Tag Archive for: food photography

How To Use Negative Space in Food Photography

Elevate your food photography with negative space. Learn how to create balance, depth & impact. Techniques & examples included!

Elevate your food photography with negative space. Learn how to create balance, depth & impact. Techniques & examples included!

*This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.*

Negative space can sound pretty pessimistic, right? Fear not. Using negative space in your work can be very positive. See, what I did just there 🙂

In order to achieve balance in your photos, you must know how to include and place negative space inside a frame. Because, like all good things, it can help a composition, but it can also ruin it.

I’ve partnered with V-Flat World to use their beautiful food photography backdrops called duo boards in some photos showcasing how I use negative space in my work. If you have never tried these, they come with a very handy pair of duo legs that you can use to hold up the board in the back. Such a nice solution!

In this article, you’ll find out:

What is negative space?

That’s the empty space around your subject, while positive space is the space filled with elements. In short, negative space is the boring part of the photo where nothing really happens. I say boring, but it’s far from boring in reality.

Your job as a food photographer is to balance negative and positive space to create enticing compositions.

We also know the term passive space in art, and that’s the space where you might have some things, but they are very neutral and almost blend with the background, so they don’t carry as much visual weight, and just like the negative space create a space for the eyes to rest.

Why is negative space important in a photo?

It adds a sense of size and scale to an image, a sense of space and gives your subject room to breathe. It will lead the viewer to the main subject.

It creates areas in the photo that recede (that’s the negative space) and areas that advance (that’s the positive space). So what this creates is dimension and layers in your photos.

Too much negative space can overwhelm and distract from the subject just as much as something very bold and bright could. On the other hand, if there’s not enough empty space, the frame might be too saturated, and adding negative space would make it look more balanced.

When done correctly, a significant amount of negative space can actually be great and make the subject even more noticeable. This way, it can give a photo a dramatic feel and look. Heck, it can almost make it look quiet and peaceful. 

Simple ways to use negative space in food photography

FRAMING

When it comes to negative space, it can act as a frame for your subject, and using it like that will make your subject stand out.

You can approach that by placing your subject centrally and leaving room around it to make it pop and create a centerpiece for your photo. But be careful not to make it look disconnected from the rest of the image.

In the photo below, I placed my subject in the middle of the image to create a frame with negative space. But you can notice that I added some smaller elements around to make the connection with the frame edges. 

VISUAL BALANCE

Knowing that negative space holds a massive weight in a photo is essential. Much more than you might think.

This is especially important when you try to troubleshoot a photo where your subject needs to stand out. It can be a balance problem; one way to balance an image like that is by adding some empty space.

MOVEMENT

Negative space can be used to create movement in an image by leading the viewer’s eye through the composition. It can add dynamic visual interest to an image.

To do that we can use the empty space around the subject to create a sense of direction and movement that leads the viewer’s eye through the composition.

One way to create movement with empty space is to use diagonal lines or shapes. In order to know how to use this technique, you need to look at the negative space as positive, as if it were filled with elements. This way, you’ll notice the shapes it creates.

CREATING MOOD

Negative space can be used to create a sense of calm or tranquility in a photo, by leaving plenty of empty space around the subject. On the other hand, it can also be used to create a sense of tension or drama by filling the frame with elements and leaving very little empty space.

Elevate your food photography with negative space. Learn how to create balance, depth & impact. Techniques & examples included!

MINIMAL VS. BUSY SCENES

You might be thinking: Negative space only works in minimal scenes, with only a main subject and all that negative space. But that’s definitely not the case.

Let’s look at these two photos and see where I’ve placed the subjects in relation to negative space. 

In the left photo – a minimal scene – deciding where to place negative space is just a matter of left, right, up, and down. Mostly.

When it comes to busier scenes, or whenever you add additional elements to the frame, you must also look at the space between the elements and how negative space creates a connection or separation between them. Finding the right balance is achieved by proper composition, which I teach in detail in Food To Frame.

When we create images with lots of elements, we can easily create a very distracting scene, and it’s hard to know where the main subject is. It can make our eyes wander and never stop on a specific element in the frame. This is when we went too far and needed to remove some elements and introduce some empty space.

TEXT OVERLAYS

Leaving empty space is super important whenever text needs to be added on top, for example, magazines, packaging, brochures, and such.

I prepared a magazine cover mockup to give you an idea of how creating photos with the intention of placing text over can be different. For example, look at the image without text and the photo with text. The one without text might feel slightly unbalanced, but placing text over fixes that. Whereas if the picture was crowded, it would make the text hard to fit.

CONCLUSION 

Negative space is here to add some lightness to the frame. It makes the photo breathe. However, adding negative space is not a rule, and many beautiful images have almost no empty space. It all comes down to what feeling you’d like to portray.

Food Styling, Photography & Business Retreat

Food Photography Equipment You Need

Let’s talk about food photography equipment because who doesn’t love a chat about what gear you need as a professional food photographer?

Throughout this article, I will show you what food photography equipment I currently use and what I’m using it. So you’ll get a good glimpse into what a professional photographer needs to create their stunning work. But remember that building any collection, whether prop or gear, takes time. I only had some of this gear when I first picked up my camera!

Let's talk about food photography equipment because who doesn't love a chat about what gear you need as a professional food photographer?

Note: This page may contain affiliate links to products and services I love to use and recommend.

Camera and lenses

Ever since I started photographing food, I’ve been using Canon. I am currently using a full-frame camera, Canon EOS 6D mark II. However, I started with a hobby crop-sensor camera, Canon EOS 600D, which I still use for some of my behind the scene and styling session photos.

The lenses I currently use are:

Canon 100m 2.8 macro

Canon 50mm 1.8

Canon 85mm 1.4

Canon 25-70mm 2.8

I used to have a Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens, which I adored and would recommend anytime since it produced beautiful photos and which survived a huge fall. However, it is only applicable to crop-sensor cameras.

