10 sensational shooting tips from the pros

Two of our Smartphone Photography Award judges share their tips for seriously smart snaps (that could make them notice yours)

Who better to tell you what makes good photos than acclaimed professional photographers, who also happen to be our Smartphone Photography Award judges?

If you missed our first Stuff Social event earlier this month, don't worry, because we've summarised what imaging luminaries Kelvin Koh and Wesley Loh shared here. It doesn't come with the benefit of having them give you honest critique of your work on-the-spot, but hey, there's a price to pay for everything. 

Now put these tips to use, and you just might snap something that'll catch their eye before submissions end this week. 

Search your feelings

When shooting an image, be sure that what is in front of you moves you. It could be emotive, downright funny, something scenic, or beautiful. You have to be able to feel for the image while you are shooting it, or else it definitely wouldn't move the audience viewing it.

Add value

Shooting a moment or something that is rare, seldom seen, or doesn't often occur usually makes it a more valuable shot. That doesn't necessarily mean you don't shoot the ordinary. Instead, look for something in that ordinary scene that would make it special. 

Food photography basics

You can shoot food photos almost anywhere, as long as there's a bit of space. A food photo should evoke the subject's best traits and deliciousness, whetting your appetite as you're composing the image.

Show all colours and textures of the dish clearly, and try not to mute or hide any details. Avoid blur, odd angles, and unwanted colour tints too. 

Use softer light to shoot

Lighting is key for great food shots. A soft even glow usually works well for most foods, so avoid using direct flash as it looks unnatural.

Composition matters

Composition is 2nd to lighting. Start out using the basic rule of thirds, and consider the best part of the dish you're shooting when positioning the camera. In this case, it would be the glossy surface of the caramelised apple. Always make the focal point as simple and clear as possible.

A cute angle

Flat objects like pizza are best shot from a high angle, or directly above to make it look bigger. For stacked food such as burgers, it would look better shot from plate level to show of its many layers and dimensions. In general, shoot as many angles as you can and keep exploring. Go close or far and feel the difference.

Flash mob

To even up the lighting in an image, use a white card to bounce light off to illuminate any unwated dark or shadowy areas. Artifical lighting such as a flash or flashlight would help provide more consistent lighting, especially if you want to achieve the same look and feel for your images. 

Essential equipment

A tripod is a must to avoid camera shake. Tripod are used 99% of the time in food photography because it's essentially macro photography. A blurred image is distracting and takes away the pleasure of experiencing the image.

Beautiful bokeh

Aperture affects the depth of field of your image. A low f-stop will produce a shallow depth of field, creating bokeh where only the point you're focusing on will be sharp. This will make your subject stand out against a blurred background.

Stay in focus

On the other hand, with a high f-stop, everything from the foreground to the background will be in focus. Use this for instances where there are several subjects to be highlighted.