The best lighting is the kind that is offered to you for free from sunrise to sunset and it's always available. Few lighting specialists have been able to replicate the temperature and intensity of natural light through expensive lighting equipment. But why bother when you can simply sit by a window and shoot? Natural light can always make your food photos look great but you have to know to use it. The light on a sunny, cloudy and rainy day can change the mood and scenario entirely.
2. To use or not to use the flash.
Generally, we'd say not at all. You have to realize that although photographing food is on your agenda, being blinded by your flash and strobe lights every few minutes isn't on everyone else's. We generally go with the approach of shooting things the way the human eye would see it. If a restaurant has dim lighting, you should capture that as it's probably been done for ambiance. A brightly-lit photo taken with direct flash will flatten the subjects and you really won't be able to capture just how romantic it was in that restaurant in Marrakech.
It doesn't matter what you're shooting with a $40,000 Hasselblad or a $200 smartphone; your composition is what matters the most and what sets photographers apart.
When shooting food, take multiple shots at multiple angles. Your goal is to widen your reader's eyes and whet their appetite. You want them to wish the photo was a scratch n' sniff. Some dishes might look better cropped in tighter or zoomed in, some may not. If you're eating a fantastic dinner with a multi-dish spread somewhere in Ethiopia, an overhead shot is a great way for the reader to get a sense of just how much food was there.
4. Running and Gunning.
If you're in a foreign country, you're going to stand out regardless. You're going to stand out even more if you're snapping photos of food. When we shoot food while traveling, it is our goal to be quick and discrete like a ninja, not to cause "ripples in the pond." It's crucial that you know your camera inside out and practice switching settings in different situations.
Try giving yourself 30 seconds max to get multiple shots of your subject. If you absolutely need more time to get your shot, it doesn't hurt to let a chef, owner or even server know what your intentions are. Many instances we actually got better access to the inside of a kitchen or something unique because we were upfront about what we were doing.
This is different though when shooting in a foreign space as you don't know what you're dealing with. I've been approached and threatened by angry people understandably, but I've found that if you don't speak the language, saying hello, waving, smiling and gesturing at the camera has had positive results. A compliment on the food is always a sure way to be diplomatic.
5. Travel Light.
How many times have you walked down a street and been stopped by the presence of someone completely decked out in camera gear – camera with flash and telephoto lens, huge backpack and those "fashionable" lens vests? People will usually run away like squirrels when they encounter someone like that and you'll lose your potential great shot. Part of being able to "run and gun" is traveling with minimal baggage, literally.
We carry our equipment in a nondescript bag so as to not draw attention and usually only bring one lens, the one we use the most. When you've have too many lenses in your bags, not only is it heavy, it can slow down your creative process trying to figure out which you should use. When you have one primary lens, you simply pull out the camera, shoot, put it away and move on to the next thing. Learn that lens inside out and learn to love it like a significant other.
When you travel with smaller bags, you also have more options in where you want to dine. Lugging a huge camera bag may not be very comfortable if you want to dine at the bar or at a standing table by a window.
BY Dylan Ho + Jeni Afuso Photo Complements Roberta Parkin. (adapted from: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-tips-for-taking-better-food-photos-when-you-travel-guest-post-from-dylan-jeni-190758)