Unsure how to use your camera? Be sure to read all about Manual Mode. Or you might want to read about camera angles and which lens to use when.

Natural light gear

Working with natural light usually requires a modifier of some sort. I mostly use my large 5-in-1 120x90cm diffuser to soften the light coming through the window. I love that it can use covers in 4 different colors to use as reflectors or black flags. Often I don’t need such a big reflector, which is when I use a smaller Neweer 60x90cm 5-in-1 diffuser/reflector.

Whenever I need to modify light with smaller modifiers, I love using a cardboard self-standing A3 reflector or a 5mm white/black foamboard which I can cut to the needed size. (Note: The foamboards in the links differ from what I use since I bought them locally, so I can’t guarantee the quality.)

Let's talk about food photography equipment because who doesn't love a chat about what gear you need as a professional food photographer?

Artificial light gear

I prefer using a flash over continuous light when working on stills. You can check my Artificial Light for beginners workshop if you want to know why and learn more about working with artificial light. 

Currently, I’m using three Quadralite Stroboss 60 C units, which are 60Ws speedlights. And I use the Godox SL60 continuous light for video and some stills.

Working with artificial light requires careful manipulation. There are many options out there. The main softboxes and umbrellas I currently use are:

Quadralite 60×60 softbox

Foldable Godox 60×60 softbox (for on-location shoots)

Godox 70×100 softbox

Soonpho 22×90 cm stripbox

Godox 120cm octagon umbrella

Studio gear – tripods and stands

I started with very basic tripods, which I still own and use from time to time, but I’ve fallen in love with my Manfrotto 058B Triaut Camera Tripod (discontinued). Having a sturdy tripod makes work so much easier. I’m using the tripod with the Manfrotto XPRO Geared 3-Way Head, which is incredible for making precise adjustments. 

For on-location shoots, I use the Neweer tripod with a central column with a ball head; however, I prefer a geared head from Manfrotto, which is much more precise and easy to handle.

For top-down photos or as a stand for modifiers, I’m using the Neweer C-stand.

Another piece of gear I love are the Neweer metal clamps.

Editing software

I use Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop to edit my photos and DaVinci Resolve for video editing.

Join my free Lightroom webinar replay to learn a few tricks and some of my favorite Lightroom shortcuts and watch me edit a photo in Lightroom, 

Organizational software and more

In running a business, the organization of the process is crucial. I use Asana for my schedule, content, and business process organization.

How to build an email list as a creative or a food photographer

I had an open discussion about the future of social media with a colleague last week. It got us thinking about all the different platforms out there and how much energy it takes to constantly create new content without ever being sure that the right people will see it.

And we both agreed that there is one platform (not usually called social, but in a way, it is just that!), and that’s our emails.

You should start and build your email list no matter what you do. If you are a content creator or food photographer then this is for you.

Building an email list allows you to reach people genuinely interested in what you have to say and offer. If you post on Instagram (or any other platform), only a tiny percentage of your followers will see your post. But when you have an email list, in theory, all of your email community members should get your email. I’m saying this because deliverability is usually not 100%, but still, a number close to that.

You can see the big difference between an Instagram post and an email reach.

The people who get on your email list are there because they took the time to type in their name and email address, which takes much more time and effort than most people will give you on Instagram, TikTok, or any other social media platform. Which is why you will know that these are your people. And it is much easier and often more rewarding to speak to them than to write a post on Instagram. It feels more personal and will also be for our subscribers.

And that’s what we want to build our engaged communities.

Does this mean you don’t need social media and should only focus on email?

Definitely not. Social media gives you exposure to new people who would otherwise have a harder time finding you AND GETTING ON YOUR EMAIL LIST. Both of these together can be magical. So let’s see how you can leverage your current audience to build an email list.

How can you start an email list?

Simply put, an email list is only a list of email addresses you own (unlike your social media followers). 

Everything you need to gather emails is a landing page or a form on your website, which is why email newsletter providers are super handy, and they let you send emails to all your subscribers at once.

Besides, you need to incentivize people to subscribe to your email. A promise of what they get – an opt-in. This could be a PDF, an ebook, exclusive content, free courses and webinars, checklists, guides, and whatnot. Get creative with what you have to offer.

I’ve been using ConvertKit for three years now, and I love how simple it is to use and how time-saving all the automation features are. I can’t recommend it enough.

You should start and build your email list no matter what you do. If you are a content creator or food photographer then this is for you.

How can you grow your email list?

I’ve been building my email list since I started my blog in 2015, and it took a lot of work before I realized how to do it properly.

Unfortunately, once you’ve created an email list, you can leave it there. Instead, you need to find ways for people to see it.

Here are a few ways you can market your opt-in:

  • Adding forms to relevant posts and other places on your blog 
  • Sharing the landing page link to Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube… or any other platform you are using and do so regularly, not just once
  • Add the link in your bio on Instagram and your description on Pinterest.
  • Share it on Facebook groups when relevant.
  • Ask people you speak online and feel would benefit from your opt-in if you can send them the link (You won’t believe how effective that is!)
  • Be creative and constantly search for new places to share your opt-in!
You should start and build your email list no matter what you do. If you are a content creator or food photographer then this is for you.

What to include in your newsletters?

People sign up for your newsletter to not miss anything new you create. So share your latest blog posts, Youtube videos, podcasts, or any content you create. Let them know you have something new.

The good thing is that you can include whatever you are already sharing on social media. Not everyone sees those posts (as we already discussed!), and they definitely want to make sure to see them, so repurpose your Instagram content, especially when it resonates with your IG audience. That’s content your email community will want to see.

An email is also a place where you can be more personal, share stories you don’t share with others, and let your community be a little closer to you.

You can also tell them about your new books, courses, workshops, or whatever you offer that your community will find helpful.

ConvertKit also offers a paid newsletter, which is super helpful when you want to add even more content to your fans and have it delivered straight into their inboxes.

