Put your food photos in the spotlight!

by Laura Hershey
Jan 18, 2016
Image courtesy Kyle Dreier
Image courtesy of Kyle Dreier

There’s food photography, and then there’s the food photos that Kyle Dreier captures. Kyle is a food photographer based in Nashville, TN. He's a thinker and is driven by creative challenges...and Mexican food.

On December 10th, Daisy dietitian, Laura hosted a Twitter Party highlighting Kyle’s expert advice on food photography, lighting, camera angles, food styling, and more!

Laura: What are the first steps in food styling?
KYLE: Hand pick all your ingredients at the store and get more than you think you need. Use self-checkout to avoid rough handling by the checkout clerk. When composing your shot, find ways to set off your food from the surroundings - avoiding monochromatic setups and props…unless that’s what you’re going for.

Laura: Your dish needs to look delicious! How do you keep your food looking fresh and appetizing during your photo shoot?
KYLE: Plan. Plan. Plan. Get everything setup before you even start preparing food. Get your lighting right with a stand-in. Work quickly. Once you have everything setup then place your “hero” food and get images right away.

Laura: Different angles can make your food more appealing. How do you know the best angle to shoot?
KYLE: There are no absolutes. Sometimes overheads are fun because they are so graphic and it’s like a design project. Sometimes three-quarter is good because it’s closest to how we normally see our food…right before we eat it. Ant-view is fun to make things look heroic. I’ll be honest, the best view is the one you like. Play. Experiment.

Laura: What are your tips for taking food photos with a smartphone?
KYLE: Smart phones are tricky. They are great but they do have their limitations. Get close. Smart phones have very wide-angle lenses. Many times you’re seeing more than you really need to. Zoom in.

Laura: Beautiful lighting is essential in a food shot. What are your first steps to best highlight your dish?
KYLE: Don’t use light directly from the camera angle. On-camera flash is a no no. Normal light bulbs look brown if not color corrected or adjusted afterwards in image processing. Natural light is great…when you have it. If not, use “daylight” bulbs. Direct light can be harsh. Think about diffusing it. Point the light at a sidewall or through a shower curtain. Think about the light not coming from the camera side. Think about side or back lighting

Laura: What accessories are important to help capture the perfect image? And how can we acquire them on a budget?
KYLE: Daylight bulbs, an $8 work lamp and a cheap shower curtain from Home Depot plus a tripod are super useful.

Laura: As a registered dietitian, how can I better educate my audience on good nutrition through food photos?
KYLE: That’s tough. It’s tricky. Always think about your audience first. Speak directly to them with the choices of food, props, setting, recipes “fresh cues” are great to add to the photos. Pull elements from a recipe in the photo, like a pile of blueberries or some strawberries in the background. Think about adding something for scale, a spoon or fork.

Laura: Share with us your tricks of the trade to create the “perfect image”.
KYLE: Don’t be afraid to prop things up from behind using toothpicks, cardboard or folded paper napkins. Keep food moist with a little spritzer bottle. Be minimal. Allow empty space. Don’t over prop or style.

Laura: What’s in your food photography toolbox?
KYLE: A Tripod. A skewer to move small items around. And of course lots of patience. A foil reflector for dark areas, and did I mention patience? Also loads of experimenting.

Laura: What tools or Apps do you use to enhance or add to your photos?
KYLE: There are lots of options. Instagram now has descent tools built into the app. Start with what comes with your smartphone or camera. Color balance is the highest priority. If you’re up for it, use Photoshop, but just for the basics…contrast, brightness and getting rid of that un-noticed smudge on the side of a plate.

To learn more useful tips on of food photography, you can find Kyle on the following social media outlets:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kyledreier
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kyledreier
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dreier_company
Website and Blog: http://www.dreier.com

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