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The psychology behind professional food photography

The food and restaurant industry in Cornwall is booming, and here at Chetwode Ram we love food photography. Local chefs are constantly cooking up mouth watering treats, and it’s our job to make sure they look as good as they taste! It’s a great job that has led us to wonder.. what is it about food photography that makes us so hungry?

Food Photography

How it makes us feel

Have you ever been scrolling through social media, magazines or a recipe book and a delicious cream cake catches your eye, and suddenly you’re hungry?

Social media is jam packed full of both amateur and professional food photography, because we love showing off what’s on our plate. Our love for photographing food has given birth to our obsession in the glamorisation of food, by presenting and photographing it in an appealing manner. This ultimately results in hungry bellies and typically a bucket load of likes, shares and comments.

The theory is that the way we display, arrange and photograph our food can have a physiological effect on us. It can generate hunger, create interest and entice the viewer in.

The science

We decided to investigate this, and it’s no coincidence that when we’re flicking through food photography, we get a rumbling in our stomachs. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that the sight of delicious food stimulates our appetite. A study conducted on young healthy men found that when shown images of food the amount of neurosecretory protein hormone increases, resulting in hunger.

There you have it. It’s been scientifically proven that an inviting image of food can make us experience the desire to eat, even when we’re not hungry.

The photography

For food and restaurant manufacturers there’s no better way to entice customers, than visual imagery. We eat with our eyes, and they’re usually bigger than our belly!

For this to work, attractive food is only half the battle. When we think back to those images that made our mouths water, it comes down to the powerful photography. Food can be made to look more delicious with the right presentation, lighting, and atmosphere.


Food Photography Techniques

How we do it

Our love for digital grazing has meant now more than ever, food photography needs to stand out. In an oversaturated world of yummy images, it’s important to be one step ahead. How food is styled and photographed can heavily reflect on the amount of interest from the viewers.

Food photography is arguably one of the most challenging types of photography out there. However, there are many tricks of the trade to ensure the food looks tasty enough to whet the viewer’s appetite.

Back drop

The backdrop is ultimately what creates an atmosphere – the complete meal should tell a story. The right backdrop can add context to the meal, the creators brand and even the flavours. Picking textures and colours that compliment the food is vital.


This can totally depend on the food. You need to consider the size, shape and height of the product before hand. What aspects are you trying to emphasise? For example, a plate of langoustines might work well from above on a beautifully patterned plate or surface, where as a rustic, homemade burger may need shooting from lower to see the good stuff beneath the bun.


Lines and layers work well. Ingredients and props that relate to the food are always effective.


Sometimes the product shows everything you need to know. A clean white or black backdrop can emphasise the food and draw the viewer attention straight to the subject. On the other hand, simple food may be brought to life with vibrant, coloured backgrounds and props.

Have a look through our food photography portfolio to see the above tips in action and then go and pig out! Happy eating.

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Drinks Photography

We’ve been lucky enough to be comissioned for drinks photography by some of Cornwall’s most succesful drinks producers and cider farms like St Austell Brewery, Sharps Brewery and Healey’s Cyder Farm.

It’s always a challenge to photograph drinks, with factors such as reflective glass and transparent contents affecting how the product is represented – but we relish this challenge. Using a variety of lighting techniques and lifestyle set-ups in our in-house studio, we always try and produce something that’s unique for our clients – with great results.

Drinks Photography – Latest Project

Our latest commission was to photograph the new 330ml Tribute Can for St Austell Brewery, to coincide with their recent partnership with British Airways, which will now be serving the ale on board. The brewery required the can to be photographed on both white and black backgrounds. We used a combination of studio lighting and focus stacking to achieve this effect and the brewery were really happy with the results.

For more information on drinks photography then call us in the office on 01637 830225.


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Product photography on white

Many of our clients require products to be photographed on a white background. This type of product photography on white background is not just useful for print (such as trade magazines) but for online marketing and ecommerce. We can shoot pretty much any type of product, large or small, on to a pure white background and we will also provide the clipping path file so that the product layer is separate and can be overlayed on to any colour background.