It’s easy for bloggers and educators to share an opt-in. But what if you’re a food photographer?

You can still have an email list even if your audience is food brands, restaurants, and other food-related businesses.

You will also need a very useful opt-in that will help their business and is somewhat related to food photography.

Those are businesses, so make sure to respect their time. It’s enough to send a newsletter to brands only a few times a year. Just enough to keep your name on top of mind in case they need a photographer and not think of you as spammy.

If this is you, I’m giving you a task today.

Think of three topics you can write to your food brand email list. What would they benefit from? What do you have to offer? Do you provide a new service, and how does it help brands? Can you share a photoshoot story to build authority or a behind-the-scenes that they’d enjoy? Or anything else they’d benefit from!

I hope this was helpful!

I’d love to hear your thoughts or worries about building an email list. Let me know in the comments!

And if you’re searching for a great newsletter provider, I can’t recommend ConvertKit enough. I moved from Mailchimp to ConvertKit three years ago, and it was such an easy move and an enjoyable experience to use the app. That said, choosing which provider is not as important as starting your email list today!

FOODSTYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY & BUSINESS RETREAT 2023

This article includes affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the links provided on this page. Note that I only recommend products I love and enjoy, regardless of whether I get a commission!

How To Make Artificial Light Look Natural

If done correctly, artificial light can elevate your food photography process and make it easier to handle long photoshoots while producing a consistent look. However, it takes some understanding of the basics of light to make it look natural.

If done correctly, artificial light can elevate your food photography process and make it easier to handle long photoshoots while producing a consistent look. However, it takes some understanding of the basics of light to make it look natural.

The world of artificial light is vast and has so much to offer. You can create looks that are out of this world, but you can also create a photo that looks like it was taken in natural light.

And this is what we are focusing on in this article.

I remember my early days of blogging when I was creating recipes and taking photos, which took me so long. During the time I got from the first to the last shot, my light changed a gazillion times. My editing skills were nowhere near what they are these days, and editing that series of images was a nightmare.

I refused to get artificial light because I was sure it would make my photos look cringe. But then, one day, I decided to get my first off-camera flash (which I use to this date!), and I was so scared to start.

But once I took the courage to test it out and see for myself and practice, practice, practice; this is when I realized artificial light could look exactly like natural light. It’s all about knowing a few key ingredients.

We will talk a lot more in-depth in the live Artificial Light For Beginners Workshop, so if you’re interested in that, click here.

And now, let’s see all the different things you need to do to make your artificial light look natural.

Learn about light dynamics

Working with any type of light, you will notice it has some characteristics. It changes depending on a few factors, and observing those changes is crucial to learn both natural and artificial light.

When we talk about the properties of light, we can divide them into quantity and quality.

Quantity is how much light we have on hand.

Quality is how this light looks like.

I like to teach my students in my Food To Frame course about the four pillars of light dynamics – Intensity of light (That’s the quantity), the color of light, the direction of light, and the softness or hardness of the light (these are the quality side of light).

Learning about these dynamic properties of light is crucial to know how to modify your light when working with artificial light. The key is knowing how light changes when working with a larger softbox compared to a small one or knowing how the distance of the light source from your subject can make light harder or softer.

Remember!

The bigger the modifier, the softer the light.

The bigger the distance between the light and the subject, the harder the light.

Observe natural light and how it looks in certain situations

There is no better teacher but the nature itself.

Observing how light looks and changes is one of the best ways to learn artificial light. Sounds strange, I know. But if you want to re-create natural light, you need to know what it looks like.

Become a student of light and observe how light in nature:

  • is diffused,
  • gets blocked
  • and gets reflected off surfaces.

Take a mental (or real) note of how this happens and combine this with your light dynamics knowledge.

I encourage you to take simple subjects, like produce or drinks (A simple glass with colored water will do!) and see how it looks in different natural light scenarios.

Use the right modifier (size, diffusion material layers)

Everything always comes to the dynamics of light. There is really no going past that!

There are two important things you need to consider when modifying your artificial light:

Using the right size of your modifier. As I mentioned above, a larger modifier (aka a larger light source) the softer the light and vice versa.

Knowing how many diffusion layers to add. Typically we only focus on the shape and size of a modifier, but what is also very important is how many layers of diffusion you need to use. The more layers you use, the softer the shadows will be, creating lovely, natural-looking soft shadows.

How to use artificial light behind the scenes

Distance is key!

One of the best things about artificial light is that you can move the light around the scene and not the other way around. This allows you to explore how the light looks when you place it further or closer to the scene.

If you place your light closer, you’ll get softer shadows, and placing it further back will create harder shadows. They can both be found in nature, so there is no wrong or right here. But, you need to know what your end goal is to know to place your light.

There is much more to discuss on this end, and we’ll be delving deep into this topic with examples and much more in the Artificial Light For Beginners workshop. I’ll be happy to see you inside if you decide to join.

Critiquing Your Food Photos (+ My Own)

Learn how easy it is critiquing your food photos and watch me critique mine and see what improvements I could have done to improve them.

I'm back with a few of my old photos, which I'm not too happy about. In general, I like the look of them, but there's a lot that could be improved. You can watch it right here below.

Hi everyone, I’m back with a few of my old photos, which I’m not too happy about. In general, I like the look of them, but there’s a lot that could be improved. You can watch it right here below.

And if you know me, you know how I like talking about reading your images, which is also something I dive into with my Food To Frame students a lot more.

Knowing what mistakes you made in your photos is the ultimate key to success. If you never go back and review your old photos, you’re missing out on so much growth! Seriously, after reading these and watching the video, go over your photos and find a few you’re not happy about and try to pinpoint those areas where it’s lacking. Things that you could change to tell your food story much better or make your dish stand out.

