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Art of visualisation

Creating mouth-watering food photos

Mar. 26, 2021 -

You learn from working with experts and this month I had the privilege to work with a professional food photographer, my brother. Together we set out to photograph the entire menu of Café Carbòn in Amsterdam, enjoying the fabulous food afterwards. Read along for some food photography takeaways!

Café Carbòn Amsterdam

Thanking its name to the enormous charcoal grill, Café Carbòn is well-known in Amsterdam for its steaks and ribs. Their three restaurants are local favourites, a welcome escape from the many mediocre tourist restaurants.

Café Carbòn - a local favourite in Amsterdam
Café Carbòn - a local favourite in Amsterdam

Food photos

Takeaway and delivery webshops benefit from great food photos. In the food ordering app that I have created, I see an average increase in sales of 300% for products with photos! Making great food photos is an art by itself.

Meet the expert: Kevin Middelkoop is no stranger to this blog. He had a hand (pun intended) in the success of Snake '97 by creating faithful images of retro phones. It's hard to overstate the importance of visuals in digital business!

His special tools, his craftmanship and his attention to detail enable my brother to deliver his art
His special tools, his craftmanship and his attention to detail enable my brother to deliver his art

Light

In a similar way to what paint is for a painter, light is fundamental to photography. What happens around the photo is just as important as the actual subject. Reflections and shadows can make or break a good (food) photo. You use light as a core tool for your creativity.

Working with light is a creative process, using reflections and shadows to create emphasis with natural elements
Working with light is a creative process, using reflections and shadows to create emphasis with natural elements
Highlights on the steak draw attention - an intentional effect created by the food photographer
Highlights on the steak draw attention - an intentional effect created by the food photographer
Look at the result and note how your attention is drawn to the juicy highlights of this tasty steak, illuminating the texture: you can almost taste it by looking at it!
Look at the result and note how your attention is drawn to the juicy highlights of this tasty steak, illuminating the texture: you can almost taste it by looking at it!

Composition

Arrange food and dinnerware intentionally, nothing is random in a great composition. You can choose to cover many different dishes or to focus on one hero product. You use composition to add and subtract, changing what you communicate through your visuals.

Arranging dishes intentionally to create a pleasing composition
Arranging dishes intentionally to create a pleasing composition
Covering many different dishes this image communicates the many different options the menu offers
Covering many different dishes this image communicates the many different options the menu offers
In contrast this hero image of the Café Carbòn Ribs puts full emphasis on one product
In contrast this hero image of the Café Carbòn Ribs puts full emphasis on one product

Conclusion

There is more to food photography than meets the eye. Using light and composition the photographer acts like an artist. Have a look at his website for his explanation of the chosen composition and light. Or simply check out the result yourself as the Café Carbòn store is now open!

Me helping the expert by eating the food photos afterwards, yummy!
Me helping the expert by eating the food photos afterwards, yummy!

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