Food videography How to Shoot Food Videos

Food Videography: How to Shoot Food Videos

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In this article we show you how to shoot food videos in the quickest and easiest way possible 😉

There’s a huge market for food videography, whether that means working as a solo shooter for a local restaurant or working on a more complex shoot with a much larger crew.

So let’s spend a bit of time going over a few tricks and tips that work well for making food videos.

Let There Be Light…

Lighting is one of the most important elements of film, and food videos are no exception!

Below are a couple of frames from a project called Off the Block.

food videography

Firstly, we only had a small four man crew for this shoot so we were slightly limited with assistance. In addition to that, we only had a 5-10 minute window until the dish changed.

As a result, a fairly generic approach was needed, often lighting a frame and then tweaking the set up for each new dish. In order to achieve this, we used the following basic set of lighting rules (which worked well!).

#1 A Soft Back Light…

Firstly, let’s look a back lighting. This is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to light a plate of food. In the examples below, we used a ¾ back light for each plate with a large soft source (Aputure 120d II + light dome).

That was the only light source in each of these two frames. A soft source helps to remove any harsh and unflattering shadows.

Key light setup bounce board
food video lighting diagram 1

Soft light is always your friend in beautifying something, and food videos are no different!

In both of these examples the light is diffused by a light dome. However if you’re strapped for cash, a shower curtain draped in front of a light source can be a great alternative!

Close up main dish

#2 Bounce Bounce Baby

Secondly, bouncing is a great way to lift an image and add some fill light to any frame. It’s also another way of achieving a softer quality of light.

In both examples we used the back light as the main source and then bounced it back onto the plate (using cheap reflector).

For food videos you want to make the dish look as appetising as possible, so any form of diffusion, like bouncing, will help. 

On the opposite side of the camera, there was a poly board painted black, as negative fill. This is something we’ve covered previously and it’s a great way to add dimension and contrast to an image.

#3 Hard Light & Soft Light Work Great Together!

Thirdly, when shooting food videos, don’t be scared to use hard light alongside softer sources. It’s nothing to be afraid of and can add loads of contrast to an image!

Below is a little test we did, where there is a very hard back light. We used a smaller Fresnel to do this, and then shaped it with some black wrap.

As a result, the hard light separates the can from the background, helping it stand out against the blue gradient. 

Close up soda can
soda can video lighting

The same set up was also used for the frame below, with the hard back light helping to really make a liquid stand out.

close up coca cola

However please remember this is just a starter guide and a loose set of guidelines for food videography. These techniques are something you can build on or use how you see fit!  

And Then There Was the Close Up

Finally, food videos are all about making something look appetising and using a close up, or an extreme close-up, is a great way to do this!

Remember to always try and get as many close ups of details as possible 👍

Obviously we don’t notice it when we are eating, but the tiny details on a plate really make all the difference. For any type of food videography, getting a close up shot can make a plate look better.

macro lens

In order to do this, you usually need a macro lens, however these aren’t cheap! But it’s a worthy investment if you want to really focus in on food videography and creating food videos.

Alternatively, if you can’t quite make the jump yet, you can cheat a little bit.

If you have a 4k (or higher) camera, you can get as close up as you can, and then crop the image in post. This won’t look exactly like a macro for various reasons. BUT, if you can’t afford a macro lens just yet, this is a great way to get something pretty similar.

Keep On Movin’

No one likes boring shots of food with nothing going on. For this, movement is key. Remember camera movement is a great tool to help make a frame more interesting. There are some great examples online of food videos and food videography that does this.

Even if it’s something as simple as pushing in towards the plate, this will elevate your content and make it just that bit more engaging. With food videos you can go crazy. So do it!, have a play and keep on moving.

Final Thoughts – Food Videos

In conclusion, these are a few examples of key components in food videography that can help to make great videos.

But when making any type of product video, be it food videos, short films or even a talking head, try to remember all the key components that creates a great frame.

Good framing and composition can go a long way in improving anything. So take some time to think what you can do to make your food videos even better.

Archie Guinchard
Archie Guinchard
Freelance Director/DOP

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