The three key components of critiquing your food photos are:

1. Looking at what is the distraction in the photo

Think of distractions like procrastination. When you’re procrastinating, you’re trying to do everything else but your task, right? It’s very similar here. Distractions are everything that makes it difficult to see the main subject because you’re focusing on everything else. This could be a subject that’s too bold, it might be poor editing, or the light not being there.

If you pinpoint the distractions, you’re already halfway there!

2. Checking out the placement of your main subject and all the supporting elements

Placement is crucial in photography. When you’re reading your images, make sure to check whether the position of your elements makes sense. Both in terms of its position in relation to the frame and to the other elements in the photo.

3. Thinking of solutions

This might be the hardest one.

Okay, you know what’s wrong with your photo, but how do you know how to fix that?

It might take some trial and error, but in general, I’d start with the opposite.

Let’s say you realized your photo is too dark. The solution is obvious, right? Go with the opposite and make it lighter.

With some mistakes, it might be a bit tricky and the solution will not be so straightforward.

Let’s say your photo angle is wrong for that dish. How can you fix that? There aren’t just two possible angles to shoot from, so you actually need to think about the dish and the angle at which it looks the best. In case you ever encounter that problem, I actually have a guide on camera angles ready.

In these cases, you need to dive deeper into critiquing your food photos and learn more about the subject. And what I also find useful is checking out photos of other photographers which might give you the solution.

Make sure to also read How To Read Food Photos To Improve Your Food Photography + A Case Study! to learn more in-depth photo reading techniques.

Repetition in Food Photography: Breaking the Pattern

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

I’ve talked about creating a Symmetrical repetition in one of my previous articles and symmetrical composition is something very beautiful and natural. But when it comes to repetition I think the king of repetition is the inconsistency – the breaking of the pattern.

Our eyes are quite used to seeing patterns and they seem very natural, safe and pleasant to look at. However, when it comes to drawing the eyes to your photo, there’s probably no better thing but to make that pattern just a little bit off. This is something that sparks up questions and makes us think about the photo.

Okay, let’s talk a bit about something that might sound completely off-topic, but here it is. The main subject. A photo should in almost all cases have a main subject. That one element where not only the focus (in the technical term) lies but also the focal point where our eyes are drawn to. And introducing the breaking of the pattern does just that. It brings attention to that one particular part of the photo.

Through a few examples, I’m going to show you a few ideas you can integrate into your photos with patterns to make that one subject pop a little bit more and make it the focal point of the frame.

Examples of breaking the pattern

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

The photo above is a very classical representation of a photo with a pattern. The way I broke the pattern here was in two ways. First of all, not all the elements are placed in the same way. So even though there are repeating elements in the frame, it’s not overly graphical. And secondly I chose to place two popsicles one over the other for the purpose of breaking the pattern. You can see how this part of the photo now carries a little bit more visual weight and draws the attention.

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

So in this brownie photo, I did a very similar thing to in the previous photo. Brownies, although amazingly delicious, can look flat and boring quickly, especially when they are laid flat onto the surface. So how did I solve the problem with the boring pattern formed by how the brownies were cut?

I simply turned one of the brownies to the sides. So this way I created the focal point of the photo and what is more, I showcased the insides of the brownie which is always a good thing!

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

Something similar happens here. We have the spring rolls that are forming this linear pattern, but then that one roll that is cut open shows a different shape – a circular one – breaking the pattern along the way. This is probably the easiest thing to do in food photography – cutting something to break the pattern by introducing another shape.

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

In food photography, we are often faced with patterns, that we might not even notice. Like in the example of this tiramisu here. The way the cookies are stacked creates a pattern in the dish. However, you can take it a step further. Here I piped the cream in a way that also created an interesting pattern, so I basically made a mix of two patterns. The second one breaking the other one in a very natural way.

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

Produce photos are a great example of how you can introduce patterns and also how you can break the pattern. I have mostly round shapes in this photo of oranges. However, I cut a few pieces in a different way. I placed one of them in a very bright spot. Note how much variety and playfulness just one irregular shape brings to a photo.

Following the pattern is a natural thing to do, but breaking the pattern is what makes the food photo truly stand out!

Now, this beautiful radicchio, even though incredibly beautiful and delicious, was not the easiest subject to shoot. It made a bit of effort to make one single element stand out. Here you can see that the shape of the radicchio florets creates a pattern. But how did I break the pattern?

It might be a bit more subtle here than in the previous photo, so let me explain. I made sure that the radicchio that was in focus had a very distinct shape. So basically I chose the best-looking one there was. I made sure all the other ones did not look as perfect (still good, but not perfect!). This made the one beautiful radicchio floret stand out.

Conclusion

Patterns are an amazing way to add interest to a food photo and even though we might not always be aware, there’s almost always one form of a pattern in a photo. With some photos, this is more obvious or even intentional. And when you are aware of the patterns you can exploit that and create a breaking of the pattern, which will add even more interest to the photo.

Let me know in the comments what is your favorite way to break a repetition pattern.

Splashes In Drink Photography

Splashes in drink photography are so much fun right? In my opinion, they brighten up photos of drinks and just make them exciting to look at.

Splashes in drink photography are so much fun right? In my opinion, they brighten up photos of drinks and just make them exciting to look at.

Splashes are not the easiest and the cleanest things to do. They are, however, amazingly beautiful. While most things as food photographers we can control, there’s no way you can entirely predict how the splashes are going to turn out. Making splashes just a tiny bit more challenging. Mainly because most of the time you need to repeat them over and over again to get that perfect shot.

Let’s discuss a few things we need to do before taking the final photo and some tips that will make your life easier when you make splash shots.

1. Take a photo without splashes

The most important thing that you shouldn’t forget is to take a photo before any action is happening. I take two photos, one with a glass still empty, and one with a full glass but no action. This way I have two clean photos to work with in post-processing. Don’t take me by the word but I’d say all my splash photos are composites because there’s just no way you’ll get that perfect shot on the first try.

If you do, you should do a happy dance, for sure!

