Because everyone and their mother is a food blogger nowadays, we know more than a few of you have to wait to eat your Christmas dinners until the host has snapped some quality pics. So let’s give everyone a head start.
We asked former New York Times food photographer Lou Manna to share some tips on how to take drool-worthy holiday food photos—and still let your guests eat before midnight.
1. Get a Fork’s-Eye View
Bindi chocolate truffle tarts, finished with a hand decorated orange infused chocolate ganache
Place your camera on the table and photograph your plate from the point of view of your utensils. Photographing your meal from a low angle can bring volume and scale to your food, while allowing you access to a picture you would not be able to capture with your own eyes.
2. Clean your Plate
Quails with wild rice stuffing
Misplaced specks show up more in a photo than you would think. Manipulate food with tweezers to artfully position and style a dish before you photograph it. Clean up crumbs and food particles on plates with Q-tips and paper towels.
3. Crack the ISO Code
Pumpkin maple syrup mini tarts
ISO denotes how sensitive your camera’s image sensor is to the amount of light available for the picture. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the image sensor and better equipped your camera is to take pictures in low-light situations. Even if the lights aren’t dimmed, shooting indoors without a flash is still darker than you may realize. When shooting cookie trays, pumpkin pies and table settings indoors without a flash, the ISO setting should be set to 800 or 1600 so that the camera sensor is more sensitive to the ambient, inside light and captures details, texture and shine.
4. Balance Your Whites
Don’t spoil your holiday food photographs by not knowing how to set your white balance. If you’re shooting indoors with household lamps (under incandescent or tungsten lighting), use your camera’s preset for tungsten white balance. If the lighting is fluorescent (hello, office holiday party!) then the fluorescent white balance setting will work better.
5. Macro and Say Cheese
To shoot food close up, use the macro setting on a point and shoot camera, which is typically indicated with a flower icon. On a camera with interchangeable lenses, use a macro or a close focusing lens to get closer to your subject.