Photography @ MQP: Food Scenes, etc.

By | March 1, 2012

Welcome to the second post in a behind-the-scenes series on photography at More Quiche, Please. Missed the intro? You can catch up here.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to food photography: You can (1) create “food scenes” to help show off your dishes or (2) just take photos of your food, finished products or otherwise, however they appear in the moment.

There really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, and I suspect you’ll find yourself taking some of each. I know I do.

I often (but certainly not always) start a recipe post with a food scene photo. This gives readers a sense of what’s in the recipe before they even start reading.

A food scene typically includes two or three main ingredients alongside the finished dish, like with the zucchini bread photo up there. It might also show something that goes well with the dish, like a glass of milk next to your cookies or a nice, hearty piece of bread next to that soup you just made.

These photos tend to look more polished, more put-together. Which I like. Or love.

But that isn’t to say that the more causal ones don’t also have their place. Often, these are “process” photos — you know, the ones that show a middle step of a recipe.

Like these. I liked these.

But there are also the photos that happen for no reason other than that something catches my eye.

Like a persimmon.

This lil’ dude was sitting on a baking tray as I worked on some persimmon raisin cookies the other week, and it just looked so cool.

So I snapped a photo. Okay, maybe two.

But what do all of these photos have in common?

They’ve all got clean backgrounds — pretty much essential, I’d argue, for any good photograph.

This doesn’t mean there can’t be anything in the background. But whatever is there should add to the photo, not distract.

Before I realized the importance of this, I took almost all of my food photos facing my bookshelf. Really, this makes no sense. But the bookshelf was there, and it showed up in my photos.

Yeah. Way too much going on behind the lentils. [Cringe.]

So really, it doesn’t matter whether your clean background is a white tablecloth, a cloth napkin, an oversized polka-dotted pillow case, a sheet of parchment paper, or a cool scrap of fabric. They all do the job.

…Oh, and this one?

That’s the silk scarf my sister-in-law brought us from India.

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