Recently, Canon Australia ran a photography series called THE LAB – MENU, which was designed to ‘flip food photography on its head’. Essentially, the aim was to run an experiment that asked “what would happen if food photography featured everything but the food itself? Relying on just taste and texture, how would this look in a single frame?”
To find out, they brought in three renowned photographers and challenged them to create images inspired by a blind tasting experience at acclaimed Sydney restaurant AUTOMATA with founder and Head Chef, Clayton Wells.
The result was three visually powerful images which showcased food photography in the most unique way. Like this one from Kristina Yenko, a Sydney-based wedding and fashion photographer:
Read Kristina’s overview of her experience in The Lab, or watch how the experiment went and see the other resulting images.
I was lucky enough to ask Kristina for her top five food photography tips for food bloggers, instagrammers and anyone who likes taking photos of food. So, without further ado, here are Kristina’s top five tips for capturing the perfect food photos.
Kristina Yenko’s Top 5 Food Photography Tips
1. Your photographs need to have an intention.
They need to be purposeful and concise. Think about what you want to portray about the venue, about the experience, about the atmosphere. Everything from framing, white space and colour grading can tell a story. From wide shots of the space, to shots of staff and customers, interior detail and the facade. Think beyond the plate.
2. Don’t over-filter your work.
You want to emulate something natural and light, airy, clean. Clean whites and deep blacks. There’s a great saying – “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS for short).
3) Lens up wisely.
Shallow depth of field can really bring attention to the finer details. I love the 100mm Canon Macro lens. It’s perfect for portraits, food and even interiors.
It’s a long lens so you don’t need to be seen or intrude closely to the subject. Open up to f2.8 to let in lots of light and play around with what’s in focus.
4) Keep your food set ups personal, and intimate.
Don’t make the arrangement too perfect or it can come across as sterile. Keep it interesting. A touch of mess can make a shot beautiful and ‘lived in’.
Think cutlery that’s a bit tilted or askew. Napkins that aren’t folded too perfectly. A hand, a wallet, some interesting prop.
The time of day you shoot at a venue (cafe or restaurant) can either go really smoothly, or be disastrous. Research the space and note the best time to visit may be off-peak or during a quiet period where the staff can put in extra effort to make the dishes more photogenic and beautiful. Also, I find it easier to work without a whole table of people looking over at you every few seconds. However, this is very subjective and an empty cafe can look lonely and unpopular. What is the intention to the shoot? Is it the cafe atmosphere and culinary vibe, or is it purely dishes and carefully laden beverages? Refer to the first point regarding intention! 🙂