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1. Do not use a direct flash. In fact, avoid harsh, direct light altogether. Using flash or other harsh light will cause poor shadows and will wash out colors and details. Try to use light that is more diffused. In this series, I was outside in my backyard using the shade of a large tree. There was
plenty of light, but it was not falling directly on the subject.
2. Pay close attention to the white balance. It's difficult to correct colors in Photoshop. I will often set a custom white balance. When I am photographing food, it's especially important to me that the colors are accurate.
3. Use props! I don't cook or entertain much, but I love shopping in the kitchen/dinnerware sections. The limes in the top photo are in a really fun square wooden bowl that I found at Walmart for about $5. I also love dollar stores. They have cheap wine glasses, silverware, fun bamboo placemats, etc., etc. Watch for things that will compliment and not distract. Watch for things that have unique textures. You can also be creative with your props - to get this shot of the kiwi slice, I used part of the little plastic container that some berries came in. I simply cut one panel out, "stuck" the slice to it, and had a friend hold it up so the sun was shining behind it.
4. Choose food that is vibrant in color, has good texture, is free from many blemishes or bruises, and just looks appealing in general. Also, look for foods that are unique - the wheatgrass in the bottom photo is one of my favorite things to shoot because it's just not the same as the apples and bananas that are on my kitchen counter every day.
5. Many foods will start to lose their appeal if they are not kept cool (or warm). So, work fast. Have everything that you need set up prior to bringing the food out. For this series shot in my backyard, I set up all of the following before I brought the food:
• Photography Gear (Lenses, Batteries, Memory Cards, Tripod, etc.)
• Table (in the shade)
• Knives and cutting boards
• All props
• Small towels and a dishwashing type tub filled with water (for rinsing food and hands)
If you're shooting indoors, your list will be different, but if you have everything set up and ready, your photos will turn out better.