Photography Guide

BEYONDISH is a collective of writers, photographers & other passionate people with a love of all things culinary. We're here to help our audience discover incredibly delicious menu items served up from some of the best cooks, chefs, brewers & mixologists across America by showcasing our insightful words & beautiful imagery.

Note: While this guide speaks to the kinds of photographic imagery we'd like to feature, we want to be clear that Beyondish equally exists to highlight our contributors by showcasing your individual writing & photography styles. This guide provides tips & tricks to help those amateurs looking to improve their photography, as well as, provides sizing & compression specifications to our contributors with professional experience.

Specifications

For the less-enthusiast crowd, we would be happy to process, size, crop, color-adjust, etc. any original photo you provide, but if photography is your professional bailiwick, then here are the specifications for the images we post on the site.

  1. 2000 pixels at its longest side X any shorter pixel measure
  2. We prefer horizontal images, but vertical ones will work too
  3. Medium .jpg compression

Tips & Tricks

ALL the photographs on this page & many featured in the reviews, taken by Beyondish co-founders, were shot right at the eatery, brewery & cocktail bars with NO special lights or equipment— we just sat down, ordered & shot right at the table/bar utilizing the available light in the environment.

  1. When to Shoot: Unless you're shooting during high summer when the sun stays out late, try shooting at breakfast, brunch or lunch instead of dinner. The reflected natural sunlight that cascades in through an eatery's large windows is often the magic ingredient to a gorgeous shot.
     
  2. Where to Shoot: Again, take advantage of the natural light and request a table next to a window or try sitting at the sunny end of the bar. Food dishes often photograph well with a combination of some front & side-to-side lighting, while your favorite cocktails & craft beers photograph well with some back-lighting shining through the glass—take note of the "1876" glass of beer on this page.
     
  3. Too Much of a Good Thing: While natural sunlight is an advantage when shooting onsite, sometimes having your photographic subject directly in the sun on a clear day can cause harsh overblown highlights and overly contrasting shadows. Try a spot just next to the direct sunlight where reflected sunlight washes over the space with a soft directionality that is pure magic.
     
  4. To Flash or to Not Flash: I am reminded of the famous quote uttered by Geena Davis in the 1986 remake of the movie "The Fly" during Jeff Goldblum's slow but gruesome transformation into the monster, Brundlefly. "No. Be afraid, be very afraid." Basically, just stay away from the built-in flash found on many cameras. These photos are virtually unacceptable.
     
  5. Table/Bar Setting: When your dish or beverage is served, clear away any unnecessary items away from your subject dish. While sometimes table "props" such as utensils, side plates, background beverages can certainly accentuate the "environment", often times focusing on your subject dish makes for a cleaner composition.
     
  6. Play with your Food: OK, you might look like a dork for a minute, but play around with a few angles when shooting your dish. There is often a component on the plate that is the "hero"—try focusing in on that. Examples here include: the dish of hummus, the steak in the fajitas, the chicken in front of the waffles.
     
  7. Short Depth of Field (DoF): Now we're getting a little more advanced here, but bare with us—this is one great technique that has many advantages and a style of photography we particularly like here at Beyondish.

    When you center the focus of your camera on an area of the dish, the DoF is how much of the image (in front of & behind that focus point) appears sharp. The aperture, measured in F-stops, has a major role in determining DoF. We recommend setting your camera to Aperture-Priority (refer to your manual if you don't know how). This mode is available on most cameras in which the Shutter Speed is set to Automatic, and the Aperture is controlled by you manually.

    A smaller F-stop, generally any number 4 or less, will result in a Short DoF—meaning that a narrow area of the image around the focus point will be in sharp focus, and the image outside of that area will gently go out of focus (or "soft").

    A larger F-stop, generally any number 8 or greater, will result in a larger DoF—meaning that much more of the image will be in sharp focus. There are other factors that affect DoF, such how close you are to the subject, but adjusting the camera Aperture is a powerful one. 

    The advantages of using Short DoF for this "run & gun" style of street photography when grabbing one of your favorite bites, cocktails or craft brews is key. Smaller F-stops let more light into the camera which is often helpful in an indoor setting such as your favorite eatery. As I mentioned before, visually it allows you to focus on a "hero" component in the dish, and keeps other less important elements in the shot to still be seen, but rendered with a lovely soft focus.
     
  8. The Camera: Finally, if you'd like to take your photography to the next level, there's no substitute for using a quality camera. Luckily, this does NOT have to be overtly expensive investment. One camera review site I highly recommend for researching a new camera is called DP Review, and then when you're ready to purchase one, there is no better trusted online retailer for camera gear then B&H Photo.