Choosing the best angle, when shooting food, comes from a good observation and an inner feeling. Before composing your image, try to enter into a visual meditation, move calmly around your subject and simply observe with your bare eyes. Just keep in mind that this meditation cannot be long-lasting, as you know that freshly prepared food will not continue to maintain that “fresh look” for more than a few minutes.
Photographing food is very similar to photographing people in a sense that each person has her best side. Considering the variety of food out there, diverse cooking and presentation styles, the final results are endless. This array of unique subjects creates an opportunity for infinite camera angle choices.
What is the best angle? Here are my few;
The camera is completely centered to the subject. This created a very clean contemporary look and feel. Tip: Keep the props to the minimum.
Camera is positioned directly above the subject and perfectly centered. This angle produces a very contemporary, graphic look.
For this shot, food was placed directly onto the white plexiglass surface, a soft box was positioned below the plexi. This created a seamless and shadow-less environment. When you do not have a point of reference (no horizon line, no plate, no sense of environment) you can try shooting from most unusual angles and might just get away with it.
Camera is tilted right, so the subject tilts counterclockwise and the dish is welcoming you in motivating the spectator to indulge in image.
Camera is tilted left, so the subject tilts clockwise, pulling away from you, engaging the viewer the desire to follow.
Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. It won’t bite. Or will it? When you are shooting close ups, the point of reference loses its importance, so any camera angle will produce an appetizing image or maybe not?
The camera is positioned above the front of the subject, then the camera is tilted up. The photograph will maintain a graphic dynamic composition that will engage the eye to scan the image from the foreground to the background.
Turn you camera so the subject starts in one corner and ends in the opposite corner, breaking the space diagonally.
When looking through the viewfinder align the edge of the frame to any line you see in your subject. In this case I chose to align three parallel lines (left and right edges of the slice). So I turned the camera until these 3 lines ware parallel to the vertical edge of the frame. This created a very monumental and unusual composition, granting unprecedented importance to this slice of a regular cheese cake.
The camera was tilted just slightly to the left. Why? Because the human brain likes to scan things by section. If the camera had been leveled, then the middle wedge would create a horizontal line that would divide the composition in two sections and forcing the eye to travel away from the center. But in this case, I wanted the eye to flow freely though the whole image while stopping only at the focal point.
So “gentle tilt” solved the problem.
Try to forget about the rule of thirds and everything you just learned, just move around your subject and really try to see it and when you see it, draw the camera to your eye and start framing. Keep your mind clear, no thinking. When you start getting a warm fuzzy feeling entering through your stomach and spreading to your chest, just push the button.
Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: December 3, 2010