Scouring through photos of perfect restaurant meals can make anyone hungry, but if you're sick of your photos turning out like a dark, grainy mess, here are some steps to help you achieve better photographs in a restaurant setting.
If you're looking at delving deep into your SLR's manual settings, this guide probably isn't for you. Instead these are a few things that you might not know. They might not get you on the front page of Tastespotting or Foodgawker, but they'll help you get a good shot.
Time: Snap Quickly!
Your Mobile Phone
A Restaurant Meal
Choose your camera well. While it's true, a camera is only as good as the person using it, try and find a camera that works well in low light situations. Most restaurants have terrible lighting, so you want a camera that can perform well in these conditions.
Shots like this are all too common with cameras that can't handle low light
Turn off your flash. It might seem counterintuitive, after all, isn't a flash a great way to combat a dimly lit restaurant? Regardless of image quality, using a flash inside a restaurant is just rude. Suddenly your food photography isn't about you, it's about annoying ever other person eating in the restaurant. Switch it off, and keep things a little more discreet.
Using your built in flash will also make food look flat and washed out, looking back on photos you'll wonder why you ever wanted to eat it in the first place. A few other ways to combat the low light situation are by eating earlier in the day and sitting outside or by a window. Natural light will always be an incredible resource for getting the perfect shot.
Sitting by a window can make your food look naturally tasty
Respect your company. While photographing our food is pretty common these days, it doesn't mean everyone's a fan. Sure your best friend doesn't mind when you whip out the SLR, but if you're in a big group outing or at dinner with your future in-laws, consider whether it's worth it. Sometimes you really need to focus on the conversation rather than your camera.
In group situations it's really rude to expect every person to hold off from eating while you get a few pictures of their meal. If you're sharing dishes, shoot from afar, and never stop someone else from eating just so you can take a picture. Getting a picture of someone spooning out some food can end up being an unexpected great shot.
Action shots can be great
When you're dining out, be quick. If you're really into the food, then the real pleasure should come from eating it. It's easy to snap a few different shots in just a few seconds, and then dig in and start eating. You don't need to take a few seconds shooting from every angle, and then even more time viewing the photos before you and your friend take a bite.
When the food is this good, you don't need to style the shot
Food photography is nothing to be ashamed of, but there are definitely good and bad ways of going about it. Getting stunning photos like you see on world famous food blogs will happen once you get to know your camera and your own style, but even if you're less serious it's still possible to get some brilliant shots.
It might not be perfect, but it still looks good
If you've got any of your own restaurant photography tips, let us know in the comments.