If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram you know I spent the beginning of the year in a study of minimalist food photography. Even though my study ended and I’ve moved on to another series, I still find myself coming back to minimalist shots on a weekly basis because there is so much opportunity to explore more with them!
Minimal images are a great chance to explore food styling and hone your eye to the finer details of your work. They’re excellent for making food shine and for pushing your creative storytelling to work with only a few objects to construct a narrative. Here are a few of my top tips for stunning minimalist food photography:
Explore color combinations with ingredients.
Understanding the color wheel and color pairings can bring your food photography to a new level of mastery. This is especially evident in minimalist food photography where a lot of the coloring in the image is found in the food and garnishes. In the above image I went with a monochromatic image working within shades of orange. It created a soothing, inviting image that allowed the drool-worthy hummus texture to be the star of the show. You can also explore analogous and complimentary color schemes (among others) to find the right mix for your image.
Explore texture with your food styling.
Going back to the example above, texture really make this a “wow” image. I worked with contrasting textures with the smooth hummus and crunchy seeds to make it more dynamic, and even added more texture with the creased linen beneath. Layering texture negates the need for more props because it’s so appropriate for the world of food.
Become a master with lighting.
Light is one of the most important variables in food photography (and photography in general.) If you can nail lighting you can make even a super minimal subject look dynamic and interesting. I think the mark of a great food photographer is the ability to modify both hard and soft light to create a variety of moods depending on the tone you want to convey. It’s also worth noting that advanced photographers are able to use both artificial and natural light in their work. This opens you up to more options with your food photography and can enable you to create fantastic shadow patterns that add more depth to minimalist photography.
Think carefully about your prop choices.
A bad prop will stick out like a sore thumb in a minimalist image. Think carefully about what props you’re choosing and why, and make sure they’re supporting your main subject instead of overpowering. Sometimes I’ll replace my subject 3-4 times within a shoot to find the right dish for the image. It’s hard to say that any specific type of prop is “bad” or “good,” as a general rule, since I often find that even a very colorful or very reflective prop can be the right one depending on the goal of the image. This is where it’s important to hone your creative vision for your work so you can create something harmonious yet also authentic to you.
While I could go on all day about minimal food photography, these tips should go a long way in getting you to capture stunning food shots. Can’t wait to see what you create!