Using curves in food photography can add softness and natural feel to the photo. Here is a tutorial on how to use curves to create beautiful compositions.
When it comes to composition, there is a number of compositional techniques that you can apply to your food photography. Which one you choose is greatly impacted by your style, the story or even who your client is.
I’m a big fan of natural-looking food photography and some of the key compositional techniques that I like to use are curves and lines. Today I’m going to focus on using curves because I think they add so much dynamic and sense of movement to the photo as well as making the composition look natural and somewhat feminine. Curves are also a great way to lead the viewer’s eye towards your main subject in a natural way.
Curves can be a separate or I should say main composition techniques or it can be just an addition to others, such as the rule of thirds or golden rule to add some movement to the photo.
Since curves can really be anything, I put up a list of
curves that I use in my food photography the most.
This is a curve that mimics the letter S. I sometimes use S-shape to build the entire composition around it like in the ramen photo. Or I use it to support my composition and add movement and softness to the photo like in the cookie photo.
C-curve is the simplest curve you can use and the reason I love it so much is because it’s subtle and adds dynamic to the photo without being too obvious. Just like the S-curve, you can use it as a main compositional technique (egg photo) or support other techniques (apple pie photo). One great way you can use a C-curve is by placing the curve around your subject, which makes the objects on the curve almost hug the main subject.
That’s any curve that connects objects in
your frame in a way that makes the eye flow through those items towards the
Most often I use spirals as a main compositional technique and not so much as a supporting technique. That’s mainly because the spiral can look very obvious very quickly. When they are obvious they also look unnatural. The other reason is, that the spirals lead your eye toward its center. So I wanna make sure that the center of the spiral is my main object.
That’s an S-curve that is continuing and is forming a wave. I use this technique when I have lots of objects in a frame, that I want to visually connect and lead the viewer’s eye to the main subject.
A combination of curves
More often than not I use a combination of curves so I can visually link different objects in the scene with different effects. For example, let’s take a photo of the breaded sweet bread. I used a C-shape by placing pine in a C-shape to create a shape that hugs the main subject and gives a warm feel. I used the hands to lead the eye to the main subject.
In the second photo with lemons, I also used different curves to add dynamics to an otherwise simple shot.
In most of the above photos, I’ve used a combination of curves. I intentionally left it unmarked for you to go through and try to find other curves and think about how they affect the photo. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found any other curves in these photos.
https://www.useyournoodles.eu/wp-content/uploads/using-curves-in-food-photography-cover.jpg16531102Anja Burgarhttps://www.useyournoodles.eu/wp-content/uploads/logo_NEWW.pngAnja Burgar2020-04-09 14:07:042023-10-06 11:17:05Using curves in food photography
These simple techniques will give your food photos a certain seasonal feel and make them tell a story about the dish and the season.
Since very early on in my blogging, I knew seasons are going to be a big part of it. It’s what I try to follow in my life in general and it’s what I wanted to do with the blog. And I also find it trendy right now, which I absolutely love because seasonal food is healthier both for us and the planet. Btw, if you don’t have my Seasonal Eating Guide yet, you can get it here.
I wanted my photos to reflect that! I didn’t incorporate seasons very intentionally in the beginning, but eventually, I realized there are a lot of ways I can actually say ‘Hey, it’s winter! And this is a Winter dish.’
I prepared a list of techniques I use these days to achieve that seasonal feel in my photos. They are pretty straightforward! It’s usually a mix of a couple of these techniques that produces the best result.
Okay, here we go…
When I say Autumn, which color do you imagine? I’m guessing you said orange, brown or yellow. What about Winter? Did you say white or gray, blue maybe?
Did I guess what your answers were?
See, we associate certain colors with certain seasons. And those colors are super powerful when you want to convey a feeling of a certain season in your photo.
We can use these colors both with styling the dish or the scene.
Let’s look at the two photos below: The left one is clearly all about Autumn. It’s an apple pie, I added some reds, oranges, and browns, which are very typical autumn colors. But also check out the color of leaves. They are green, but the green is more muted and leans more toward the yellow. This shows us that the leaves are about to decay. It all adds to the autumnal theme.
If you look at the photo on the right, it’s a strawberry and rhubarb galette. It also has some red color, which is my first association when I think Spring fruit. But notice that the color of leaves is more vibrant and it leans more toward the blue. It has a fresher ‘young leaves’ feel.
Even though the green color probably was different in real life too, I changed it a bit in post-process to emphasize the season. So I moved the green slider towards yellow for the autumn photo and towards the blue in the spring shot.
Also, the backdrops are completely different. The ‘apple pie’ is shot on a dark brown wooden backdrop to give a more cozy autumn feeling. While the strawberry galette is shot on a dark blue backdrop and blue plate that make the red pop and create a fresher vibe.
Same as with color there are certain temperatures (and I mean color temperatures) that we associate with certain seasons. In general, we think cooler for Winter and sometimes Summer and Spring, and warmer for Autumn.
We usually tend to keep the color temperature around neutral, but by moving it a bit (not too much, of course) you can achieve a stunning seasonal feel.
