6 Food Photography Styling Secrets

In collaboration with our friends from Farmdrop

Hate it when bad lighting lets down a beautifully poached egg? Throw a tantrum when you can’t find that bowl to set-off your homemade soup? Sounds like you’re ready to take your food photography and styling to the next level. Designer and food stylist Georgie Nash shares her tips and tricks to help you get the most from the camera on your phone and snap some awe-inspiring food images for Instagram.

Shoot in natural daylight

Natural light is something that is freely available to all of us. You don’t need expensive photography lighting for people to comment ‘Can I like this twice?’.

Take advantage of the great British weather and its unpredictability. A bright, sunny day will lend a clean, crisp atmosphere to your food photography. Or shoot on a dreary, rainy day for more of a moody shot that casts dramatic shadows. There may be lights on when shooting indoors but there’s no need to shine a spotlight on your food or use your built-in flash.

You wouldn’t take your avocado or sourdough to bed with you…or would you? The best natural lighting may be in your bedroom, so utilise the space you have.

Keep your food photography real

If you’re cooking with great quality seasonal ingredients, the food should speak for itself. Many commercial brands use techniques and materials that are unnatural, to the point where the dish is inedible after photography.

At a time when waste from households makes up 71% of the UK’s total food waste, no matter how many likes you have on ‘that’ shot, make sure you can eat it afterwards.

By all means, there’s nothing wrong with a little edible enhancement. If your meat is looking a bit dry, glaze it with extra dressing, a brush of oil, or cooking juices or add a mist of water to a limp looking salad. Food can start to wilt or congeal quickly when left out during a shoot, so make sure to take your photo as soon as possible once cooked or assembled.

Play with angles and perspectives

Overhead shots may work for some dishes and side profile shots may work for others. Try taking shots from multiple angles to see which one works best. Just think how many selfies you would have to take to get the perfect shot (if that’s your thing), it might just be the same for your food.

Think about the height of the food to work out which shot works best. For example, a slice of pizza is relatively flat, so an overhead shot would work well. However, when shooting a burger, a side profile would help you capture those gorgeous, juicy layers of bun and patty.

Don’t feel obliged to centre your dish right in the middle of your frame. Cutting off the edge of a plate in the frame could make for a much more interesting shot (also great if you’ve burnt that section of pie). Try placing cutlery in various places in and around the dish – you could wrap your spaghetti around a fork or use your cake slice in situ for a more natural composition.

If you find your shot needs some extra bite, add fresh ingredients from the dish, i.e. scattered herbs, or half a squeezed lemon- this will help add some colour to the story of your dish.

Collect props and backdrops

Props should always complement a dish, not distract from it. In this case, less is more. We know how much you love your new earthenware plates, copper cutlery, linen tablecloth, recycled wine glasses and olive wood board… But you don’t have to put them all into one shot; the food is the showstopper.

If you have a limited number of props, start with natural colours. Over time you can build up some more interesting pieces. Charity shops, eBay, Etsy, vintage and flea markets are a great place to start. Try mixing vintage cutlery with modern tableware or use old fabrics as backdrops. You’ll be amazed at how much you can find – we always find ourselves scouting out pieces of old wood to use as backdrops. Another great tip is to use tile samples for backdrops. A whole sheet of marble would cost a fortune but a couple of large tiles could come to less than £30. Mix it up a bit and try using different settings for different dishes to keep your viewers interested and engaged.

Great food photography needs an edit

There are hundreds of photo editing tools out there making it hard to know where to start. Editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are excellent tools but can be pricey. You could download a 30 day trial which is completely free and gives you time to get a feel for the software.

There are some great free apps with all the basic tools you need for photo editing. Our favourites are VSCO and Foodie. These apps allow you to make some simple edits that can completely transform your photo. Try cropping your shot to improve the composition. Exposure gives light and contrast gives depth – increasing these on shots that are looking a bit dull or flat can bring them to life. Just as per your props, don’t overdo it. Curly kale without curls would just look weird as would an airbrushed steak. Remember, a relatable shot always works best. If you can get the viewer to think “hmm, I could do that” or “I want to eat that” then you’re onto a winner.

Sell the story

When you (ah, finally) come to posting your shot, think about how you talk about it. Let the viewer know your inspiration for the recipe, or where the food has come from and how delicious it tasted. Importantly, keep hashtags relevant to your posts. We think it’s best to be as specific as possible so people in the foodie community can find your images. Find like-minded accounts and build a relationship by liking and commenting on their photos.

