How to photograph appetizers?

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An appetizer is a small portion of a food or drink served before or at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the desire to eat. They can be of all sorts – raw, fried, boiled, salads etc. They are usually served with drinks, like wine, juices, cocktails or liquor.

Also called aperitifs and hors d‘oeuvres, they can be photographed in a very appealing way so that they look yummy and...well...appetizing. Some hors d’oeuvres are served cold, while some are served hot. So alter your photographing technique accordingly.

Follow these simple tips and you will be all set:

1. Use natural light to shoot the appetizers. Set a platter by the window to use natural daytime light. Do not use your camera flash as it will make the colour of your appetizers look unnatural and create hot spots.

2. Appetizers are almost always served with an accompanying sauce or salad. Bring those into the frame. Salads like Julian style carrots, cabbage and spinach can add an interesting twist of colour if your appetizers don’t have it already.

3. Keep certain objects in your frame which will give a real-life idea of how big one piece of the appetizer is. Giving an idea of the size will help people decide how many they want to order, or make (if they are cooking at home). You can include standard sized objects, like eggs, chillies, a fork, a pen or a coaster.

4. There is no point shooting a single piece of appetizer, since they are always made in multiples and for a gathering. So line them up to give it a nice full plate look. This way they will actually look appetizing.

5. Use appropriate platters for serving and shooting. Some look good against a white background, so white china is recommended. Others might look good on elaborate or coloured platters, so use those. For example, steamed dumplings can be shot in a bamboo steamer, which will give it an authentic look.

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