Food photography tips from Evi Abeler

Evi Abeler

Evi Abeler answers blogger questions at TECHmuch NY

At today’s excellent TECHmunch blogger conference, food photographer Evi Abeler shared some ideas to make our photos more appealing from an appetizing and artistic perspective. Evi has a strong academic background, credentials with many familiar food websites and magazines, and a five-year stint as staff photographer for a museum in which her job seems to have been finding ways to make statues look interesting. Here are some of her tips:

  1. Use a tripod. This frees you up to compose the shot and adjust lighting. Even better, a tripod with an extender which allows overhead shots. A tether which connects the camera to your laptop is also useful because you get a better preview of the shot and instant results for review.

  2. The best lighting can often be found in a windowsill. White and off white plates make good backgrounds for food, as does wood and stone. These are typically neutral or dark colors and do not have a busy pattern to distract from your subject. Another good background: the back of a well used sheet pan. (As in this photo for Kewpie Mayo.)

  3. Take pictures of leftovers. They help tell your story and may end up being your best shot. Also, take pictures with fingers in them (they can be arranging, selecting or holding the food). She first did this by accident, now it is part of her standard repertoire.

  4. To make white rice look interesting (apparently the ultimate food photographer’s challenge) use your hand to arrange it into a pattern, or “make poetry” with sauce poured over it to guide the eye.

On Burnt My Fingers, we do try to take passable photos though we are sometimes too hungry to keep our hands off the food. (You can tell which photos are our favorites because, in general, those are enlarged in the posts.) Depending on the circumstances we shoot with either an iPhone 4s or a Canon SX280 HS. The latter is the latest of a series of Canons; we like this brand because its present color balance is particularly kind to food. We will definitely apply some of Evi’s tips to improve our own photos.

You can see Evi Abeler’s work at eviabeler.com. She also has a blog she does with a pastry chef friend, called Whip [as in using a whisk) and Click. It’s inspiring stuff.

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