How to photograph food: 10 tips from a professional food photographer

Revision gg went to a master class by Alexander Slyadnev, a world famous food photographer hailing from

Odessa, organized by Canon Master Club. If you diligently photograph your diet on Instagram for the sake of a grandmother or a girl, then the tips brought by us from the event will help you collect more likes and build up centimeters at the waist faster and more ferociously. Well, do not languish, read on soon!


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1. Get the right technique

The most important lens, according to the photographer.

Alexander only shoots on Canon equipment (otherwisewould, of course, we would see him at a master class under the patronage of some other brand of technology). In his opinion, the camera itself is of third importance, but lenses are all.

Telephoto lenses are suitable for shooting food. That is what is above 90 millimeters. Alexander Slyadnev has three lenses (apparently, he advises the same to you). The first is 90 millimeters of the Canon Tilt Shift. This is a lens that has a tilt angle. That is, it tilts, due to this, you can adjust the sharpness in the frame. The second lens is the Canon EF 100 mm f / 2.8 L IS USM Macro for shooting land and other small items. And the third lens is 135 millimeters. The photographer’s favorite lens, which gives the most perfect picture. For beginners Alexander, we recommend a 100 mm lens, then maybe 135, and the Tilt Shift is not suitable for everyone.

As for the cameras, Slyadnev has three of them. Mirror Canon 5D Mark, all good, only with a lens weighs 2 kilograms. Mirrorless Canon EOS M3, in addition to its small volume and weight, it has two more advantages - through a special adapter you can connect any lens from a professional line to it and, thanks to the presence of Wi-Fi, send a picture to a smartphone, and from there to Instagram. Well, the iPhone, if you have “straight” hands and knowledge of the iPhone technology, is also suitable, but to take food you should connect special lenses to it (this good can easily be found on the Internet today, the lenses should also be “tele”).

VSCO Cam is an excellent program for processing pictures taken on a smartphone.


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If you decide that a smartphone for food photography will be enough, try improving photos using this application. It is free, but it has paid content.

Download for iOS or Android.

2. Recommended settings: aperture 8, ISO 100 or 200, preferably using pulsed light

In most cases, Alexander takes off whenaperture 8 for sufficient sharpness throughout the picture, in rare cases, 5.6. Shoot in natural light, if several dishes are ahead, does not recommend, it can change many times. Pulse light is his advice for those who are serious about food and photography. In this case, it is worth setting ISO 100 or 200. If the pulsed light at home is forgotten, then ISO 400 - and go beyond the sun.

3. The atmosphere of the frame creates the background

Therefore, it must be carefully selected (ifthe waiter or your grandmother do not mind). A mirror surface, a beautiful plate, old wood and other “antiquities” that a photographer has to carry, beat off in rival fights at competitors in flea markets or store in expensive restaurants - all this will be useful for a novice food photographer. Without the right background, which somewhere will give the frame a touch of light, somewhere it will focus on how the product was created, somewhere it will hint at home comfort or a high level of the establishment, nowhere. More accessible about the background will be able to tell these photos.

4. The light should be soft so that the dish looks appetizing

All in order to make the food look natural. Therefore, direct sunlight in most cases is not suitable. To soften the light from the window, you can cover it with white parchment paper. Alexander takes 90% of his photographs with one light source.

5. The light should be behind the dish

It is advisable to be as close to it as possible. It is also desirable that the source is as wide as possible.

The dish, camera, light source and reflector should be positioned as shown on this slide.


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By the way, the photographer claims that professionalhe has no reflector. But the waiter or another very curious witness of what is happening (this is why the restaurant is better - in this situation your grandmother would have kicked in the neck and kicked out from the table!) With a sheet of paper A3 format. In special cases - with a sheet of food foil or foil packaging from salmon. Also, the waiter is a first-class replacement for a tripod that does not have to be carried around.

6. It is worth taking pictures of food at the angle from which we usually look at it

For an adult, it's about 45 degrees,in some cases - from above, for the child - it is from the side. We humans love our habits, and food taken against our habits to look at it will not look so attractive.

7. To build a composition in a frame, use the “golden section” rule and the “diagonal rule” (see slide)


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Composition is our everything, as well as the correct lens, light, background, foreshortening.

The golden ratio rule states that the frameit is conditionally necessary to divide into three unequal parts: two eighths, three eighths and three eighths. These imaginary lines are semantic horizons. Intersection points - semantic points in the frame. Hint No. 1: if the components of the dish or objects on the table do not fit the “golden ratio” rule, you can move them a little. But if the chef of the restaurant has worldwide recognition, Michelin stars and Oriental origin, there is a risk that the case will end in scandal and exile. Tip # 2: cameras usually have a mode in which lines are displayed. It should be used until a habit develops.

“The rule of diagonals” says that in order to be beautiful, food should be placed diagonally.

A few colorful shots to illustrate the above.

8. The number of objects in the frame should correspond to the Fibonacci numbers


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Fibonacci numbers are the order in which eachthe next number is equal to the sum of the two previous numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. The number of homogeneous objects in the frame should, according to the photographer, each time correspond to one of the numbers in the row so that the composition looks pleasant to the human eye. You can start with any number - at least from one, even from five.

9. Tell a story in every frame

Ideally, the content of the frame should giveuser additional information. For example, in this frame, which is an advertisement for a club of whiskey lovers, it indicates what kind of drink is in question (it looks like the right glass for whiskey and the correct serving of this drink, and not with ice or, God forbid, cola), on the status the audience (the man is dressed expensively and tastefully), and the atmosphere (a slightly unbuttoned shirt, a relaxed posture - a person is tired for a working day and can afford to relax in a pleasant company for a great drink).


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10. Post your photos on social networks, following Alexander’s example, on social networks after 18:00

If you put into practice all of the aboveadvice, but after that you were still not kicked out of the restaurant (or from your grandmother’s dacha), probably you still have a talent and the restaurant is pleased that you are enthusiastically photographing his dish. This good, of course, must be shared on social networks. The ideal time is after 6 pm. So the photos will look more attractive in the eyes of the starving and dieting and will cause more emotions from the audience. And you have every chance to become the star of the scandal and increase the attendance of the filmed institution.

P.S. Yes, and if you plan to take photos of food professionally, get ready to travel a lot and eat a lot

A suitcase weighing several tens of kilograms(a generator, a tripod, several lenses, a favorite background, a camera or two, a pair of T-shirts and shorts, and who knows what else), weeks and months of spending the night on airplanes and trains, but still extra pounds at the waist. Alas (or fortunately) the prose of the life of a food photographer is as follows.

How to shoot food