Thanks to smartphones, Instagram and yada-yada-yada, food photography — or “food porn” as some freaks like to call it — is having quite its moment.
You know what your cousin ate for dinner last night, and you know that Bob nailed that doughnut at lunch today. Food photography is what it is — raw info on raw food; straight shots of espresso shots; a continuous serving of tasty visual morsels. It’s pretty basic, right? Shooting food is easy, was always easy and has been mastered, right? Wrong. When everyone is doing it, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.
Vantage spoke with pro food photographer Anjali Pinto, based in Chicago, about her start in food photography, and how to make your dinner look amazing.
Vantage: How did you get started?
Anjali Pinto (AP): I fell into shooting food when I moved into Chicago. I was always interested in food and restaurants, as my older sister works in the industry. In college, I was studying photojournalism and was passionate about telling stories, but wasn’t cut out for hard news. I get far too attached to people, and invested in their lives. Being a reporter didn’t feel like a great fit for me. I would pop in, take photos, and hardly ever see or speak to that person again.
In comparison, with food photography, I’ve been able to develop relationships with chefs, servers, bartenders, PR people and photo editors. It’s felt like home since I started because I’m passionate about all things culinary, and I haven’t stopped learning.
Vantage: What is your favorite type of food to shoot?
AP: More than the type of food, I love shooting in natural light with in-season ingredients. The vibrancy that comes from that combination that makes me really excited.
Food is a magical thing — it nourishes and it brings people together. I love visiting farms and finding out where our ingredients come from, and meeting the people who are responsible for growing and cultivating.
Vantage: What elements make “good” food photos?
AP: The most important factor is lighting, just like all other types of photography. Control of light and manipulation of light is key. When I use artificial light, I have one key source and a reflector. I want to mimic standing by a huge window whenever possible.