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  Important tips for food photography        
           
Setup
Choose a setting that enhances, but doesn’t distract from your food. The table cloth or the background that you pick up should be  simple, plain and non distracting. It should not have loud patterns which may take the attantion away from the food.
The plates and dishes used may be of such colour and tone so that they add contrast to the food being photographed and it stands out against the dish. The colours used should harmonise with the food. depending on the type of food these may be warm or cool colours. However ensure, that the food does not blend into the plates/dishes.
Also make sure that the background area whatsoever  is vissble through your frame is not cluttered and has only the elements which are adding to the overall mood and ambience for the main food item that you are photographing. Still, keep the background blurred.
 
       
           
Think ahead
Good planning is the key to any successful shot. Think beforehand about the look of the photograph. You may place the empty dishes without the main food to compose your picture along with the props. this will enable you to shoot faster once you place the actual food in front of the camera. also you must know what are you shooting for. Is your picture going to be used as it is or will be used a s aut out. Is it for a packaging or for a cook book.
 
       
           
           
Detail
Detail matters. With the number of megapixel rising everything shows, ggod or bad.  Wipe off any smudges or stains. Ensure there is no stray food where it should not be. No oil drops on the backdrop or anywhere else. While you pour food or liquids make sure they are not droped on the way. It is better not to mess than to clean later. Remmber, we may not be able to see certain things but our sharp lenses will pickup everything.Wipe glasses and plate edges. Be sure surfaces are free of smudges and greasy fingerprints, says food stylist Alison Attenborough. In good light, they really stand out.
 
       
           
           
Props
Props are important but do not add just about anything. The props should go well with the food. if you do not have the right stuff concentrate only on the food rather than adding the wrong elements. while selecting the props keep the target audience in mind.
       
           
           
Get closer
Shoot tighter frames to get more detail in your picture. Show the texture. One should feel tempted towards the food you have photographed.
       
           
           
Light
Light it right. On camera flash is the absolute no as it flatens everything. You may use soft window light to illuminate your food if you do not have controlled mains studio lights. Side and back lighting reveals texture. depeding on the tones of the elements decide the placement of the lightss
       
           
             
  Shoot fast
Get your food on the table only when you are ready to shoot. Your setup should be very close to the kitchen and the finer detailing in fact should be done right cose to the setup. Things may change shape, colour, freshness if there is a gap between the preprationa and the shot. certain things as they get cold may not look good and vice versa. say if you are shooting icecream sccops, it will begin to melt very fast surrounded by hot lights. Although stobes do not heat up much but still they are hot enough.
 
       
             
             
  Color balance
The white balance should be set right on your camera as per the lighting being used. However we generally like warmth in our food shots. with digital cameras this can be achieved quite easily compared to the film. If you have shot in RAW, which you should, you can tweek the white balance while processing the files. set it to "daylight" instead of "auto" or use the slider to adjust the kelvin. If the kelvin is higher you get more yellow and if it is lower you get more blue if the images were shot with dallight balanced lights.
       
             
             
  Styling

you first taste the food with your eyes. it has to look tempting enough to atract the viewer. remmebber that the food for photography just has to look good, does not have to taste good! If you are not sure what all has gone into the prepration, do not ever taste the food for photography. It may have anything from toothpaste to artifitial colours. To make the food look attractive is the job of the food stylist. do not forget that the photographer is always the captain of the ship and do not let things go out fo your hands as it is ultimately you who has to decide what looks the best through your viewfinder.  work together with the food stylist to achieve the best end results.
 
       
             
             
  Prepration
Make more than that is required. semi cooked food is what looks good in pictures as the colour and textre of all the ingredients stays
       
             
             
  Fake food
If you use all fake food (wax grapes, plastic lemons, etc.), the food will appear fake on camera. The best technique is to mix real and fake food. This can work especially well with deserts. Fake ice cream with real cherries and whip cream looks good enough to eat! Also, mashed potatoes can be a useful stand-in for ice cream. You can alternately use vegetable shortening or Crisco. I generally use potatoes because if you get even a little shortening on the table cloth, it will create an ugly grease circle.
       
             
             
  Add ons
Vaseline, glycerine can be used to coat the outside of a fruit or a vegetable. Use a small perfume bottle filled with a solution of water and glycerine to spray on the fruits or vegetables to get the beads /drops of water for that just out of the farm freshness.
Note that this effect won't be picked up by the camera except with close-up photography and specific lighting, so don't bother except under those conditions. This technique can also be used for beads of water on a glass if you need the glass to look like it's sweating from a cold liquid inside.
       
             
               
  Home work
As a photographer you have to be a jack of all and a master of all!! Do not ventue out in the genre which is not of your interest. When it comes to food be prepared to shoot different kinds of food from different parts of the world. think in terms of the kind of food you are going to photograph. style it accordingly. study about the kind of food you are going to photograph.
         
               
               
  Show the ingredients
Some times especially if the images are for a food court showwindow display or take away menu it becomes very important to show the ingrediants relatively more prominently. This adds to the price value of the food. At the same time it should not be all that exagerated that the customer feels disapointed when he buys  and sees the dish.
         
               
               
  Equipment
This is one very important part of food photography. Go for a lens which enable you to go closer physically as well as optically. Long focal length may not work very well as that has too much of a minimum focusing distance. which means you would need a certain distance between the food and your camera. if you are doing a top shot it shall not be practical to move too high above the dish. plan things according to the focal length you intend to use. one does not have to place the food on the actual table. it could even be on the floor level if that leads to more comfortabe shooting. A lower height of about 1 feet works quite well in terms of flexibility of lighting as well. macro is a good option if you are shooting detail in the food up close or shooting something quite small. otherwise a focal length around 50-80mm works well as it does not distort food. just as you may not use a wideangle for portraits, you may not want to add distortion in food. the food should look realistic. Macro lenses have very shallow depth of field. either keep the plane of your dish parallel to the food or focus at the most important and meaning fullpart of your main subject. You may use the cheaper macro or close up kit attachments but ofcourse they do not result in the same sharp quality. In photography price of your equipment is generally in proportionate to the quality you get.
         
               
  variations
Unless you have a specific layout, shoot variations to have options to choose from. sometimes when you see the images on a large computer screen you get better selection to pick up the best. If your layout is fixed, it is certainly better to shoot on a tripod and it helps in discussions with the stylist, art director or the client and enables you to make fine improvements. On the other hand you may shoot hand held and try various angles which justify the kind of food you are shooting. handheld one is fast and can explore angles which may take a lot of time with the tripod.
         
               
               
  Follow the brief
As in any other shoot follow the brief corecty and precisely. Suppose a specfic ingredient is the unique selling point of a particular dish, it is important to highlight that. Also, check out if the image needs to be vertical or horizontal or the art director needs some flexibility to crop it later on.