It takes a lot of effort to make it look like it took none. That’s sort of a defining principle I hold very dear, and in wildly varying aspects of life; from delivering speeches for my school, to dressing, and to photography, to name a few. The best speeches surpass the gimmicks or deliver them with such perfection that they come across as effortless in-the-moment thought, and dressing well, especially for men, means it looks extremely natural, but good.
This can tie into the other defining idea I keep in mind, in keeping with my deep interest in eastern philosophy, of Wu Wei, or ‘non-action,’ which essentially is having something come so natural that you are doing something without ‘doing’ it. Hmm, maybe that’s more Wu Wu Wei. Anyway, this all relates to photography because, to me, and to many, a good photograph is devoid of the gimmicks, and should come across as natural.
When the average person looks at a photograph, they shouldn’t think of how it was lit, just that it looks like a beautiful scene. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but generally the photograph should highlight the subject and not the photography. Skyler Burt of WeEattogether.com has put together a video for improving food photography composition, and this very idea of having something look natural, is key throughout. He speaks to the idea that in any photograph, the technique should be invisible, and food photography is no different. The thing is, as soon as the technique is noticed, the focus on the subject is lost, and he stresses that it’s even worse when that very obvious technique is executed poorly.