First, I want to thank you all for your words of support about the two recent cancer diagnoses in my family. So many people left nice comments and I got a lot of private emails too. Your kindness is so appreciated!
So, I've been collecting photos of pretty table settings on my Pinterest board 'Table Top'. I like to save pretty ideas about how to set a table. But I was also saving them for this post which has been brewing in my mind for several months. I wanted to time it for Thanksgiving since so many people put a lot of effort into their "tablescapes" and because the table is so highly photographed.
Although a lot of these photos are not Thanksiving themed, we can still learn a lot from them about how to take a photo of a pretty table.
Let's start with the long shot:
Notice too that the centerpieces or decorative items are staggered down the middle so that they don't make a straight line. This helps to keep the eye moving from side to side.
Another way to get a photo of a table is the side shot.
The side shot is taken from near the corner of the table. (Notice staggered, multiple centerpieces here too.) This one takes in the entire table, including the chairs.
Whereas this one focuses mostly on the table top. Very little negative space (white tablecloth) shows. The flowers in the foreground are where the photographer has focused the camera.
Another way to take a photo of a table top is to shoot a single place setting.
If you haven't been reading my series about photographing interiors, I should also mention that every one of these photos is taken with the lights and flash turned off. But notice that in some photos, candles are lit.
Above is a point-and-shoot photo I took of my Thanksgiving table last year. I hadn't yet studied how to photograph tables, but I remember that when I looked into the view finder, there was too much negative space -- the table looked empty in the photo, though it didn't in person. So I basically styled the shot by adding the candy dish, bowl, pitcher, and decanter to fill up the photo. I do wish I had held the camera vertically instead of horizontally to crop out all of the negative space to the left and right of the plate. (And I wish I had ironed everything, but no one's perfect!)
If you want to take good photos of your Thanksgiving table (or any special occasion table setting) remember these tips:
- Experiment with different angles: Straight-on, from the corner, directly above
- Get close to your shot -- it's ok to leave some of the elements partially out of the photo
- If you find that a lot of your tablecloth or tabletop shows, don't be afraid to add or move things around to reduce negative space. What looks good in a photo doesn't always translate to what looks great in person.
- Hold your camera both horizontally and vertically to take your photos.
- Be sure to include some kind of natural element for texture and color. It doesn't always have to be flowers. Use a clipping from your fern, an apple or tangerine from the fruit bowl, a leaf or some twigs brought in outside, etc. Scroll back up to see examples of natural elements used on the table. It adds that special, perfect touch.
Hope those of you in the U.S. have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And for the rest of the world, I hope you've gained a few extra tips for photographing your table.
*All sources for these photos can be found on here.