2. Prevent the glass from slipping

Okay, so the next thing you need is to attach the glass to the backdrop. I just use my son’s playdough. We have so much playdough in the house. You can of course use anything that sticks the glass to the backdrop. Make sure it’s a small amount, something you can edit out in the post-processing.

3. Prep the towels

Next, you need towels. Large towels. Trust me, I’ve had big floods happening! You need to be prepared.

And you need replacement fluid. When you do splashes the fluid from the glass will eventually get very minimal, so you need to add more. I like to prepare a large jug of whatever I’m shooting. And since I’m going to be wasting so much fluid, I use colored water, whenever possible. Just so I don’t waste actual drinks.

Splashes in drink photography are so much fun right? In my opinion, they brighten up photos of drinks and just make them exciting to look at.

4. Something relatively heavy to throw in

And then next, you need to think about what you’ll be throwing in the drink to make that perfect splash. If it’s some fruit that would actually be a part of the drink, then just use that. If you only want a splash, like I’ll be doing here, then pick something that will create a nice big splash. The heavier thing you pick, the more pronounced the splash will be.

I like to use things that are similar in color to the drink or something transparent like a large ice cube. Basically something heavy enough, but not something that would break the glass if it fell on the rim.

5. Fast shutter speed

What we want to make sure of is to shoot at a very fast shutter speed. I’m using a speedlight, so for me, this will mean I need to set my flash power to low power, to get that fast shutter speed. The shutter speed on my camera is set to X, ISO to X, and aperture to X.

When you’re shooting in natural light, you can’t really use a fast shutter speed like with a speedlight or a strobe, unless you’re shooting in a harsh light situation. In anything diffused, I strive to use a shutter speed of at least 1/500s or preferably faster for drinks to get that sharp splashes.

Splashes in drink photography are so much fun right? In my opinion, they brighten up photos of drinks and just make them exciting to look at.

6. Use manual focus

It’s also very important to use manual focus, so it stays the same in all the photos.

7. Use custom white balance

Also I’d steer away from using auto white balance, because you can combining images with different white balances could be a pain.

Basically, all the settings should be exactly the same for each photo you take, even the non-action ones that you take in the beginning. I have those ready and now let’s do a couple of splash shots and see what we end up with.

Splashes in drink photography are so much fun right? In my opinion, they brighten up photos of drinks and just make them exciting to look at.

7. Take some test shots

Before really going in with setting up your scene, make sure all your settings are okay. I like to do some test splashes to be sure my focus is in the right place and that my shutter speed is fast enough.

If you’re the video type (who isn’t?) I also have a short video explainign these tips and showing some bts of my splash photo.

6 Tips for Editing Dark And Moody Photos

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you’ll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Today we’re gonna go through tiny little things (that are actually not that tiny) that you need to be carefull about when editing dark and moody photos. I’m gonna take you through a few things I find very important while I edit. And if you stick around, at the bottom of the page, you also have a video of me editing my moody image in Lightroom, with lots of explanation.

And if you’re a fan of presets, which I most definitely am, I have a Moody Food Preset Collection right here.

Correct exposure

Let’s start with basics. Exposure, or better said, correct exposure is abslutely important in any kind of image. The thing I see very often is dark photos being to dark. Too dark to see the detail well and far too dark to make the subject stand out from the scene.

This is not only important when you light your scene while taking it, but also when you edit!

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Create contrast

Okay let’s talk more about your subject popping out. This is definitely always the most important thing to achieve. So just like with exposure, we also need to take a really close attention to the contrast in our images, especially when they are dark.

With dark and moody photos, contrast is your power! You want contrast, but you also want to make sure it’s not blowing out the detail.

There’s no one tip for making the contrast perfect, it’s all about your creative vision. But generally, if you take a good look at all the detail up close, you’ll be able to see, if you’re loosing some important parts of your image.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Textures

Naturally, when we shoot images in a dark setting, we’ll get lot’s of shadows. And shadows will enhance textures. And texture is good. The problem arises, when you’re shooting a textured food on a textured backdrop. If you just adjust textures and shadows for the entire image, you might see your backdrop distracting from your subject. This will especially be prominent in flatlays, since you’re most likely have the backdrop entirely in focus.

Local adjustments are your friend in this case! With local adjustments, you can apply the edits only to a particular part of the image.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Local adjustments are your friend

We discussed local adjustments a bit in the previos tip. And here we’ll talk about the full power of local adjustments in editing dark and moody photos.

Shooting in a dark style can often create things like too bright highlights, too dark shadows, not enough exposure in some parts of the image, and so on. Even if you pay close attention to all these things while you shoot, you might still get some things look a bit off.

Local adjustments are super helpful in these cases.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Don’t go overboard with a vignette

We love a vignette, right?

And for a good reason. A vignette in dark images will definitely give a definition to a dark image. However, this is the one edit to be careful about. It’s very easy to go overboard and make it look fake.

Here’s where you should be very tough on yourself and asses whether your vignette is looking fake or real.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Your camera makes a difference

You’re probably thinking ‘What has my camera to do with editing?’

Each camera creates the photos a little bit differently. Each one will produce different colors and contrasts. And therefore the edits will also need to be different.

If you only ever use one camera, you’re already used to it. You know what kind of images it produces. But when you take another camera in your hand, let’s say you got a new camera. This camera will see things differently and you’ll have to adjust your edits if you want to get the same result.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Watch me edit a dark and moody photo in Lightroom

To see how I’ve applied all these tips into my editing proces what me edit an image of some blood oranges in Lightroom.

To download the raw file used in this video

Get your raw files and join my community

The free raw file is waiting for you, so you can edit it alongside my video!

You also get access to my creative community and get updates about new articles, videos, workshops and information about new products and exclusive offers!

    After joining here, make sure you confirm your subscription to get access to the files.

