This last week was the final week of my Sears Food Photography class. Looking back, I realize how much I’ve learned and what an amazing opportunity this was for me and my blog. This week I was asked to choose my ten best photos that I’ve submitted over the duration of the course. This post serves as my portfolio for the course. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to choose the best but I’ve finally narrowed it down to ten that I feel represent all that I’ve learned. (Check out Week 1, Week 2,Week 3, and Week 4, Week 5, and Week 6 if you’re just joining in.)
Perspective and lighting were two of the biggest challenges for me during this course. I have a tendency to take photos straight on and by tilting the camera just a little and taking photos from a different angle you can really draw the viewer into your photo by making it more inviting and welcoming.
One of my top ten has to be this picture of my fabulous new grill. I still can’t get over how gorgeous it is! The knobs, the stainless steel grates, she’s a beauty for sure! I love the way the light plays off of the surface and the angle the grill takes in the image. Very nice!
This image was from Week 4 and I love the grill marks on the pineapple. I also used optical zoom to soften the background and keep the focus on the pineapples. These shots were taking on the grill with an umbrella creating some shade.
This next image comes from Week 5 where the focus was on plating and creating a scene using props. Anything besides for the main attraction (in this case the Shrimp Quesadillas) is a prop. This includes the plate, napkin, placemat, limes, salsa, and guacomole. Overly propped? I don’t think so. The colors are a great complement to the quesadillas and really make the image pop. In fact, despite the bright colors, I find this particular image to be very soothing. One thing to note is the symmetry between the line of the plate and the line of the top quesadailla. This picture was taken indoors next to a window. As it turns out, that is the best place to take photographs indoors because the window helps to diffuse the light. I used a bounce card for this image to help bounce the light back to the right side of the plate. A bounce card can be anything white (poster board, foam board, whatever you have).
This photo was taken indoors near a window. I love the bright colors of the veggies, the texture of the place mat and the way the napkin colors plays off the colors of the peppers. There are a lot of angles in this image that are very pleasing to me a well.
This view is straight down from the top and I really love how it showcases the clean lines of the plates and also the bright, vivid colors from the pizza. The yellow placemat complements the pineapple and is the perfect contrasts to the red and green from the pizza and salad.
I think this particular image is one of my best staged shots. I love the pop of colors and I think it really draws the viewer in. I want YOU to want to be here, eating with me!
I had some super yummy grilled pizza as you can see here. I think this image is gorgeous. Don’t you want to pick up that pizza wheel and dive right in? I love the colors and the curve of the pizza that mirrors the curve of the pizza wheel. This image was taken outside under our covered patio.
Throughout the course we were to be taking pictures of food on the grill. Capturing the flame in this image was awesome and I love how it’s the same color as the shrimp.
One of the many things I learned during this course was the difference between digital zoom and optical zoom. Digital zoom occurs when you crop your photo using software. Optical zoom takes place when you zoom in on a subject using your camera. Another topic was focus. Images can be blurred in the foreground or background depending on what specific point you are focusing on in your image. In this particular photograph, the foreground (the cake) is blurred while the stack of plates is the focus point.
This picture was taken during Week 6 where we were to photograph a get-together from start to finish. This image is from my sister’s birthday party. I love pretty much everything about this image. The flame reflects on the point of this course – grilling, the reflection of the flame on the shredded coconut, the colors of the candles and pecans…this image takes me right back to this particular moment and it’s very special.
Those were my ten favorite images and now I want to share the ten most important lessons I learned during this course with you:
1. Path to Purchase Photography:
~background should be uncluttered to allow focus on the subject
~zoom camera to make the background softer and cleaner
~photograph in softer lighter if possible
~incorporate branding and store signage when possible so the viewer knows where you are shopping
~photograph from a variety of angles – images are free to take!
2. Product Photography:
~the product should be front and center
~zoom in on the product to make the background softer and pull the focus to the product
~use props with caution – avoid distracting the viewer!
3. Avoid direct sunlight when photographing outdoors because it can lead to poor shadow detail and unflattering images of high contrast. The perfect time to photograph outdoors is on a cloudy, bright day, partly sunny, or if all else fails, shoot in the shade! This is what I had to do throughout the course and I used an umbrella when shooting grill images and moved to the covered patio for food shots.
4. The rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is pretty simple – break down an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically creating 9 parts. The points of interest should be where the intersections are located. Here’s an image to help you understand:
I have circled the intersecting points so you can see where the points of interest are on this image. The idea behind the rule of thirds is that when the subject is placed on the intersecting points of interest the photo will be balanced and will be more pleasing to the viewer. You can visualize these points while taking your shot or use your camera’s cross-hairs.
5. Utilizing a variety of angles for food photography. When I started this course if you would have asked me how many angles there are to shoot food at I would have guessed around four. Not so my friends! Here is a run-down of some of the angles you can use in food photography:
Straight On: The camera is completely centered to the subject creating a very clean look..
From Above: Center the camera directly above the subject to create a graphic and contemporary image.
Tilt Towards: Camera is tilted to the right making the subject of the image tilt counterclockwise. This helps the subject appear more welcoming so the viewer really gets drawn in to the image.
Above with Perspective: Position the camera in front of the subject and slightly above. When you till the camera up the subject will fill the frame.
Diagonal: The camera is turned so the subject starts in one corner and ends in the opposite corner.
Gentle Tilt: Tilting the camera slightly to the left pull the subject away from the viewer and engages the viewer inviting them to follow along.
Close Up: This is how I commonly shoot food – get right up there and get close to your food.
Respect to line: Find a line in your subject and then align the edge of the frame with that line. This can be challenging but once you’ve found that line in one subject, it gets easier and easier and you’ll be looking through your viewfinder with a whole new purpose.
6. White balance. This may have been the trickiest lesson in the class for me. White balance is the adjustment a digital camera makes that allows objects that are really white to appear white, making every other color also appear in their true color. Lighting sources can change the hue of an image and while most cameras have an auto white balance setting, sometimes a custom setting should be used. Check your camera for the settings offered and use them when needed.
7. Lighting. This is the single most important aspect in any photograph. The better your lighting, the higher quality of image you will get. Here are a few tips:
~Photograph near a window when shooting indoors. The window will diffuse the light creating a large light source.
~Reflecting light from the window creates an additional light source. Use of a bounce card or a mirror can add texture and interest to your food.
~Backlighting and side lighting allows for more texture in your image. Never light from the front!
8. Use of Props. Props help set the mood for the image and must complement the food being photographed. Successfully used props add to the overall image and will highlight the food. Everything in an image that is not the main subject is to be considered a prop (cutlery, plates, napkins, etc.). Using white plates helps keep the focus on the main dish. Be careful not to over-prop! After setting the scene, evaluate which props are adding to the image and which are extraneous.
9. Backgrounds should be very clean and plain to keep the focus on the subject of the image. The background will help in setting the mood but shouldn’t distract the viewer.
10. Take more pictures than you think you need! In the digital age, pictures are free so take as many as you can from all different angles, propped in a variety of ways. You can always delete the pictures later and you never know when that perfect photo is going to happen!
I have learned so much during the past 7 weeks and I hope you have too! This course would not have been possible without Sears so a huge thank you to them and to Social Fabric University!
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Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears #CBias #GrillingIsHappiness. All photos and opinions are my own.