Create festive food images with these 5 tips

Tips & Techniques

I absolutely love food photography and I am finding myself doing more and more of it lately, working with small businesses particularly bakeries (maybe it’s my name?!). One of the main perks of working smaller scale is that you are normally shooting real food and keeping it all as natural as possible so that at the end of the shoot I am being given boxes of cookies and brownies to take home. It’s pretty awesome! Food photography doesn’t have to be fake and you don’t have to use complicated food styling tricks to create beautiful shots. More importantly, you can shoot in such a way that the food can be eaten afterwards too. In this video, Amie from AM Photographer shares 5 tips for creating festive images.

  1. Colour temperature: It doesn’t have to be warm or cool necessarily, but thinking in advance about how you want the image to feel before you start shooting is always going to be an advantage. For example, if you want an icy, frosty or cold feeling to the image bringing up the blues and cyans and making the colour temperature cooler will help. If you want to evoke a warm, cosy sitting by a fireside holiday feel then choose a warmer colour temperature.
  2. Use decorations as props: You don’t have to go crazy with the tinsel and baubles but a few choice festive accessories can add to an image and keep it in context. The decorations shouldn’t distract the viewer from the main subject and should add to the overall story. Remember that anything shiny and brightly coloured will draw the eye first so do bear that in mind when creating the composition.
  3. Story comes first: As a rule, the story is always King. Even in a still image. Now it doesn’t literally have to be ‘Once upon a time’ but more along the lines of deciding what you want your viewers to feel and take away from the image. The holidays are such a rich source of stories you can let your imagination run a bit wild. Why are they making cookies? Who are they making them for? Do they have a family? Perhaps they are remembering happier times (pre-covid) when all the family could assemble together around one table and not have to zoom-call each other?  Sorry, I’m getting carried away now, but you get the picture!
  4. Use fairy lights: OK so I’m not suggesting you go all National Lampoons on this one, the phrase here would be ‘use in moderation’. But it’s undeniable that some twinkly lights, particularly as bokeh can add a magical effect to any image.
  5. Use Christmas (or holiday) food: Sounds obvious right? Unless you’re spending the festive season in Barbados or you’re making a particular point then perhaps photographing a pineapple isn’t going to be your best option. If you’re using traditional food then it will automatically help evoke a holiday atmosphere. Baked goods, roasted meat with all the trimmings, rich desserts or festive drinks are all good options. Consider the garnish as well. Things like cranberries, dried oranges and cinnamon sticks all make lovely seasonal garnishes.

So now before you sit down to your festive meals you can annoy all your relatives by insisting on photographing and styling everything before you let them eat it! Happy holidays!

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