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Food Photography Tips: Use These Creative Devices

by Stephanie Faris
photo & video

Penny Food Photography

Penny De Los Santos has traveled across the world to capture her award-winning photographs, some of which have been featured in National Geographic magazine. While there are many talented photographers out there, Penny believes elements called creative devices can take artists to that next level.

“Creative devices are ways to help you elevate your photographs,” Penny explained during a session at CreativeLive Photo Week 2015. “These are ways to make your photographs more engaging. It will bring people in faster. It will elevate your images so that they feel more special.”

Moment
If you can capture a moment in a photograph, Penny finds it can create a once-in-a-lifetime type of photo. As an example, she mentions the moment when a person serves a slice of pie and the person at the table has his eyes closed.

“I was at this dinner a few weeks ago and my friend made matzo ball soup,” Penny says. “There were three people in front of me. Two people were sucking it down and the other had this smile. It’s on my Instagram. That was the moment. It was that good.”

Some of the best “moment” photos Penny has seen have been taken after the meal is finished. When diners have had a great meal and are simply relaxing and enjoying themselves, great photography can happen. She demonstrated a photo of an empty plate with a few leftover bones and a knife and fork as an example of a perfect after-dinner moment photo.


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Details
When a photographer can capture an extreme close-up of an item like a piece of food, it can be extremely beautiful, Penny has found. Capturing details like glazes or drips can be extremely artistic and unusual.
“It can communicate ‘yum’ in a way that maybe an overall shot of the food doesn’t,” Penny says.

Rule of Thirds
When taking a photo, experienced photographers know not to center an item, but to break it into thirds. Penny suggests incorporating that concept into iPhone photos.
A great photo is often a combination of some or all of the above. Light, composition, and shadows may make one photo stand out, while a moment can be very powerful when combined with details.

Shadows
Penny kicked off her list with shadows, which can be an important creative device in a photo. She always looks for shadows when trying to take an image to the next level.

Light
The first thing Penny looks for is beautiful light. The way a light falls across a subject can create an effect that wouldn’t be there without its presence.

“The more of those creative devices that you can get in one a photograph, the better your photograph is,” Penny advises. A photographer can take photos to the next level by always being curious. Penny emphasizes that artists should never stop looking for that perfect photo opportunity.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip, 25 Roses, and the upcoming Piper Morgan series.