Tips & Tutorials

Taking Food Photos Like a Pro

Food photography may seem like a no brainer, but anyone who has tried to snap that perfect food shot for their Instagram profile would know it's more than a point-and-shoot skill. Canon Imaging Academy instructor Nugene Chiang shares his experience with food photography and how you can take food photos like a professional. (Reported by: Natalie Koh)

While most people may resort to taking a large number of photos before selecting that one picture they wish to use, Nugene shares that there is an easier way to snap the perfect photo.

"At Canon Imaging Academy, we advocate: ‘Make a picture, don’t just take one' to our students," he shares. "Do not be lazy, put effort into composing a photograph that eventually tells a story rather than take many pictures to only delete them all later. Photography is a hobby that can be developed into a skilled craft. Snapshots are easy to take but photographs are difficult to make."

You can be sure he knows what he's talking about. Nugene has been in the industry for over a decade, starting with film cameras, and learning the ropes from a tough mentor who sought the best in photography.

"The idea of creating exciting images to communicate a concept or message has driven my passion for photography in the past 12 years," he says. "I'm constantly inspired by creative visuals that have either a smart or funny approach. Photo composition, lighting angles, and most importantly the creative thought process behind each photograph accentuate details and the photographer's unique style."

How then do you make a picture, instead of just taking one?

First off: lighting, styling and composition.

"For casual food photography, observe the venue's lighting conditions, the shape and colours of the table setting where you are seated and also check out the cutlery. Try to style your dish and compose your photo with some contrast for better results," Nugene advises.

For camera settings, he has a few tips. "Try the ‘P' (Program) mode for starters. Set ISO to 1600 and White Balance to Daylight profile."

Another option is to "try the ‘AV' (Aperture Value) mode to control your depth of field. Use a smaller f/number (f/3.5) for shallow depth of field to get that creamy blur background known as ‘Bokeh' effect."

To take your photography to the next level, he says you can also experiment with different lenses.

"You could go up close with a macro lens to focus on the bits that look delicious, or try different angles or change the background to discover the best perspective," he says. However, he warns: "Avoid wide angle lenses for food shots."

While food photography requires hard work, Nugene adds: "Like all other genres of photography, the craft process itself should be fun. Enjoy making your photographs of food but also remember to enjoy the food itself before it turns too cold."

All photographs are taken by Nugene Chiang.

Nugene Chiang

Nugene has spent the past 11 years learning the craft of photography, and he believes there's no end to learning. He started as a commercial photographer's assistant and learned the ways of film-based photography, before moving on to digital format with a stock photography company in 2005. His work has also represented many ads for banks, telcos, magazines, etc. Recently in 2010, he graduated with a Degree in Fine Art photography from LaSalle-College of the Arts and is now a resident trainer with Canon Singapore.

Natalie Koh

Passionate about fashion, food, travel and writing, Natalie has had her work published in national publications since the tender age of 19. Though focusing her efforts on the written word, she dabbles in photography every once in a while. Her interests are constantly piqued by inspiring individuals including up-and-coming artists, established photographers and other inspiring human beings dedicated to making the world a better place with their skills and craft.

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