Food Photography in Emilia Romagna

When I decided that I needed to be more dynamic with the vlog, I asked people what sort of episodes they wanted to see. Overwhelmingly, people wanted to see a video style that I used to shoot before moving to a vlog format I called “Getting the Shot”. Essentially, in these episodes, I take people through the process of getting a specific shot. Pretty self-explanatory, right?

The idea is to tell people of my vision for a shot, and then walk them through the process of making that photo happen. Sometimes, it might take a whole day to shoot, film and edit. Other times, I’ll be able to knock out that image in 15 minutes.

Now, while the concept behind this style of episode is old, I really wanted to keep the vlog format so, it’s not stale – I hope. It’s still me out in the world, I just have a very specific goal for the day.

In the first installment of this style, I tackle one of the trickiest styles of photography that exists: food photography.  And, is there a better place on the planet to do a video about food than Emilia Romanga, Italy?

Quick Info on Shooting Food Photography

Tip #1: Lighting is Important

In food photography, the goal is to make the food look appetizing. To do so, you need to light the food properly. If you don’t the food will just not look tasty. It’ll have shadows, or be dark, or even a different colour. With this type of photography, having a nice even light, and as few shadows as possible, is so key.

Of course, in travel, you won’t have ideal light, nor will you likely have the tools you need to create the light. So, you have to be creative. Find an open window with soft light flowing in, or a nice white over-heat light. Also, one of the greatest food photography hacks out on the road is to use your cell phone’s flashlight to add some fill light.

Food photography

Tip #2: Composition is King

Maybe more than any other type of photography, composition is king in food photography. Not only should you have a visually appealing plate, but also a visually appealing composition of your plate and setting. Moreover, it’s important to style the scene as best you can – from the cutlery to the napkins, everything in your frame should have a purpose.

Food photography

Tip #3: Tell The Whole Food Story

Don’t just photograph the food. You should be creating a food photo essay. From the farm to the plate, and everything in between, you should be capturing the evolution and the history of the food you’re finally eating. You should be photographing the farms, farmers, cooks, wine cellars, servers, and even the tools that make the food. Tell the whole food story.

Food photography

Tip #4: Sharpness is Key

In all forms of photography, sharpness is key. In food photography, though, where the focus and sharpness is on the plate is key. Usually, you want to be focusing on the most appetizing part of the dish. Moreover, you generally want the focus to be at the front of the dish, fading back.

For the most part, most food photography is done at about f/5.6 to allow maximum sharpness on the part of the dish you’re trying to showcase. However, some will shoot as high as f/11 to make sure the whole plate is in focus. That, of course, is a style preference.

Food photography

Tip #5: Don’t Over-Edit

Finally, don’t over-edit your food photos. In fact, most food photos should come out almost exactly as you shot them. If you start messing around with contrast, sharpness, saturation, and clarity, your food is going to start looking less and less like food.

Personally, I hardly touch the sliders in Lightroom when I edit food. The only edits I might do are some clone stamping to get rid of some food splatter. Or, I’ll work the white balance to bring the colour to the natural colour.

Food photography

Some Photos from the Days in Emilia Romagna

Go easy on me. I only had 2 days to shoot these images. And, the circumstances weren’t perfect for food photography. But, that being said, as travel photographers we have to shoot the hands we are dealt.

Personally, I think I have the hardest time with food photography over all the other niches of travel photography. It takes a lot of attention to detail, and an art of composition that I struggle with. The technical stuff I’m good with; the art, not so much.

Food photography

Chef in the world’s second best restaurant: Celler de Can Roca.

Food photography

Chef rolls out some pasta.

Food photography

Chef prepping the pasta.

Food photography

Don’t forget the details.

Food photography

It was hard to photograph this plate before eating it all. So delicious.

Food photography

Bad lighting, strange looking dish, but it was delicious!

Food photography

Cheese. So much cheese.

What’s Next?

I did a video a while back called “A Day in the Life of a Travel Photographer”. It was quite popular. So, while on this blog trip, I thought I’d do another one of those videos in that series but make it “A Day in the Life of a Travel Blogger”. That’s coming up next.

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**This post was brought to you as a result of the #EuroFoodTrip campaign, created and managed by iAmbassador in partnership with Costa Brava, Girona Pyrenees and Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, I retain all editorial control of what is published.




Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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1 Comment

  1. Great photography tips and i think we must take right angle and best light to capture a great photo..thank u for sharing the tips it will be useful

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