February 2020

The Best Pancake Day Photography!

Top Tips for food photography from Venture Studios

This year Pancake Day – or Shrove Tuesday – is on Tuesday 25th February. The origins of Shrove Tuesday are related to Lent, which starts the next day. Pancakes were made to use up all the goodies in the home before the traditional 40 day Lent fast.

The first pancake recipe appeared in an English cookbook in the 15th century. Since then pancakes have grown in popularity, and it’s estimated that on Pancake Day, 52 million eggs are used in the UK: 22 million more than on a normal day.

Traditional pancake toppings are lemon and sugar, or maple syrup. But the most popular pancakes are now likely to include fruits such as strawberries, bananas and mixed berries, combined with rich gooey toppings like cream, ice cream, chocolate, Nutella, Oreo and caramel.

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You may well have your own speciality pancake topping and feel rather proud of your pancakes. In which case the natural thing to want to do is to showcase your creations on social media. But sadly this is where your photography skills can really let you down. Your pancakes may look wonderful in real life but rather underwhelming online.

Interestingly, The Guardian newspaper did actually run a competition in 2017 for underwhelming pancakes. Readers were asked to send in photos of their pancake disasters and their bombsite kitchens. These photos would be added to an online gallery “to make the rest of us feel better about ourselves.”

But your pancakes are fabulous and you want to show them to the world! So here are our Top Ten tips for successful pancake photography:

  1. Arrange your food thoughtfully. Make sure that there is a good balance of colours and clear definition of the outline of the pancake rather than an indeterminate heap of food.
  2. Think carefully about what you are serving the pancake on. It’s up to you whether you choose white or coloured plates, or something more trendy such as a wooden board or dark slate. But make sure it provides an attractive and contrasting background for your pancake.
  3. If you are using any kind of sauce or liquid topping then use a spoon or brush to spread this artistically around the serving dish. Presentation is all.
  4. Light your photograph from the side rather than the front. This will usually give you a richer, more textured finish than lighting it from the front.
  5. Ensure you take your photographs in the most natural light possible. This will enhance the natural colours of the food and make it look appetising. You may need to move around to do this, but it will be worth it.
  6. Be careful of shadows. Check your photograph to make sure that there are no shadows obscuring essential parts of your pancake. If so, reposition the serving dish until the most important parts of the photograph are in good light.
  7. Pick the best angle to showcase your pancake. Standing over the serving dish and taking an overall aerial shot may look better than an angled downward shot. But experiment with different angles to see what looks best.
  8. See if your camera or phone has the ability to blur the background of your shot. For example on an iPhone this is possible in Portrait mode. You can then bring the main part of the pancake more sharply into focus and slightly blur the rest of the shot.
  9. Talking of backgrounds, make sure that there is no unwanted background clutter that is going to spoil your photograph. No matter how well you have arranged your pancake in your serving dish, it will not look its best if it is surrounded by kitchen mess.
  10. If you are still not happy with your photograph then most cameras and phones have inbuilt photo editing features, or you can use separate editing software – see our article Five of the best free mobile photo editing apps.

We hope you have great fun this Pancake Day, and also take your best pancake photos ever!

Check back here soon for more photography tips from Venture Studios: here to help you create #memoriesforever..

Leo Francis