When it comes to cooking up successful food photography, selecting the right ingredients is an important part of the process. If you are thinking of entering the global 2018 Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year awards (of which Fujifilm is proud to be a sponsor for the Award for Innovation), then you’ll soon need to get cracking. Thankfully, there are loads of ways to photograph food, and we know that the judges want to see plenty of creative interpretations of the theme, as well as more traditional foodie photos.
When it comes to food photography, having the right gear can make all the difference – and we reckon there a few items in the FUJIFILM X Series range that are perfect for such jobs.
Cameras with tilting screens, like the FUJIFILM X-T2 and FUJIFILM X-T20, let you shoot from different angles without having to contort yourself into a strange position. They’re great for shooting ‘flat lay’ images of plates or ingredients from above, and if your X Series camera boasts touchscreen functionality then you can focus and shoot with a single tap – a simple way to get pin-sharp, high-quality results.
Lots of food photography is shot on location and this is where smaller equipment can come in very handy. Cameras like the FUJIFILM X100F and FUJIFILM X-E3 are small enough to fit in a handbag or coat pocket, so they‘ll always be on hand when you’re presented with a beautifully plated meal in your favourite restaurant. The ability to set custom white balance and use high ISO settings to shoot in low-light means that mood lighting is no barrier to professional-looking images.
Choose your point of view
Most lenses in the FUJIFILM X Series line up let you get close enough to fill the frame with a chopping board covered in ingredients, or a plateful of mouth-watering food. Prime lenses like the XF50mmF2 R LM WR let you shoot with a wide aperture, restricting depth of field to just a few centimetres for very shallow focusing effects. That’s great for emphasising the texture and detail of an ingredient against a soft, blurry background.
If you want to get closer, a macro lens may be for you. There are two in the XF lens range: the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro focuses as near as 26.7cm, reproducing details on the cameras sensor at 50 percent of their size in real life. That’s enough to see the texture of fruits like raspberries and strawberries in mouth-watering detail.
The FUJIFILM XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro takes you even closer – reproducing details at life-size magnifications on the camera’s sensor. And because this is a more telephoto lens you can shoot from further away, which avoids casting your own shadow over the plate. Built-in Optical Image Stabilization also helps to preserve image sharpness in low-light situations.
Getting close-up isn’t the only way to photograph food, though. Other lenses in the XF range can be very useful for food photographers, too.
One way to take a more inventive and creative approach is to photograph the people who make it and the places where they work. Try some environmental portraiture, for instance, using a wide-angle lens like the XF16-55mmF2.8R LM WR to include your subject’s surroundings. Or even an ultra-wide angle optic like the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS. This approach is a great way of telling the story behind a recipe – which is a great way of entering the more photojournalistic categories in the competition.
Thinking outside the box
For the second year at the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, Fujifilm is proud to be awarding an Award for Innovation. We’ll be searching through entries in every category for an exciting and original photograph that impresses us with novelty and innovation, as well as technical skill and creativity. We asked one of the judges, Fujifilm X-Photographer Paul Sanders , exactly what he’d be looking for in a successful entry.
“Creating appealing images of food is perhaps the hardest of all genres of photography… it really is a dark art,” says Paul Sanders. “You can’t just plonk a few tomatoes on a slate and call it food photography. Styling is key – the way the food is presented to make it look tasty. If I can feel myself getting fat looking at a picture of beautiful desert, then the photographer has done their job.
“I also like a surprise. Maybe it’s in the lighting, or the concept that the photographer has put together. As with all genres of photography, there are simple formulas for good, solid imagery but the creatives who push themselves and their imagination further will catch my eye. I’ll add to this that these ideas shouldn’t appear complicated, simplicity is also a key ingredient.”
Paul summarises: “So, in short, keep it simple, be as innovate as possible and make it look unbelievably tasty so that I feel satisfied and full while I’m judging.” That’s quite an ask but, as a photographer using one of the world’s most innovative camera systems, we know you are up to the job. Good luck!
Want more inspiration? We have some tips for you!
1.Using shallow depth of field is a great way to focus attention on a specific part of a photograph. Choose a large aperture (F2.8 or wider) to really emphasise the look.
2. A macro lens will let you get very close, magnifying small subjects to reveal hidden textures and detail.
3. A top-down ‘flat lay’ type picture is a classic way to photograph food. It’s easier to compose in this way if your camera has a flip-out screen, for different viewing angles.
4. Try to include some human interest in your food photography – explore the people who farm, cook and serve food, as well as those who eat it, of course!
5. A portable X Series camera can accompany you to restaurants, where we often see the most pleasingly plated food displays.
6. You can create intricate still-life images in your kitchen, using the various Film Simulations modes on your Fujifilm camera to create a different look and feel.
7. Capture the emotion of an occasion. Good food, good company and good friends is not just a recipe for a good night out, it makes a good photo too!
The competition closes on 6th February 2018. Visit 2018 Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year for more details and to enter.