Easter is fast approaching, and that means anyone (little or big!) with a sweet tooth will soon be enjoying a plethora of chocolatey treats, from eggs and bunnies to good old bars of their favourite delights. But before you tuck in, be sure to indulge in a little creative chocolate photography – there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Careful Preparation is Key
Whether you’re a professional photographer, an amateur or just simply love taking photos for fun, we’re sure you know that taking photos can sometimes be just as much a science as an art. When it comes to chocolate photography, that couldn’t be more true! Capturing chocolate on camera is very challenging, not only from a compositional perspective but also due to the subject. Chocolate is highly susceptible to the environment, and its appearance will be affected by temperature, humidity and handling.
Your chocolate should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. The fridge can be a good alternative, but it’s not ideal, as the moisture levels in a refrigerator can have an adverse effect on the appearance of the chocolate, leaving droplets on the surface that you’ll need to carefully dry off before shooting.
The room you shoot in should be no warmer than 20°C, or you’ll quickly find your chocolate starting to melt. If you want that little bit of extra time to shoot, dark chocolate is a great choice as it melts slower (sorry milk and white chocolate lovers!). When handling the chocolate, be sure to use clean latex gloves or tweezers – the last thing you want is to see your chocolate covered in fingerprints!
The Right Lenses and Camera Settings for Chocolate Photography
A macro lens will be your best friend when shooting chocolate, as it will allow you to really zoom in and capture the tiniest details of the chocolate in all their glory. Other versatile options are a 35mm lens (using a cropped sensor) or a 50mm prime lens. A telephoto lens is another good choice, as its softer focus will give the chocolate a moreish, enticing look.
Top tip: Be sure to use the lowest f-stop possible, 35-50mm is ideal to give your creative chocolate photography a dreamy look that really draws the viewer in. Chocolate photography should be considered much like portrait photography – with a narrow depth-of-field and out-of-focus background, your shot will highlight the beauty of the chocolate, and mask any blemishes.
How to Take Chocolate Photography Using Your Phone Camera
These days, smartphone cameras speak for themselves and can often produce quality photographs to rival that of a DSLR. Perfect for those want the ease of a point-and-shoot camera, you’ll find plenty of features on your smartphone that will help you capture the best shots of your chocolate.
One of our favourites is the handy in-built Portrait mode on an iPhone or a downloaded depth of field camera app on an Android to create a blurred background, also known as a Bokeh effect. This will help focus on your subject and showcase your chocolate in all its mouth-watering glory. For higher quality images, remember to use the HDR (High Dynamic Range) function to capture more detail and bring the shadowy areas to life. As highlighted by Expert Photography, there are plenty more smartphone camera settings for you to play around with, ideal for those who love to capture food photography at the click of a button.
Top tip: Get your composition right first time with the useful grid function on your smartphone camera. You can find this hidden in your phone settings, perfect for amateur photographers learning the ropes about the rule of thirds, right from the palm of your hand.
Lighting is Paramount to Creative Chocolate Photography
You should keep in mind to always light “against the grain” of the chocolate, to show the detail of the texture to the fullest. Whether that’s intricate designs on the surface or areas you’ve broken or cut yourself. You should aim to create deep shadows in your shots, as they give your chocolate an irresistible richness in appearance.
Of course, chocolate should be kept out of direct sunlight, but the right natural light can really bring out the beauty of chocolate and make it look even more scrumptious. If you’re shooting outdoors, do it in the early morning or late afternoon. For ideal results, the lighting should be bright, diffused and cool.
There’s nothing wrong with using artificial lighting, but remember that chocolate left sat in front of hot lamps for too long will melt!
If possible, avoid using flash as the light will bounce off the chocolate’s naturally glossy surface. Flash photography may overexpose the chocolate or create too harsh a contrast with the background.
Choosing the Right Chocolate
Milk chocolate is the most versatile chocolate to shoot, as it’s neither too light nor dark. It’s important to consider the kinds of chocolate you’ll be shooting when deciding on your backdrop. The objective is to make your subject stand out as the star of the show, so choose lighter backgrounds for dark chocolate and darker colours for white chocolate. If you’re photographing a mixture go for something more neutral such as a green or brown.
Top tip: We’re lucky to have access to such a smorgasbord of chocolate, from beautifully decorated truffles to chocolate bars, in addition to an abundance of different shapes, from Easter Eggs to chocolate chips. This is where chocolate photography gets fun! Experiment with all kinds of chocolate and, as suggested by Expert Photography, play around with lighting to showcase all the appetising textures in your chocolate photography.
Chocolate Photography Composition
Unless you’re shooting a piece of chocolate that’s Easter Egg-sized or greater, it can be difficult to include any people as a part of your composition. Instead, it’s likely that you’ll have to get close-up, unfortunately magnifying any imperfections in your subject – which are inevitable when photographing something so delicate as chocolate.
If your chocolate is more intricately designed, opt for plain coloured backgrounds to really focus on bringing out the detail. Or if you’d like to add interest to the shot, set the chocolate in bowls, mugs, on plates, or use a background with more of a texture or design of its own.
The time of year or type of chocolate you’re shooting are also important to consider. For example, use pinks and reds around Valentine’s Day to capture the mood and greens and yellows for Easter Eggs to bring out that feeling of Spring.
Editing Your Shots
It’s an unavoidable consequence of working with chocolate as a photographer that there will be imperfections to fix in post. So it’s important to be handy with PhotoShop. You can repair minor blemishes on the surface using the spot healing brush or clone stamp tool.
You should be well on your way to capturing chocolate on camera like a pro. A beautiful close-up shot of chocolate would be a wonderful decoration in your kitchen. Why not create your very own photo canvas or framed print for some culinary inspiration?