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How to take product shots for social media

Social media plays a crucial role in promoting business, and when it comes to food, the right picture can make all the difference. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of those mouth-watering product shots that you see on Instagram?

In this blog Emma Arthy, also known as Camera Monkey, shares her experience of capturing the perfect shots of Monkey Business Catering’s menu items for their social media and website. From finding the right source of lighting to playing dress-ups with their cheeky Monkey mascot, Emma takes us through the ups and downs of her steep learning curve in food photography.

She also shares the tips and tricks she learned from her photography training and local food photographer, Kat Lynn from Foodie Shoots, on how to avoid shadows and colour casts and achieve consistency in the images using Adobe Lightroom.

So, whether you are a business owner or a food enthusiast, this article will give you some insights into the art of taking product shots for social media.

Lessons learned from a week of food photography

Day 1

Head Monkey: ‘I want to do a photography project – I want to photograph each item on our menu to upload to our website …’

Camera Monkey: ‘Yay, awesome!  I’ll dust off my DSLR!’  (In my head: ‘Holy moly, fingers crossed I can remember my photography training’)

Day 2

Task – Find the right source of lighting – set up our mini studio on location and that using the camera on our phones are the way to go rather than my ancient DLSR …

Day 3

Decide that our mini studio isn’t quite in the right spot for lighting and move it over to the corner to the filtered light …

Day 4

Take masses of photos and play dress ups and have fun with our Monkey mascot and menu items … cue delicious smells coming from the kitchen and rumbly tummies while trying to photograph food that’s a feast for the eyes as well as the belly!

Day 5

Upload photos and discover arch enemies number one and two of food photography are shadows and colour casts …

Day 6

Slowly come to the realisation that a) this isn’t going to be as quick and easy we thought and b) that we should slow down on the actual photo taking part and look at doing some photography training first …

So, while the world deals with the ongoing effects of COVID and we await for normality to somewhat return; we, the monkeys of Monkey Business Catering, have been using this momentary pause to reflect, refine and prepare for our relaunch.  

Each of us during this pause have been working on different projects. They have ranged from menu development, cooking and taste testing new menu items, and writing blogs among many, many other things. For all of us it has in some way meant learning and developing new skills, and then putting them into practice. My main project is a fun one and has transported me back to my love pre-marriage, motherhood and Monkey Business Catering … back to a world of photography.  

Dusting off DSLR

It has been about 10 years since I undertook some photography study at TAFE; so, while jumping into food photography has been fun, it has also been a steep learning curve for all of us involved. There have been vast changes in the industry since I was studying, and the biggest one is that we are using the camera on our phones rather than dusting off my ancient DSLR. 

I’ve also been getting my head around updated programs such as Adobe Lightroom, which I had not used before. It has been a journey of watching photography tutorials (The Bite Shot is one we found really good) and discovering what light works best and what does not. As well as utilising training offered by local food photographer, Kat Lynn from Foodie Shoots and above all else taking masses of photos of food!

Playing with lighting

Playing with the lighting and texture has been a rather interesting task. It’s one that has been often been fraught with frustration as we deal with issues with shadows and colour casts, and how to avoid them.  This has been the hardest thing to get right and most consistent across all our pictures, particularly those for the website. 

One thing I learnt through my earlier photography training (and then again refreshed during the recent training) was the importance of trying as much as possible to get the photo right in the camera equals less time required in the editing phase. All in all though I’ve been very thankful for Kat Lynn from Foodie Shots for her assistance and training regarding light and editing in Adobe Lightroom, which has enabled me to tweak the images to achieve the consistency we are after.

Many of our planned social media pictures have involved playing dress-ups with our cheeky Monkey.  This has probably been the most fun part of the whole project, with dreaming up different scenarios and working out best to pose him to interact with the food and props. Look out for him in up and coming blogs!

Back to business: Catering services available with flexible options to suit your needs

While it has been nice to slow down and take time to focus on some much needed business development, we, the ‘Monkeys’ are set ready to change gears again and switch back to being in the kitchen more to look after your catering needs. Please know that we are currently open for business and here to assist you with any catering needs you may have!  

With COVID-19 restrictions easing and changing constantly, we hope to see you all in the near future on a delivery run. Keep an eye on our website for the ever changing menu with options ranging from COVID safe individual boxes to full event service (available when the restrictions are not in play). 

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