The 5 Reasons Your Food Photos Suck

From blogs to Flickr to food message boards, everyone seems to be taking photos of their food for all of us to appreciate, but it's tough to enjoy crappy photos and far too many of them suck.

Take just a few minutes to search Google or Flickr for any food item, and the searches reveal a giant steaming pile of blurry, grainy, over-saturated, blown out and, God help us, Polaroid-inspired Hipstomatic photos. Something has to be done!

In a small attempt to free the Internet of food-photo tyranny, we present you with the five reasons your food photos suck. Keep your eyes out in the next few days for the five ways to fix those mistakes.

5. They are too dark.

No matter how cool that smart phone might be, it can't shoot pictures in darkness. In fact, you need a tripod and a pretty fast lens on a good camera to get a shot in a dimly lit place, so why would you think you could get a great shot in low light? You can't. Stop it.

4. They are too bright.

Just as bad as the darkness is the direct sunlight. Oh, sure, everything is well lit, but when the delicious gravy on your biscuits is so white it looks like icing on a wedding cake, we all lose. Worse is when the center of your image is a weird blue-white color. That, my friend, is a crappy flash. Stop using it.

3. Your food is too far away from your camera.

A wise man at a photo seminar once explained why parents often take horrible pictures of their kids. They dress them in the most uncomfortable clothes possible, push them up against a beige wall and proceed to take 20 steps backward before snapping the shot. Too many food photos are shot at a distance where what you are eating, no matter how delicious it might be, looks like a giant pile of mush. Plus, you get a background consisting of your friend's hand, a dirty napkin and a half-drunk glass of iced tea. Gross!

2. You shoot your picture looking straight down at the food.

If you want a photo that is suitable for a menu at Denny's, stand directly above your plate and shoot straight down, making sure you get the entire plate in the frame. Congratulations, you just took a perfectly un-appetizing photo that will make those who see it sad or angry or ill, just like Denny's.

1. You try to re-organize your food after you've taken a couple bites.

Chefs go to great lengths to arrange food artfully on a plate. It's a mystery why chicken fingers need to be stacked like a teepee surrounding the little cup of ranch dressing in the middle, but it's what they do. So, if you have already taken a few bites of your meal, chances are you have ruined your opportunity for a photo. Don't mash your food back into a little pile and try to fool us like a kid hiding his squash under a napkin. The squash trick didn't fool our moms. Your photo trick won't fool anyone either, and you may get put in time out.

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