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
Photography at times is just as much a science as an art, and that’s no truer than with chocolate photography. 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, and 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.
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 the narrow depth-of-field and out-of-focus background, your shot will highlight the beauty of the chocolate, and mask any blemishes.
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.
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 for some culinary inspiration?