We have a number of clients that have attempted to shoot their own products on white, with varying success – but when it comes to needing the correct, soft lighting as well as consistency throughout a product range – then there really is no substitue for a full studio set up!

We have photographed a wide range of products on white such as machine engineered parts, beer glasses, clothes, beer bottles, confectionary, food and much more.

If you would like more information on having your products photographed in our studio or on location, then please contact us on 01637 830225.

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Follow us… £500 free photoshoot up for grabs.

We will be offering a free shoot worth £500 when we get to 500 followers on Twitter. It’s a small goal but we’re new to twitter! Follow us now (@chetramphoto) to be in with a chance to win.

The small print:

All businesses and individuals using twitter for business purposes will be eligible to win, providing the are following us already us when we reach 500 followers. When we get to the 500 mark a winner will be selected at random from our list of followers. We will then contact the business or individual and let them know they’ve won. They can choose what we photograph, when and where the shoot takes place and what style of images they want. The shoot will either be a 3.5 hour location shoot + 1.5 hours post production or a 2.5 hour studio shoot at our studio + 2 hours post production. Mileage (normally charged at £0.45ppm) will be included providing the shoot takes place in Cornwall. The winner will have their images delivered via dropbox and will be licensed to use the images to promote their business activities for an indefinite amount of time. It’s a great, one time offer!


The restrictions: We are commercial photographers who specialise in food photography, property photography and product/still life photography so unfortunately this offer does not include wedding photography, family portrait photography or glamour photography. Chetwode Ram Associates Ltd may use images from the winner’s shoot to advertise their products and services. The winner will not be licensed to sell any images from the shoot (as stock imagery, postcards etc..) or pass them on to any commercially interested 3rd parties.

Please get in touch ( if you have any other questions regarding the details of the competition.

Follow us now to be in with a chance.


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Graduation photography

Elliott here: “After a four hour drive, I arrived in the beautiful city of Worcester to shoot the 2015 Learning Institute Graduation.

Graduation photography is great as it gives me the chance to capture a very special moment in someone’s life, the completion of many years of hard work and the beginning of their new story. However, with gale force winds and spells of torrential rain, it definitely became one of the week’s more challenging shoots.

Luckily though, the weather didn’t dampen the mood of the newly graduated students and a wonderful day was had by all round.

I’m looking forward to next year!”


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Architectural Photography in Sennen Cove, Cornwall

David here: I was recently commissioned by local architect Laurence Associates to provide some architectural photography for a bespoke building project they completed in Sennen Cove, Cornwall. The contemporary seaside dwelling Gwel-an-Treth, replaced an out dated bungalow, with panoramic sea views across Sennen Cove and beyond.

The brief was to produce architectural photos from around the property, both interior and exterior images that convey the quality of the build and contemporary design features. The property was a pleasure to photograph, with a large open plan living area with sweeping views across the bay.

There have been a number of online articles praising the project, including making Homify UK’s top 5 projects:

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Product photography for ASUS at The Eden Project, Cornwall

Photos from a recent shoot on behalf of ASUS, the headline sponsor of the 2015 Eden Sessions at The Eden Project, Cornwall.

The focus of the shoot was the ASUS Transformer Book Chi T100 shot in various locations around The Eden Project. The contrast of the modern high tech product against the greenery of the setting made for a unique photo shoot!

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Location photography at Truro School, Cornwall

James visited Truro School to capture the Sixth Form students in various poses to feature in the new prospectus. The images have since been spotted decorating the sides of busses and billboards all over Cornwall.

Education photography in cornwall is always interesting to shoot. Working with children and young adults can be both challenging and rewarding. At present we have numerous prospectuses in circulation and our images can often be used by the clients year after year.


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Location photography at Zennor Chapel Guest House, Cornwall

David recently carried out a photo shoot of Zennor Chapel Guest House in west Cornwall.

Zennor Chapel is located in the village of Zennor, just outside of St Ives in Cornwall, and provides guests with a choice of five uniquely decorated rooms, a cafe serving tempting homemade fare and a gift shop selling local art and crafts.

The picturesque location and sunny weather provided the perfect backdrop to the shoot.



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