My love for Thai food started at a very young age when my mother introduced me to it. I remember loving Pad Thai so much I asked for seconds every time!
As time went by, I was introduced to more and more Thai food. I frequented Thai restaurants near my area and researched ones that are supposed to be good, but I had to travel for locally.
My stomach would always be satisfied after leaving these restaurants; however, the curiosity for the authentic Thai standard was not. So, when I started working, I decided to save up and head to Thailand for my first trip abroad. Knowing that this trip is something I will remember for the rest of my life, I geared up to make sure that I capture every foodie moment I get. Having said that, I want to share with you the best tips on how to take great food photos when travelling.
The first thing you need to make sure is that your gear is complete. It doesn’t matter what equipment you are going to use to take photos. It can be a camera or just your phone. Just make sure that you have backup battery packs, power bank and even extra storage to make sure you don’t miss out because of gear limitations.
Get It While It’s Hot
I am known to get annoyed with friends who take photos before eating, but it should be known that there is an exception to that rule. When taking food photos while travelling, it is always best to take it when the food is freshly served and prepared. I only do this when I travel and not when I eat at my usual go-to places. Obviously, food photos will look more appetizing if it has not been eaten yet. This is more inviting to the ones who will be looking at it and will make them wonder how it tastes.
No Blurred Photos, Please
The risks of blurred photos are higher if you are using a smartphone to take photos. Smartphones don’t have the same shutter speed as cameras. If you are using a smartphone, the best thing you can do is make sure that your hand is steady. If you are using a camera, just make sure that your shutter speed, ISO, and depth of field are fine tuned to your standards. Nothing ruins a food photo more than blurriness!
Mr. Sun is Your Friend
I find that the best lighting you could use when taking photos is natural light. When we use artificial lighting such as flash can be too harsh. Plates can be shiny at times, so when we use flash, the colors and textures of the food might not translate beautifully into the photo. If we use natural lighting, we don’t create unnecessary and unflattering photo reflections.
Now Is the Time to be Curious!
I went to Thailand to satisfy the curiosity of how authentic Thai food tastes like. So, when I got to speak with locals and asked them as many questions as I could. I think the locals also like this because it makes them feel appreciated. I made a lot of friends in Thailand because they were so willing to educate me about food and culture. Remember that food is a great unifier, so being able to capture its beauty is of utmost importance.
Less Is More
You know how people usually do a flatlay of their things and food? When travelling, there is absolutely no need for that! Keep it simple! Of course you may organize the table to make the food look good in the photo and you are free to use the items on the table to give your photo more context and character, but there is no good reason to go beyond these “props”. The food should be the star of the photograph – nothing else.
Find the Source
Truth be told, when I went to Thailand, I mostly visited hole-in-the-wall places and authentic restaurants. I mostly went to the markets. In these places, it is usually eat and go, so you cannot expect a lot from the interior and location. What it does have, though, is character, and that is more than enough for me. You don’t need to be in a fancy restaurant to take great food photos. Likewise, being in a fancy restaurant doesn’t guarantee great food photos. So, go where the source is.
Look at Food from a Different Angle
When taking food photos, it can be a little monotonous if you just take pictures of your plate. During my trip to Thailand, eating in the market gives you easy access to the kitchen. You see how your food is prepared. This gave me an opportunity to take photos not just of my food, but also how they are prepared. Take photos of the kitchen, the chef (if they give you permission) and the restaurant. This is an opportunity for you to fully document the memory. Personally, whenever I look at the photos from that Thailand trip, I still remember the smell and the energy of the places I visited. Everytime I think about it, I remember something new.
This is something tourist often overlook, but it is very important to ask permission when taking pictures whenever you travel. Some locals may find it disrespectful. Remember, you are the tourist and you are in their turf, so show some respect. Always ask before you take a picture of them or their restaurant.
During my time in Thailand, I always reminded myself this. Being in a new place, it can be overwhelming and you want to document absolutely everything! But, we should not miss the experience for the metaphor, if you know what I mean.
The most important thing is to enjoy. Don’t get too caught up in taking great pictures. Remember, you are there to enjoy the food and immerse in the culture. Great pictures are just awesome bonus!