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Tips for food photography

india Updated: Apr 28, 2013 01:15 IST
Usama M. Sulaiman
Usama M. Sulaiman
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

How often do you come across pictures of food so wonderfully mouth-watering, it gets your tummy rumbling? This drooling effect is not merely because of the food you see but also because of the way it has been shot. If you’ve got the flair for taking food shots, here’s a piece of good news: clicking food, literally, is hot right now.

“Pictures of food are generating a lot of interest, and people now want to share their experience with others,” says Rekha Kakkar, a blogger and food photographer who also loves cooking. Although people posted a photo or two of their favourite dishes on Facebook earlier too, the trend got popular only after the arrival of smart phones, point-and-shoot cameras and social networking sites by the truckload. Now, be it a restaurant, café or dhaba, one can find people clicking pictures of their meals. There are food blogs, food walks and even social food groups around and they are all uploading delectable images for everyone to see. “They are not professional photographers, only photography enthusiasts interested in good food. So they go out and experiment,” says Ravi Dhingra, a Delhi-based professional photographer.

“If you click a photo that doesn’t make the dish look like a sheer visual treat, the viewer gets instantly put off,” points out Anamitra Chakladar, another professional photographer. Many people are also getting themselves enrolled in different short-term food photography courses and workshops. “Professional food photography is all about proper setup. It’s about making food look more presentable and delicious,” says Sanjay Nanda, who runs a photography gallery.

Perhaps the reason why this whole affair is so attractive is because food is such a basic part of life and yet, it can’t be truly described in words. It has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Hence the wave of food groups and blogs. The practice, which is still catching up in India, is commonplace abroad. While photographers such as Michael Pohuski, Jonathan Gregson Dario Milano have made a name for themselves globally, blogs like offer great food visuals.

Heard of food porn?
Food photography as a specialty caught fancy mostly from advertising and cookbooks, in the late 20th century. Back in the 80s to mid 90s, there was a use of dark backgrounds and dark material to click food. These days, the look is mostly minimalist, with no use of secondary items or objects that could take the focus away from the main object.

Food is clicked glamorously, and some extreme angles give birth to terms such as foodporn and foodgasm. Food porn, according to Wikipedia, is a spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, cooking shows or other visual media, foods boasting a high fat and calorie content, or exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat or the glorification of food as a substitute for sex.