Photo Tips

Contributed by Laura Luis, Three Lights Photo

1)  Take photos of your presentation from many angles.  A table-height point of view accentuates layers and textures, and will add drama to a vertical presentation.  A bird’s-eye point of view will give extra emphasis to shape, garnish and color against the plate, and captivates by virtue of its rarity.

2)  Shoot at your lens’ sharpest aperture – typically f/5.6. Shoot a couple of stops down from your lens’s widest aperture, typically f/5.6 for a professional fast lens.  This will give optimal sharpness and just enough depth-of-field to focus on the food yet blur distracting background elements.  Keep background elements at a distance to help in this blurring effect.

3)  Use natural, diffuse light when possible.  Natural light gives the most pleasing color rendition to food and diffusion helps eliminate harsh shadows and highlights that can detract from your final presentation.

4)  If using a tripod, use a low ISO setting (e.g. 200 vs. 400).  The lower the ISO the better quality image you will obtain.

5)  Ensure your composition makes sense.  Any additional elements in the photograph become part of the final design in the image, and these elements should ideally compliment the feel of your plated presentation.  Include some aspect of the plateware so your viewers understand the uniqueness of your presentation. 

6)  Incorporate some elements of a complete place setting – this introduces different materials and will add texture to your photo.   For example – add a randomly placed piece of flatware and/or a glass.   Linen can offer contrast.  This helps with tip #5.

7) Get creative – Look for ways to incorporate complimentary colors, tones and textures that accentuate your food and presentation.  If you are focusing on a theme or cultural influence in the dish,  consider carrying the theme over to utensils, cups, linens or other elements that may appear in your photographs.

8) Get help – don’t hesitate to connect with aspiring photographers in your area who may be looking to build their portfolios and who would benefit from and enjoy the opportunity to participate in this.  After all, more time to do what you enjoy is what it’s all about!

9) Going digital – Optimize your images for presentation on Deep Plate by properly converting the color settings in Photoshop.  For web publication, go to the Edit menu, select “convert to profile”, then choose sRGB as the destination color space.  This will give you true-tone, saturated colors to make your dish really stand out.

Contributed to/by Laura Luis/Three Lights,, 703.868.6895.