There are a lot of principles that can be applied to food photography, but the very best place to start is not with lighting, backgrounds or styling, it’s with understanding your audience. That’s a pretty decent piece of advice for any form of communication, not just the visual type, so make sure you keep that one tucked away for later reference.
Who is going to look at this photo and what do you want them to do when they see it?
If you’re a blogger, the world is your oyster. You are an artist who can depict your images as you please. After all, your audience is directed to your blog because they’re interested in how you see the world. You choose if you want it to be shaped by opinion, style or commercial endeavors.
However, as a food manufacturer, your agenda is somewhat different. You want to sell product, right? That might sound crude, but at the end of the day, that’s what we all do, so it’s important to think about it from that point of view and ask yourself, who is my audience? What do I want them to do when they look at this photo? At a guess, you want them to buy your product.
APPETITE APPEAL IS KING, QUEEN & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
How do they get to that point? We’ve all heard the saying we “eat with our eyes first”, well it turns out we “buy with our eyes first” too. If you’re selling food. Buying’s an emotional decision, right? You want your audience to want to either eat what’s in your photo (consumer audience), or recreate it (chef audience).
Now you can start thinking about the lighting, plating and food-styling. If your audience are chefs, they’re going to want to be impressed by your plating. They have a different style to the home cook (although, the gap is narrowing), they use different implements, dishes, prep style – all that stuff.
If your audience are chefs, don’t put a home style oven in your shot, they’ll have a little chuckle.
If your audience are home cooks, are they everyday cooks, aspirational cooks, or cooks that could be mistaken for 3-hat chefs?
So…your food photography – who’s buying?