Food can be a challenging subject to photograph, especially when capturing images in a restaurant or street food market, where you have to work with difficult lighting and changing conditions.
I often work with a Canon EOS M5, however a camera like the Canon EOS 2000D is a great and versatile alternative to a camera phone for any ambitious amateur food photographer. The EOS 2000D offers an abundance of auto functions that will make your life easy, but just like with any camera, experimenting with manual mode and adjusting aperture, shutter speed and ISO to the specific shot and conditions will with time enable you to squeeze the most out of your equipment (stick to auto-focus though).
London based food blogger Mike Tsang has learned a lot about how to capture street and restaurant food in the most enticing ways. Here are a few of his best tips.
- Apply the basics of food styling
Fried chicken tacos at Pergola, Paddington, London
Whether you are taking pictures of the street food from above or from the side, there is much one can do to improve the styling.
Evenly distribute and fill empty spaces with plates, side dishes, glasses and cutlery in a way that frames the food you want in shot. If eating from a small table, distribute the food and drink evenly to ensure you capture everything in shot using the Canon EOS 2000D and experiment by adding a little motion to the image. Pouring sauce onto the food is another creative way of filling the frame.
- Apply a little creativity
Yifang Fruit Tea, London
If you want your photos to stand out on Instagram it’s important to think creatively about how you showcase the items you photograph. You shouldn’t be afraid to have a little fun and try something different to encourage the viewer to ask “how did they do that?”
By setting your Canon EOS 2000D camera to a very wide aperture f/ 1.4, adjusting the ISO sensitivity to 200 and shaking the cup, you can capture drops of melting ice falling off your frozen tea!
- Capture motion and action
Thickly sliced crispy bacon, golden yolk & cheese enveloped in a soft milk bun, Daily Provisions, NY
Don’t just shoot static plates of food, experiment by adding an element of movement to your photos. Perfect examples could include somebody lifting noodles or pasta, a friend lifting a slice of cheesy pizza or people reaching over a table to devour some food.
Use a high shutter speed above 1/1000 second to avoid motion blur, and take the shots with natural lighting conditions.
Ask your friends to hold the food in a certain way so that you can practice and get the shot you want. And if you aren’t dining with a friend, with plenty of people eating at busy street markets just ask if they mind you taking a picture.
- Shoot from a side angle
Duck sandwich, Pergola London Market, NY
The classic street food photography shot is taken from the side, with a slightly elevated angle, to show the largest side of the dish. For the best results, the focal length on the Canon EOS 2000D should be set around 28-35mm, enabling you to get closer to the food and magnify the glorious detail and aesthetics of the dish.
Whether these particular shots are taken from a seated position or standing up, you should angle the camera at around 45 degrees.
To get that famous bokeh effect, where the food is in focus and the background is blurred, use an aperture of around 1.4
- Shoot from the side with no angle
Black Bear Burger, Hawker Union, London
Everyday street food such as hamburgers, kebabs and sandwiches can come in different heights and layers and are better captured close-up and from the side. For this photograph consider using a 35mm lens setting with an aperture of 1.4, then position the camera at the same height and as close to the food as the focus will allow. This will result in an impressive picture that highlights the food’s intricacy and deliciousness in stunning detail.
- Capturing a wintry dish
Finsbury Park, Grilled cheese sourdough, cheddar & chilli jam
On a cold winter’s night sometimes you just need to warm yourself up, and a hot cheese sandwich bursting with seasonal favours is a great option. The melting cheese has plenty of focus points and I recommend using a Canon lens setting of ISO 500, 1.4 aperture and1/40 sec shutter speed to showcase the sandwich layers, the bread’s texture and make the food look mouth-wateringly delicious.
Another tip to make your food look truly delicious is to show someone enjoying it – melted cheese and all. Point the camera from the side angle and show your subject taking a really big bite, simple!
All images were taken with the Canon EOS M5 using the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM. Mike Tsang also uses the Canon EOS 2000D for capturing street food photography.