How to photograph desserts?

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Desserts come in all shapes and forms. There are cold desserts and then there are desserts that are hot. Photographing both these types of desserts is different in approach and styling.  Your approach on photographing a dessert totally depends on what you want to show? Is it just a photograph of the dessert? Or is it about the experience of having that dessert?

If you feel that you might buckle under pressure and your photos might not turn out to be good ones, then it is always better to practice for sometime before the final shoot. Also, keep in mind these few pointers:

1. Get the lighting right and adjust the white balance of your camera accordingly. Your digital camera will adjust it on it’s own if it is on Auto mode, but if not, then you are gonna have to do it. For desserts, you need soft lighting and zero shadows. Do not use flash as it will produce hot spots and stark shadows, which is an absolute no-no.

2. Get the props right for your dessert. You can either decorate or style your dessert with the ingredients used in it, or just go for classy tea-room settings, which are two of the numerous ways in which you can make your dessert look extra-delicious. For example,  Mango Mousse will look great with a whole mango and pieces of it in the background.

3. Take a bite, or maybe don’t. That depends on the type of dessert your are photographing. If cutting into, say a pie, will show the different textures, then go for it. A layered cake is a perfect example of a situation where cutting a piece and keeping it aside to show the actual layers will work. But there are certain dessert items that look beautiful as a whole, not so much when you take a bite off it. So in that case, keep it intact.

4. Pay attention to the way you want the background to look. One way is to use depth of field to your advantage, in which selective focus is of great help. Focus on a single area and let the rest of the photo fade into a soft blur. It can be achieved easily with a DSLR while point-and-shoot camera users need to switch to “Macro” mode while shooting.  

5. Try Bokeh, or shallow depth of field. So the ingredients, or the larger part of the dessert can be out of focus in a way that viewers can still make out what it is, while the finished product or a piece of the larger dessert dish.

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