Beta Yourself: Food Photography

Harvest your love for food and photography. We guide you how to start it right

We’ve got you food photographer Assad Dadan to mentor you through this journey.

Get your equipment before you start snapping – from a digital SLR to iPhone – anything will do, as long as you understand the device in your hand and are inspired to take a good shot.

Technique can be mastered with practice and a whole lot of trial and error – for starters, pay attention to this quick tutorial. We got a first-hand at a workshop he hosted at Magazine Street Kitchen last month.

The basics

Understand light.

Photography is all about playing with light. It is imperative for one to get this right. To the layman, light is available in three forms – natural (sunlight and skylight), artificial (bulbs and tube fixtures) and Flash light (strobes and LED panels). Keylight, fill light and back light make for an independent tutorial.

Get snap ready.

Since we’re mostly talking SLRs, to the amateur photographer, exposure, shutter speed and ISO are like Mandarin. Getting the hang of the “Exposure Triangle” is as good as memorising the Bible. You’re well on your way to redemption once that’s achieved.

The Exposure triangle.

ISO, which is measured in multiples of 100 (100, 200, 400, 600...) is the sensitivity to available light and knowing how to make the best of it is the making of a good photographer. Shutter speed (measured in fractions of a second) is the time the camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. The quick rule of thumb here is – slow shutter for low light and night, faster for capturing motion. Aperture controls your depth of field, in simpler terms, the area that appears to be sharp. Small aperture gives large depth, so depending on how well your subject is lit, the aperture varies from f1.4 upwards. Mastering the art of getting the three right is key here.


Colour perception

Temperature is critical.

Food images look better when they lean towards warmer hues, whereas blue tint works better for cocktails and nightlife images. While shooting in different environments, control temperature values.

The colour balancing act. Tint controls the second segment of Colour Perception, where one end is Green and other is Magenta. Strike a balance between these colours, where it is neither too green or pale looking, not too much on the Magenta side where it looks too red and vibrant.


Shop assist


Buy cheap equipment – paraphernalia like tripods shouldn’t be compromised on.  A slight tug on a cheaper tripod can result in it coming crashing down.

Process through. Lightroom can remove up to 30-40% of grains from an image. Also, a lot of retouching happens in Photoshop, hence one must learn the software well. A lot of errors that may have occurred at the shoot can be corrected in post.

Configure it. Manual Mode is a photographer’s best tool.