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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
All images courtesy of @sydneyfoodsisters. Effi is the guest mentor for our July 15-21 creative challenge ‘Meals in Motion’ and will be featuring her favourite entries and feedback on the @creativelysquared Instagram account. You can find Effi at @sydneyfoodsisters on Instagram. We invite you to join Effi and the rest of the Creatively Squared community for another moving week of experimenting with motion in food styling.