'You eat with your eyes first' - 5 tips for food photography

Watch any cooking show, and you’ll hear the host repeat that line. This explains why your mouth waters when your food arrives at a restaurant.

Taking photos of your meals before you dig in can be a great way to remember special meals enjoyed at home, events or vacations. Remember the amazing Salmon at Salt & Pepper Restaurant in Palisades? How about that gorgeous tea at Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown? Preserve that memory on your camera.

Here are five things to consider when photographing food:

1. You aren’t the photographer for Bobby Flay’s latest cookbook. They have oils and water that they spray on the food to keep it looking great for a long time. You don’t have to do all that. Have fun with it – especially if your photographing a meal you prepared yourself such as a holiday meal. If you’re eating out, keep the photography short and sweet, hopefully before the meal turns cold as ice. 

2. If you’re going out to eat, consider your seating. If you’re dining during the day, try to get a seat near a window for the natural light. Too bright and you’ll get shadows. Look for soft lighting. If your dining establishment is dark and you want to avoid blinding your fellow diners with a flash, you’ll need a higher ISO.

3. A tripod will help steady the camera for food close-ups, especially in low-light situations. Look for one that can hold the weight of the camera and lens you plan to use.

4. Keep the presentation simple. Use a macro mode to get in close to the filet mignon. Consider other objects near the food. Clear away the water glasses, utensils and your BlackBerry from the scene. There’s nothing appetizing about a cell phone.

5. If you decide to photograph your food in a restaurant, let the management in on your plan. There is no need to freak out the wait staff with a bunch of photography in the dining room. Reassure them that you’re not the critic from the Washington Post or a health inspector. They’ll relax and you’ll get some great photos and an amazing meal.

Bon Appétit!