If we look at the two photos below, we can feel that the one on the right is really warm. I achieved that both with editing and adding candlelight to the photo. On the other hand, the photo on the right feels cooler and we can guess that this is a winter dish.
By adding the ingredients that are in season we can really tell the viewer which season it is as long it makes sense to the scene. In this cherry ice cream sandwich photo, I added a few cherries around the sandwiches to show what’s inside the ice cream and to show that it’s cherry season!
4. Story – Props
We can also tell the story about the season with props. You can use pans or utensils, that we usually use during a certain season… like snowflake cookie cutters in the Winter.
Or you can even use props that aren’t necessarily connected with food, like in the photo below (on the right), where I added Christmas decorations to show that this is a Christmas recipe.
In the photo on the left, I’ve used a teapot and some cocoa and marshmallows to give us a sense of Winter, but also the shape of the cookies can give us the idea.
The most obvious light situation that shows the difference between seasons in soft and harsh light. There are many more sunny days in the Summer than in any other season. So we immediately connect harsh light with Summer. Like in the two photos below. The harsh shadows give the Summer afternoon feel.
Dark and moody photos are also more associated with colder seasons and light and airy with the warm part of the year, but that’s also a personal style. You can make both for any season using all other techniques!
6. Make the dish seasonal
I left this one for the end since I think it’s a no brainer. If you have a photo of Christmas cookies and make everything else look like it’s actually summer, the photo will fail. Unless it’s some kind of artistic decision, it’s probably not going to look great.
To wrap things up…
There are so many ways to throw your viewers in a time period. It’s usually a mix of more techniques or a lot of the time all of them. I hope I gave you some ideas. If you try any of these, please tag #useyournoodles so I can see it!
https://www.useyournoodles.eu/wp-content/uploads/Achieve-Seasonal-Feel-In-Your-Food-Photography-cover.jpg16531102Anja Burgarhttps://www.useyournoodles.eu/wp-content/uploads/logo_NEWW.pngAnja Burgar2019-12-10 14:31:522020-08-18 15:47:13How To Achieve Seasonal Feel In Your Food Photography
Watch my food styling process of this shrimp pasta dish from start to finish in a time-lapse.
Hi guys! I finally managed to get a video of my food styling process up. For those of you who are following me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this video of me styling this delicious Shrimp Pasta. However, I wanted to explain more about the process, so stick around.
How I Start My Food Styling Process?
First things first – a concept! And a story. I think this is the most important thing in any food photography since it gives you or whoever is photographing the grounds to take a good photo. If you are not familiar with how to form a story or a concept you can get my Free Photoshoot Planning Worksheet and it’ll guide you through this process. Super easy and quick, but I can’t stress enough how important it is.
Second, I draw sketches which I also help you with, in my worksheet. In the photo below you can see a few sketches I made for this photoshoot. I try to think about angles that work for the dish I’m shooting and the compositions that will support my story.
While I sketch, I usually decide on the props, although I change them during the photoshoot if it turns out they didn’t fit the story or they don’t pair well with the dish.
Do I follow the sketches 100%?
Nope. Definitely not! The sketches I make are my starting point and my guideline for the photoshoot. They serve so I can get a great composition quicker and to focus on textures and the story. I change things up a lot during the photoshoot. I start placing the larger objects where I draw them on the sketch and then follow with the smaller ones.
A lot of the times it turns out the smaller ones need to be placed in another position for many different reasons. For example, I don’t always draw the correct size of the props and when they are placed in that position they look awkward. I either change the prop or change the composition.
How Do I work My Time Frame?
As you probably know, photographing food and styling requires a lot of time management skills. I usually make a mental note of a good old paper note about how I wanna time my process.
When does a particular part of the dish need to be cooked?
Which props and food I can place before even starting to cook or while I cook something that takes a long time and doesn’t need me to stand next to the stove?
Which foods need to wait until the very last minute to be placed on the set and how I’m going to keep it looking fresh until then?
How fast do I need to work the camera? Is my food going to melt fast? Is it gonna get cold and unappetizing? How can I fix that?
These are all questions I ask myself before even starting to cook.
So How About Styling This Shrimp Pasta?
I styled this set in three stages.
The first stage was before I even prepped food for cooking because pasta cooks quickly and needs to be served right away. And the type of sauce I used can wait, it needs to be cooked at the same time as the pasta. I only placed props on the set, no food. I set the food next to the set.
Second, was while my pasta was just before cooking. I wanted my props to look as fresh as possible so I didn’t want them to sit on the set for longer than needed.
The third was placing pasta on the set and moving quickly so it doesn’t start to look dull.
I hope you enjoyed this short food styling tutorial and time-lapse. And remember, it all starts with planning!
https://www.useyournoodles.eu/wp-content/uploads/how-i-styled-shrimp-pasta-time-lapse_small.jpg15001000Anja Burgarhttps://www.useyournoodles.eu/wp-content/uploads/logo_NEWW.pngAnja Burgar2019-07-17 05:42:322019-09-17 11:22:47How I Styled Shrimp Pasta – A Time-Lapse
When it comes to money I make sure to spare as much as possible for stuff that matters. Don’t get me wrong backdrops matter a lot. But in my humble opinion, there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there’s no need to go for expensive stuff. I’d much rather spend money on quality ingredients or a good photography lens than a backdrop because as you’ll see in this article, cheap backdrops are all around us. You’ll probably find at least five immediately after you finish reading this.
