Your creative and successful composition is sum of so many little things and I truly believe once you learn the fundamental basics of composition, colour theory and light - your journey to capturing stronger food imagery will begin. Food is your subject but composition is the book that tells the story.
Capturing effortless looking food images requires inspiration, vision and planning. It is not just pressing the shutter button and hoping for the best - it is actually understanding the composition of you scene and having the vision how it will look.
I wanted to start this blog to be able to share some straight forward composition tips and image analysis to help you tell a stronger visual story. Even the smallest changes can make a massive difference in the visual balance of your scene and how you make your audience feel.
First image I will have a closer look is this simple yet visually pleasing strawberry granola capture.
Colour harmony to create balance and emotion
The image has a very feminine feel to it due to the colour choices I made. Pink emphasises sensitivity, romance, combined with the red - the image has strong energy and passion. Purple is colour of creativity. Orange tones of the granola and the backdrop bring healthy and organic feel to the capture.
I wanted to have a very natural feel so analogous colour harmony was the obvious way to go. Analogues colour harmony is any three colours side by side in the colour wheel. This colour harmony is the most calming and well balanced.
Do check out sample of my upcoming
e-book "Colour Theory in Food Photography" here.
Composition techniques create visual flow
One of the important foundations of good food image is to create captivating composition that will draw your viewer into the scene and keeps them focused.
Composition is tool to guide the viewer's eye around the image and into your hero - without good composition your audience will feel lost in your capture.
Composition is not set of hard rules you would need to follow to make an engaging image but it is a guiding principals which are used universally in photography and art. Let's see what compositional techniques I have used in my capture.
Composition grid - Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle composition grid also know as Golden Ratio consists of four triangles created with imaginary diagonal lines.
The placement of your subjects on the intersections of the diagonal lines and/or along the main diagonal line will allow for a natural flow and will guide the eye through the frame.
With the correct object placement you will create very organic triangles in your image. Triangles are one of the strongest methods on guiding the eye around your image.
Repetition of shape
Repeating shapes and patterns in your capture makes your image feel calm and cohesiveness. Human brain likes consistency so including same shapes in your capture makes the viewer feel relaxed.
Your repetition can create strong geometrical symmetry or it can be as simple as focusing on same shape dishes or ingredients. The idea is to create harmony and repeating shapes and patterns does exactly that.
Rule of odds
Naturally we would think that even numbers would bring balance to an image but actually it makes the viewer feel that there is no room for them.
Odd numbers allow your audience to imagine themselves in the scene as there is just that one extra plateful for them. Odd numbers create a feel of community and sharing.
Focus on 1-7 elements in your capture as after that you really need to have your math head on. Do keep in mind that one subject can sometimes be seen isolated but strong. So do think about the supporting actors that would complement your hero.
Leading lines is a technique I use every time, as it is simple yet very powerful. In my capture you can see the object placements that guide your view into the subjects and to the desired focus point. Leading line will also make sure your gaze will not be wondering out of the frame.
With leading lines you aim is to place your supporting objects/props to point to your hero, but in an organic, natural way. You do not want to place objects pointing away from your focus point as when leading lines are placed correctly they will keep the viewer focused on your frame.
Layering is another fantastic way of adding textural interest to your capture. Layers add depth to overhead captures that can sometimes look flat and without dimensional interest.
In my capture - layering starts with my backdrop, topped with crunched up napkin, my plate, my yoghurt, granola and finally strawberries. The colours have enough contrast to complement each other and every layer has a different texture. All these layers add interest to the image.
Layers can be anything from backdrops, textiles, ingredients, cutlery, other props. Just keep in mind your colour balance and try to add light on top of dark and vice versa.
Framing means literally creating a frame around your subject, your hero. Framing keeps your audience focused and engaged on your capture and their gaze won't wonder off. Framing also keeps focus on your subject.
In my capture the supporting ingredients - strawberries and granola bowl with the spoons are part of my framing, same as the soft pastel pussy willow branches. They keep the frame "closed" and guide to the focus point. The pink plate acts as a frame for the dish.
Remember that shadows become part of the framing as well.
Creating a visual story starts with a vision of a food scene. Applying right compositional techniques your vision will come to life and by adding your knowledge of colour theory - you will tell a captivating story that intrigues and engages.
I truly hope you enjoyed this image analysis and found it useful, I would like to hear your thought or questions you may have.
Looking forward to capturing more delicious dishes and sharing tips about composition and colour theory.
Marianne from Deliciously Captured