There are many methods that professional food stylists use to assist in the creation of tasty looking food photography. But as photographers, working chefs or at home bloggers there may be times when hiring or consulting someone for food styling will not be feasible. Still, there are a few things to remember that may help you in achieving a great food photo and one of the easiest methods is to use crumbs within your shots. I consider it easy because there are no extra steps needed for making the crumbs…they usually just appear. Skillfully placed crumbs, (heck!, even naturally fallen crumbs) are a great communication vehicle within an image for multiple reasons:
What better way is there to convey the crumbliness of a particular cookie, pastry, or dessert than actually seeing the results laying around? Break a scone in half, use a utensil or tweezers to lightly rake across a cracker crust or showcase a piece of flaky pie crust next to a resting fork…without saying a word…the viewer knows the texture they are about to eat or emulate in a recipe.
Often in Food Photography, things can tend to get a bit staged and unless you are trying for a very artful photograph, then placing crumbs around a subject can help lend to a more natural image. Crumbs convey and exemplify action within a shot as well. Crumbs can change a stagnant subject to one that has been moved, placed, or shifted, making it recognized less as a passive viewable subject but more of a ‘moving possibility’…(wow, find some boots…it’s getting deep in here.) Having a little slop in your shots communicates a realness that many viewers connect with therefore, making the food you are serving or the recipe your are sharing just that much more accessible.
One can view crumbs like a game of connecting the dots. Since crumbs can convey the texture of a subject and help create the natural scene, making the food ‘accessible’, the brain starts to subliminally put things together and the mouth waters…Crumbs help decipher between just a good looking image and a plate that one wants to jump into head first.
This is why placement of crumbs is important. It is imperative to the success of the shot that the crumbs look ‘naturally fallen’ and not strategically placed. Crumbs that are too perfectly spaced in equal distance, or if a photograph has too few or too many, then the shot ends up looking staged and less ‘accessible’ and less tasty.
Crumbs also help compositions by filling in possible voids or holes in the image. They are, at times, better than the addition of another prop to fill these voids since crumbs are automatically created by the subject, so they already match in color and will not distract from the main subject or compete for the eye’s attention.