Photography Tips: Change Your Angles

by Cate on February 8, 2011

When it comes to food photography, I think food bloggers have heaps more challenges than the food stylists that set up the shots for magazines, cookbooks and the like.  For one, the pictures you see here (and most other food blogs/web sites) are of edible food.  It goes from that plate to our mouths. The ones you see in print ads, commercial, magazines et al largely are not.  They rely on many tricks of the trade to make the food look mouth watering, but also rendering it inedible.  They also don’t have a hungry family or dinner guests waiting for you to “just get one more shot” before they can dig in.  It’s a completely different perspective and process for food bloggers, for sure, but we all develop our own method of doing it along the way.

Today my tip for you is to change your angles and your set-up to make sure you get your m-o-n-e-y shot.

Stand on a chair and take an overhead shot.

Take your picture from the left and then the right, giving your plate different lighting each time.

Turn the plate around and take pictures along the circumference.

Change the background.

And the lighting.

And, of course, do this all before your family gets mad that their dinner is getting cold.

For the one or two shots you see here with each post, there are usually a minimum of 10 (but admittedly sometimes 100+, depending on the topic) that were discarded and didn’t make the cut for whatever reason.  Since it’s not as easy to have a redo, I try to take as many configurations as possible to ensure that I get the m-o-n-e-y shot,  because it totally sucks to download pictures and realize too late that nothing works.

Last week’s picture of my sea bass from our Foodily launch outing is a perfect example of how changing my angle and turning the plate around worked.  The first three pictures never would have seen the light of day had they not been excellent examples of bad shots and why angles are important.  The lighting in our private room was low, the plate was white, the fish was white, the salad was pale.  It was a challenge.  But for the last shot, I turned the plate around and caught the purple of the radicchio, and deemed it perfect.  While it doesn’t necessarily capture the sea bass (white fish on white plate, really?), it made for a colorful picture.

Shot 3

Shot 2

Shot 1

Sea BassDing, ding, ding. The one. The first three pictures would have been discarded for other reasons too, but for now, we’re just focusing on angles.  It’s something so simple (and completely free!), but makes a world of difference in your photographs.

Project 365
February 8, 2011

I regret to inform you that I took zero pictures today.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.  Definitely over a year ago.  Bummer.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

leslie February 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Great tips. I struggle with photography..I need all the tips I can find! :)

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Joanne February 9, 2011 at 7:17 am

Oh if only you could see how many pictures it takes to get to the 4-6 pictures I use in each post…at least 60 if not more. It’s insane. Definitely have to take as many angles as possible in hopes of finally getting the money shot!

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Sarah Caron February 9, 2011 at 9:16 am

Great tip! I’ve been working a lot on angles lately and have found that using a tripod can help a lot too — since the camera is steady and sometimes you find a shot you wouldn’t have otherwise.

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Ramona February 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

Nice photos. I wish my camera did macros better.

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paula February 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm

It really bothers me that I can’t get good pictures but that’s just how it is. I almost never have natural lighting unfortunately. But, as bad as my pictures are, they are usually better than most of those that were published in older cookbooks. Styles and photographic technology have changed a lot over the years.

To be honest, I like the second to last picture best. It’s not as ‘artsy’ I suppose but it gives me the best look at what was put in front of you at that restaurant.

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Sarah February 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Oh Photography. It is the source of my food blogging demise. Not to mention my husband in the background saying “seriously, I’m going to eat it now, you can take a picture of me eating it.” LOL, poor guy.
Thanks for the tips. A fellow blogger of mine is a professional photographer and has been giving great tips on her blog lately. http://mommyknowslife.blogspot.com/2011/01/photography-tip-4-utilizing-proper.html
this tip is one of my favorites, but all of them are SOOO helpful for those of us who are novice photographers

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claire February 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

I thought of this post last night when I was taking pictures of a new recipe! Now, I must say I did NOT take hundreds of pictures (actually, less than 10) but Idid turn my plate and make different angles. Was pleased with what I saw on my camera…hopefully, I’m pleased when I upload them to the computer. :-)

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