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Tricks Of The Trade: Food Photography

Clair Irwin is a Glasgow based food photographer and stylist with experience in hospitality spanning 20 years and she came to chat to us about how to style and take great photos in your restaurant.


"Great food photography in the restaurant trade is crucial, not only does it entice your customers through the door, with the use of social media your beautifully crafted plates of food can be seen by a much wider audience. Appealing and appetising food photography means more than just snapping what’s on the plate. Just like any other photography genre, there are certain rules that you need to follow. When you spend so much time on presentation, taking an extra few steps on your i-phone can really elevate your shots to the next level. Tip 1: Natural Light The best kind of light for food photography is soft, diffused, natural daylight. An artificial light will cast an orange/yellow colour on your food making it unappetising. Take the plate out of the kitchen and set it up near a window, avoiding direct sunlight as this will create harsh shadows. You can control the exposure on your phone much like on a DSLR camera. When you open the camera app, focus on your subject manually with the touch of your finger. You should see a little sun appear. If you slide your finger up and down the small bar that appears, you can control the amount of light in your photo even before you take the picture. Tip 2: Propping and styling Staying true to the style of your restaurant is the key here. Find your style and stick to it. A crisp white table cover and white plate will let your food do the talking and give the feeling of a fine dining restaurant. To add interest try pulling in napkins, wine glasses and cutlery. Having a signature pop of colour works really well for social media (see Julie's Kopitiam and Alchemilla's Instagram accounts). Using the same tabletop, whether it be rustic wood or coloured Formica can give your social media account a cohesive feel. Tip 3: Angles and composition Keep it simple! Think about which angle to shoot from to make the most of the subject. Shooting from above or 'top-down' is often the best choice with a phone camera, especially when the food is arranged on a plate or bowl. Shooting from above has several benefits. It allows you to include all the details of the food and the background, and it emphasizes the bold shapes of the dishes, cutlery and other objects within the scene. Using the grid setting will ensure your lines are straight, on an iPhone, you can find the "grid" toggle in your photo and camera settings. However, if you're shooting a sandwich or burger you'll want to get all the filling so you'll want to shoot from one side (remember to shoot against a neutral background such as a wall). When composing your food photos, consider leaving some negative space around the plate so that it doesn’t fill the entire frame. Experiment with the placement of your focal dish, it doesn't heave to be front and centre. Tip 4: Editing Using image editing apps like VSCO and Snapseed can help to pop the colour of your food, adjust the lighting or add a vignette, but go easy! I often just use these apps to adjust the white-balance (or temperature). I also adjust the saturation and contrast sliders to add a subtle boost of vitality."


Here are some examples of good photos and bad by Clair:

GOOD (GREAT)


NOT SO GOOD


We thank Clair for taking the time to chat to us and share some of her skills.

You can find out more about her work, including how to hire her right here: https://www.clairirwinphotography.com/

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