How to photograph food
Lights, camera, lunch... get your food in focus with some advice from professional food photographer Patricia Niven.
Producer Natalie Whittle. Filmed by Liam McCarthy. Edited by Oliver McGuirk.
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I've come to food photography from shooting portraits, so I always try and see whatever I'm shooting as a personality. As a food photographer, I'm the link between the recipe and the reader, so it's my responsibility to show the beauty and the eatability of the dish. For me, I talk to the [? projies, ?] and the [? projies ?] talks to me.
While I'm shooting, I always have flashing in my head, like a neon sign. Do I want to eat it? Do I want to eat it? Until the answer is yes.
I will be thinking about the lighting. I'll be thinking about the composition. I'll be thinking about the props.
I'm not a cook. I need someone who can cook. And Iggy is a food stylist.
It keeps things really simple. And think about the overall colour, texture, and the mood of the shoot.
When I'm thinking about composition, I'm thinking about shapes in space. This looks beautiful whole. I think it's going to look better once we cut into it. I think we're going to see a lot more texture, a lot more character of the cake.
I recommend turning off all the overhead lights. Close some of the blinds of the curtains so that you have light coming from just one light source. Ideally, you'll be shooting in indirect light. If you have full sun coming through your window, put something on the window. A sheer white sheet, white baking paper, that would work.
Make your set quite close to the window. Think about how the light is hitting your set. Here's your camera, here's your subject, and here's your window.
If you stay like this, your subject is going to be very backlit unless you move up and over. And that way, it will become top lit.
You may decide that you want to move here so that you've got side light. That will allow for a lot more shadow, and the texture will be able to be enhanced.
Let's just see what a white card does to this shot. I can already see that it's brought a lot more fill into the shadows here. You can take light away by using black cards or black velvet. This is one for black card. The shadows here are very dark. And this is quite dark in here. I really like that, because I think we're getting a lovely texture in the top here, and we're seeing the shapes of the cross-section [? knots. ?]
It's about finding your confidence as a photographer, about trusting your instinct. If it's not working, just take everything away and start again.