If you don’t have the luxury of a DSLR, How do you take good photos for your Food Blog?

This is a question that has plagued me for a while. I don’t own a DSLR camera, so does that mean I cannot take good photographs?

Sorry to disappoint any of the excuse-mongers out there, but not at all! I was sitting comfortably too thinking just because I did not have a DSLR, my photos were doomed anyway. That’s when I saw this post on Serious Eats.

The picture on the right is with a point-and-shoot! And see this one below:

Not bad for an iPhone camera, don’t you think? And I had one and I was still taking horrible pictures. So it was not the cameras fault. It was mine.

If you are serious about getting better at this, check out this video showing how you can take a great photo with your smartphone.

For food bloggers who are starting out, buying a good DSLR camera may seem like a huge investment. Fair enough! But most of us do have either a point and shoot camera or a smartphone. And that’s a great place to start off with and when you feel you are ready, you can invest in that DSLR.

Here are some tips to make your photographs look better if you have to resort to using either a point and shoot or a smartphone.

  • Explore the settings on your device. Most point-and-shoot and smartphone cameras have a variety of settings that can improve the quality of the pictures.

Here is a great video showing the results you can get with a DSLR, Point-and-shoot and a smartphone. And you will be stunned how simple things like adjusting the white balance, can do to help your photographs to become much, much better. Explore the HDR settings and analyse when you should use the setting and when you should not.

  • If you are willing to invest some money into this, but cannot afford a DSLR, there are extensions that you can add to you smartphone, which will significantly improve your photographs. The more popular camera enhancing devices for smartphones are Photojojo and Olloclip. They are all under a $100 and can make your photographs look immensely better. These are basically clip on macro lens, fish eye lens and wide angle lens. Since food photography is good with macro lens, here are a couple of photographs taken using Olloclip and Photojojo macrolens. Besides these there are several other options too. If you were to search Amazon, Ebay or Flipkart, you can find options which are much cheaper as well.
Left: Photojojo, Right: Olloclip Image Courtesy: photojojo.com, www.olloclip.com
  • Don’t resort to using flash as far as possible. Natural lighting works best. If you are forced to use a flash, try and make it look as natural as possible, as explained in the video.
  • Use the Rule of Thirds to frame your photographs
  • Plan your pictures in advance. So decide on where you will be taking it, what table ware will look best, what angles work etc. Even with the planning you may need to try different permutations and combinations before it comes across as a great photograph. So this way at least you can make up multiple concepts in your head.
Good pictures are not accidental, they require planning- Teena Sunoj, Food Blogger

This is also what is called composition. Take a look at some great food blogs and try to emulate them when you are prepping for the picture.

  • Use an editing software that you are comfortable with. Even Picasa can do wonders to enhance your pictures. Some of the popular choices are Photoshop, Lightroom, Pixlr, Dreamlight, Photo Editor etc. There are also online tutorials, that take you through how to use these softwares. And it always helps to click on that Help button if you are confused.
  • Try out different angles. This will not only help you play around with things like depth and perception, it will also help you understand which lighting works best.
  • Mix around your props as much as possible.When you decide to take a picture, don’t restrict yourself to the props that you used for the first shot. Try out different props. You never know which combinations will work best.
  • Try to imitate a great picture. Scour Pinterest, FoodGawker and other websites which features great photographs of food and try and replicate their shot. Even though you may not the quality that a DSLR would produce, you can still benefit from the idea.

Be patient, observe a lot of food photographs, read about lights and props; experiment with them, and enjoy yourselves. There will be a point where you cannot cook without thinking of how to photograph the dish. And that may just be your cue to get that DSLR camera.

Stay tuned for more how-to’s on Food Photography from Team Cucumbertown.