We would like to wish all South African’s an amazing and happy Heritage Day. To celebrate we would like to share these awesome tips to improve your braai food photography skills.
If you follow these easy photo hacks you will be capturing that perfect braai memory that will last a lifetime! So let’s jump right in!
- When Shooting Outside, Avoid Shooting in Direct Sunlight – even though Braai’s looks great in sunlight to the naked eye, shooting in direct sunlight can lead to harsh images that have high contrast, blown out highlights, bad shadows and colours (such as BBQ sauce) that often appear overly saturated. Move into the shade, make your own shade, or wait for some cloud coverage. You’ll find that diffused light evens things out and that beautiful chops will shine every time.
- When Shooting Inside, Find the Light – Short of investing in proper studio lighting, shooting a great braai image indoors is a pretty tall order. The artificial light in homes and restaurants, whether standard or florescent is simply not ideal. Diffused sunlight is still your best bet, and there’s usually at least one window that does the trick. Choose a window with lots of natural sunlight pouring in and use that light. However, the rule about direct sunlight still applies, so you’ll likely need to diffuse or soften the light. Try taping large pieces of white parchment paper over the entire window to act as a diffuser. You can also use a sheer white fabric curtain, a plain white bed sheet, or even a lightly opaque shower curtain… a clean one.
- Vary Your Angles – I often shoot an image three ways, (1) directly overhead looking straight down, (2) at about a 45 degree angle, and (3) just about parallel with the food. You can shoot the same food at these 3 perspectives and get 3 very different images. Every now and then I’ll shoot at, what’s known in the biz, as a Dutch angle. This is where you tilt the camera to create a slanted horizon line.
- Shoot Close – Zoom in tight on the food and really fill the frame with that delicious braai meal. I want people to almost taste the image. Sure, you can always crop an image later, but it never feels quite the same. Shooting tight will also give you those great shallow depth of field images that really make an image stand out.
- Take Action Shots – It’s not only about the finished product and I love to get images of people creating their secret braai sauce. I’m drawn to cooks throwing dry rub, slicing fat steak and ribs, pulling pork shoulder, and assembling that perfect plate for their guests. Their faces, their movements, their passion… these are always great images.
- Look Past the Obvious – Braaing is a beautiful mess and I love shooting things like a messy pot of sauce, a dirty knife laying on an equally dirty cutting board just after the meat was sliced, or a saucy basting brush… things like that. I find it really helps tell the whole story of braai.
- Edit! – All digital photos need some level of editing to make them pop, especially RAW images. And unless you’re a professional photographer, you don’t have to spend a fortune on photo editing software. In fact, there are many free photo-editing programs you can download for both PC and MAC and mobile users. I like programs such as Picasa, GIMP, Paint.net and even iPhoto. The most basic software will include key features that adjust brightness/contrast, hue/saturation and image sharpening. Think about all of the time and effort that goes into making that outstanding Braai. The least you can do is take some time to properly edit the images.
I hope these tips help you capture that perfect braai image this Heritage Day.
We would also like to end off by giving a shout out and say thank you to Grilling with Rich for the awesome article and tips.
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