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Choosing a Focus Model for Images in Food Photography

In food photography, the area of the food subject where you decide to focus sets the tone for the look of the overall image. You can use selective focus and have one area of the image in focus, or you can use deep focus and have close to the whole thing in an acceptable focal range. A third option is to use soft focus, where the subject isn’t crisply in focus, thus creating a dreamy look.

1

Selective focus draws the viewer’s eye to a specific point.

Of the different focus models typically used for food photography, selective focus is one of the primary looks these days. As you can see in this image, the look draws the viewer’s eye directly to the very point of the subject that the photographer deems most interesting.

2

Selective focus on these peppermint candies makes them pop.

This focus model nicely separates the area that’s in focus from the blurry background or foreground. If you’re shooting for a client who makes a particular food product, selective focus is one way to make your client’s product really shine.

3

Use selective focus to capture highlights on a food subject.

You can use your camera’s focusing mechanism to focus directly on a shine or highlight. Creating sharp focus on a highlight can really enhance the look of a food image.

4

Use deep focus for a slightly older aesthetic.

When you need to have much of the entire image appear in focus, the deep focus model is the one you want, as shown here. Food photography in the 1970s and 1980s relied heavily on it — but sometimes that’s just what your client prefers.

5

Deep focus shot from 90 degrees provides a fresher look.

Shooting directly over your food with a 90 degree angle can facilitate a cool use of deep focus. Here, much of the corn salad is in focus, but the shot doesn’t look at all boring from this angle.

6

Using soft focus creates a dreamy look.

Allover soft focus is another choice that may be appropriate for some images. When you (or your client) are aiming for a dreamy food image, consider using soft focus with perhaps a pastel color palette.

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