Like people, every kind of food has its own better side. In this article we’ll talk about camera angles for food photography: the 3 most common camera angles and which angle works best for for the dish you are shooting.
Choosing the best camera angle can make or break your photo. Unfortunately, there is no “magic angle” that works well for every kind of subject: the angle that make a dish look great, can flatten another dish. Your job is to understand the strenght points of your subject and choose the camera angle that brings out all its features. This doesn’t mean that you can’t try different angles for your subject, but when it comes to shooting the hero shot you’ll know which camera angle is best.
As I mentioned in this article, you should think about the camera angle during your photoshoot planning: this will help you understand which (and how many) props and backdrops choose, how to plate your food to create more interest and even which direction of light is best to use. For food photography there are 3 main camera angles: overhead, three-quarters angle and straight-on. Let’s see them in detail!
Overhead or 90° angle
This is one of the most popular camera angles for food photography on Instagram: at the beginning, there was an explosion of flat lays and large table scenes and this trend is still actual. If you are shooting with a smartphone this angle should be your best friend, because camera phones have a wide lens and tend to create a perspective distortion when the subject is near the lens. When shooting with a phone and at a three-quarters angle the distortion is more visible and can create a weird effect.
This is the perfect angle for storytelling, to shoot a large table scene with several objects or to bring a flat dish to life. 90° angle is perfect to practice composition and to play with shapes of food or props and emphasize them. Use this angle if you want to bring the attention to textures and garnishes.
Foods that look great when shot overhead include:
- table scenes
- soups and bowls
- tarts and pies
- cookies (when they are not in stack)
- pancakes and waffles (when they are not in stack)
- pasta and noodles
- cakes with fruit on top (i.e. apple cake)
Three-quarters angle or 25°-75°
This is the range of angles that are in between overhead and straight-on angles. The three-quarters angle is the most common angle for food photography: it drives all the attention to the food and it’s a great angle to show at the same time the top and the sides of the subject.
This angle is great if you want to focus on food and have the background and the foreground blurred. This is also the same perspective that you see when you eat food, so it’s the perfect angle to make the viewer hungry.
When choosing the angle between 25° and 75° pay attention to the container you are serving the food in: if you are using a bowl, remember that the food must be always visible. So in this case you should choose a 50° angle rather than a 30° angle.
Foods that look great when shot at three-quarters angle include:
- mugs and glasses
- ice cream and desserts in glasses
- muffins and cupcakes
- stacked pancakes
- pies (to show the filling)
- pasta and noodles
- soups with interesting toppings
Straight-on or 0° angle
This is the perfect angle to use when shooting tall or layered food, or when the sides of the dish are more interesting than the top. This angle works great for action shots too, like dustings and drizzles, and when you have hands holding a dish.
When shooting straigh-on, use a vertical background that pairs well with the mood of the photo, avoiding those which are too distracting. Avoid deep plates, as they hide the lower portion of your food. Choose rather flat plates, trays or wooden cutting boards.
Pay attention to the horizon line, that must be straight and shouldn’t touch the top of your subject.
Foods that look great when shot straight-on:
- hamburgers and sandwiches
- layered cakes
- stacked food (like cookies and pancakes)
- bottles and tall glasses
- pouring or dusting shots
- hands holding a dish
Camera angles for food photography: quick recap
The next time you are planning a photoshoot, begin by considering the kind of food you are going to shoot. Is it your subject tall and layered like a hamburger? Or is it a flat food, like a tart? Next, ask yourself which features of your subject you want to show and draw attention to.
Think about the angle that will give you the hero shot and plan the shooting accordingly, but when you are on set feel free to try and experiment the other angles too.
What’s your favourite camera angle? Do you plan the camera angle in advance or do you decide it when you are on set?