I wouldn't deny that all those aspects are equally importantly, but if i could shamelessly say this - i think it's pretty important that you have a good camera to get a great shot (at least to me). I usually have problems with bad lighting (that is extremely yellow) at restaurants, or if i am dining in the night, but most of the time it can be fixed by hitting a few buttons and and adjusting the WB.
Here are a few tips though, which may get you the shot you have always wanted to achieve.
Tip #1: Framing!
There will always be a time where there's too much food on the table and you just to want capture everything. The best way to capture this is to get up there and shoot from the top. My tip for you is to make sure that you stand at an angle that does not capture any shadow. Also, try not to arrange your food too neatly, and perhaps add in a fork or two, a friend's hand perhaps, or even a small flower or prop you might find nearby. Most of the time you see me shamelessly standing on a chair to get a shot like that, but trust me it is pretty worth the effort.
Another tip is be careful of shaky hands when you’re towering over trying to get the shot which results in blurry shots. That’s why the image stabilization function of a camera is so important. Imagine having to set-up a tripod before every Instagram-worthy meal!
Tip #2: The shot with the bokeh effect
You may be wondering what this ‘Bokeh’ is all about. In essence, the bokeh effect always makes food look good. This is because the focus is on the food, and it defocuses on the background leaving it with a dreamy effect. This requires a depth of field, so try to placing your plate at the edge of the table. Using the 25mm f1.8 lens and adjusting the aperture to 1.8 or 2, I tend to be able to get the perfect shot. The smaller the aperture, the shallower or dreamier the depth of field is. And if you have lights at the back, it just adds to the whole 'feel' of the photo.
Tip #3: The 'hipster' shot
Forget about food on the table, the 'hipster' shot that has been making its rounds on Instagram often shows people holding their food. This, is pretty awkward because you probably will need a hand model. Most of the time i pick the friend with the smoothest hands, and maybe with an arm candy or two. With this shot, it’s all about your creativity in styling the shot – go wild and have fun!
Tip #4: The 'effortless' shot
This usually involves someone casually eating, or when sauce is being poured onto something. Works great for stuff like pancakes (yes, maple syrup), waffles (yes, chocolate sauce), or you can also get a friend to use a fork and knife to cut through poached eggs and let the yolk flow. It's more of a candid shot, but as effortless as it looks, it's actually pretty tough to get the perfect shot. If your camera has the multiple shots function, it makes things a lot easier.
(Before - taken with normal mode)
The ART function is one of my favourite functions to use on the camera. It allows me to play around with dramatic effects, pinhole effects, sepia effects and a lot of other ones. This also means less editing on my part!
All photos were taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with a 25mm F1.8 lens. Cameras nowadays are packed with so many different functions that makes photography so much easier and enjoyable! In particular, food photography isn't as difficult as some people say it is - with the experience, you are bound to get the 'perfect shot' in minutes, or a couple of seconds. Now, who's up to take over my job?
For information on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and exciting promotions coming up in November do visit http://www.olympusimage.com.sg.