    By signing up you’re consenting that we send emails about photography and training offers. We don’t send spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Number One Newbie Food Photography Mistake

    We’ve all started and we’ve all made this super easy fixable food photography mistake. Let’s go through my old images and see how to spot the issue.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Today, I’ll walk you through a few mistakes I see new food photographers make all the time. They are very easily fixable and I’ll show you in my old photo examples. If you prefer following a video, here’s my YouTube video, and below you’ve got a transcript of the video.

    In case you’re interested in more mistakes you might be doing and how to fix them, I have an article about that too.

    Not making the main subject the hero

    So one of the most common things I see food photographers do is not really thinking about their main subject and making it the hero or the focal point of the image. There should always be one clearly defined center of attention in the image. Always!

    Actually, the more complicated scene you do, the more chance you have of missing what your hero subject is.

    There’s a number of reasons why this can happen.

    Let me explain.

    Image #1

    Let see the image below, for example. This is one of my oldest recipes from the blog. These are some super delicious chewy Guinness caramels. But you can’t really see it, because it’s wrapped in a wrap. I wasn’t thinking about, what about the hero dish is important. It’s not the wrap, it’s the caramel.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Image #2

    So in the image below I’ve opened up a few caramels so the viewers can see them, and the image is a bit better, but everything that’s happening around is still overpowering. The bog glass and can in the back, the big bowl on the side, they all compete.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Image #3

    Let’s see the third photo.

    I’ve zoomed in a little and gotten a little more depth of field which is making the stuff around less obvious and less prominent.

    Let’s see another photo form the same photoshoot. Again, the caramels should be where our eye goes, but that’s definitely not the case.

    I mean it’s far from a perfect photo. I was just starting out. But through showcasing the caramels in the front and keeping distarctions away, blurred in the back I was able to keep the focus on the caramels, not the props and I also kept the storytelling.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Image #4

    Let’s see another photo form the same photoshoot. Again, the caramels should be where our eye goes, but that’s definitely not the case.

    First of all the caramels are not in focus. I missed the focus and placed it on the top of the glass, so now what’s in focus is the beer head.

    Second thing, I’ve placed the caramel too close to the edge of the frame, so it gets lost in all the things that are happening inside this shot.

    And third, the caramel compared to everything else in the frame is very small. So it also gets lost in terms of size.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    My tip for you if you’re seeing these kinds of issues in your images would be to get good at less busy scenes first, so you can focus on your main subject instead of all the props and an elaborate story.

    And I suggest identifying your main subject and keeping it on top of mind all the time during the photoshoot. Always re-evaluate if your main subject is really the hero.

    So, this was the number one food photography mistake I see new photographers make. I hope you got some useful tips, let me know in the comments if this is something you struggle with as well.

    Repetition in Food Photography: Symmetrical Repetition

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques symmetrical repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    We often overlook patterns when it comes to food photography techniques. When we hear about patterns, oftentimes we think of monotony. And who wants to be monotonous?

    But what if I told you that patterns and repetition in food photoraphy are one of the most beautiful ways to bring interest to our image?

    I am just finishing judging a challenge on Instagram all dedicated to repetition and it got me thinking about how you can incorporate repetition in your food photos without making it boring and flat.

    So here are a few tips on how to add repetition to your work:

    1. Create a feeling of a graphical image

    When you have a photo with a very symmetrical repetition and an interesting light you can create images where the pattern itself becomes an element and the point of interest.

    You can achieve that by filling the frame with the same or similar elements and place them in very geometrical positions – squares, circles, lines…

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    2. Repeating lines

    Lines are one of the best compositional tools, as I’ve already mentioned in a few of my articles. When you place repeating lines next to each other, they can form interesting visual patterns and can also become very graphical.

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques symmetrical  repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    3. Breaking the pattern

    Monotonous pattern can work very well for certain images, but when you wnat to add some extra interest, you can play around with breakin the patterm.

    If every element is placed in the same way and one is placed in a slightly different way, it creates a strong visual interest. This is how we can also bring the unexpected to a pattern. It will instantly led the viewer’s eye to where the ‘rule breaking’ is happening. and instantly you get a focus point!

    It also gets the viewer to think about why and how the change in pattern is happening.

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    4. Repetition in the dish

    When it comes to repetition it doesn’t always have to be created through composition. Food itself is already a great source of repetition and patterns. Thinking about the dish as a separate frame and adding some patterns in the dish brings the attention to our subject – because our eyes love patterns, as we’ve already determinded!

    So keep an eye on pattern sin your food and also think about how you can add repetition in your dish when you’re styling it.

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    5. Mirrored image

    Just like the name suggest this is a composition technique where the frame has more or less two symmetrical parts of an image. This can create a very calm feeling. A feeling of something we know.

    Symmetry can be created either vertically, horizontally, or both.

    When I create symmetrical images, I try to not make it completely symmetrical – you know – breaking the pattern! Just like in the image below. It is symmetrical, but not to a point where every element is perfectly aligned.

    When it comes to interesting out-of-the-box techniques repetition in food photography is definitely the one to look out for.

    Busy composition – when is it enough?

    There’s a trend in a busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you’ll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    When it comes to composition, my style is not very minimalistic. I sometimes do minimalistic images, but more often I will add lots of elements to my photo. Trying more minimalistic images is also one of the things I want to do more in the future!

    But we’re not going to be talking about minimalistic compositions today. We will focus on how to create a busy composition without making it too busy.

    Because the line is very thin!

    So let me give you a few tips on how to approach busy food styling:

    1. Your dish should be the hero

    Pretty obvious right?

    But when you’re planning on adding lots of elements in your image, chances are they will overshadow your main dish. And your main dish should ALWAYS be the hero!

    So a good exercise is to stop and take a good look. Really think about whether any element is distracting and ditch it, or place it just enough outside the frame so it doesn’t take as much attention.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    2. Make your dish the biggest element in the scene

    Example. When you go to the forest to pick mushrooms, and you a small one and a big one. Which one will you pick first?

