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Improve your food photography composition skills  category blogposts

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Do you still struggle with bright and airy flat lay images or you are just curious how to improve them? II hope you do, because today, we will dive into the behind the scenes of this bright and airy flat lay breakfast scene - I will show you my set-up for this shot, tell you more about the equipment I used, and we will dive into my creative process of choosing the colours and props. I will also share about the lighting and composition. 

At the end, you will find a few tips, if you want to experiment and practice bright and airy food photography images and create a similar scene. And if you do so, remember to tag me @healthygoodiesbylucia, so I can see your image and give you my feedback.

Excited to start? Let me then, tell you more about how I created this bright and airy flat lay breakfast image.

Equipment and tools I used for this image

I used a Canon 50mm 1.8 prime lens and a full frame camera Canon 6D mark ii. This lens allow me to capture a larger scene. I use this lens mostly for flat lays, due to the distortion they cause with other angles. If you have a crop sensor camera, due to the crop factor, you can get 35 mm lens. These will create almost the same focal length as 50mm on a full frame.

Then, I used a C-stand. I positioned my lens further from the scene, so we could get a deeper depth of field. When you move your camera further, you also minimise the distortion in the image. C-stand allows you to get larger distance from the scene, that’s why it’s necessary to shoot tethered. Then, you will need a simple Manfrotto Adapter to attach the camera on the arm of the C-stand.

If you don’t have a C-stand, you can use a simple tripod too. Visit this blog post, if you want to know more about the equipment I use.

Lighting Setup for creating bright and airy flat lay image

This time, I shot with artificial lighting, and I used my Godox FV200 and continuous light. Instead of a soft box, I used a diffuser, which I positioned next to the scene. I prefer directing light straight to the diffuser, because I have more flexibility to play with the intensity and direction of shadows. 

When you use an artificial light and you create large scenes, it happens that the light is not strong enough to lighten the entire scene. This wasn’t different while creating this shot. To solve such situations, various factors come into play: camera settings - you might want to increase the ISO or lower a shutter speed, a reflector, and having a larger light source. If you want to lighten enough your scene, you need to combine all of these factors.

I also teach lighting inside our Members’ Club. There are a few resources about Lighting Principles in food photography, how to work with natural light and how to work with artificial light is coming very soon too.

Combining various composition techniques

In this image, I combined various compositions. First of all, I used dynamic symmetry to place the objects. This composition is perfect for larger scenes, thanks to many lines and interesections it offers.

Then, I also used leading lines, C curve, visual balance, and dynamic tension. All this helped me create very harmonious feel.

Analogous colour scheme for creating an harmonious vibe

Analogous colour scheme is my favourite one, as it adds a harmony and sense of calmness in the images. I got the idea for the colours when walking in a supermarket and searching for fruits I could use in this shot.

I got inspired by the purple and magenta colour of the plums and grapes. I also had blood oranges with beautiful red colour inside. Then, we have croissants, that have orange colour. These colours are sitting next to each other on the colour wheel, that means, we are working with an analogous color scheme.

When I think about morning, I imagine a bright feel, being energized, excited and inspired for a new day. To make this storytelling be perceived more in the image, I wanted to add the yellow colour, that would represent these emotions. For this reason, I added a tea, that has this beautiful colour. And to make it more visible on the scene, I used transparent glasses, that let the colour shine and create these beautiful highlights.

Props and background for this bright and airy flat lay 

The correct background and props are very important for food photography image. They can’t compete with the main hero, but should move the attention towards it.

I love working with neutral colours and patterns, so the main hero always stands out. Also, as we are aiming for creating that bright and airy feel, I chose brighter props.

I decided to use a beige neutral tablecloth, which adds the home feel. Then, I am using a simple brown/grey plates, that are going to have the most important place in the scene. Pink vintage plate has a beautiful colour that matches the fruits, that’s why I chose to use it.

The large plate has a green colour, which doesn’t fit into this scene, but we will cover the center with croissants and desaturate green from the final shot after.

Transparent glasses will help us highlight the tea and add beautiful reflections on the background.

Conclusiona few tips for re-creating this bright and airy flat lay image:

If you wish to create a similar bright and airy flat lay image, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • When choosing the ingredients, think about what could fit into the story you want to tell. All your ingredients should make sense. You can get inspired by my image, in that case you will need some croissants, fresh fruits and a tea, eventually a marmalade.
  • Choose fruits with colours, that sits next to each other on a colour wheel. These scheme is called Analogous colour combination, and it’s is ideal when you want to create a sense of calmness
  • Use winder angle lens for capturing larger scene. Having a C-stand will make the process smoother, as it allows you to get further from the scene.
  • Use neutral backdrop and props, and let the main subject be the centre of the attention. They do not disturb our viewer and the main subject beautifully stands out.
  • Your light source should be large enough to create bright image. You can use big window, or a larger diffuser (if shooting with artificial light).
  • Make your shadows softer, if you want to add freshness in your photo. If your shadows are too dark, you will need a white card to reflect the light back to your scene.
  • Use various composition techniques, when composing larger scenes, we speak about them inside our Members’ Club, in the masterclass

  • If you want to learn more about lighting, you can also get my mini guide about How to work with light in food photography. You will receive this guide after you join my free 50tips series of food photography tips and tricks. 

    If you share you photo on instagram, tag me @healthygoodiesbylucia , I'll be happy to see your image!

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    Watch this reel to see how I built this scene

    Thank you for reading!

    If you want to dive into food photography, and take your skills to the next level, I invite you to join our Members’ Club. We have food photography courses there, other masterclasses, an amazing community of other like minded creatives. This is the environment that will inspire you, motivate you and help you progress more and faster towards your goal. 

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    Hi there! I'm Lucia

    Award Winning Food Photographer, Teacher, Business Coach, and, Founder of FOODlight. 

    I am passionate about food photography, online business, sharing my knowledge & building a community of amazing like-minded creatives, such as yourself, that inspire and support each other. 

    Feel free to reach out to me via my email or via Instagram, I'll be happy to connect with you!

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