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Bulalo with rice all you can
Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 3 comments

I haven't had the chance to update my blog yet again because I've been working on some interesting new projects that's going to really make the coming months busier.

But I had the opportunity to do some food photography recently--on white plate which I think is the perfect canvass for bringing out the beautiful colors of food--and I would like to share some of my personal thoughts on it. I am in no way an expert at it, the only food photography I've done so far are from restaurant openings I've covered and of course, for the menu and tarpaulin of our restaurant Dex N Mut -- best bulalo in town. Now, the photos there are from three years ago and I think I've gotten just a bit better, hopefully.

So what makes good food photos? In my mind, the idea should always be "make the photo delicious enough to eat". It's a tough task believe me based on some of the photos I see in most restaurants nowadays. I've even heard some few years back that the really professional ones would ask the chef to create the specific dishes to be photographed without regard for the taste. Just make it "look" delicious.

Much like in any area of photography, keep clicking that shutter button until you feel that you've gotten it right. Those who have a natural eye for it will know.

Sometimes it can be too bright
Sometimes it can be too dark
But sometimes, you get it right

There are certain dishes that look better up close. So don't be afraid to cut the subject so long as you are able to show the finer details of the dish. Those ingredients aren't there by mistake. As a photographer, always consider why the chef decided to add this or that.


And then there are dishes that have 2 or more elements. It all depends on what plating technique the chef used. Which to highlight depends on you entirely as a photographer but it's always good to consult the chef. Know, however, that the meat (chicken, fish, beef, etc.) should always be considered as the main attraction in a plated dish.

When I took the photo above, I really wanted to emphasize the color and texture of the meat. Was I concerned that the elements behind became nothing more than design in the photo? Of course! But I felt that the subject I focused on was prepared fairly well and it was enough to sell the dish, leaving the elements behind as an added surprise to be discovered.

But if you really have to be OC about it, you can always take two photos with one focused on the foreground and another focused on the background.

As for the dish above, I just wasn't happy with the angle in the first photo no matter how many times I took it. So I turned the plate around and focused on the other element instead and the photo came out just to my liking.

When it comes to reflections, glares, and "hot spots", I personally don't mind it. I feel that, as well as with shadows, it adds another dimension to the photo and gives it an "as is" feeling. 

But consider the photo below:

The glare in the photo above cuts into an element of the dish, in this case, the vegetable. Be wary of that when reviewing pictures in your camera. If you spot something like that, a little change in the angle helps, as in the photo below:

The glare is still there but in a different area of the plate.

Some final thoughts: if you feel that a food looks dry in person, it will look dry in a picture. Consider the photo below:

It may be just me but I don't find the dish above delectable at all. Everything about it looks dry even with the blotches on the side. The roll looks so dry that it reminds me of dried skin. The leaves beneath it are so dry I would probably swipe it to the side of the plate if I'm served this dish. Perhaps it would have looked a bit better if it's as brown as the one on the right. As far as looks go, I'd probably pass on this. 

As a point of comparison, the two dishes below doesn't look as dry: 

A little technique I've learned along the way is by adding some olive oil. Or maybe a glaze, depending on the dish. Having those around during a shoot helps.

Treat the food as if it were works of art. A lot of thought goes into it and chefs are aware of these things. For them, the plate is their canvass and as a photographer, it is your duty to honor that.

I'll try to come up with another post on shooting desserts so please watch out for that.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below. I'd appreciate input from professional food photographers. Or if you just like this post, let me know as well and feel free to share it via Facebook or Twitter. :)

3 Responses so far.

  1. Yummy photos! Keep it up! :) I still have a lot to learn about food photography, but I could say I'm getting better. :)

  2. DX says:

    Hi Michymichymoo! thanks for dropping by and for the comment :) glad you like the photos and i look forward to your food photo posts :)

  3. You can check my blog for that. ;)

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