Black and White Food Photography

Why in the world would anyone shoot food in black and white? It looks dull and boring and not particularly appetizing. This was a thought of mine a while ago.  I love black and white photography, but lets face it, color is so much better when you are capturing food.  For the most part, the goal of food photography is to make people want to eat the photo.  This is hard to do with black and white photography.  For starters most food is an average shade of gray once all the color is removed, making it all look a bit sad.

Knowing this, I started thinking about when would be appropriate to shoot food in black and white.  And more importantly, what foods would work best.  Black and white photography is nostalgic, it removes time from an image.  The best way to utilize black and white photography with food is to shoot food that is nostalgic, this is what I decided.

There are so many things to take into consideration when deciding to shoot food in black and white.  You are looking for contrast and interesting shapes.  Something that is beautiful in color can be really boring in black and white if you are not thinking about it correctly.  For instance, strawberry ice-cream on top of a cone against a pale blue background would be a lovely soft color image, however, in black and white the ice-cream, cone and background will all be the same shade of gray.  Which is really boring and blah.

To start this project/exploration off, I went out and bought my favorite foods as a kid: Hostess cupcakes, powdered donuts, Skittles, and Twizlers (red-vines are actually my favorite, but all I could find was twizlers, so they will just have to do). I tried two different backgrounds, a black on and a white one, and used window light – pretty simple set up.

I would love to hear what your childhood nostalgic foods are.  Enjoy mine.

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5 thoughts on “Black and White Food Photography

  1. It’s interesting how the twizlers appear to change color between the two backgrounds. The ones that worked are the ones that already didn’t have much color to start, The cupcakes and the doughnuts. The thing is though, I don’t necesarily need to eat them, I just think they photographed really well. Interesting post.

    • Thanks lexi. I agree, the ones that work the best are the ones that start with little color. My next round of shooting I’ll try and see if I can make them more yummy looking – that’s the next challenge to over come.

  2. Fun idea. I think the idea of childhood foods. I think the Twizlers are the strongest images. But I also like the softness of the powdered donuts.

  3. it was a headache to covert my food photos to black and white, like a real menu, steak on a plate. i wonder how they do it in the early days?..B&W food photography is very very challeging.. thanks Katie for the insights

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