4 Simple Sushi Photography Tips

by Alec Druggan
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sushi photo with chopsticks hand feature

Food photography, more specifically, sushi photography as a genre has exploded in the last decade or two. We can thank Instagram and other social media platforms for bolstering the success of this edible photographic genre. While many food photographers will photograph all sorts of food, the subject itself can be more focussed in upon. For example, some food photographers will focus on a sole food item. One of the most popular ones of these is sushi.

How can you become a better sushi photographer?

With the incredible variety within the world of sushi itself, as well as the mesmerising beauty of sushi and it’s creation, it’s no coincidence that some photographers dedicate themselves in every photo shoot to capturing the world of sushi through their lenses. Here are some of the best ways to prepare yourself to photograph sushi:

sushi chopsticks photography tips 1https://unsplash.com/photos/Z5tSnuGuTTw

1. Finding the right light sources

Some sushi photographers might struggle deciding on how to light their food. If you are using authentic sushi in restaurants as your subject, you might not always have the choice of what you are using as your primary lightsource for photographing sushi.

If artificial lighting is available to you, you should consider using some cooler or daylight strobes to really illuminate parts of sushi. Different fish will reflect light differently, and fattier fishes can especially have strong reflections that really help display the fish.

If artificial lighting is not usable at a location, try to approach that location during the day. Using windows and diffused lighting can really make your images shine. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the different tones of lighting coming through a singular natural light source.

upclose sashimi sushi photo

https://unsplash.com/photos/wmPDe9OnXT4

2. Keep it clean

Sushi chefs spend years perfecting their craft and attempting to keep everything perfect. Make sure you narrow in on imperfections and find a way of hiding them. While altering the sushi yourself may lead to questionable grey areas, photographing sushi from angles where it is best represented allows you to really keep the idea of perfection in the image.

Similarly, making an image too busy or using an eye sore of a background for your sushi can detract from the sushi’s cleanliness and minimalist perfection itself. You want to make sure that the rest of your composition and the rest of the elements within a photograph are truly complementary to the sushi itself.

sushi chef photography

https://unsplash.com/photos/EHK-EH1SRzQ

3. Capture more than just the sushi in your photo

Sushi restaurants are often rather particular in how they are laid out. There is a reason that you can see the chef creating the sushi, and similarly there is a reason that you can see many of the ingredients on display to the customers.

Furthermore, the general ambiance of a sushi restaurant is very neatly tailored. Take your time and attempt to photograph more than just the food. While the primary objective might be for you to capture the sushi, take some time to capture the restaurant, the lighting, what is on display, the art that may have been curated, and every other small nuance of the sushi you are photographing. This can lead to better storytelling through your images, and can make the viewer of your images more invested in the story that you are telling.

sushi restaurant photo 4

https://unsplash.com/photos/WkR5V4gENDw

4. Keep the plating simple

If you see a staggering amount of sauce and garnish on a sushi plate, it might look great in person, but may not translate well to the image you are taking. Take your time to think about what you want the images you are taking to look like, and see if you can figure out if that garnish or sauce is necessary. If you are working with the chef to help photograph their restaurant, talk to them about how they can best plate for photos.

When working with a chef, they may want to plate in the same specific ways as they would for customers. Although that might offer the best experience for physical customers, online customers that are seeing the sushi might want to have a better view of the quality of the sushi underneath the garnishes, and may believe that the restaurant is trying to hide something in the images. Take the time to figure out what images would work best, and how you can keep garnishes and sauces at a minimum while still showcasing their existence.

Featured sushi image: https://unsplash.com/photos/8yzlx5AIpR8 

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