5 Simple Yet Powerful Tips For Food Photography Composition

I know there has been quite a time gap since my first Photo Friday post, but I was overwhelmed by the positive response to the last one (thank you for your comments and emails!) and I’ve got a notebook full of ideas I want to share with you.

So today, I am sharing some thoughts on composition.

I’m using the term “composition” to refer specifically to the arrangement of elements within an image. (I’ll talk about food styling in another post.)

Here are my five tips for beautiful food photography composition, not to be used all at once, but to be considered independently as you develop your own style:

1. Back away from the food: literally.

I find the most amateur mistake new food bloggers make (myself included, when I started) is to get their lens right up to the plate.

Instead, retreat a little bit (as shown above). Let the food breathe. A few fresh herbs, some crumbs and/or a napkin add a layer of visual interest, while allowing the eye to relax and take in the subject.

An artful closeup can be fun to include in a blog post, too, especially when there are lots of textures or colours to showcase, but for the most part, take a step back.

2. Use negative space.

I personally love the dramatic look created by a having generous amount of space around the subject.

Try positioning the food and props in one corner of the frame, and let the rest of the image be filled with a textured background.

Peach Muffins with Streusel | Foodess Recipes

3. The “Rule of Thirds”

When composing a photo, imagine it is divided by lines into thirds both vertically and horizontally. The subject of the photo should ideally be placed along one of those lines, or even at one of the points where those lines intersect.

Your camera may have the option to show a grid to make this easy, or you can crop the photo later in photoshop using a grid.

You can do a simplified version of this just by placing your subject off-centre. Spend a few moments moving the subject around in the viewfinder to find a “sweet spot” where the image has a balanced look.

4. Symmetry and balance.
 Or… do the exact opposite. As an alternative approach to composing your image asymmetrically, use symmetry instead. Try simply placing the subject in the centre, with equal space on both sides.

smores cookies on a tray

5. Create drama with diagonal movement.

Compose your scene so that dishes and props seem to be cascading down the frame.

You can create a really eye-pleasing image with just a few props positioned so that they fall diagonally through the photo. The jaunty angle of the parchment paper, the scattering of the lemon squares and directional placement of the knife add to the viewer’s impression of artistic movement through the frame.

So those are my 5 tips for food photography composition. What did you think? Shall we join the movement to seduce with produce, fellow social-sharing photogs?

Last Updated on August 1, 2014 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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