Friday, August 21, 2009

Food Photography Tips From a Pro: Sacramento Photographer

Permission given By A. Lepisto 

It is with great pleasure to offer you some food photography tips from a professional, I give you Aleksi Lepisto, a Sacramento Photographer  

Great images make a great product. Selling a vacation? You better hope your pictures make that trip look great, even if it IS just down the street. The concept is even more important with the food service industry. Whether you need pictures for a menu, your dining area, website of your blog, quality images of food will always draw the attention of the crowd. 

Here are a few tips on getting started:

1. Study first. Don't be the eager consumer who rushes out and buys the "best" camera they can get, thinking that with that new piece of equipment, you'll conquer the industry and put yourself on the map. More often than not, the overwhelming amount of features and knowledge required to even perform the simplest of tasks with your new dSLR camera will leave you frustrated, discouraged, and maybe even angry at yourself. Save yourself the headache, and do your research first. Learning terms such as "Aperture," "ISO sensitivity (ISO for short)" and familiarizing yourself with basic photographic composition will save yourself a huge hassle and help you save money trying out handfuls of products that you will convince yourself that you need! Once you grasp the basics of photography in general, you're ready to begin looking for a camera.

2. Start small. Food photography is different from other types of photography, because for the most part, your dish is in a controlled atmosphere. This means that you can afford to take a breathe, set up your lights and props correctly, and then work on different camera angles. Since that is the case, it's fairly obvious you don't need the camera that can shoot 10 frames per second and has a 50 image buffer. Unless you also shoot action sports on the side, you don't need even half the capability. If you are only using the images for the web, even something like a Nikon D70, or a Canon 20D or Rebel XTi is going to be ample. I tend to stray from recommending brands other than Nikon or Canon, only because if you get addicted to photography like many of us did when we first started, you will want to buy nicer lenses, and other manufacturer specific accessories. Canon and Nikon each have a full line of gear, and limiting yourself to a smaller brand many times has severe financial consequences later on when users wish to upgrade or expand. As is always the case with photography, the lenses make the gear, the camera is just supplemental, so invest in the future of your hobby or career, by buying quality lenses, because there is always a new camera body being released.

3. Learn your light. Even some professionals struggle with this concept. If you can master the methods of manipulating available light (say like a window, or sunlight reflecting off of a bright colored wall) you can not only make great images, but you can save yourself a lot of time and money as well. Food photography demands having great, even, and soft lighting on the food. Regardless of what you think the fashion or trend may be currently, the fact is that even light that is soft and pleasing to the eye in a picture always attracts a customer's appetite more than one with uneven, harsh lighting. If you can afford a light tent, great - but if not, you can still manipulate your light. Use a thin sheet of white bedding material for example, stretch it thin, and use it between your light source and your food to even our and soften the light. Not sure about a light source? Walk outside. Even on an overcast day, the sunlight is more than ample to make great images of food, and in fact, the more overcast, the less filtering material you will need, the clouds are a great natural light filter. 

Stay tuned for more tomorrow 


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