Find out how I composed these food photos - Let's break them down!

1. Food photography is becoming more popular in Malaysia with the existence of many food delivery service companies. More and more restaurant & cafe owners understand the need to have a professional & visually good looking food photos to promote their brand with the objective to attract more customers to their restaurants or website.


2. Today I will share with you, how I composed a few of my food photos. We will breakdown and analyse composition elements such as arrangement, lighting, placement & positioning and framing.


3. You may use these guides, the next time you take your own food photo or when dealing with a professional photographer that you hire.


CHICKEN WINGS & DRUMMETS

THE MAIN SUBJECT

4. In this photo the main subjects are the 3 items placed in hot plates. They will be the main focus in the image. They are positioned in a triangle orientation to maintain a continuous eyes focus and movement.




THE SUPPORTING ELEMENTS

5. The supporting elements in this photo are indicated in purple. Supporting elements normally tells more about the main subject. Here the supporting elements are some of the ingredients used to prepare the food. This element will trigger the imagination of the viewer on how the food tastes.


In this photo, the supporting elements include the different sauces which accompany the main dish.

RULE OF THIRDS & GOLDEN POINTS

6. In photography, there are composition rules called Rule of Thirds & Golden Points. Points of interest in photo are usually placed along the red lines & the Golden Point.


The red lines divide the image into 3 segments vertically & horizontally.

Golden Points are where these lines meet (indicated in orange circles).


In this image, each hot plate touches 3 Golden Points while the 4th Point is occupied by a supporting element, the garlic.

FRAMING

7. The next composition element is framing. Framing is a technique on how to control & maintain the visual focus towards the main subject. In this photo the supporting elements are placed surrounding the main subject.


Notice the chopping board & the tea towel are also used to create dividing space between the 3 main subjects.


LIGHTING

8. One of the key composition element in a photo is how we light the subjects. In this photo, only one light source is used. Th elight comes from a studio light placed at an angle coming from the top right corner of the image.


A hard light is used to create darker shadow effect for a more dramatic look. Darker shadows define the shape of the hot plates better. It also creates more contrast between the background & the main subjects.


CHERRIES

THE MAIN SUBJECT

9. For this photo, I try to be as simple & minimal as possible. The main subject in this photo are the cherries. The cherries are placed in the centre of the image. However, the arrangement is asymmetric as I wanted to create a more dynamic look visually, and make the viewers' eyes continue to move around the image. Notice also not all of the cherries are on the plate. I placed 2 cherries outside of the plate to create more visual dynamic.

THE SUPPORTING ELEMENTS

10. This time the supporting elements used are a bit different from the Chicken Wings image above. I no longer use ingredients as cherries are not cooked items. So the supporting props that I used are more towards functionality, a fork and a maroon tea towel.


The maroon tea towel was chosen to match the red colour of the cherries.


RULE OF THIRDS & GOLDEN POINTS

11. This time for visual interest, the tip pf the fork falls on the 1st Golden Point & the other Golden Points are occupied by the cherries.


Notice also how I placed the towel along the top third of the image and left the bottom third black which is also with a different texture.

FRAMING

12. The towel and the fork are placed in a way to surround and contain the visual attention towards the cherries.


Visually our eyes will move from the top left corner then move towards the front and falls on the 2 cherries at the bottom right of the image.


LIGHTING

13. LIghting this image is a little different from the Chicken Wings above. Here 2 light sources were used. The main light comes from the top left corner. It light is a diffused light used to create a softer shadow effect.


The second light is from the front (in the direction of the dotted line arrow). This second light is to fill in the shadows on the cherries to make the cherries a little brighter.


ROTI PARATHA

THE MAIN SUBJECT

14. This photo was for a Indian Restaurant and was used in a food delivery service app.


The 2 main subjects, Roti Paratha and the Chicken Curry were placed in a diagonal orientation figure of 8 to create visual movement & dynamics.


THE SUPPORTING ELEMENTS

15. This time, apart from the ingredients used in the dish, I placed a Saree in the photo. One of the function of the Saree was to support the Indian Dish theme. The 2nd function of the Saree is for framing which will be discussed below.




RULE OF THIRDS & GOLDEN POINTS

16. The Golden Points are occupied by part of the Roti Paratha and the Curry Chicken.







FRAMING

17. The Paratha & the Curry Chicken are framed in a circular orientation. It starts from the Curry & moves in a circle along the path of the spices.


The 2nd function of the saree is for framing the Paratha.



LIGHTING

18. LIghting position for this photo is similar to the cherries photo above. However the difference is the power of the light. This photo is made to be brighter on order to show more the the food.





MORE CHICKEN WINGS & DRUMMETS

THE MAIN SUBJECT

19. This photo was for the same client as the Chicken Wing photo above but is was shot many months apart.


The main subject is a plate of Chicken Wings in the front. Immediately it creates visual attention as the colour & the size create immediate focus.


THE SUPPORTING ELEMENTS

20. The supporting elements surround the main subject. The 1st supporting elements are the other combo items in the menu. They are additional items for the menu such as drinks, fries & drummets.


The 2nd supporting items are chilli flakes & lime. They create visual enhancement on the taste of the food.


RULE OF THIRDS & GOLDEN POINTS

21. All the elements are placed very close together along the lines & also touching the Golden Points. This is to create & maintain visual interest & centre of focus.





FRAMING

22. This photo does not use much extra elements for framing. However, visually the subject elements are contained within the boundaries indicated by the green lines.





LIGHTING

23. Main lighting is from the back and front light acts as a fill light to fill in the shadow areas.







PREMIUM DURIAN MOCHI

THE MAIN SUBJECT

24. The main subject in the photo is the Durian Mochi place on a sushi slate plate. The idea is to create a Japanese theme photo as Mochi is a Japanese dessert. To support the theme, I used Sushi Slates, chopsticks, Sakura flowers & petals, bamboo place mat & geometric pattern tea towel as props.


THE SUPPORTING ELEMENTS

25. All the props used are considered supporting elements. They support the theme as well as for framing.


Apart from those props, The product box & the Musang King durian is also considered the supporting elements as they provide more information about the Mochi.


RULE OF THIRDS & GOLDEN POINTS

26. The main subject & secondary subjects are placed along the dividing lines to create centre of focus.







FRAMING

27. While the other props create a boundary surrounding the subjects to maintain visual attention.


The props used are also from neutral & pastel colours to avoid distracting the focus away from the main subjects.


LIGHTING

28. The scene is purposely made to look brighter to portray freshness & happy feelings, an emotion you get when you eat this dessert with the premium durian filling.





29. I hope that the sharing today is beneficial for you. Hopefully you can implement some of the guides (if not all) when taking your own food photos. Using the tips above will surely make your food photos look better. Happy trying...



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