In food photography, and photography in general, a good fundamental tip on composition is to create or find triangles in your images. Triangles keep the viewer’s eyes on the photo, since when you follow a triangle with your eyes you are basically circling around the image, looking at all the elements. In this image the basil leaves are the boldest color, so your eyes probably were drawn to that part of the image first. If you followed your eyes to the other leaves then you were fooled into looking at the entire photo. ;)
Your triangles don’t have to all be the same colors or shapes – they could be as simple as three different elements in an image that your eyes will be easily drawn to. If you are photographing people then the direction of a person’s eyes are going to draw the viewer’s eyes in the same direction, and you could use that element in your “triangle”.
In food photography you will also find that adding this technique to your styling is very pleasing to the eye. I always add the “final touches” to the dish while it’s sitting on its mark, since I have a better view of the image through the viewfinder and can create or find the best placement for things like garnishes and silverware from that perspective.
Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several print books and eBooks, and runs her own online store for photographers, the “Nicolesy Store“.