    Okay, bad example, I never go mushroom picking, I’m the worst. I have my dad do this 🙂

    But you get the idea, right? Bigger elements get more attention, would you agree? Same in composition, if you have an element inside your composition that is larger than everything else, it will probably become the focus.

    Imagine you have an image with a burger and some fries and you want the burger to be the star. If you placed a huge bucket of fries right next to the burger it would become the hero.

    But if you make sure, you only have enough fries so that they still look ‘abundant’, but the whole container of fries is not larger than the burger, then you’re good.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    3. Avoid overly colorful and patterned props

    This is usually my advice for any type of food photography and styling. But since rules are meant to be broken, you can get away with crazy props in certain minimalistic photos. Not with a busy composition though! It is even more important to be selective about the props you use.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    4. Add some negative or passive space to your busy composition

    Every image needs air to breathe and a place for our eyes to rest. Especially when you have lots of elements in the frame. So think about where you can add a little negative or passive space. If you are not familiar with the term ‘passive space’ it is the part of the image that isn’t necessarily empty but can be filled with neutral props and elements, such as linen, bowls, glasses that are almost the same color as the backdrop.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    5. Use leading lines and curves in a busy composition

    Lines and curves are one of my favorite composition techniques when it comes to busy composition. They are used to lead the eye around the frame and to your subject. So you can see why they would be really important in busy compositions. With lots of elements, our eyes can get confused. By using lines and curves you can guide the eyes carefully around the frame (so the other elements are not left unnoticed!) and then to our subject.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    6. Make your dish stand out with color

    One of the ways I keep focus on the main dish in a busy composition is to set it appart through color. I try to keep every other element other than the main dish very low key in terms of color.

    Our eyes tend to go to the brightest and most vibrant parts of the image first. So by removing color from other parts (even when there’s a lot going on) I can get the viewer’s eye to always end up looking at the main dish.

    There's a trend in busy composition that you can see on Instagram. With these food photography tips you'll be able to know how to style the scene so your dish is still the hero.

    3 Editing Mistakes You Are Making In Your Food Photography

    These three common food photography editing mistakes can be ruining your food photos, but you can fix that easily.

    These three common food photography editing mistakes can be ruining your food photos, but you can fix that easily.

    One of the biggest pain points of any new photographer is editing. Editing is fun, it’s not like camera settings. All those sliders and options are exciting, but that doesn’t mean editing is easy. It takes some time to get a grasp on how to edit so your images look interesting but true to the eye.

    With editing, we want to bring the best out of the image. However, it can also make your image look worse. Here are a few editing mistakes you might be making and how to avoid them.

    1. You’re overediting

    Raise your hand if you’re quilty of making your food images look anything like the food looks in reality. Not in a good way, obivously.

    I’m raising my hand up high! I was really loving my clarity slider at one point.

    It is very easy to get tangled into all the settings that editing software has and just bump all the settings as high or as low as possible. There’s no such thing as too sharp, right? Wrong.

    While we can really enhance textures, colors, shaprnes and contrast with editing, we need to make sure it’s not all too much. With editing you want to showcase how beautiful food looks in real life. You evoke a sense of taste, smell and texture of the dish.

    Imagine if someone served you a garlic soup, but there’s just too much garlic and it’s not cooked all the way. All you’re left with is the intense smell of raw garlic. Not very appetizing, right?

    It’s the same with food, you want some taste, but not too much.

    How to make sure you’re not overediting?

    First of all, you need to diferentiate editing jpeg and raw files. Raw files are, as the name states, raw and unedited, while jpeg already have some edits that were created in the camera. This means that if you apply same settings in the same amounts to jpeg files as you would raw files, they will very likely be overedited.

    This is also an essential concept to understand, whenever you’re using presets. If the presets were made for raw files, then you might need to make a move some sliders, so you don’t decrease the effect of the preset.

    On a side note, let me encourage you to start shooting raw if you aren’t already. Especially, if you’re working for clients!

    One other thing that will help you with not overediting is to really ask yourself ‘Does this look true to life?’

    If you’re photographing red peppers, you need to ask yourself questions like ‘Is this color like I see it in real life?’

    I know, it’s hard to be stuck in the exciting slider mover state! I know, I get it! But just think of the mantra ‘Less is more’.

    Let’s look at the two images below. The left image has way too much contrast and sharpness because Texture, Clarity, and Dehaze were set up too high in Lightroom. The right image is more balanced and true to life.

    These three common food photography editing mistakes can be ruining your food photos, but you can fix that easily.

    You’re only making global adjustments

    Global adjustments? What even are global adjustments?

    Global adjustments are settings applied to the entire image. However editing the entire image at once might not alays end up in an appealing image.

    This is when local adjustments come in handy. While global adjustments make changes in the entire image, local adjustments only change one part of the image – the part that you intentionally choose.

    Lightroom offers three different types of local adjustments – brush, radial and graduated filter. These are all super powerful tools that you shouldn’t neglect if you want to see your food photos improve.

    If we look at the two images below, we can see that by applying some filters only to a part of the image (the cake) you can add more interest to the main subject. I applied clarity and lifted the exposure in both images. In the left image, I applied it to the entire image. In the right one I only applied it to the cake. The difference is very subtle but you see how the cake pops just a little bit more in the right image.

    These three common food photography editing mistakes can be ruining your food photos, but you can fix that easily.

    3. You’re ignoring the histogram

    One of the editing mistakes people make when they start with photography is not paying attention to the histogram. Either in their camera or in editing software.

    The histogram is a graphical representation of exposure. There are a few things you can read from a histogram, but one of the most missed is ignoring the clipping warning. This feature warns you if your shadows are clipped or highlights are blown out. Histograms can clearly tell you if you’re losing data on either end of the graph – the shadow end or the highlights end.

