The Expert Guide, Part Two
WELCOME to Part Two of my Expert Guide on shooting brilliant food videos.
In Part One we covered the kit you need, so if you missed it – just click here for all the info…
Now we get to move on to just how to actually style and frame your professional looking food videos.
Think about where you are shooting. The set-up you choose can really add production value to your shoot and provide instant clarity.
Outdoors with lots of greenery can really add value to a clean food shoot
A rustic table can be the perfect backdrop for simple foods
A cosy corner can create the mood for a warming soup
Get used to thinking about locations, and also start thinking about adding in some ingredients in the foreground between you and your subject. It makes viewers engage straight away and spells out your style.
You can have the most expensive smartphone, be a talented chef and have really amazing ingredients, but one of the most important skills for food shooting is one that is often forgotten – your basic understanding of food styling!
USE SMALL PLATES
A small, perfectly plated dish looks much better than a large plate crammed with too much food. Smaller portions always look better, as the proportions work better on film. You can always add more, but start off small and use salad plates and small bowls.
BUY SMALL FOOD
When you are shopping for food that you are going to shoot, look out for smaller portions. Small fillet steaks, small sized fish, small perfectly formed fruits and berries will all work better as you can fit more in your frame.
When you are arranging food for a shoot, always start creating in the middle of the shot. Think about how your shot is going to be framed. If it is a main course, put your food like meat potato and veg in three areas. If is it something like fruit or cupcakes, try and group three or five items together on a plate.
ODD NUMBERS WORK
Always place an odd numbers of ingredients on a plate. Research shows our brains equate even numbers to completed groups, and we move on fast, but odd numbers make us stop and take note, so always stick to odd numbers to create dynamic recipe compositions on your plate.
MATTE IS KEY
Whatever you are putting your food on, a plate, a bowl, a chopping board, make sure that it is matte. You don’t want to see yourself or smartphone reflected back at you, so anything matte takes that headache away.
USE YOUR INGREDIENTS
Don’t be afraid to use your ingredients. If you have made a pie, think about putting a dish of butter or a carton of blueberries on the table around your finished dish. If you have made the perfect pasta dish, have a bottle of great olive oil, some ripe tomatoes or a bunch of herbs in your shots. It makes the viewer engage better as it tells a story, which means an instant emotional connection.
THINK ABOUT LAYERS
Layers are what create depth and add interest in food videos. Think about a bowl of granola with the yoghurt and fruit piled on top. Put that bowl on a plate and add a napkin, then have some cutlery and an orange juice next to it, and you get the picture about how layers can really add production value.
MAKE IT HUMAN
Adding a human element into your food videos is a popular way to tell your story. Adding in a hand or arm can help capture viewer’s attention because they feel as if the photo has been captured from their own point of view. It can also be used for added emphasis, i.e. hands with mittens on around a steaming hot chocolate, a linen shirt picking up a summer organic platter.
MAKE A GARNISH THE STAR
Small garnishes really count. Adding fruits to an açaí bowl, seeds on top of that, brings in attention. Don’t forget herbs on top of soups or stews, some sea salt in a pile next to a simple boiled egg or some sprinkles layered around a slice of chocolate cake. It all makes a huge difference.
BUY DOUBLE INGREDIENTS
Be aware, when you are doing a food video, something will always go wrong!! Professionals always buy double the quantity of ingredients needed, so you don’t have to run to the shop mid-shoot when your avocado is brown, or you drop the last two eggs. Always have double ingredients to hand to save time and stress!
USE FAKE ICE CUBES
These are one of the BEST additions to a shoot day. They can be used in drinks and to keep your dishes fresh, but their cult status for food videos is as a filler. Add to a bowl or cup that you are filling with soup or a latte, and you won’t need so much. Add your croutons or chocolate powder, and they save them from sinking, as these fake ice cubes act like a hidden shelf below the surface and save you masses of time and hassle!!!
STYLE UP YOUR SHOTS
Let your inner stylist run riot. You can have the most perfect dish of food, but what can make a good video into a really great one is your personal styling. Grab some props, a great tea towel, some fresh herbs, small dishes of sea salt and black pepper, a small vase of garden flowers, a recipe book open think about what would elevate the production value of your videos.
If you want to run a series of food videos, think about how you want these to look before you start. It is best to have a consistent style, so choose certain elements you like to run through the series.
Pick a Style
It could be that you always use the same colour or patterned backdrop, you may love baking shots with cutters and pretty decorations in the shot, maybe you shoot food on a garden table with amazing cut flowers every time. Get some inspiration from Instagram and see how many of the popular food vloggers have their own distinct, individual style.
Use great Colours
Think about the colours of the food you shoot and how you can get them to interact with the backgrounds or contrast.
Keep your eyes peeled for props when you are out walking in nature.
Acorns, chestnuts, pine cones, and beautiful pebbles can all make wonderful additions to your food photos and help tell the story of the season you are shooting.
Choose your Mood
Think about the mood you are creating. A simple cup of tea can look cosy if shot by a fire, can look calm paired with a book of poetry or clean when placed on a white tablecloth. It is all up to you.
Simple props are all around. Think about adding a recipe book in your shoot next to some key ingredients. Or grab your laptop and place it next to a plate with a healthy snack to illustrate food on the go.
Produce up your Prep
Remember to shoot a variety of shots of your preparation, not just the final dish. Think about how to make the pouring, the chopping and the whisking shots all look slick.
Having the right tools on hand and knowing how to use them can make your shots look much more professional. Here is what to add to your video shoot kit.
TWEEZERS and off set tweezers are vital for removing tiny bits of food from your perfect shot
STANLEY KNIVES are great for creating perfect clean edges
SMALL PALETTE KNIVES for smoothing food down or fluffing things up
PAPER STRAWS quickly remove liquid from drinks that are full or use them to blow on food that needs to melt
DENTURE CREAM works really well to stick things together fast
MINI SIFTER for icing sugar to hide any burnt sides or disguise non-perfect bakes
BRUSHES – pastry brush, fan brushes and different size small paint brushes are great to add dressing or oils on food or basting meats
PLASTIC WEDGES & MAKE UP SPONGES in a variety of sizes for propping up food or tilting it towards the camera
COCKTAIL STICKS and wooden skewers are great for holding things in place
SMALL PLASTIC SQUEEZY BOTTLES mean adding sauce is foolproof
WATER SPRAY BOTTLES can add spritz to salad and fruit to make it look fresh
CORN SYRUP and olive oil are great to brush on food for instant shine
PEPPER GRINDERS that grind in a variety of sizes for pepper and sea salt
COTTON BUDS to clean up any spills
So that’s it. All your video food shoot questions answered, but if I have left anything out, do feel free to drop me an email on the link below.
Happy Food Shooting Everyone