Food Photography Tips for Bloggers: Part 2

Here’s the next installment on my Few Thoughts on Food Photography series. There were a lot of questions about equipment and set up in the comments, but being somewhat obsessive about this whole subject—I’m gonna backtrack a bit to share my process—which is, I usually think about composition first, then styling.

Food photography tips for food bloggers

Grab a cuppa, this is a long post about how I view composition and work from there. The next post will be on styling. From there, many of you asked for step-by-step from set-up to post processing, so I’ll cover that, then onto how to work through creative funks and points of inspiration.

Dragonfruit via Bakers Royale

Hopefully this post and series is helpful. If not, my apologies in advance for taking away 15 minutes you’ll never get back. That’s probably a sentiment I should have kept to myself, but since we’re all friends here, I’ll beg for forgiveness with next week’s recipes.

Now let’s do this!

Composition

Composition gives your photos structure. Think of it this way—written stories have a structure, right? By that I mean, say you have a story in mind and sure, you have the plot, the setting and the characters in mind. But how you choose to tell the story will decide it’s structure, i.e. will it be character driven, plot driven or setting driven (of course, I’m being very brief with that analogy, but you get the idea).

Blackberry Lime Pie Serving via BakersRoyale

Composed with a lifestyle composition in mind

When it comes to pictures, it’s the same thing. You need structure to provide space to your visual voice. And to clarify, when I mention the term visual voice, I mean it as a combination of your composition and styling. Since I’ll be covering styling in another post, I’m going to go over a few established rules for composition that will affect your styling and then tell you, “Know them, use them, then break them”.

Rule of thirds
For the sake of brevity, I’m going to point you to this link, since it provides one of the better explanations in a clear and concise way. Now do I follow this rule most of the time? Generally, yes, but not so precisely. If you take a look at most of my work you’ll see this rule in effect. But often times I don’t set up a shot with that in mind. In fact the more you shoot, this won’t even be a conscious consideration. More importantly, for my process, I compose a shot starting from one of the four edges of a frame—but before we get to that, let’s move to the next point. Because, for my compositional process, deciding what angle to shoot usually comes first.

Raspberry-and-Chocolate-Mini-Tartlets-via-Bakers-Royale1

Rule of thirds in action

Get angular
Admittedly, I’m an overhead shooter and I’m sure that has much to do with my compositional resonance towards composing from edge to edge. Even with that, I know sometimes shooting at 0 degrees (straight on) will provide the highest visual impact. Take for example a drippy center-filled dessert—sure you can shoot it from up top and have the oozing-drip pooled on a plate. But most people would shoot it straight on, so that the drip is at an eye-level perspective—one that makes for a more first-person perspective and one that makes the viewer want to grab for the screen.

Salted Caramel Macaroon Thumbprints from Bakers Royale

Composed with the caramel drip at center focus

Know your edges
I know it sounds simple, but it will really help you frame your composition. And as I mentioned above I usually frame my shots working from edge to edge rather than from the center out. Often times when I’m thinking about the composition, whether it’s an over head shot, straight on, or anywhere from 20-45% angle—knowing my space helps me fill it, i.e. top to bottom, left to right, or diagonally. This is especially important when composing a shot with a large negative space.

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake by Bakers Royale

Composed  from left edge to right

Let’s talk negative space
Be it small or large, this is really something that can impact your pictures greatly. It helps direct the eye from one point of the picture to the next. Have you ever been presented with a picture that’s so busy you don’t know where to look first or what the focus point even is? With negative space, you give your picture cadence, pacing—I like to think of it as the punctuation in pictures—it’s the compositional space that transitions the eye from one point of the picture to the next.

 

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie via Bakers Royale

Composed with a large negative space in mind

Of course, these are a few of elements of composition that reflect my own style and personality but there are plenty more out there. So if you have some that guide you, by all means—please share with the rest of us!

**Food Photography for Bloggers: Part I | How to Develop Your Passion can be found here**

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38 Responses to “Food Photography Tips for Bloggers: Part 2”

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    Julie @ Table for Two — April 18, 2014 @ 2:05 am

    These tips are great! Composition is SO important and it really is what engages the reader. I feel like the more we do it, the more quickly we can think on how to compose each shot but whenever I look at yours, I’m always like, ‘wow I wouldn’t know how to compose that to make it look that good’ haha you’re awesome!!

    Reply

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    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — April 18, 2014 @ 2:37 am

    These tips are so great!! I love the one about styling from the edges in..I always so the opposite so I definitely will be trying that one! Thanks Naomi! Pinned!

    Reply

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    Mary Ann Harden — April 18, 2014 @ 3:03 am

    Thank you so much. I think you articulated your process so well. You are an amazing talent, and appreciate you sharing. Looking forward to the next post about styling. So fun.

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    Julie @ This Gal Cooks — April 18, 2014 @ 3:42 am

    Great post, Naomi! Thanks so much for sharing this information. Looking forward to the styling post.

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    Emily @ It Bakes Me Happy — April 18, 2014 @ 3:45 am

    Naomi those salted caramel macaroons are gorgeous! all of your photos are so inspiring, great post. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and knowledge on photography, you’re an inspiration!

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    Aimee @ Simple Bites — April 18, 2014 @ 3:53 am

    Great tips to remember. Thanks, Naomi!

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    Heather Christo — April 18, 2014 @ 4:48 am

    So composition is my biggest challenge!! I love to hear how you work because it inspires me to push myself. Quick question- do you work on a tripod to get your comp just right before shooting?

