“I love food photography that is real, looks in-context, and not staged. It feels warm, welcoming, like you would really eat it. I love when food looks the way it looks. That sounds silly, but a lot of food photography will show you the most perfect piece of pie. No cracks, no flaws, no crumbs. Editing or removing these natural elements makes the photo feel unobtainable and a bit sterile. When styling for our books, I love showing how it is. The crust may crumble, as it should, and I think that makes for a beautiful photo.” – Adia Benson, chef
Behind-the-Scenes Cookbook Food Styling Tips
What colors and shapes are most visually appealing for food?
What tricks would surprise a home cook? (Do they really put glue in the food to make it shiny?)
How can you make food look inviting?
Use your hands, add a lot of sauce so that it spills over and is visible, toss with herbs, take the time to toast something to a perfect golden brown, and flavor your food. Just because you can’t eat the photo doesn’t mean you won’t know deep down what it really tastes like. Cook good food, and the photo will show it.
Is there a cookbook that you’ve always found visually striking or inspirational?
Some of the best cookbooks do not have photos! And on the flip side some of my favorite cookbooks I only have because of the photos. I own books that are aspirational, striking, yet nothing I cook or aim to accomplish necessarily, for example the Alinea cookbook, or Fables, a book by Christian Etienne. I think Ina Garten’s books are pretty, I feel like I am in her home instead of a studio, and those recipes I know I could make 🙂
Bonus! Technical Tips from Our Food Photographer: Megan
- Editorial food photography has really been leaning toward natural light lately. Natural light is what most people have on hand, and its a beautiful light source to work with, sometimes unpredictable, but depending on how it’s used, its almost always attractive.
- In almost any situation, food shouldn’t be shot straight on with the light source (called flat lighting). It’s unflattering and just plain boring. When I shoot food it’s mostly from the side, or even backlit with a reflector. I almost always use some sort of reflector to fill in the extra light and bounce it back onto my subject.
- As far as overall technical, I tend to shoot with a wider open aperture on a prime lens, I like the DOF and it make images a bit more creamy. But I also have to be careful to nail my focus, sometimes having to close down just to make sure important details are in focus.