1. Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a fundamental composition technique used in all photography. To use this technique, imagine that your picture is divided into nine equal parts divided by a grid system. Where the grid lines intersect are your “focal” points. Place the main object in your image on the intersected lines. You can take it a step farther and place the object in your image 2/3 up, 1/3 over, 2/3 down, 1/3 over, or vice versa. This tip can be summed up in one word - off-center. 1
Image credits- http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/
I actually picked up this tip from the fashion industry. When models pose for photographs, the pictures that come across best on camera and in advertisements are the pictures that are not stagnant or appear staged. They have a natural flow to them. The models/objects appear to be in “movement.” This concept is often evident in general print advertisements. To apply this concept for our purpose - food - pictures should have elements that make the image appear alive - crumbs, drips, drizzles, napkins that look naturally tossed on the table, utensils in motion, etc. Messes seem to garner the best responses.
This is where you can really have fun with making your picture come together. As with garnishes for your dishes, props are the garnishes to your picture. This tip goes in conjunction to the above trick of natural movement. You want the viewer to drool and feel as if they are experiencing enjoying the meal with you. Props include backdrops, cutlery, cookware, and the countertop or surface you are using. A lot of the choices you’ll make with regards to your selection of props will be based on your preferences or items that you already have in your kitchen. I recently was drooling over the idea of having a marble surface and checked out a local habitat for humanity resale store and was able to get marble tiles for $0.50 per tile. You don't have to spend a ton to get props you love. Another tip for a wood backdrop is to find a wood pallet that your local grocery store is trashing, pull off the top wood planks, apply a milk paint or wood lacquer of choice and for less than $20 you have given a new look to your photos. Garage sales are another great way to acquire props. Also, for the towels and linen napkins you see in a lot of the photos on Instagram, you can purchase less than one yard from a fabric store and now have that prop. Either as students starting a website to use as a portfolio or as an RD wanting to revamp their website, changing the props is a quick and easy way to completely change the look of the pictures.
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This should be the easiest tip of all, but with light (foot candles) output changing per season and also based on your personal living arrangements, lighting can be trickier than you think. Natural light is the preference. It enhances the colors of the produce naturally and provides a warm tone to the pictures that based on studies is more appealing.
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If you live in an apartment that does not get a lot of natural light, you can use a fluorescent lamp which will help brighten up your image. They can be purchased at any camera store, but Walmart sells a package for under $100.
Just like with any form of social media (especially Facebook), what you post is seen by everyone. As an RD2BE, you have the opportunity to use your food photography images as a “visual resume.” Your images represent your food philosophies, your personal eating habits, and your future career path as an RD. Do you post images for individuals with food allergies or are you more of the mind set that moderation is key. We all eat a donut and pizza now an again, but be cognizant of what your images are “saying to a potential client.”
This tip will be in constant flux and the most challenging of all to keep up with. Being on trend is work and maintaining your personal vision within each image adds to the complexity. This is where image editing is key. Focus on who your target audience is when selecting the images you want to post. Most often, out of 20 pictures, one will fit your vision. To find out what’s on trend, visit Instagram and the websites of food magazines. Magazines must stay on trend and you are simply picking up on the research and marketing analysis they paid a PR firm to do for them.
Magazine and website sources -