The internet houses a lot of blog posts on food photography 101. I know because it is likely I’ve read it all. They are wonderful resources for people, like myself, who are looking to improve their photographs of food whether it be for bragging rights, documentation or just plain delirious love of edible delights. But after a few months of reading all the how-to guides, I still wasn’t able to piece all the fragmented tips together to see dramatic results in my pictures. So I turned to what has served me well in the past in terms of learning: books. In this case, I picked up a copy of Nicole Young’s Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots.
Overall, I would recommend anyone who wants a more thorough insight into food photography to read Young’s book from cover to cover. Even if you have a basic understanding on the subject, this book will serve as great reference material as you progress.
What does the book cover? She starts with the basics – camera functions, settings, lenses that are more appropriate for food photography – as you would expect. Then she really gets into the meat of the matter: lighting (natural & artificial), styling & props, and composition. The last two chapters are dedicated to post-processing in Photoshop and, my personal favorite, a behind-the-scenes guide to her process from beginning to end with plenty of visuals.
What I found particularly useful were the illustrations of her setup along with the photo associated with it. The illustrations show the placement of photography equipment, food and light source. As I’m a visual learner, these illustrations helped me grasp the concept of how to work with light or lack thereof.
What you’ll also find in the book are the exif data of her food photographs which explains what camera settings she used for any given photo. This information is useful if you want to try to recreate a similar picture/concept as practice. I didn’t go that far but it helped me wrap my head around appropriate settings for certain effects.
It is important to note that Young is a photographer but wrote the book in layman’s terms making the information easy to understand. For a subject that can run the risk of sounding too technical I didn’t find her delivery of the information dry. All in all, this is a book every aspiring food photographer should have within their grasp.