I “met” Megan a few weeks ago after we were both winners of Sarah Wilson’s food blogger contest! I love love love Megan’s photos and quickly asked if she would like to be interviewed for Live Healthy Simply. She said yes and agreed to share with us her tips for becoming better at food photography – Something I am in dire need of advice on!
What businesses do you run?
I run a food blog Veggies and Me, which focuses on healthy, vegetarian, home cooking. I have utilised my skills as a photographer, my love of cooking and obsession with health to create a resource for followers interested in all things veg.
I love reading food blogs and believe that great food photography is what makes the difference between an average blog and an outstanding one.
How long have you been a vegetarian? What are your reasons for being a vegetarian?
I have been a vegetarian since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is feeling unwell after eating meat so at the age of 9 or 10 my best friend Hana and I went vegetarian. I have never looked back, never been tempted and don’t feel I am missing out on anything.
Today, at 31, I am a vegetarian for so many reasons. The main reasons being: health, compassion and the environment. There is just too much scientific evidence out there supporting the health benefits of a plant-based diet. I would recommend anyone interested in learning more should watches the film Forks Over Knifes or read The China Study.
Food photography is often said to be one of the hardest forms of photography, what are your top 5 tips for becoming better at food photography?
- Make the food look appetizing: Think very carefully about the way you place your food on the plate or in the bowl or cup. Make sure your plate looks as fresh, colourful, vibrant, neat, clean and appealing as possible.
- Use beautiful but simple props: Choose mixture of white and colourful tableware to make your photograph appealing, eye catching and clean looking. Food always looks great on white plates. If you keep the plates small it makes it easier to photograph.
- Work quickly: Have your table and camera set up before putting the completed plate in the shot. You may need to have backup garnishes on standby as these can wilt quickly on top of hot food.
- Control the light: Use either window light, diffused sunlight outside or studio/flash lighting from at least two
sources. Photograph your food in a room with light coming in from windows on two sides or take your food outside and set it up on a picnic table out of direct sun. For bloggers wanting to take their food photography to the next level I would recommend getting a portable studio flash and a large silver or white reflector.
- Educate yourself: Study the photographs in food magazines and recipe books, go along to workshops on food styling and photography and take lots and lots of photographs. Practice does make perfect! There are so many great books on food photography including Digital Food Photography by Lou Manna and Food Styling for Photographers: A Guide to Creating Your Own Appetizing Art by Linda Bellingham. There are also great ebooks out there like Tasty Food Photography by food blogger Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. You will also find many online resources for learning about Photoshop and camera RAW. YouTube has thousands of tutorials and there are online classes through companies like www.lynda.com.
What type of camera is best for a beginner, any brands or styles to look out for?
My number one tip is to buy the best possible DSLR camera equipment you can afford. Quality really does count with food photography.
I am lucky because my husband is a photographer too and between the two of us we have collected a lot of amazing equipment over the years. We use Canon but Nikon is also excellent. A good entry level Canon DSLR camera is the EOS60D and another great option would be to buy a second hand EOS5D. From Nikon the D90 is a good beginner but a second hand option would be the D700.
I would recommend having two lenses. The 50mm fixed lens is great because they are superior quality and the large aperture allows you to shoot without flash in low light. A Canon 50mm f1.8 lens is only $150 and the equivalent from
Nikon is only $220. The second lens I would recommend investing in would be a mid-long zoom lens. Examples of these lenses are 24-105mm or 70-200mm and the price ranges from $500 to $2000 depending on the maximum aperture and lens quality. The longer lens compresses perspective, allowing you to stand back further from your subject, getting objects in the foreground and background to appear closer together.
What programs do you use to edit your photos? What programs would you recommend for a beginner?
I use Photoshop daily and would highly recommend learning how to use it along with camera RAW. When you shoot your photographs in RAW and not jpg the quality achieved is far superior. If you make a mistake and under or over expose a photograph or there is funny lighting you can correct for this later on the computer. Most digital SLR cameras come with a disk containing RAW file handing software.
For an absolute beginner Adobe Elements is a simple cut down version of Photoshop. iPhoto is also a good option if you are using a Mac.
Finally, what is the number one thing you would recommend to a person who wants to improve their health?
Eat whole foods, get outside and move your body and have fun time with your friends and family regularly. I stay away from all food additives and processed foods. So many modern health problems and ailments could be treated so easily by switching to a plant based whole food diet.
Megan will be running a workshop on photography for food bloggers later this year. Contact her email@example.com to register your interest or have a look at her gorgeous blog for more stunning photos.
What advice are you going to implement next time you’re snaping some photographs? What are your tips can you share for becoming better at food photography?