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Food Porn, General, Must-reads, Techniques

Food Photography Trends for 2016: From the Ones Who Know Best

9 Jan , 2016  

“There is no higher compliment for a food photographer than to hear that people feel hungry after seeing your shots,” says professional photographer Tinkesh A.

Indeed, isn’t that what all those pictures of food are meant to do? Make you wish you were eating the food instead of seeing it? But while the rest of us are content with a few Instagram filters, what are the trends that professionals have to work with going into 2016?

Here’s what photographers and stylists have to say…..

Keep it simple

Image credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

Keeping it simple is the motto for 2016. Image credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

Chef Nitin Tandon, food stylist and photographer, points out the key fact – food photography for 2016 is trending towards “food realism”. “People are looking out for more honest food photographs,” he says. For food photographer Sanjay Ramchandran, the trend to keep things simple has to do with plating. He says, “These days, so much is happening on the plating front, especially garnishes—various types of micro greens, food dust, different sauces or rubs, dehydrated herbs and fruits, you name it”. Hence, he thinks that a photographer needs to keep things on his or her end simple, in order to allow the food to really stand out.

Rustic charms

Image Credits: Sanjay Ramchandran for Nimisserie, Bangalore

Raw ingredients will be used to bring a dish to life. Image Credits: Sanjay Ramchandran for Nimisserie, Bangalore

Chef Nitin adds another layer to the trend toward simplicity, saying we can expect a more rustic look and feel: “Dishes are simple, while raw and bright ingredients are being used for garnish. For example, a lavender flower, red currants, bunches of cherry tomatoes are all used to add colour and life to the dish. Small, colourful flowers are in trend these days”.

Image Credits: Amrita Diwanji

This year will see the rise of the ‘farm-to-plate’ approach. Image Credits: Amrita Diwanji

Photographer Amrita Diwanji agrees, enumerating on the shift in focus to a more rustic vibe: “Moving into 2016, I think one of the biggest trends will be the rise of the ‘farm-to-plate’ approach. The focus will be on artisanal ingredients like homemade cheeses and the freshest organically grown vegetables”.

Trends in lighting

2016 will witness more use of natural lighting. Image Credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

2016 will witness more use of natural lighting. Image Credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

With lighting, too, it seems ‘less is more’ is the approach to take. Ramchandran believes that the texture of food is all-important when it comes to capturing a great image. For this, one needs “a beautifully lit, simple shot”“Natural light is the best light for food photography,” Tinkesh believes, and Chef Nitin, too, agrees, also stating that we’ll witness an increase in the usage of warm, yellow lights.

Natural light works best. Image Credits: Sanjay Ramchandran for Claridges, New Delhi

An image shot using natural lighting. Image Credits: Sanjay Ramchandran for Claridges, New Delhi

Telling a story

This year, expect to see more props. Image Credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

This year expect to see more props with your food pictures. Image Credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

For photographer Krishna Angira, commercial food photography demands vary according to the brand image of your clients. He does, however, add this: “There are some fixed trends which will continue in 2016, like detail-oriented shots with soft lighting. We will see more storytelling shots with very creative lighting and the use of different props”. According to Diwanji, the big challenge food photographers will face is capturing the story behind the places where lovingly picked, raw ingredients come from.

Social media remains king

Social media will continue to be the largest platform to depict beautifully plated dishes. Image Credits: Sanjay Ramchandran for Claridges, New Delhi

Social media will continue to be the largest platform to depict beautifully plated dishes. Image Credits: Sanjay Ramchandran for Claridges, New Delhi

Hardly a surprise, social media will remain the main medium through which we’ll be seeing photographs of food. Chef Nitin says, “All stories will be woven around the digital world”. He adds that 2016 will be the year videos (and dare we say GIFs) of food will really take off: “Motion picture is the mainstay now,” he opines.

Diwanji believes the same: “The usage of short videos for social media will explode. It’s a great window to display the various stages of skilled craftsmanship behind that beautifully plated dish”.

Negative space and mystery

Expect more large plates and platters being used to create negative spaces. Image Credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

Expect more large plates and platters being used to create negative spaces. Image Credits: Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company

Ramchandran believes that great plating and the actual plates used to, and will continue to play a big part in bringing the story behind an image to life. He says that we’ll see more large plates and platters being used to create negative spaces. Also making use of negative spaces is off-centre plating (plating the food in one corner of the plate). The colour in trend, according to Chef Nitin, is blue-grey slate. Expect to see “deeper, darker, and sombre tones”. “Pictures that leave you guessing and set you thinking are the chosen ones,” he says.

So now that you know the trends in what pop culture calls ‘food porn’, why not try clicking some mouth-watering images yourself? Tag us on Instagram and we promise to feature the best clicks!


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Freyan Patel is a Mumbai-based freelance writer who nourishes her fixation with good grammar by writing high school-level English textbooks by day and fretting over typos in tweets by night. She also indulges her unhealthy obsession with food by eating, dreaming of, and occasionally writing about it in her free time. She likes funny people, reality TV, words that are fun to say, pina coladas (but isn't too keen on getting caught in the rain), and anyone who gets her references to corny retro songs.

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