Before you read this post on Food Photography Basics and wonder why on earth I am taking pictures of empty bowls and plates, reading the first two posts in the series may help.
At the end of the second post I had asked for suggestions on what you would like to see next. Thankfully, most of you opted to see the bowls I have and what I think works best for food pics when it comes to shapes, colours, and types of bowls and plates to use. (I got really lucky ‘cuz if you guys had picked shutter speed, I wouldn’t have had time to do this post today).
So, before we take a peek into my collection, I have a couple of disclaimers:
1. This is not by any means an authoritative post on anything. All I am doing is sharing what I have and how I use them in my food pics. If you found anything useful in here, I would consider this post a success.
2. I didn’t get time to edit the pics much beyond adding my watermark so bear with me and look only at the contents of the pics 😀
3. All typos are due to exhaustion and susceptibility of my left wrist for coming down with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Alright then. Onto my collection.
I thought I will share the set of bowls that have received the most attention. Each time I use these I get questions on whether I photoshopped them to match my food, where I got them, how many colours are there, etc.
This is the entire set – 6 colours. The bowls are small and slender and I got them as a wedding gift from my dad-in-law’s friend. This one of the very few wedding gifts I use regularly – and how!
Here are some examples of pictures taken using these bowls. I think I’ve used the black one the most.
Next are ramekins! I got them about three months back and have used them in every other food pic I take – almost! I love ramekins. To begin with, they are white, and white works best for food pics in my opinion. It makes the dish stand out and these are just the right size for you to take gorgeous pics. The corrugated sides are so pretty too. I am a total ramekin fan. Does it show?
I got these in Singapore at a baking supplies store in China Town. They were about S$ 1.30 a piece and I thought that was a steal. Maybe you get them cheaper in the US, I’m not sure.
Here are some pictures I took using these.
My pretty red and black bowls are next. I bought these at a roadside stall during my second week in Singapore because I didn’t have anything to serve noodles in! They were really cheap (I think 50 cents each) and came with these tiny dishes that the Chinese use to serve their sauces in. I have used these in a few pictures and love the shape! A totally good buy, even though unintentional at the time.
I also used the small sauce dishes in the Andhra Paruppu Podi picture.
I have only two black bowls, the ones you see below. They were a gift from TH and thoroughly overpriced. He got them at Nick Nish in Forum Mall, Bangalore for 90rs a piece. That’s robbery, right?
I am not really complaing because I have used them in quite a lot of pictures. They travelled with me to Singapore and were sensible enough not to break or crack under all my other luggage.
Black looks really good when you ‘shadow’ the picture in Picasa. I have heavily ‘shadowed’ all my pics taken in this bowl and it blends nicely into a black background, bringing the entire focus on the food.
Here are examples:
Good ‘ol steel bowl comes next. I have a few of these but used only one for the pic since the others are all in the fridge. These are bowls that I have in the kitchen for my day-to-day use but invariably find themselves in some picture or the other when I want them to feature in an authentic Indian recipe.
I am terribly under-stocked in good steel bowls and make do with these much-used, hand-me-downs in the kitchen.
Here are examples of some steel bowl goodness:
Like I mentioned before, I feel white works best for food pictures since its neutral and also bounces light well back on to the food. The other white bowls I have (apart from the ramekins) are below. Some I brought with me from India and some I got in Singapore. None of them are above S$ 3 a piece.
The white rectangular tray
Food pics taken in this:
The white round bowls
Food pics taken in these:
The wide beige-white Ikea bowls (60 cents a piece)
Food pics taken in these:
These are the only plates I have apart from my everyday steel plates. I got these at Mustafa a week after we arrived in Singapore and needed some plates to serve guests (when we made friends and they came to visit!)
I think these were about S$ 2 a piece and I bought four. I am glad I went for basic white because they form a great base for ‘loose’ food and I love the pictures I took with these in them.
Food pics on white plate:
Here is the answer to my coloured backgrounds that many of you have asked about. Construction paper! I bought a pack for 4 dollars and they came in most of the common colours. These are A4 size so I always have to bend and break my back to make the entire picture fit in this size. But I still love them. The yellow and the blue ones you see in the pic are ruined because of oil marks on them. That’s the flip side, you can’t just wipe them with a wet cloth and re-use them, sadly. But you can always buy another pack 😉
I use these in almost all my pics but here are some example pics where I have received the most number of questions about what background I used and whether I photoshopped the colour in. Photoshop is good to have, but really not necessary, trust me!
I also bought some tissues recently from Ikea. These could form good backgrounds or bases for food pics. I haven’t tried them yet but I have a good feeling about them.
Blind-like coasters also make very good bases for food pics. I had a few when I was in Hyd but I brought only these two with me to Singapore. When I buy coasters, unless they come in pairs, I buy only one. That’s all you need anyway so why waste money.
Ok, now who wants to help me put away all these and clear up the mess? Oh God! I need to do this before TH comes to iron his clothes. This table doubles up as my photography area, ironing table and the study table from where I work if I need to get something done over the weekend.
There is a window to the left, my primary (and only) light source when I take pics.
I buy a bowl or a plate whenever I go shopping. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just colourful and of the right size. If you are just starting out, I would highly recommend getting some plain white bowls. I have a square white bowl on my wishlist, as well as a round wooden bowl to shoot raw ingredients in.
Once I am done cooking, I open my cupboard and look at these beauties inside. In under 2 mins, I instinctively know how the final picture should look like. I see it in my head. Starting off with a small yet good collection will give you flexibility and motivation to take it another step, buy that extra bowl and notice things in others’ food pictures that you may not have before.
Its fun, isn’t it? I am glad I got on this bandwagon of food blogging when I did. Its made me a better person. Fatter, but better 🙂
Cherie @ FoodRecipesEasy
That's a fantastic collection. Though U named it basic …but I call it detailed. Thank U.
Glad you like it!
i ve been following ur recipes for a long time and have been trying it. everytime it turns out really nice and appreciated.. I love cooking and started with baking cakes i ve been trying to write my blogs and urs is a big guideline for me to start with. ur ideas of photography are very impressive and well explained. i happen to have a small collection of kitchen wares and now i will surely use it as directed by u..
thanks a lott keep rocking .
Thanks Nags.I have been reading your post regularly.Being a new food blogger i was not sure what to purchase , this post was perfect for a new bie like me.Kudos to you.I am going to read the basics and intro post by you .