Just like I said in a recent article about Instagram strategy for restaurants, you need to have great images of your hotel. That is a step you can’t skip, because without great photos bringing people to your Instagram feed won’t be as effective.
However, photography is not an easy art, and taking the right pictures requires more time, energy and skills than you imagine: using your smartphones won’t be enough, as you’ll have to deal with light, background, colors, composition, editing and so on. So perhaps it would be a good idea to hire a photographer, in order to get photos that will make your customers say “wow”.
With that said, let’s see what we can do to attract more guests to your door.
Drop the filters
The average Instagram user generally think that only the images that can’t stand on their own need filters. Just don’t use them. Or, if you find a filter that you truly like and that fits your brand, use it in every post.
Find the right hashtags
Hashtags are the way people find new content, and therefore it’s crucial to use hashtags that are specific to you and your hotel. Think about your ideal guests: what would they be looking for? For example, if your hotel is famous for spa and massage treatments you can work with those words, or if your hotel is in a touristic area you can refer to that. It’s also important that you use hashtags related to your own area, for example #copenhagen #nyhavn.
A pro tip: save the hashtags on a note on your phone, so you won’t have to write them every single time you upload a photo.
There’s more than just your hotel rooms
A great way to create variety into your Instagram feed is to consider not only your best amenities - hotel swimming pool, sunny rooftop, gourmet restaurant - but also what’s around you: whether your hotel is surrounded by outstanding mountains, or it’s located in a touristic area, you want people to see what’s near by.
Check out what your guests are doing
People coming to your hotel might post photos on their own instagram feed. Check the “tagged pictures” tab in your profile and explore all the beautiful images your customers have taken.
However, these photos are not yours. Send each user a message thanking them for staying at your hotel and tell them how you love their picture; ask for their permission to repost their photo and tell them that you will tag them for photo credit.
Get in touch with influencers
Nobody wants someone to stay at their hotel for free, I agree on that. Nonetheless, bloggers and influencers can give you something back: they have a large amount of followers to share their images with. They can provide photo and video content for your own social media platforms and website, giving you marketing material to use.
Obviously, try to understand the difference between a proper blogger and a self-titled influencer: try to understand how that person can benefit your hotel and ask them why you should invest in having them as a guest. The pros will tell you.
Remember that consistency is the key here, and if you can’t deal with social media maybe it would be a good idea to outsource the task.
I’m taking for granted that you already have impressive images of your food, staff, restaurant. We can talk about how to attract people to your instagram feed for how long you like, but if you don’t have a decent collection of photos to show it’ll be all for nothing. The very best way to promote your restaurant is with high-quality drool-inducing photos: having delicious looking photos on your instagram feed is crucial for getting clients. When people look at your photos they have to think “oh wow, I wanna eat that!”.
On the other hand food photography is not as simple as you might think: taking a picture with your smartphone isn’t enough, as you’ll have to deal with light, background, colors, composition, editing and so on. So if you’re not exactly the best photographer consider about hiring one. I promise, it’ll be worth it.
With that said, let’s see what we can do to attract hungry customers to your door.
Drop the filters
Instagram users generally think that only the images that can’t stand on their own need filters. Just don’t use them. Or if you find a filter that you truly like and that fits your brand, use it in every post.
Find the right hashtags
That’s how people find new content every time, so you want to put hashtags on your photos. It might take a bit of your time at first, but once you understand the game it’ll be a piece of cake for you. Start by thinking of hashtags that are specific to you and your restaurant: if your restaurant is specialised in vegan food, try with #vegan and #organic; if you’re known for your weekend brunch buffet maybe use #brunchbuffet. Remember also to use hashtags related to your own area, for example #copenhagen #vesterbro.
A pro tip: save the hashtags on a note on your phone, so you won’t have to write them every single time you upload a photo.
There’s more than just food
Great photos of food are the core of your instagram feed, but people want to see more than just that: show your customers the daily life of your restaurant. Take photos of the staff, some dish preparation, the interiors. Show them what happens behind closed doors.
Check out what your customers are doing
People coming to your restaurant might post photos on their own instagram feed. Check the “tagged pictures” tab in your profile and explore all the beautiful images your customers have taken.
However, these photos are not yours. Send each user a message thanking them for eating at your restaurant and tell them how you love their picture; ask for their permission to repost their photo and tell them that you will tag them for photo credit.
There’s plenty of food bloggers out there, with a large amount of followers. They are in constant need of fresh content to post, and in need to gain more and more followers. They’re very easy to reach: you can either send them a message through Instagram or you can use their email (look at their bio, there’s high chances you’ll find their email address there). Some of them might ask you for a little compensation, but many will be happy to share their audience with you for the cost of a dinner for two. Invite them over: they can give you a huge exposure on their platforms.
If your company has an online presence I’m sure you are aware of the pressure of having to post content on a daily basis. The problem is that this pressure can lead you to post images only to fill up your platform.
However, remember that the content you share on social media shapes the image your potential clients have of your company. If you use short and ineffective messages and low quality images, your followers will have that same perception of your brand. So, instead of randomly put content out there that doesn’t interest anyone, let’s try to find something that resonates with your clients.
Who are you trying to reach?
It’s every marketer’s first rule: you have to understand who your ideal customer is. It isn’t enough to know the demographics and location of your target audience. You have to know as much as possible about them, including their interests, their values, their opinions. Where do they go shopping? What do they do in their free time?
Knowing all of this will help you come up with content that is designed specifically for them, and you will be able to optimise their experience.
Share only relevant content
Once you’ve established what your audience is, the next step will come naturally to you. Whatever you post on your social media platform, your message has to be relevant to your audience. It’s the only way to catch their attention and engage with them. After all, the core of social media is to start a conversation: if your audience isn’t interested in what you’re saying, they won’t engage.
