Techniques for Styling And Shooting Dark Food Photography
Trends come and go in the world of food photography. But moody and dark photography still shows no sign of slowing down.
So how do you take dark food photos? If you’re curious to know more, we have six excellent tips to help you get started!
In most cases, you can divide food photography styles into two categories. Most photographers either go for bright and airy or dark and moody photos.
Bright and airy photos often feature soft lighting and well-lit subjects. This style is the most common because it’s perfect for showing all the elements of the food.
Meanwhile, dark food photography has a painterly quality. It evokes the emotions as much as it makes people crave.
Moody food photography uses the Chiaroscuro technique. It’s an Italian term referring to the contrast between shadow and light. You can find it in a lot of paintings, including Vermeer’s and Caravaggio’s.
For the most part, it’s quite easy to work with bright and airy photos. But dark and moody photography requires a lot more control and technique.
Being adept at shooting both styles has its advantages. You’ll find this especially true when shooting commissioned work.
Clients may expect you to produce whatever look and mood they envision. So it helps to know other tricks apart from the ones you usually create.
Thankfully, dark food photography is easier to do than you think. And we’ll show you all the steps you need to become familiar with this style.
Work with Minimal Lighting for Mysterious Results
So how do you create dark food photography with natural light? The secret is to move further away from your window. Doing so lessens the light hitting your subject instantly.
It also helps if the room where you’re shooting is dark. If there’s too much light coming in through the window, use thick curtains to darken the set.
You should only allow enough light to illuminate your subject.
To enhance the chiaroscuro effect, try back lighting your subject. It not only creates moody lighting but also brings out the texture of the food.
As the name suggests, back lighting involves illuminating your subject from the back. That means you need to place your light source behind the food.
When using natural light, you’ll need to move your camera until the window is a few degrees behind your subject. That way it doesn’t show up in your frame.
When using artificial light in dark food photography, a one-light set-up is all you need. You can use any type of artificial light you want. The most common options include LEDs, flashguns, and mono lights.
I use a mono light with a dish reflector and a honeycomb grid. I then place a large diffuser between my light and the food.
The diffuser acts like a window that softens the flash coming from the monolight. The result should look like you’re taking photos with natural light. Like natural light, you can use back lighting with artificial lights as well.
For the cake image above, I positioned my light behind my set. I then added two black fill cards to either side of the table.
Lighting from the back emphasised the crackling texture of the cake. It also ensured that the top was lit correctly.