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5 Tips for Photographing Food in Restaurants

5 Tips for Photographing Food in Restaurants

Have you ever been in a restaurant with a meal that looked so delicious that you wanted to take a picture of it to upload to Facebook, Twitter, or even your blog… but when you tried to capture the essence of your delicious-looking food, you ended up getting nothing but disappointment? Well, you’re certainly not alone. Often times, taking photos of food in restaurants turns out to be a very difficult job. Here are five tips to help you be more successful in taking a photograph of your food the next time around:

1. Try for diffused, natural sunlight. The best way to end up with great photos is to shoot with indirect sunlight, meaning sunlight that is diffused by some object. For example, this could be taking a photo at an outdoor table with an umbrella, with the umbrella acting as the diffuser for the sunlight. If there are no outdoor tables available, or if the weather is not permitting, try to get a table right next to a window instead.

2. Use a fast lens. This is especially useful when there is no sunlight available, and you are forced to use the restaurant’s indoor lighting. Point-and-shoot cameras aren’t going to be much use in this situation. To take a great photo indoors with dim lighting, your best bet is to use a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, which has the ability to swap lenses. Although there are several camera brands and models to choose from, it is the lens that is what really matters. You want a fast lens, meaning a lens that lets in a lot of light and has a large aperture - f1.8 or f2.8 is ideal, and anything above f4.0 is going to give you quite a bit of trouble, unless you have image stabilization (IS) on your lens. 

3. Use image preview. Unfortunately, this is a feature of almost all point-and-shoot cameras, but not many DSLR cameras. Whenever possible, using image preview is a very good idea. You don’t have to hold the camera up to your face to take your picture, as you can simply look at the LCD screen on the back of the camera to focus your shot.

4. Shoot at table level, and get close to your food. Rather than shooting at eye level, you should try to take your picture at an angle that is about 10-20 degrees from the table. In addition, get in close to your food in order to eliminate distractions in the background. Taking both of these factors into consideration will help to make your food look much more attractive to viewers.

5. Don’t use a built-in flash. Using a built-in flash tends to flatten the image, causing it to look dull. In order to avoid this, try using one of the other methods mentioned above before resorting to your built-in flash.

Taking pictures of your food inside a restaurant may be tricky, but it is certainly not impossible. Before becoming too discouraged with your food photography, try these five simple tips to snap the perfect photo of your delicious-looking food!


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