Updated: May 3, 2021
(How I use lighting when photographing food)
I’ve decided to add a blog to my site, and this is my very first post. To begin, I’ll share some of the techniques I use to photograph food. Lighting is a good place to start! Lighting drew me to photography, and It‘s still my favorite aspect of the process. Lighting technique can be the difference between average work, and shots that make you look like a pro!
Backlighting. Backlighting essentially means casting light from different angles behind the dish (Not to be confused with lighting a background). When the dish is lit from behind all the details in the surface cast little shadows, and really showcase the depth of a dish.. When food is lit from the front/straight on, it washes out the image, and all the beautiful texture of the dish are lost. For gear I use two FJ400 moonlights from - ($569), and a 36“-48” Octabox
Keep in mind, there are other less expensive options so don’t feel as though you need to spend a lot to get started. A simple speed light with a modifier might be a good option to get your feet wet.
Go Big Or Go Home!
Let‘s talk modifiers. When we are talking about light modifiers, I tend to prefer a larger octabox. The reason for this is, a larger modifier casts softer light. Shadows are important but too many can cause the image to lose its “wow” factor. Too much of a good thing can be bad. When thinking about shadows & food remember balance; balance is the key. It’s important to create drama but there is a limit.
Don’t Mix It Up
Mixing different light when shooting food can have some not-so-pleasant-effects. The term mixing light refers to mixing different temperatures of light (warm & cool). Light can be measured by Kelvin temperatures, and its important to have a consistent temperature. For this reason I try to minimize all the ambient room light by sheltering my scene; to accomplish this I use the octabox to block light from above, and use either white or black cardboard pieces to surround the food scene. Keep your light consistent, and your work will show for it!
Focus On What’s Important
Find what is most interesting about the dish visually, and use your light to highlight it. Additionally, this is where you want to have tac sharp focus; drawing the viewer‘s attention to the best part of the dish. Drawing focus can be done in many ways: color, contrast, focus, light & composition. As a photographer its your choice how you’d like to use these tools to accomplish your objective. Feel free to reach out with any questions! I hope this post can help you improve your work, and elevate your game!