1. Keep it simple.
For new food photographers it can be difficult to concentrate on the food and the photography simultaneously. This is especially true since most beginners don't have the luxury of a food stylist on set. “One solution,” Adams says, “is to chose simple food to begin so that you can concentrate on lighting, composition, and propping, and don't get bogged down with the food prep. When you get to more advanced food, get props and lighting in place first so you can concentrate on the food. We sometimes use stand-in food until the hero is prepared.”
Close focusing ability is crucial when working with food, so choosing the right lens is key. “A macro lens is a necessity for me,” Adams says. “It would be difficult to shoot food without one. I shoot with a view camera mostly, and the focal length I usually use is 150mm. The digital back is medium format, so that translates to a medium telephoto. On a 35mm camera, a slightly-longer-than-normal macro would be good. Then you don't have to get right in the plate to fill the frame.”
3. Experiment to find the right composition.
There’s no formula for finding the ideal camera angle and composition for food photography. That’s why Adams suggests experimentation and going with the flow. “The food helps determine the angle,” he says, “although there is often more than one good approach. A salad might be best from a low angle, so that you can get some light through the greens and have some depth. Something like a pizza might be better from the top, although there are always exceptions. Fashion enters into it, as you can see from many of the food publications. Overhead shots are in at the moment. Experimentation is helpful in selecting an angle.”
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