And don’t forget to take some step-by-step shots as you cook. Instagram lets users publish multiple pictures per post, so including a few methods from the recipe adds to the story of the dish (because a picture paints a thousand words and Instagram has a character limit!)

This article originally appeared on Farmdrop on the 2nd of May 2017. 

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Not All Pancake Mixes Are Created Equal

A baking mix is an excellent way to save time, money and reduce waste while creating a delicious stack of pancakes/a batch of cookies/a tin of cake in no time at home. Baking mixes have been around for ages, and it's been a rarely questioned category. 

Betty Crocker mixes have been around since 1921 and are a firm favorite of the US consumers. The image of Betty Crocker has survived several generations, enduring political, societal and economic changes. 

Read the label at the back of their pancake mix more carefully, and you'll see that it contains palm fat and dextrose.

Palm fat is, essentially, palm oil, which recently found its way into many packaged foods as manufacturers look for low-cost oils to replace trans fats. Highly saturated fats turn rancid more slowly, so food companies often use them to help preserve taste and texture. Lately, palm oil was found to increase certain heart disease risk factors in some people. 

Dextrose, on the other hand, is even more misleading. It is a common type of sugar that isn't called sugar! Dextrose is a form of glucose derived from starches. It is one of the most commonly used ingredients in packaged foods because of its affordability and ability to extend shelf life. One study showed that Americans on average get about 15 percent of their calories from added sugars, such as the dextrose in processed foods, and those who consume the most added sugars have twice the risk of developing heart disease! 

When creating our Morning Dreamers Pancake Mix, we firmly stood against any added nasties or hidden sugars. We believe that a mix should contain only natural ingredients, contain no refined sugar and provide nutritional benefits such as protein and fiber.

 

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Superfood Bakery x QNOLA

What could be better than a warm, cinnamon-y, delicious smell of a freshly made stack of pancakes in the morning? That's right, hardly anything. 
We love finding new delicious ways to serve our mixes (like this one or this one). That's why we teamed up with Qnola this month - they make delicious nutritionally enhanced breakfast products. You should definitely try their wholesome granola (the beetroot and pistachio one disappeared after a few breakfasts)! Yum! 
So! To make a few delicious stacks, you will need: 

Eggs 3

Milk 255ml

Qnola Vanilla & Almond 50g

 

Pancake Mix

Method

Preheat the pan on medium heat, add some vegetable or coconut oil. Whisk together milk and 3 eggs, add Morning Dreamers Pancake mix and mix until well-combined. Add Qnola into the mix, or sprinkle on top at the end!

Pancake Mix
Use a ladle or a large spoon to scoop the mix and put in the pan. Fry your pancake on one side until the top appears dry, then flip. Once cooked. place on the plate and repeat.
Pancake Mix
Sprinkle on top and ENJOY!
Pancake Mix
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Video: The Sexiest Pancakes We've Ever Seen

Did we mention how much we love meeting fellow foodies? This is one of the best parts of our job! A few months ago we've met Ali (aka Baliboosta) - a blogger whom you should start following, like, right now.

When we first saw her blog baliboosta.com, we immediately fell in love! Ali creates delicious, easy to cook and beautiful spreads - a great inspiration for when you have guests over and need to wow them (without much effort). 

A few weeks ago Ali has created a video recipe for Chunky Monkey Dreamers Pancakes using our pancake mix... and OMG (we didn't know our pancakes could look that sexy)! 

Enjoy! 

 

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Vegan Chocolate Orange Energy Balls

We love meeting inspiring and talented founders of other food brands. A few weeks ago we shared smoothies with Mary - a founder of Onist Food. Mary is a nutritionist who used to work for Jamie Oliver (omg!) and then started her own business making delicious Avocado Choc Pods. We loved them so much that we could not wait to try them with one of our mixes!
The result was SO good, that would have been unfair of us not to share the recipe with you (we have eaten half of the batch within an hour of making it!). 
Recipe (makes 15 balls)
 
Energy balls
Agave Nectar  10ml
Coconut Oil 1 tbsp
Juice of half an orange and orange zest
Desiccated coconut to decorate 
 
energy balls
Method
Put all ingredients in a blender. Blitz until well-combined. 
Taste for sweetness and add more agave nectar if necessary. 
Roll into balls, decorate with desiccated coconut and orange zest. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before eating! YUM!
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