The Keys To Great Pizza Photography
If you dabble as food photographer, sooner or later, someone is going to ask you to photograph pizza. I’ve probably have shot pizza for over ten different clients over the years and from that experience, I’ve developed an understanding of what it takes to make a great pizza photo.
Lighting is the key to most good food photos. Lighting key #1 – The light must be kept behind and off to the side of the subject and LOW! Pizza is usually flat and you need a low light to get the most shape and texture out of the ingredients. Lighting key #2 – A mirror or second “main light” on the opposite rear side to edge light the ingredients on the “shadow side” of the main light. Lighting Key #3 – You’ll need a “glare light” to give life to the reflective toppings of the pizza some life. Those three lights aren’t all the lights I used on this shot, but they were the most important.
Composition isn’t all that important with pizza photography, not any more important than any other type of food photography anyway… Composition is ALWAYS important. There are two suggestions I have about composing a pizza photo. 1 – Keep the camera low to enhance the thickness of the ingredients, and keep in close to simplify the shot. Pizza tends to look like a disk of red camouflage, if you’re too far away… It’s just a busy-looking food, so keeping in close tends to help make a better photo.
Focus / Depth of Field – Whenever possible, I prefer to keep the front of the pizza in focus and let the back end go a little soft. I think it makes for a more romantic looking photo. I think that this applies to all food photos.
Props and Backgrounds
Color Pallet – I usually think of pizza as being an “old world” kind of photo and when that’s the case, I like to prop with earth tones. I don’t remember seeing too many successful contemporary photos of pizza. I’m sure there are exceptions, but as a rule, browns and wood work best. It’s not mandatory, but it ups your odds.
Contrast – While I like using browns, I always keep in mind the fact that pizza crust is brown too. It’s necessary to have sufficient separation between the crust and the background. Either you need to choose contrasting colors of the items that will visually touch the crust, or be able to light the shot so that the props and crust don’t blend together.
So, those are the keys to making great food photos. If you follow these keys, you’ll stand a great chance of doing a superb job on your next pizza food photo assignment. Any questions?