Thanks to Instagram, food photography has seen a renaissance in recent years, but anyone who has attempted to take a picture of their lunch will tell you that it brings its own unique challenges. Swedish food photographer Linda Lomelino has mastered the art – her food images, whisked up with a fairy-tale-like whimsical charm but flavoured with a moody ambience, have attracted more than 750k Instagram followers.
"I discovered a passion for baking about 11 years ago," says Linda, who studied photography at school. "Cupcakes were all the rage at the time, so I took a few photos and shared them on Facebook. People loved them, so I thought, 'maybe I should start a blog'?" Thanks to that blog, Call Me Cupcake, Linda's mouthwatering masterpieces have now been compiled into four books that have been translated into several different languages.
Here she shares a sample of her secrets for sweet success...
If you have the option, using Canon Speedlites in a studio will allow you to control your lighting environment. Alternatively, you could use natural light, which is harder to control but will flatter your subject if harnessed correctly. "Experiment with the light where you live," says Linda. "The size of the window, the direction it's facing, the time of day and the weather can all affect how the light looks," she says. "North-facing windows are usually the easiest to work with – the light changes less throughout the day and you'll never be shooting in direct sunlight."
An overcast day that isn't too dark is ideal for Linda, who shoots lit from the side in her west-facing studio before lunch, and in the her east-facing kitchen in the late afternoon and evening. To achieve her signature 'moody' look, she'll draw a pair of dark curtains across the window.
"You can make any type of window work if you experiment and practice, but if you live in a country where it is mostly sunny, and you only have a south-facing window, it will be more of a challenge," she says. "In these circumstance, perhaps use a thin white curtain to soften the light."
One way to find originality is through composition, and Linda's trick is to focus on colour. "I tend to use just two or three colours in a shoot," she explains. She uses shades of the same colour and then introduces complementary colours – those opposing one another on the colour wheel – to provide visual contrast. "When styling a cake with purple icing, for example, I'll try to bring something yellow or yellow-green into the photo. Orange and teal is another of my favourite combinations – it really makes the photo pop!"
As well as colour, Linda advises experimenting with textures to add interest. "If I'm shooting a cake with lots of texture or patterned icing, I may opt for a smooth background to put the focus on the cake. In other situations, I may want everything to have a smooth texture, or I'll include lots of different textures – it can be as simple as adding a wrinkled linen napkin."