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How To Shoot Food Photography On Location

Chatting Food's photography expert Sam Peel takes you through tips for shooting on location.

When photographing on location there are four main aspects to consider and these are:

  • Capturing the atmosphere

  • Styling with props that link to the food & the environment

  • Taking a variety of angles

  • Using the lighting on location

You may ask what do I mean by these four points? Let me explain so that these can help with your own understanding and knowledge

Capturing The Atmosphere

When on any location, the atmosphere and environment are really important for any picture that you take. This type of photography can be referred to as lifestyle photography, as you are taking images to show life and to tell some sort of story about where you are.

If you are a fan of Instagram and social media you will see that this type of photography is used to promote a location as there’s something magical about a beautiful scene that contains some of the most essential human needs like food, drink, and a relaxing location.

Styling With Props That Link To The Food & The Environment

When at a location it is best to use any props from the café or restaurant for your shoot. So look around the location to see what can be used to add to the background of the images or props that represent the business.

There is no single right (or wrong) way to style food, but there are some things that many food stylists and photographers do to make the food look its best.

The best tip I can suggest when on location for styling is composition and the use of depth of field in your images. So play with aperture and consider shooting close-up pictures of set parts of the food product. In my own practice, I use the grid aspect on live view so that I can set up dishes and props, that I am shooting in the composition format for rules of third or triangle.

Taking A Variety Of Angles

The position of the camera is really important, as you may wish to make a drink or burger, larger than it is, by shooting from a low angle, as shown below.

If you have photographed from the lower angle then consider photographing larger areas from a high angle so that your capture the background and the top area of a food dish, as shown here.

The main two angles to play with is shooting from the side or from above to show the range of food and drinks provided, so consider which makes the dishes or drinks more advertising or appealing.

Using The Lighting On Location

I would suggest that you shoot near the window so that you can use natural light and take images in the early morning or late afternoon. Natural light is your most crucial tool for capturing stunning café/restaurant photos. It’s the softest and most beautiful light available, so use it to your advantage.

Once you have decided when your shoot will be, then take advantage of the natural light when shooting during the day or ambient lighting for the evening, so that you can play with Bokeh lighting and use a diffused studio or strobe light to light up the front area of a photograph.

The direction of the lighting and position can bring the viewer into the images to a certain focus point, so decide where to position the light from the side, the back or a combination of the two. Another tip to use with lighting the food is to play with bouncing the light with a reflector, take a look at these lighting setups that can be used while on location.

All three diagrams show a reflector and a studio light, these options can be used with natural lighting from a window. The backlighting option can be used with Bokeh background lighting, see this example below and you will require a front light to make sure that the dish or drink is lit.

After reading my thoughts, processes and points, I hope that this has given you a small insight into a photographer’s mind when shooting on location.

I'll end this with one last tip - Before beginning your shoot at any set location, make sure that you plan ahead, for lighting & styling.


Chatting Food Contributor: Sam Peel

I am a commercial photographer in Northamptonshire and I always strive to share my passion with others, either via 1:1 tutorials, workshops or professional photography sessions. At present, I am living my dream, while consistently developing my own practice, with each client that I work with. I specialize in food, fitness, property and headshots-personal branding. I gain and keep paid clients as I can guarantee that my love of photography will bring their brand to life with a selection of carefully taken images that can be used for company adverting or marketing.

Follow Sam

Twitter: @SamPeel19

Facebook: @wellypictures

Instagram: @welly_pictures


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