Food videography

Food Videography [5 Tips For Shooting Awesome Content]

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In this article, we show you how to step up your food videography game 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 bigger production with a full crew.

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

Food Videography and 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.

High angle mid shot

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. Soft Back Light

Firstly, let’s look at 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).

Key light setup with bounce board

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

food videography lighting diagram 1

Soft light is always your friend in beautifying something, and with food videography it’s 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 Board

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 backlight as the main source and then bounced it back onto the plate (using a cheap reflector).

With food videography, you want to make the dish look as appetizing 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

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 backlight. 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
food videos lighting diagram 2

The same setup was also used for the frame below, with the hard backlight helping to really make a liquid stand out.

Close up soda in glass

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!  

4. Close Ups

Finally, food videography is all about making something look appetizing, 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. Obviously, these aren’t cheap but are a worthy investment if you want to really focus on food videography and or product 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 possible and 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 similar.

5. Movement

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 videography that does this.

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

Food Videography – Wrapping Up

In short, these are just a few examples of how to quickly improve your food videography and make great content.

But when making any type of product video, whether it’s food videos, short films, or even an interview, try to remember all the key components.

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

Archie Guinchard
Archie Guinchard
Archie is a freelance director & DOP. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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