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Fine food independents looking to grow their social media following or take their e-commerce website to the next level will know that strong food photography is an essential component – but it’s not always easy capturing that elusive perfect shot.
Niki Webster, the author of Rebel Recipes and Be More Vegan, has plenty of experience capturing food at its best on her award-winning food blog RebelRecipes.com and Instagram account, which has 282,000 followers and counting. We spoke to Niki to discover her expert advice for photographing food and drink.
Niki’s first tip is to be consistent. “You don’t need lots of fancy equipment or props,” she says. “It’s better to get a set-up that works and use this time and time again to keep things consistent.
“You can vary a little in terms of colour and staging, but work from where you are comfortable,” she adds. “In fact, I’d recommend sticking to one aesthetic for the set-up to help to create a consistent look and feel for the brand.” Creating a signature style for your business will help your images stand out in a sea of food photography.
Expensive cameras have their benefits, but Niki says you don’t necessarily need to spend big on equipment. “You can create great images on your phone.” In fact, Niki gained her first 100,000 followers on Instagram just shooting on her iPhone. “However, you do need a good natural light source and editing package,” she adds. Editing tools can transform images from “average to outstanding”, Niki says.
“Find a programme that works for you. Play around on them and find the one that suits you. I personally love high-contrast moody shots, but you can really develop your key signature style post-shoot,” she says.
“What story is the image telling? Or what is the key take-out you’d like your audience to understand?” Niki asks. Once you understand your storytelling angle, creating images that capture this is much easier to achieve.
Fine food independents are masters of food storytelling in their own right, but if you’re struggling on a certain product, Niki offers a few questions to consider:
• What is the story of the food?
• Where did it come from?
• How was it made?
• What do the ingredients bring to the table?
Once you’ve nailed the story you’d like to tell, you’ll need to style your product up with texture, colour and movement. “To make food look more appetising – especially brown foods – there are a few things you can do,” Niki says.
“Firstly make sure the food is fresh. Add toppings like, olive oil, fresh herbs, spices, or colourful sauces to top the dish. And finally, think about the angles and framing of your photo. One of the main reasons images don’t look great is that the photo is taken from a strange angle, parts of the image are cut off or it’s too close up.
“Think about framing the image with a cloth or chopping board as this gives you an area to set your scene in,” Niki continues. Adding props not only adds depth and assists with the framing of an image, but it also helps people relate to the photos they see.
Whether you’re hoping to grow your Instagram following with a showcase of your best products, or you’re looking to entice customers on your webshop with irresistible food photos, following these tips will have you on your way to food photography success.
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