Food photography 101:
Living in Metro Vancouver for over 20 years has made me realize how lucky we are in terms of the restaurant dining experience. The vast number of restaurants represented by various cultures is staggering, as Google Maps can show you. Quality-wise, many popular local dining venues produce authentic dishes as good as the home country. An excellent example of this is whenever I go to my favourite local Japanese restaurant, the experience of tasting the fresh sushi served invokes the same fond memory during my year-long residency in Iwaki, Fukushima. Anyways, just writing about food is making me hungry again; let go back to the main topic of how to take food photos with your smartphone as I have listed four simple steps below:
Step 1 Lighting: Make sure that the food dish in front of you is lit up by only one type of lighting, as a mixture of warm ambient with excellent indoor lighting would make it look unappetizing. Whenever you are allowed to choose your restaurant table, sit near or far away from the window. Similarly, when taking pictures of the getting ready shot, I would often turn off all the indoor lighting and have the bride stand near the window. The soft ambient lighting from the window makes the bride and her dress even more beautiful.
Step 2 Removing distracting object(s): Before taking a photo of the food in front of you, remove any distracting things around it. Objects such as white napkins, knives and forks can distract the audience from the main dish itself. If messy sauces were on the plate, I would often use a napkin to wipe them down. Likewise, whenever I do a bridal party shoot, I will choose a pre-scouted location that is away from the crowds of people or distracting street signs, saving me so much time in post-editing.
Step 3 Using portrait mode: Many smartphones today would have more than one lens on them as one would be a wide lens that is often used for taking landscape photos and a zoom lens for shooting portraits. For example, when taking food photos, I would choose a zoom lens by selecting portrait mode, allowing me to emphasize the food more while blurring the background. Similarly, whenever I take a portrait shot of the bride or groom, I use an 85 mm or longer prime lens, with the aperture set to f 2.0 or lower to make the photos look more flattering.
Step 4 Using edit mode: Whether you have an iPhone or an Android smartphone, it would likely have a photo editing option. On my iPhone, the edit option is located in the upper right corner of the photo. Once in editing mode, you can adjust various parts of your image, including exposure, shadows, etc. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with each function, which helps make your food photos stand out even more.