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    Tieghan Gerard — April 18, 2014 @ 5:14 am

    Such great tips!! Composition is so important and I love your take on angels. A post to remember and use for sure!

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    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — April 18, 2014 @ 5:19 am

    This is amazing! Love this series! Your tip about working from edge to edge – genius!

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    Ali | Gimme Some Oven — April 18, 2014 @ 5:59 am

    LOVE that you’re doing this series! Such great tips!!

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    Beth @ bethcakes — April 18, 2014 @ 6:26 am

    I’m so excited about this series and loved reading all of this post! Definitely gave me some things to think about. Looking forward to the next one! :)

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    Crystal | Apples & Sparkle — April 18, 2014 @ 6:38 am

    Thanks so much for doing these enlightening posts! I am a big fan of your photography! : )

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    cristina — April 18, 2014 @ 6:45 am

    Fantastic post – enjoyed your perspective of how your mind works on your art/compositions. Besides being an original and talented photographer you are a great writer! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Have a lovely Easter weekend!

    Reply

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    Sophia @ NY Foodgasm — April 18, 2014 @ 7:00 am

    I love your tips, since I went to art school I am good on composition for the most part, but the food story is a detail I need to give more thought. I love how your photos vary so much from very dark to light depending on the subject! That is something I need to learn for sure!

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    Samantha @FerraroKitchen — April 18, 2014 @ 7:26 am

    Thanks for posting this! I usually shoot the same exact way with the same layout, etc and I’ve been getting bored with it. I love your “negative space” point and want to play around with composing differently.

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    Averie @ Averie Cooks — April 18, 2014 @ 7:38 am

    Pinned to my food photography board! It’s always interesting, helpful, and thought-provoking for me to read what others do with their images, shots, and getting from point A to point Z and everything in between. I’m not really an edge shooter and so it’s nice to be reminded to branch out more!

    Reply

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    Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats — April 18, 2014 @ 9:55 am

    Love this post, great tips! Totally need to use the angles tip too. I always do the complete opposite but it totally makes sense it do the angles thing. Need to start telling a story with my photos too. Pinned this, great tips Naomi!

    Reply

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    marla — April 18, 2014 @ 11:53 am

    Great post! I learned a great deal about composition when I used to do textile design ~ so much of that applies to photos.

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    Cynthia Banessa — April 18, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

    Thanks, great tips, will put to use!

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    Sina @ the kosher spoon — April 18, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

    I’m so excited that you are doing this series. I love your work and can’t wait to learn a few tips and tricks. Thanks so much!

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    Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog — April 18, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

    Love this post! I definitely am constantly learning with my food blog and you are such an inspiration! Thanks for posting these tips and trick…your photos are SOOOO pretty!

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    The Healthy Apple — April 18, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

    Awesome Naomi!!! Love your posts and photos, xoox

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    Antionette Blake — April 18, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

    These photo-taking tips are great and much appreciated!

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    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — April 18, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

    Love your take on edge shooting and negative space!

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    Faaiza.O — April 19, 2014 @ 2:29 am

    Love these tips, thanks for sharing!

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    Courtney @ Neighborfood — April 19, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    My brain just did a complete floperoo thinking about composing a shot starting with the edges rather than the center. I tend to be exactly the opposite, but I’m definitely going to try that next time. Also you make plastic cutlery and paper plates look downright sexy.

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    RH — April 20, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

    Hello!
    I run a little photography blog. I agree with you – composition is one of the most important components of a great photograph! I think your tips are excellent. I really like that you discuss negative space, which is something not everyone thinks about.
    Cheers,
    Rachel
    http://twofeetphoto.blogspot.com/

    Reply

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    Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen — April 20, 2014 @ 11:30 pm

    Naomi – loved, loved, loved this post! I did exactly as you said – I settled in for a long read and I loved it! You are so right about composition, negative space, giving a place for the eye to rest and with great pictures (and examples) of this! I only wish there were more to read! Thank you for sharing your process! So helpful!

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    Lindsay — April 21, 2014 @ 4:12 am

    I say it all the time but your photography is just downright inspiring. Thanks for sharing Naomi!

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    Marisela Vigas — April 21, 2014 @ 6:22 am

    Nice Pictures and thank you so much for the inspiration
    Marisela

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    Hari Chandana — April 21, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

    These are wonderful tips. thanks for sharing!!

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    Archana — April 22, 2014 @ 4:46 am

    Thanks for this photography series, Naomi! Really helpful.

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    Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes — April 24, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

    Thanks for the tips Naomi, they are brilliant! I try to work with a story too, but I love how you showed much more detail on that story.

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    Stephanie @ Long Distance Baking — April 24, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

    I’m loving this series! Food photography can be so overwhelming…keep the tips coming!

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    Bake Bellissima — April 27, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

    What an amazing post, lots of points I had never considered! I am a huge fan and regular reader. Thank you for the tips!

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    Jessi G — April 28, 2014 @ 11:52 am

    So helpful, I will we reading all of these posts!

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    nanette — April 29, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

    this is so fabulous and comprehensive! thanks for sharing :)

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    Shashi @ runninsrilankan — June 23, 2014 @ 5:01 am

    Such awesome tips!!! I am so glad I stumbled by!!!
    Your pictures are stunning – I am working on my composition as to date Foodgawker keeps telling me my composition is not right!

    Reply

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