Mouth-wa­ter­ing tex­ture

Food pho­tog­ra­phy re­lies on con­vinc­ing the viewer to take an imag­i­na­tive bite

NPhoto - - Niko Pedia Freeman On... -

Food pho­tog­ra­phy has be­come one of the most spe­cialised gen­res of pho­tog­ra­phy, and is in great de­mand both ed­i­to­ri­ally, for mag­a­zines and books, and com­mer­cially, for ad­ver­tis­ing. This is hardly sur­pris­ing, given that it has be­come one of the Western world’s great life­style ob­ses­sions. Above all, food is in one way or another be­ing sold to the au­di­ence, and that means it has to look ap­petis­ing.

How mouth-wa­ter­ing a dish looks is the most im­por­tant gauge of suc­cess in food pho­tog­ra­phy. Fash­ions change, but the cur­rent trend is for close fram­ing and selec­tive fo­cus, which help to make the viewer feel the food is right in front of them, and ready to eat. The ar­range­ment and the light­ing aim to con­vey tex­ture, be­cause the way food feels in the mouth is the sen­sa­tion that trans­lates most eas­ily from pho­tog­ra­phy. Even though the recog­nised tastes now num­ber five (sweet, sour, bit­ter, salty and the rel­a­tively re­cently adopted ‘umami’, mean­ing a kind of lip-smack­ing savoury taste), in the West tex­ture stands apart. The Chi­nese, by con­trast, for­malise it with the term ‘kou gan’, which roughly trans­lates as ‘mouth feel’.

Selec­tive fo­cus plays a vi­tal role in em­pha­sis­ing tex­ture, be­cause it con­cen­trates the at­ten­tion on very small ar­eas of the dish, and if you ar­range the food so that two or three dif­fer­ent tex­tures are all in fo­cus – as in this shot of a con­tem­po­rary In­dian dish – the viewer can take in all of these tex­tures at a glance.

Grilled pom­fret served in a con­tem­po­rary style, with viewpoint, fo­cus, ar­range­ment and light­ing (nat­u­ral late af­ter­noon sun­light) all geared to show off the con­trast­ing tex­tures of fish and veg­eta­bles

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