Every food blogger knows that there are some foods that naturally photograph better than others. Think bright, fresh colours. Interesting shapes. Gorgeous cakes.
Then there are “brown foods”. Some of the most delicious food in the world are not very pretty, and this poses somewhat of a challenge for us food bloggers.
Curries. Stews. Lentils.
So how do you capture the deliciousness of “brown foods” in photos? Here are my tips. I know some of these foods aren’t “brown foods” but they have the same problem as curries and stews.
1. Scoop some up or stick a spoon in! If you have a big pot of largely monotone and food, “break it up” by scooping some out with a ladle or spoon, or stick a serving spoon in. This is the single most effective way to add interest to a big pot or big casserole dish of food.
Do that with big bowls of “brown stuff” too!
2. Small amounts – just show single serving, or a small dish of it. That way there is less “brown food”dominating the photo!
3. Add sides and props – this breaks up the brownness, adds colour or “lightness” to the photo. You don’t need to get fancy with the props. Just place a bit of mashed potato or whatever you are serving the “brown food” with on the side (or under it). Add one or two props with a subtle pop of colour (in the Beef Rendang above I used lime leaves and a scrap of cloth in the back ground).
In the photo below I went a bit too far with props, but it’s a good example of what you can turn a single bowl of red gloop into with the help of props and sides.
4. Garnish LOTS – garnish, garnish, garnish. This is my mantra for everything! I always have a little dish of chopped up parsley and shallots/scallions in my fridge (not just for photos! I always garnish my food with this in “real life”).
The chicken in the fry pan in this pic would be one big black blob if I didn’t garnish it extensively.
5. Use the soup styling trick – place a cut onion or small bowl inside the bowl before piling the soup bits in so they “stick out” above the surface of the soup.
In this photo, there is a small rice bowl in the soup bowl. I think piled the filling on it so it sticks out the top. If I didn’t do this, all the mushrooms would sink and all you would see is the brown soup. (And then of course, I also garnished, garnished, garnished!! Croutons, parsley AND parmesan!!)
6. Only show PART of the pot – if you have a big pot of brown stew and want to shoot up close, cut out around 1/3 of the pot in the pic. The off centre adds interest to the photo. And don’t forget to GARNISH, stick a spoon in or do something to add interest to the brown YUMMY gloop!!
I know this isn’t brown food and it’s a sloppy styling example because I didn’t wipe the side of the pot clean….but it’s a good example of what I mean about only showing part of the pot.