Top 12 moments to capture movement in your food photography

Post by
Ruth Stephensen
Top 12 moments to capture movement in your food photography

There’s no doubt that preparing food is a lively activity. It’s messy and noisy and there’s rarely time to be idle - especially when there’s heat involved. Some of the best food imagery captures this energy through depicting action and movement.

Building momentum and narrative through food photography is already challenging enough when the viewer cannot touch, taste or smell your food so how do you take them on a tasty journey through your images? You can weave a truly immersive food story by photographing the entire journey of your dish, from sourcing your fresh ingredients through to the final plating.

When photographing the cooking process there are many opportunities for you to build on your narrative by capturing movement and adding a human element to your photos. Using the beautiful photography of the Sydney Food Sisters as inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of the top moments for you to snapshot while in the kitchen that will help engage your viewer with action and fluidity.

1. Start with your recipe

Why not start from the very beginning as you grab your favourite cookbook off the shelf. Your recipe may be a handwritten heirloom or even on your smartphone. Try snapping a photo with it before you get your hands dirty!

picking favourite cookbook off the shelf

2. Picking and selecting produce

The most important part of any recipe is the ingredients and it goes without saying the fresher they are the better. If you are sourcing produce from a growers market or even your own backyard take your camera along for the ride as you select the perfect pieces to take to the kitchen with you.

a harvested box of fresh produce from the garden
picking fresh peas from the garden

3. Assembling your ingredients

Before you start to cook it is important to collect all the ingredients you’ll need for your dish. Once you have them all laid out it is a great opportunity to snap a pic. As well as being necessary cooking tools, your measuring cups and spoons make great props contain basic ingredients to you can arrange your photo.

preparing ingredients for candied popcorn

4. Slicing and dicing

This is a true action shot as you capture the chopping, grating, slicing and dicing. Busy hands at work always create such engaging and interesting photos so this is the perfect moment to get yours (or your helpers) mitts in the frame.

picking fresh figs

5. Crafting your dish

Now for the actual cooking! Whether you are applying heat or not there are many moments while assembling or cooking your recipe that provide a great opportunity to capture movement. From stirring and frying to preparing baking, these actions are all interesting to watch and document.

using cookie cutters on shortbread with cornflowers
pressing fresh homemade gnocchi

6. Adding a dusting of powder

A sprinkle of cocoa, icing sugar or flour adds such a beautiful dynamic movement to an image. Set your camera on burst to make sure you catch all the action and make sure your background offers enough contrast to make your powder of choice stand out.

adding a dusting of cocoa to dessert

7. Taking your dish from pan to plate

It might not seem like the most glamorous part of the process, but as with any of the moments we’ve outlined so far, it is a good milestone within your meal prep. This step allows you to pause and take a moment (without burning anything!) to capture a controlled and authentic movement in your image.

serving up macaroni into a bowl
serving an omelette from a cast iron skillet

8. Drizzling on some sauce

Nothing quite feeds the eyes like a good slow drizzle of sauce. Even without having any hands present in the frame, this pouring action is the perfect way to add some fluid movement in your shot. Liquids are great at capturing and reflecting light for some extra contrast in your image and you can also use the drizzle to create some texture as it pours.

drizzling some syrup onto a cake

9. Adding your Seasoning

We’ve covered slicing, dusting and drizzling but what about grinding? Grinding is a great movement that can get both your hands in the frame at once. If you don’t wish to grind on your seasoning then you can add a generous pinch or sprinkle of seasoning instead.

seasoning ingredients for fresh pesto

10. Getting artistic with your garnish

Now for the cherry on top! Whether it’s a fresh garnish of herbs, a piece of fruit or even an edible flower, your garnish is the finishing touch on your dish. Using a garnish is an effective way to add some colour and creative flair to your dish and capture the final placement

adding a coffee bean garnish onto an espresso martini

11. Serving your food

Now that your dish is complete it’s time to show it off before it gets devoured. This shot could be after you’ve plated it on the kitchen bench or presented it to the table. There are many angles and ways you can serve food to let the eyes eat first.

serving up a freshly prepared plate of food

12. The final chapter

Finally you’ve arrive at the best part - the eating! After toiling in the kitchen and capturing so many mouth watering images along the way it’s time to reward yourself with a tasty treat. You’ll just have to hope your friends, family or dining companions don’t polish it all off before you get a good shot of it being enjoyed.

enjoying tomato prawns with fresh bread
eating cake and a cup of tea

All images courtesy of Effi from  Sydney Food Sisters. *You can find Effi on Instagram at  *@sydneyfoodsisters and see more of her beautiful imagery.

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