Street food photography is a great way to tell deep cultural stories when travelling around the world. Like any other form of photography, food photography is about storytelling. Street food culture is a huge thing especially across Asian and parts of Europe and a great way to interact with the community and tell stories of how they interact with their food.
But what does it take to capture amazing street food pictures? I am going to detail out everything you need to take great street food pictures and how you can brush up your skills in street food photography.
It is important to note that street food photography involves the ability to take great food pictures in a very short amount of time. It’s a moving set with a lot going on and you need to have an idea of the kind of story you want to tell in advance.
This is often neglected in the food photography space as the pictures are usually taken fast and without much thought being put into the kind of story you want to tell.
So here are some great tips on how to rock your next street food shoot whether you are doing it for your food blog or trying to become street food photographer.
Pro Tips for Awesome Street food photography
1. Everything is about telling stories
This is the most neglected angle in food photography. People feel the need to tell stories with all other forms of content but food photography. However, having a story and a creative idea and using your tools to actualize those ideas is a master skill in street food photography.
Unlike most forms of photography, taking pictures of street food is not only about the food but a fine blend of food and culture. Your pictures should not isolate one from the other. You are not only trying to capture the food, but also the emotions, art and passion behind those dishes.
Capturing that delicate balance is what sets good street food photographers apart from the great ones. It’s a skill that cannot be taught in a classroom or a course. You have to feel it at the moment, trust your judgement and take that shot.
2.Choice of lenses for street food Photography
There is a popular belief in the food photography circles that one great food photographer influenced a whole community. That’s the explanation that’s always given when you ask why so many food photographers use the 50mm.
One photographer did mind-blowing work with the 50mm and everyone thought the magic to their success lay on the 50mm. Well, I have nothing against the 50mm. It’s a great lens but you need to understand your equipment well before just going for it because your favourite food photographer is using it.
My biggest drawback for 50mm is that you need to be really close to the food to get great depth of field and that leaves you with almost all your images looking alike after. Not exactly what you want as a street food photographer.
100 mm macro lens is hands down the best lens you can invest in for street food photography and food photography in general. It’s an awesome lens and gives you a little flexibility to take super close shots as well as take great shots from 8 steps back. This solves the similar images situation experienced with the 50mm.
Here is a great resource for some of the best lenses for food photography.
You need to always have a few accessories on you to prop up your set. Nothing too complicated and difficult to carry around. Just the basics to enhance the shot and develop a theme or a story. Plain street food photographs look awful and to mitigate that here are some must-haves in your bag:
- A chopping board
- A few spoons
Pro tip: Try to keep the cutlery wooden, Wood just comes out better in the shots
4.Experiment with different backgrounds
The set-in street food photography is a complicated one and it’s important to make the best of the situation. The most basic being to play around with the background to get variations of shots. With close-ups play around with you prop kit to find what works best.
In most cases, street food though tasting amazing will look pretty bland and it’s up to you to prop it up to whet the appetites of your audience.
In wider shots try different variations as well, Maybe capture an angle that tells a different story.
5.Humanize your shots
As I had indicated earlier, the most important aspect of street food photography is capturing the delicate balance between culture and food. The emotions, passion and faces.
You want to incorporate these elements into your story, by showing human faces, or hands holding the food. Develop human interest by showing food in hands, or images of someone about to eat and stuff like that. Never when one is eating because that never come out well. Like never.
But all these boils back to the kind of story you are trying to tell in your pictures.
Street foot photography is a creative endeavour to capture compelling balances between society and their food and need to be based on a greater story, but with basics covered you can tell compelling stories through your pictures.
Don’t get too caught up in details on what camera to you use and what Tripod to get, because if that’s what you are concerned about, then you are not taking pictures.
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