Food photography requires the viewer to salivate over the photograph. A good photograph always succeed in the viewer wanting to have the photographed food. However, since photography is static, we need to shoot it so that it tricks the mind into believing the underlying motion. Take for example, the steam captured in the food photograph makes the viewer feel its warmth & the steam also incites a ‘want to have right now’ feeling from the viewer. Believe it or not, a simple steam is a major element in food photographs. However creating steam is not a piece of cake. Here I’ll show you how can you create steam in your food photographs easily to make them more vibrant & appealing.

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One can use the incense sticks(agarbatti) found at home to create steam. Simply light a few incense sticks & place them strategically in the frame so that they do not show up. The waft of steam from incense stick is pretty weak, so you’ll need at-least a couple to get the thick steam you desire. Also since, the burning incense stick outputs steam in a typical slender pattern, you’ll need to sculpt it with a paper fan. Alternately, one can even use dhoop sticks(thick incense sticks) to create a lot of steam. However, do note that incense sticks emit ash & that can mix easily with the food you’re photographing. Even the aroma of incense stick can mix with your food. So if you’re going to consume the food after photographing, using incense sticks is not a good idea. Also since the incense is burning there is always a risk of fire or props getting burnt, so be careful while placing & do monitor it time & again as you shoot.

Actually, creating steam with incense sticks is the most economical way to produce steam. Yes, it takes a lot of work to get the shape you desire & at-times it can be impractical for some foods. However, it does has the capability to spice up the occasional food shot. Off-course there are more better ways to create steam in food photography but that I’ll leave it to discuss for some other day.

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