Have you ever been frustrated as to why the photo of your best cake ever (that took you hours and efforts to bake) just doesn’t look like the ones in the food magazines or on your favourite food blog?
Since I've started running DOLCE, it has happened quite often that people have asked me about the pictures that I post on my socials or on the website... And somehow they never believe that I've personally shoot all of them!!
This makes me really happy, of course, as it means that they are kinda good and look professional! The reason why I shoot them on my own, it's because photography is my second big hobby! I am quite lucky actually, because with DOLCE I have the chance to develop also this passion! Of course, I cannot pride myself and call me photographer (I am waaaaay too far from being a pro) but I really enjoy it!
Everything started when my parents - few Christmas ago - gave me, as a present, a really good camera. Since then, I started to watch some youtube tutorials and videos to get to know how to use it (it's not super easy at the beginning). And I also started to bring my camera all around the world during my travels (plus I "used" some of my friends as models for some photo shootings... But that's another story, ahah!!). Actually, the pictures that I prefer are portraits, food comes right after!
Shooting pictures of cakes - and food in general - is not that easy and you have to take in considerations a lot of things! And when - as me - you can only rely on them to sell your products, it becomes extremely important to know how to take good ones that can highlight the beauty of your desserts!
In this post I want to share with you some of my best tips - that I have learnt only from experience, trying and re-trying with my pastries and cakes... Enjoy!!
1. Use a tripod
First of all, even if we are 100% healthy, we must realise that our hands naturally move and shake when we take photos (that's absolutely normal, no worries)! The consequence is that, of course, our pics are not perfectly on focus and could be shaky.
To avoid this issue, you can either invest in a tripod (you can find some cheap ones on Amazon), or made your own one. How? Just place your camera on a stack of books or on a box! In this way, also, you will keep the view and the height of the cake consistent and with the same perspective, giving your pictures a motif.
2. Invest in a good camera and learn how to take the most out of it
Nowadays you can get some great shots from the camera of your phone... However, if you run a cake business (as I do), you will eventually need to invest in a decent camera as well! I was lucky enough to have already a good camera (as I told you before) when I started DOLCE - a Canon EOS 1100D, with different lens. Now I have few others more specific for videos and particular type of pictures...
Anyway, once you buy one, it’s very important to read the manual and get to know your camera, play around with it and start to understand what's the best setting for your cake. Knowing all the features of your camera is very important to get your perfect shot!
If you feel very lost, don’t panic! You can rely on the auto setting - that will do most of the hard work for you or, as I did, you can watch some easy tutorials on YouTube!
3. Choose the right surface
It may seem useless, but choosing the right surface can make a big difference on your pics!
Wooden cutting boards and picnic tables can give a more rustic effect and may look better for more home made food, while classic white plates can bring out the colour of your foods and give a vibrant twist. Basically, you'll want to choose a surface that best line up with the food's aesthetic and is able to highlight the features of your cake.
4. Create settings and backgrounds
No one wants to see an amazing cake with a pile of dirty dishes behind it! Just get some wall paper from a DIY shop and use this as background.
As you all know, I play with the background colour a lot - I like the bright ones! It is incredible how different a cake can look on a different colour background... But I mean, "proof is in the pudding" (or in the cake, in this case), right?
5. Style your cake
Cake styling has to be something fun... Especially if it's for your own use or personal blog! Use your fantasy and personal touch for your food pictures. I like to use some of the ingredients that are present in the cake for food style pics and also flowers! But you can also cut and slice a cake to show the layers and the inside, or style with vintage cutlery, cake stands and fancy plates. I generally prefer bright coloured tools and quite simple styling.
6. Natural light
The biggest mistake you could do when shooting a picture of your cake is using the flash. The flash doesn't highlight the colours of the cake, nor does it bounce light off properly; it can also make the background look mucky.
A natural light is way better or you can use a soft, diffused light.
If you're taking a picture under natural light, the best is to do it by a window on a chilly, overcast day (quite common here in London). If you're taking pictures in-studio, try using a reflective surface to bounce and diffuse natural or artificial light onto your item.
I do both, and for a soft diffused light I use 2 soft box lights (usually I use this technique when I take pictures of menù items, so when I need a pretty simple and clean picture).
Generally speaking, is better to avoid lighting from the front, because it creates harsh bright spots in your photo. This can make your food appear "flat" and tasteless!
7. Vary your camera angle
Get creative not only styling your cake but also trying different angles when shooting your baked goods. From directly overhead, tilted, shooting into the edge of the plate or table, and so on... I sometimes find myself in some strange positions to take different angled pics!!!
In this way you will show your cake in a different way than most people would see it.
Do not under estimate the importance of the editing part!! This is also when you can have fun using filters and options that reflects your personality!
My favourite app to edit food pics is Foodie (I’ve found out this one when I was at Le Cordon Bleu and a lot of students were really into food photography) and Snapseed (this one was a suggestion of a wedding stylist!).
What matters the most is that you are consistent and don’t decrease the quality of your picture. When scrolling through Instagram pages, it is more pleasant to the eye to see not only beautiful pictures but also a consistency and uniformity of the gallery!
And when it's me on the other side of the camera? I know you may have thought so - as I am actually in a lot of pictures that I post online.
In these occasions, the photographer is my boyfriend!! He is not a pro as well, but we share together this same passion about photography, that's why he is always happy to help me with my pics!
I hope you will find these little tips helpful, but - as I said - I am just an amateur photographer!! I am happy to know your tricks and if you are a professional, please feel free to give me your suggestions or even correct me if I am wrong!!
Time to go now, so enjoy the reading and remember: you can't buy happiness but you can buy a cake. And it's kinda the same thing!