The best way to engage your clients is to create your own content. People connect on a personal level, so your content needs to be unique and reflect your own values.
This might be the most critical step, as it requires time, energy and - mostly - creativity: whether you need text or images, your content needs to be stunning and captivating. So if you don’t have the time and the skills to write articles or take images on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to outsource this task and hire someone to do it for you: you will save a lot of time and you will get the result you want.
It’s like going to the gym. At first you go 4 times a week, then 3, then twice and eventually you quit. But you know that if you want to reach your goal you have to be consistent.
Social media work the same way. You can’t expect to gain clients by only posting one great image. That’s why one of the most critical things to do is creating a social media calendar: in order to make the most out of your new amazing audience-related content, you have to think in the long run, otherwise you’ll find yourself scrambling to find content to share.
Many people believe that social media platforms are big time wasters. However, if you understand the mechanism you will get a valuable tool for building long-term relationships with your clients and for finding new customers. Focus on interacting with people, instead of just shouting out what you sell, and you’ll find new opportunities of business.
Today I wanna talk about this awesome woman I’ve recently met.
Her name is Namibia Flores Rodriguez, and she is the only known female boxer in Cuba.
As we all know, boxing is so popular in Cuba that the country boasts more gold titles at the Olympics than any other nation. But Cuba doesn’t allow women to play, because of the nationwide ban on women’s competitive boxing.
Women aren’t strong enough, they say.
And even if Namibia undertakes the same unrelenting regime as her male counterparts (running the same circuits, lifting the same truck tires), her own country denies her the opportunity to compete.
She is ditching the oppressive impact of the law, training underground hoping soon the ban will be lifted. She hopes that one day she will represent her country in the Olympic Games.
Maceo Frost made a wonderful short movie about her, you can watch the teaser here.
Composition is the key element that can make the difference between a common image, and a stunning photograph. It’s all about how to arrange the elements in your picture, what to include, what to remove, where to position yourself. It’s one of the most important things any photographer should know.
Next time you take a photo, any photo, try to look for lines, curves, shapes, seek the symmetry, explore the negative space surrounding your subject, remove all the distractions from your photographs. It’s not simple, because sometimes deciding what stays out of the frame is even more challenging than deciding what to include, but once you get used to it, those lines and those elements will reveal themselves to your eye, no matter whether you’re looking at a landscape or a portrait. It will become natural and easy to build your shots around a strong composition, you will quickly recognise the structure of images, and you will see what famous photographers and painters have done.
Photography is visual, we shall never forget that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"Don't think you have arrived, when your journey has only just begun"
(common expression in Italy)
I’ve met too many photographers that consider themselves “arrived”, as they don’t need to improve their skills. There’s so much more in visual arts than the few rules of composition we read about in photography books. And you don’t need lamps and a studio to take cool photos.
Inspiration is everywhere.
The picture below was taken at Arken Museum, near Copenhagen. But that’s not a cool corner of the building or an interesting piece of art: that’s the toilet. Me and my (weird) friend were just in line, when we saw the light wall and started being silly.
I love the outcome.
"Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and daemons"
I started studying art when I was very young.
I couldn’t even read, but I would spend a lot of time looking at images and making drawings out of them. One thing was very clear to me, since then: 3 is a crucial number in composition.
Years later, when I could read, I found out that 3 is an important number in every field of knowledge: it’s recurring in music, in history, in mythology, in psychology, in philosophy.
It’s the first number that forms a geometrical figure, the triangle.
It’s the number of time (part, present and future; or beginning, middle and end).
It’s a sacred number in many religions.
In visual arts, 2 elements can be together or opposite, but 3 elements give to the image a sense of balance and structure: 3 elements are pleasing to the eye, cause they bring harmony.
So next time you take a photo with 3 elements in the composition, be aware of the sense of balance and stability you’re giving to that photograph.
Yesterday I met a couple getting married next year, to talk about their wedding photos. It was our first meeting, so we talked a bit of what we do and what we like, and I explained them why I love shooting weddings: because it’s very challenging.
During a wedding you have no control over the location, the weather, the light, the rain, the mood, the development of the event. You can’t decide where and when to take photos: if it’s outdoor and in bright sun, you’ll just have to adjust to that. You can’t waste time deciding what to do, or you’ll miss the moment, and the “moment” is the very core of wedding photography.
It’s a matter of making decisions as fast as possible.
This picture I’m showing you was taken in very poor light conditions: there was no direct light on the couple and - stupid me - I didn’t have the time to go get my flash and put it on my camera. It was so dark that my camera had issues with the focus. Luckily for me, my camera can deal pretty well with high ISO, so the only option was: high ISO, combined with the largest aperture possible.
“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest” Helene Hanff
In photography like in every other field there’s always something new to learn, and if you want to be a skilled photographer you’ll have to study and read and keep yourself updated.
I read lots of magazines and books about photography or about art in general.
I buy books in secondhand stores, not just because it’s cheaper and good for the environment, but also because I love to find signs of other human beings: reading pages someone else has turned, finding notes in the margins and flyleaves forgotten inside the book, reading passages someone else has underlined.
So the other day I was walking in Copenhagen and found a bookstall. Saw a book called “Criticizing photographs”, by Terry Barrett, and brought it home, left it on a shelf and forgot about it. This morning, I saw it and started turning its pages when I found this lovely note: “Come home soon, love”
If you don't know yet about Nixonbui, you should really look into it: it's a new menswear brand, whose values are a blend of tribal virtues and modern ideals. I have no doubt that these guys will take over Copenhagen first, and the whole Scandinavia soon: they believe in the brand and they have all the skills to make it work, and that's already half of the job.
Their energy is contagious!