Similarities between photography and cooking food

Tips & Techniques

(stock image)

There are many similarities between cooking food and photography.

I trained as a chef in a cookery school in France for five years and graduated aged 19 and cook more today than ever before, in fact my food is a lot tastier than my photography. Food is as important in my life as photography is. It’s all about the joy it brings me and others I cook for.

We use photographs as memory aids, they have the power to take us back to any given time in our lives.

Food’s the same. One bite of something I’ve not had for 30 years and transported back to my childhood.

To deliver the best meal, you need the best ingredients and in photography, the best light, choice of subject, choice of location…

How much effort and how hard it is to prepare a dish doesn’t always correlate with how successful or excellent it will be. Less is more. Some of my best photography or favourite dishes are the most simple but because of my use of the best ingredients I can find.

To keep it simple yet deliver visually delicious results in the case of photography and mouth-watering results in the kitchen is what I aim for.

Preparation is key. One needs to learn and master proven techniques as well as develop a workflow, which will allow them to deliver their vision often and consistently.

Pan fry or oven cook an ingredient too fast or too long and it may burn or dry, whereas not enough results in under-cooking. In photography the length of exposure dictates if the image is properly “cooked” or ready through achieving the correct exposure.

Seasoning is crucial and as such, your post-processing is your salt and pepper with which you fine tune brightness, contrast and curves.

Finally it’s also very much about composition and use of lines, shapes, colours and contrasts on the plate you serve. The plate is a frame you fill with all the elements which come together to create the perfect picture. Forget every individual parts, see everything as a whole, one creation where all elements bond and complement each other.

Just as with food, tastes differ and not everyone will like your dish/photo, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t mean it’s not good or not well prepared. They just have different tastes (and sometimes not a very developed palate) but it most likely will appeal and bring pleasure to someone else.

I’ll end with this famous photography quote by Sam Haskins:

“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then said: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”

Practice is how you improve, not camera gear.

Until next time,


About the Author

Nicholas “Nico” Goodden is a professional London photographer specializing in urban photography, street photography, and attention-grabbing micro video content such as cinemagraphs and timelapse. You can see more of his work on his website and say hi on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. This article was posted here and shared with permission.

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