Editor's Note: Mark Hill is Director of Photography for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Although I have been in love with photography since I was 12, my first serious relationship with the subject began as a wide-eyed intern in New York City. A well-regarded food photographer took me under his wing and taught me all aspects of the craft, starting with a respect for the food that nourishes us.
For me, the key to good food photography is that whatever you are shooting needs to looks fresh from the kitchen. Not all food is inherently beautiful - a rack of ribs, for example - but if it appears fresh and hot out of the smoker, it will look appetizing.
The plate needs to be composed in the kitchen as carefully as you frame your camera. Look at how the food is plated. Ask yourself if the most important element is highlighted. If not, rotate the plate to make it more prominent. Does the garnish enhance the plate or distract? If it distracts, reduce or eliminate it all together. Don’t be afraid to move things around.
Here are a few tips that will really make food images their best. They all apply if using the fanciest digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or mobile phone camera.
Don’t forget the prep
Flash vs. natural lighting
Find a place that is lit evenly, but not too directionally, such as under a spotlight from overhead. Grab a candle from another table and have a friend hold it near your lens to boost the ambient light. If you have a tripod, use it and set your shutter speed to 1 to 4 seconds. This will allow you to yield a less noisy image.
Get low and close
Clean plate club
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