Let’s dive right into it! Where can you find all the cheap stuff I’m talking about? Here are some of the cheap backdrops I use…
1. Reclaimed Wood
We all love the texture of wood. It adds such a nice rustic character and warmth to a photo. I really only have two reclaimed wooden pieces that were used by my dad at his construction job, but I can tell you those are my two favorite pieces. Whenever I have a very homey dish I resort to a reclaimed wood because it adds a lovely story to my images.
The beauty of reclaimed wood is that it naturally has desaturated hues which are perfect for food photography. New wood often has a very orangey saturated colors not very fit for food photography.
Many times people want to get rid of the old wood and they’ll give it for free or a few bucks
These days you can get tiles that are HUGE! I’ve seen tiles measure 1x1m!!!
What is more, you can get tiles for really cheap. I paid 10€ (about 11$) for the tile below. It measures 60x60cm and I love working with it because it is very easy to clean, looks beautiful and it really isn’t that heavy.
One thing to look for when tile shopping is matte finnish. Luckily it’s the era of matte tiles so that’s not really a huge issue 🙂
3. Fabric Backdrops
I love how versatile fabric backdrops are. So many options here:
One thing to look for in a fabric that you use for food photography is texture. Some of the best options are linen, lace, wool or anything with thick weave or interesting texture or pattern.
Although fabric such as linen is not cheap per se, you can get smaller pieces such as teatowels or napkins for a very good price.
4. Old Metal Trays
If you were thinking of throwing out your old baking trays think again! They are one of the most beautiful and most inexpensive backdrops. The more scratched and stained the better 😀 I bet your grandma has a bunch of them just waiting to be photographed. Second-hand shops are perfect for buying metal trays. Look for vintage trays with scratches, patina, and textures that are not too shiny. One extra plus is that metal trays can be used from both sides and chances are the two sides look completely different. So you got two backdrops in one. WIN!
But here’s the trick. You can make any new baking tray look used. With a bit of experimenting, some baking and scratching you can make your own old metal tray. Stay tuned for a tutorial!
It doesn’t get cheaper than paper. Look around your house and try to find paper like:
I love to crumple up baking paper or paper bags to add some texture oherwise they make look a little flat.
When using newspaper, old photographs or wrapping paper with a very distinctive pattern, make sure they are in line with the story you want to portray and don’t overshine our main subject.
6. Vinyl Backdrops
Even though I don’t use vinyl backdrops, I have a few good ones. My absolute favorite is my vinyl marble backdrop. Marble is SUPER expensive and not to mention it’s also very heavy.
When you’re buying vinyl make sure they are matte because they can cast strange reflections when shot from the side. I mostly use them for flatlays, because I like my backdrops to have some sort of texture and shooting from the side makes it quite obvious that the vinyl is flat. For marble that’s not really important as it is flat anyway. But I’m careful about using vinyl backdrops with motives that scream texture but are otherwise flat.
7. DIY Backdrop
Making your own food photography backdrop does take a little time, but you can have whatever you need in the size that you need. And it’s really cheap!
All you need is some plywood or some sort of similar wooden board, some paint, a brush or a sponge and maybe some tile grout for extra texture. If you’re interested in making your own backdrop but not sure how to start, keep an eye on an article in the near future. I’ve got you covered! But just to show you a few of mine that I made using different techniques.
UPDATE: To learn how to make your own DIY backdrop head over to my YouTube.
8. Food and Unusual Objects
I’m pretty sure that you can find some unusual objects around the house that would make perfect backdrops. Look for interesting colors, shapes, textures, patterns, anything that would make your food pop.
And food! Food is a great backdrop for food. When it makes sense. Think about the dish you’re shooting and if there are any ingredients that would look great placed under your subject. Some ideas are greens, sugar, flour, spices…
Now go off and find some cheap food photography backdrops
Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to look for new interesting backdrops that don’t cost a fortune. In the flood of perfect shots, we (including me!) tend to think ‘Oh, I don’t have enough backdrops or enough fancy props’ but the reality is that you can use what you’ve got already. When you’re feeling constrained and challenged the most beautiful things will come out.
When I’m writing this in May 2019 I own a total of two reclaimed wooden backdrops, two two-sided backdrops that I made myself, a tile, a small wooden backdrop that I made from new wood and colored it and three vinyl backdrops. This is not a lot, but I can get so so many different styling with them when I’m combining them with other cheap backdrops that I mentioned in this article. I also don’t have a ton of props, but I can manage. What’s gonna make you a good photographer is understanding the light, your subject, composition, styling the dish… not the props you own!
Hi, it’s your food photography sidekick Anja!
I am so happy you popped into my world of food photography, where I share my top tips to learn food photography, styling, and business for aspiring and established photographers, bloggers and creatives who are primarily focused on photographing food and drinks.