At Foto Ruta we love good eats, trying new food, and recognize that any part of your experience in Buenos Aires is going to involve a lot of it. After all, travel is about discovery, not only through your lens but also in your stomach. An estimated 35% of a visitor’s time is the city is spent dining. In Buenos Aires, this is not difficult to believe. Between late brunches, long lunches, and midnight dinners that last into the wee hours of the morning, you’ll likely spend good portions of your time enjoying one of the world’s best slow food destinations, also known as BA. So, why not take pictures of it?! Well, believe it or not, most people don’t. Beyond grainy snaps on iphones many people will give up here. Why? Because it’s difficult. We’re often working with low lights, strange textures, and the inability to really capture what it is we’re forking into our mouths. But instead of giving up, here’s a few tips to get you capturing your taste… in good taste:
1. Capture Context!
The food on your plate doesn’t float effortlessly onto a blurry white plate ( yes, we’re all guilty of these food porn shots that are positively inedible and are better suited as a decoration on someone’s Christmas tree.) Anyway, try expanding your scope! Whether it’s as the food is being prepared, with a colorful napkin beside it, or in juxtaposition with a fork to mouth, try to include another element that gives your image some sense of place or context.
2. Good taste doesn’t automatically equal a good aesthetic.
Think about it. In Buenos Aires, we spend hours pining over delicious cuts of meat, freshly butchered, and perhaps a little scary to look at with a macro lens. Not to worry. Many foods that appeal to your taste buds won’t appeal to your lens and visa versa. Instead, try identifying color, texture, or simply a pattern. Don’t be afraid to think like a photographer rather than with your stomach and try taking a photo of your UN-favorite food. The results can be impressive.
3. Light, Light, Light!
It’s a no-brainer for all types of photography, but perhaps it could be of no more importance than when photographing food. If your white-balance is off you can end up with positively green pizza, and if you simply don’t have enough light your decadent dessert might as well be a bowl of cereal because none of the details will be revealed. If it means pushing your plate closer to the window, holding it up toward the light, or perhaps adjusting your spot at the table, it’s well worth it. Light makes all the difference!
4. Shallow depth of field
Like a microscope is to a scientist, good food photography requires a bit of specialized equipment or at least technique. We’re talking big aperatures on a point and shoot or a medium length fixed lens ( like a 50mm portrait ) on a DSLRcamera to give you those buttery backgrounds and sharp details. The good news is, it won’t cost you too much. New lenses for D-SLR’s can be costly but fixed lenses can be the most economical ( a Nikon 50mm, 1.8f retails new at just $180 USD ) and you’ll have fun playing with this lens in all sorts of contexts.
5. Take time to compose your images
This is food, not faces, so take advantage of the fact that your subjects won’t walk away…While a lot of food stylists say that you only have a short time to work with food after it’s served, that hasn’t been my experience (ice cream being the exception). I always feel that I can walk around, zoom, hover, and poke and prod to get the shots I need. Try some different shots, it’s digital, so you’ve got a lot of chances to get it right!
6. Be sensitive to shooting people while their eating
This is ridiculously common-sense but unless you want to be attacked by the woman in the red dress at the next table over, be sensitive to the fact that not everyone wants to be caught on lens shoveling tender fork-fulls of Argentine steak into their mouths. So, here’s your chance to ask before you snap. Most people, especially the company you’re dining with are perfectly happy to hold a flattering food pose for a couple seconds in knowing that they’ll come out pretty with pork rather than sloppy with sauce smeared across their cheek.
Can I watch you eat that banana?