When traveling food photography is a tasteful aspect for many photographers. In fact, food tells a lot about the country you are visiting and also it can be a useful way to know more about people and culture. Countries like Italy, India or China offer such a wide range of different and tasteful specialities that basically every city or region of these countries get their own traditional dishes and culinary style. Here are a few quick tips for taking some great images of food.
If you are traveling to exotic countries, then, outdoor food stalls are the place where you should head to in order to take close-up images of local specialities. Check on internet or on your tourist guide the main traditional dishes of the place you are visiting. Markets are a good starting place to see what locals enjoy eating. From steaming woks with fried rice to fresh fish just caught from the sea or roasted meats cooked in front of you. You can take colorful and close-up images of food or by using a wide-angle shooting both food and cookers’ portraits as well.
Not just markets or restaurants are the most obvious places for food photography. Consider also to attend local festivals or special and colorful ceremonies. As food is looking much more natural in daylight, try to shoot photos at lunchtime by taking advantage of an outside restaurant or, if you can stay indoor only, by a window. Avoid taking photos at evening inside a restaurant if you can. Food dishes lit with artificial light would not look good at all and also using your camera’s white balance settings would not be that helpful, unfortunately.
Both composition and perspective are important for a successful food photography. So, avoid taking any photo of food that look down on a plate or bowl from directly above and opt, instead, for shooting from down close to plate or bowl height or just a little above it. Reserve top views only to flat food such as pizza, for example.
As the focal point of any good food photograph is the dish itself, make sure then to focus your camera near the front edge of the food. Zoom your lens on food and don’t mind about leaving parts of the plate out of scene. A macro lens would be helpful, definitely. Avoid including the full table setting. Try to use a shallow depth of field if you don’t want to include the dish only and just frame one or two extra elements such as a glass or a napkin in order both look rather blurred at distance. Try to shoot 100 ISO in order you get the highest and cleanest image quality (and no digital noise at all). A tripod is highly recommended, especially if you shoot indoor.