    Lightroom has built-in warnings for lost detail in highlights and shadows. You can turn it on and off by clicking the tiny triangle on either side of the histogram, just like you see in the image below.

    These three common food photography editing mistakes can be ruining your food photos, but you can fix that easily.

    You might think, you’ll be able to see if you have blown out highlights or shadows. Trust me even with a trained eye, that’s difficult. Not to mention that it really depends on your screen, it’s rendering of color and it’s brightness.

    Can you think of any other editing mistakes?

    I hope you enjoyed my short list of possible editing mistakes you’re making. Let me know in the comments, if you feel like there are some other mistakes food photographers make when they edit their photos.


    I also have a brand new Moody Food Preset Collection specially designed for food photographers:

    Hands In Frame For Food Photography

    If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m a freak when it comes to showing hands in frame. I feel like they add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way.

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Hands connecting with food make a scene look very natural and the hands almost invite the viewers hands to also interact. It puls you in and makes you feel like you’re here helping, not just observing.

    ​Now, let me tell you how you can incorporate hands in the photo.

    Make sure to have a clear story

    I think it’s pretty clear why this is necessary. If there are some hands just hanging out in the frame without a specific reason it will look like a mistake.​

    So think about how you can add a story to your photo. Did someone just bring a meal on the table, are you offering a drink to the viewer, did you just come from the farmers market and are bringing fresh veggies, are you lighting a candle to add some mood to your meal,…

    Do you see a pattern here?

    All of these stories make sense. So think about what the story is and how you can add interest to the frame.

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Wash your hands – dah!

    Okay, you’ll say that’s obvious. Who touches food with dirty hands?! Uhm okay, it happened to me more than once (a lot more than once), that I styled the set and hurried to take the shot with my hands in the frame and completely forgetting that there was some flour, sesame, or whatever food I was touching before, still on my hands (and my camera – oops).

    You can usually edit this out (unless it’s a huge mess), but who has the time, right?

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Out of focus

    The hands don’t necessarily need to be the focus of the image or interacting with the main subject. Having a cake and someone eating a slice in the background can have a powerful story.

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Show some action

    I love process and action photos. They are the most dynamic food photo can be. Pouring a sauce, sprinkling some sugar on top of a doughnut, piping on frosting, cutting veggies… All these actions start with hands, so you don’t need to cut hands in the frame, but rather make them a part of the story.

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Make them look soft and natural

    This is probably the hardest part. At least for me. For some reason, placing your hands in a natural-looking way doesn’t always mean that they are actually in a natural position. More often than not, you’ll feel weird and unnatural holding your hands for the frame. It goes the same with your body if it’s also in the frame.

    ​That’s so weird right?

    ​So how can you make them look natural? Well, there’s trial and error and mostly it’s checking out the photo and trying to determine what looks unnatural. Are the fingers too square? Maybe they too close together and looking very tight or are they too wide apart looking like claws. Are you making sharp angles with fingers or elbows (this one happens very often)?

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Make composites

    ​When it comes to images with multiple set of hands in frame, they are not the eaiest to capture in one take. And impossible if you’re the only person in the room.

    Here’s where composites come in handy. All you need is a few photos taken with the same settings and photoshop. The rest is explained in my IGTV video here.

    Hands in frame add a human element to food, which brings food to life in a completely new way and make a scene look very natura

    Think about how the light hits your hands?

    Also a very important part. If the hands are very close to the light source they might be too bright and have too much highlights. One way to solve this is to place them in a different position or if that just doesn’t go with your story, you can try editing the brightness in post-processing, which is my next point.

    ​Editing

    Editing people and editing food are two very different types of editing. That’s why it can often happen that while the food looks nice and inviting, the hands may look lifeless.

    ​This totally depends on the way you edit your images and the dish you are photographing. But, if it happens that your hands look lifeless and colorless, chances are they are too green. I usually bring photos like this in Photoshop and use the Selective tool in the Layers panel to add a Selective tool layer. Then choose Reds from the Colors Panel and lower cyan just enough to make the hands look natural again. By that point the whole image will look weird, so you need to mask out just the hands in the Selective color layer. And you’re done!

    Btw, I have a Moody Food Preset Collection available, if you’re using Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw.

    Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to create some images with hands in the frame. Hands are not the easiest to photograph, but they add so much character to an image that it’s worth going the extra mile.

    Join My Free Food Photography Creative Community!

    Free Online Food Photography Creative Community

    I’ve finally put out the food photography creative community I’ve been meaning to open since a year ago. I’m amazed by all the kind creative people I already have on my mailing list. And if you’re not one of them, I would love you to join RIGHT NOW!

    Because today we’re officially opening the Use Your Noodles Creative Community group on Facebook.

    The reason I wanted to join you all in one group is because I want you to find inspiration and friends, share love and your work. So if you’re not sure whether to join or not, let me tell you why you need to join today!

    WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN MY FREE FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY CREATIVE COMMUNITY?

    – Exposure and community

    In this busy modern world it’s easy to get disconnected with your community, but our FB group is all about keeping the community, share your work, appreciate the work of other’s, find new friends and talk about the topic we love most – food photography.

    – Free resources all in one place

    All the downloadable freebies I offer will be there in the group, so you can easily find them.

    – Feedback

    Every week we’ll feature one image for feedback and everyone in community can help with advice, critics, praise, suggestions.

    – Questions answered

    You’ll have the chance to ask questions on anything food photography related and get answers from me and the community.

    – Live Q&As

    I’ll host at least two live Q&As a year, where you’ll have the chance to ask me anything food photography related and I’ll be there answering live.

    How can you join?

    Sign up in the form below and you’ll get instant access to the community 🙂

    And please make sure to introduce yourself to everyone!

    Join my Creative Community

    Sign up to get access to my creative community and get updates about new articles, videos, workshops and information about new products and exclusive offers!

      By signing up you’re consenting that we send emails about photography and training offers. We don’t send spam. Unsubscribe at any time.