Livecasters, you’ve seen the food we do on this show right? Great tasting dishes that anyone can do. We’re convinced that food doesn’t have to be fussy to be delicious and it doesn’t have to contain a laundry list of ingredients. We’re also convinced that food has to look good too. Face it, Aunt Sherry’s Thanksgiving slop potatoes and puke-green boiled peas piled in a heap doesn’t exactly make you hungry, I don’t care how much of an embedded tradition it is at your house. If you’ve seen our recipes page, you’ll know that we put a lot of love and care into making food look exceptionally delicious and it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort.
In a world where you have a camera everywhere (even on the back of your SUV), we want to see your best photo of your favorite dish. Go to our recipes page for inspiration or make your own. Here’s the catch. You must print out our logo and insert it into the photo (get it here) to prove that it is YOUR photo. If you don’t have a printer, put the logo on your smartphone or tablet and slide it into the picture. We want to see your food done right and we want YOU to give US your best shot. Send all entries to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title of your dish, your photograph attached, and your full name.Get the logo here!
Submit all photos to email@example.com by Nov. 15, 2012!! No late entries will be accepted! You can submit as many photos as you want but if you move onto the next round we’re only picking one of them!
Contest and Prizes
We’re going to do this with a little March Madness flair: brackets. After the deadline we’re going to pick our favorites and put them one-on-one with another photo and go round by round. The king (or queen) of the hill at the end gets the prize. We’re not saying what that is yet but trust us. It’ll be worth your time so don’t delay in submitting a photo to us!
Lynn’s Food Photography Tips
Lighting is the single most important part of your photograph. After all, photo literally means light! The best light is also free. Pick a window somewhere in your house during the day that faces north or south. This gives you a great looking diffuse lighting that is incredibly pleasing when it comes to food. Avoid lighting with lamps or the yellow hued lights in your house fixtures. They aren’t flattering for the color or the contrast and are often times way too dim for your camera’s sensor. Please don’t shoot with a straight on flash, that just looks naaaaasty. For the livecast, I use an off-camera flash with radio triggers bounced on Sam’s flat white ceiling. However, this is all to simulate a good, soft light source like window light.
You’ll want to compose all the elements in a meaningful way. Start by determining the focal point of the dish. If it’s chicken and rice, we shouldn’t be looking at mostly rice with a sprinkle of chicken! Feature your beautiful centerpiece (but remember, it doesn’t have to be in the “center” per se, your eyes just need to be drawn to the focal point of the food)! Less is more. Don’t over plate because your eyes are naturally drawn to individual elements and the more you pile on the sloppier it gets. Include interesting side things like eating/serving utensils, roughed up napkins, drinks, etc. but remember that those do add to the clutter of the final photo so be reserved. I always tell Sam to plate less on the final photograph because I can always add elements if they are too sparse. If there’s too much it’s more difficult to take away from the dish.
A lot of food today is photographed with a simple “over-the-top” angle. This is a staple among food magazines and blogs because it emphasizes shape and depth while the plate or bowl quite literally frames the food. Downward 45 degree angles shows a person how one typically see’s a dish when they sit down. Side angles can emphasize height but can also obstruct elements. It’s up to you to choose but be creative! Your angle also determines how much food is in focus when you’re using a narrow depth-of-field camera like a DSLR. Don’t think that because most of the frame is out of focus that it’s artistic! I often shoot at f/6.3 or smaller with my lenses on the show. Blurry food just makes me mad that I can’t see what’s on the rest of the plate clearly.
Foods are a rich amalgam of colors and textures. Light influences both and your best shot will be a good contrast of one or both or those things! Light that’s less parallel to your camera emphasizes crispy texture and casts long shadows (tip: if your light can only come from above, move your camera downward and shoot from the side to capture texture and vice versa). If you have too much brown on your plate, lift it with a bit of green garnish (remember less is more). You can also use other elements to contrast such as height, width, size of plate-to-food ratio, etc.
Please submit your final photos WITH physical proof that it’s yours embedded into it (like a cell phone with the livecast logo on it or a physical printout of the logo next to your dish) to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and title of your dish. Don’t forget to place our Livecast logo in it so we can verify you took the photo! We’ll sort through the entries and notify you if you make it to the next round!