If there’s one thing that a restaurant food photographer knows, it’s lighting. More specifically, how lighting can be the difference in how the photos turn out for better or for worse.
The Most Important Element
Lighting is probably the most important element that a restaurant food photographer has to think about. The right shot that will make people flow through the doors when they see the dish on the website. Even the most beautiful pizza with greens won’t entice anyone if those greens aren’t lit up and highlighted beautifully.
Natural Light Is Beautiful
There’s no doubt that natural lighting creates the beautiful effects that make every restaurant food photographer beam with pride each time their item is ordered from the menu. But what did it take to achieve those natural lit shots? A roomful of sunshine at exactly the right angle. But that’s likely only to last for a very short period of time in most areas of the world. So what now?
You Need It
Before you cringe at the thought of using artificial light for your food photos, consider that there will be times when you simply have no choice but to rely upon it. At some point, it will be all you have. Getting used to it now will serve you well when you need it in a desperate situation. Learn it, know it, understand it, and make peace with it.
You Can Control It
Natural light is gorgeous, but it changes. As the sun moves across the sky, the light moves across the plate. This can change, sometimes ruin, the shot. So use it when you have an opportunity, but understand that artificial light is dependable. It’s controllable, which is one thing that a restaurant food photographer can fall in love with.
There are many different types of lighting that you can choose from, but many restaurant food photographers appreciate continuous light. What you see is what you get, and that can put you at ease from the get-go. Turn off all other light sources and use only a continuous light. Get one with LED bulbs which are brilliant for food photography as they stay cool.
And remember to have a reflector to get the right balance of light for the entire dish. It bounces the light back to the scene and softens shadows, creating a natural effect. Many of the specialized continuous lights you can order come with a white reflector, but you can pick up something from a craft store that can be used in the same way.
Experiment and see how artificial lighting can work for you.