Wondering how to find inspiration as a food photographer? Finding that spark of inspiration as a food photographer is hard. You want to take unique photos that resonate with your audience. However, sometimes you produce material that lacks that ‘wow’ factor. How to get that burst of inspiration? Follow me as we explore the tips and tricks below.
I recently launched my weekly Food Photography Tips series and couldn’t be happier with your reaction! Thank you so much for being so supportive and just as excited as I am about all the tips and tricks coming your way. Get ready for plenty of free resources! I want this to be a two-way platform where we can all share our knowledge with each other, so don’t be afraid to let me know your thoughts in the comments.
We covered how to take light & airy food photos last week and we’re now moving on to something a little bit more abstract. How to find inspiration as a food photographer?
It seems like this should be an easy task. After all, food is absolutely everywhere around us. Moreover, we’re living in the age of information where free resources are everywhere around us. And yet, having been involved with several photographer groups around the world, I know that to keep inspiration levels high one needs to put in quite a lot of effort! I’ve compiled a list of 5 main tips that will guide you along the way and make sure you won’t feel stuck!
TIP #1 - LOOK BEYOND INSTAGRAM
Instagram is HUGE among food photographers. I would go as far as to say that it is the biggest place for new food photographers to connect and find inspiration. However, it has major downsides. I can’t even count the amount of times fellow food photographers were shocked to see their own shots recreated by another photographer without as much as a mention. The same dish, suspiciously similar props and the exact same positioning. My advice to you? Don’t be that person.
I know what it feels like to struggle with composition. At the beginning, I found two compositional templates I loved and took pretty much every photo using the same positioning. Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with trying to recreate others’ photos when learning. However, don’t try to pass off those ideas as your own. Instagram is great for foodtography inspiration, but you will need to look further than that sometimes.
My favourite food inspirational resources are:
- BLOGS: that favourite food Instagrammer you’ve been stalking for months? They probably have a food blog! This is the best way for you to learn more about their photography and get a better variety of shots compared to Instagram!
- FACEBOOK GROUPS: Join FB groups for aspiring food photographers (like the Bite Shot or Food Bloggers Central). Not only can you get tons of inspiration, you can also get FEEDBACK – one of the most crucial things when starting out!
TIP #2 - LOOK BEYOND THE ONLINE WORLD
Another downside of finding inspiration on social media? Anyone can snap a photo and tag it with #foodphotography. This means you’ll be scrolling down endless mediocre images to find a few good ones here and there and an occasional great one.
Instead, look for inspiration in printed media. Food and lifestyle magazines, cookbooks, recipe pamphlets. Food photos need to be great in order to deserve their place in printed media. This means you can find gorgeous shots on nearly every single page. However, cookbooks and even magazines can be expensive. With costs of being a food photographer being incredibly high as it is, I imagine not everyone will be willing to buy a stack of cookbooks. Magazines can be expensive too, so look for free versions on places like issuu. Alternatively, purchase digital versions that are cheaper than print versions.
TIP #3 - LOOK BEYOND FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve totally been there. Food photography was my absolute obsession and I had no idea other types of photography were relevant to my work. As it turns out, they can really help expand your understanding of light, composition, colour and editing. I love wedding photography and I think it ties in with food photography in lots of ways. Just like food photography, it’s loaded with emotion which can really help boost those low inspiration levels. Event photography is a fantastic and super versatile subcategory you might want to look into as well. It often incorporates food and is the perfect inspiration opportunity for restaurant photographers.
TIP #4 - LOOK BEYOND PHOTOGRAPHY ITSELF
I’m crediting this tip to Sarah Fennel (founder of Foodtography School) who recently shared this in our Facebook group. It sounds unbelievable, but there is so much inspiration to be found in classical art. In fact, a lot of classical art will feature some kind of food. What better way to learn about composition than from compositional geniuses like Raphael, Da Vinci and Van Gogh. Another fun way to learn about photography is through film. Films contain a large scope of elements similar to the ones we are dealing with in food photography. Think of gorgeous tones that can transform a scene from warm and cosy to sad, dramatic or even horrific.
TIP #5 - MOST IMPORTANTLY – NEVER STEAL
As I mentioned in Tip 1, cases of obviously stolen composition are not at all rare. I know this isn’t technically a tip, but it deserves its own paragraph. Make sure you credit others in case you borrowed your ideas from them. Give them a little shoutout or link to their blog as a way of respect. As we've seen above, there are so many ways you can get inspired as a food photographer so there's absolutely no reason to copy others.
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