Make full use of shadows to shoot eye-catching tableware

In 1928, Andre Kert é sz took an iconic picture of a fork gently resting on a bowl. Its simplicity and uniqueness have attracted people’s attention. Each part of the composition is very simple, namely “bowl”, “fork” and “table”, but the light and form are very particular. The bold use of shadows to emphasize shapes creates a visual conspiracy to attract the attention of the audience.

Kert é sz’s works left a deep impression on my mind, so I have taken pictures of tableware for many years. When I stopped to eat or drink when I went out, I finally gave myself a reason to take photos with my camera. Although I also have some antique knives, forks and spoons at home, looking for new tableware is also part of the fun when dining out.

whitney wright

Camera and lens

Of course, you can use any camera to take pictures of tableware, but a camera that can take close-up shots is very useful on a dinner table. Smartphones and compact cameras are ideal shooting tools because they can take close-up shots at close range in different depths of field. A camera with a larger sensor can take a shallower depth of field, and you usually take a lot of these pictures at a dinner table. In addition, small cameras are easier to use at the dinner table.

brooke lark

Use Shadows

To imitate Kert é sz’s fork photo, you need directional light. If you are taking pictures in a restaurant, remember to choose a table with light conditions. If there is no curtain or frosted glass, the sunshine on the window is directional in sunny days.

The shadow produced by using bare glass bulb is deeper than that of fluorescent bulb or shadow lamp. If you put it close to your subject, it will shed the strongest light. A desk lamp that can create a conical shadow can become a temporary studio light source.

If you found the right light source to create shadows, how would you make full use of it? If possible, adjusting the position and distance of the light will change the intensity of the shadow. If you look at the picture of kertsz, you will find that there are very few middle tones – this is a high contrast picture that emphasizes shape.

In addition to the depth and direction of the shadow, its angle also plays an important role. Forks or other tableware on the edge of a concave bowl or plate can create a long, thin shadow. The angle between the light and the subject is at right angles, and the shadow of the subject is cast onto a flat surface. The distorted shadow shape forms a sharp contrast with the outline of reality.

Shooting multiple subjects

It is no accident that Kert é sz chose the fork as the main part of his tableware photos. Other tableware would not form such an interesting effect. However, many kinds of tableware are carefully designed, so it is worth looking carefully for opportunities to shoot. The intricate details often make good pictures. Similarly, you can combine multiple subjects to make photos more attractive. For example, a beautiful line composed of several stacked spoons can take a good picture.

Make a reflection

When you shoot shiny silverware, glassware, or cups filled with tea and other drinks, you will definitely see some reflections. Some reflections and reflections can be avoided, and you usually do not want to see your own shadow in the photos.

But on the other hand, the success of this picture may also depend on some beautiful reflections in the tableware, which may be ornate windows or nearby furniture. At a specific angle, these reflections are worth seeing.

Whether by shadow or reflection, just look for the wonderful interaction between different objects on the table. You can try to create interesting compositions with a mirror at home. Place the tableware carefully so that they can create a harmonious picture instead of interfering with each other in the picture.

Desktop and background

If the desktop is also part of your photo, you must ensure that it does not interfere with the photo. Like any background, it has the ability to create a good picture, but also has the ability to destroy a picture.

If it has distracting patterns or textures, don’t shoot it in. Carefully observe the texture and pattern of the tablecloth to ensure that nothing interferes with the rhythm of the picture. In some cases, a bright or interesting desktop may play an important role in the picture. If not, the desktop should be low-key.

Beautiful silverware

Once you explore all the possibilities based on light and form, you will find that the small patterns in many beautiful tableware are also worth taking a shot. To shoot such tiny details, you must need a macro lens, or a close-up lens of a mobile phone or small camera.

With the ability of close-up, you can see various shooting opportunities at the micro level. Look for subtlety in metals, marks, and even stains. These small details usually look good on books or walls.


I hope this article can inspire you to take good photos when eating, but you must be careful not to spoil the taste of food for people around you. Take your picture quickly and carefully, and you will see the other side of the cafe and restaurant. After shooting, enjoy your delicious food~