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Ultimate Food Photography Tips

Food is one thing we all have in common. Some of us eat to live but some of us live to eat. Whichever camp you reside in, taking great photos of food can be easier said than done. Then there are all the “photography no nos” of the taking pictures of your meals to share with friends on facebook, Instagram, twitter etc.

So you’ve looked at all the glossy and delicious photos in a cookbook, or seen some stunning food photography online and fancy giving it a shot. How hard can it be? Is it a piece of cake? Well no is the short answer. But help is at hand. Read on and discover my Ultimate Food Photography Tips!

 Make Sure It Looks Appetizing.


If it doesn’t look appetizing before you even get your camera out then how will it look tasty and appealing in a photo? Why not make one of your favourite meals or desserts and take a bit of extra time with the presentation. Make the food look as tasty and delicious as possible before attempting your first food photos.

So you took some shots but you aren’t happy with the lighting. Next tip is food photography lighting.

 Food Photography Lighting


Getting the lighting right in your food photography can be a tricky business. A lot of the best food photographers tend to use window light or mimic window light by using a huge softbox. Then use a reflector to fill in the shadow side to gently raise the exposure and save you time sat in front of the computer editing!

“What if I don’t own a softbox?” I hear you say. Why not place your delicious looking food next to a big bright window. This gives a nice soft and directional light. Don’t have a reflector to fill in the shadow side? Just grab a piece of white paper, this will do the job perfectly!

This type of lighting is a great place to start with your food photography as you don’t need any fancy equipment to try it!

Another simple but effective food photography lighting technique I use myself is bounced flash. If you have a flashgun simply point it facing directly up to the ceiling. As the flash hits the ceiling it will spread and create a larger light source. This will give you a much softer light and is definitely worth a try if your food photos are all looking a bit samey or lacking that ‘pop’.

 Use a Simple Composition.


Composing a food shot can be tricky but don’t get too bogged down with nailing the ‘right’ composition. Keep it simple. Take a few minutes to pick a nice background element. Take a few test shots and get a feel for what is working best.

Always try a few angles. Sometimes the picture you have in your head doesn’t match up with the picture you take. Don’t worry just keep testing different angles. It’s always better to have a more photos and angles to choose from. You can always delete.

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Eat Before You Shoot!


I have learnt this the hard way. Imagine the scene, the smell of the food cooking is driving you wild. You’re almost drooling when it is prepared and ready to start shooting. All you can think about is getting the photos as quickly as possible and tucking in. Well this won’t help you take amazing food photos! Either make 2 lots of food or make sure you have eaten before you plan on shooting. Trying to concentrate and focus when hungry looking at some scrumptious looking food through the viewfinder is an almost impossible task!

 Keep an Eye on the Details.


Sometimes when looking at great food photography we don’t realise how much work and effort has been crammed into that one photo. Everything from the angle of the plate, to the meticulously placed crumbs and the perfectly immaculate plate the food is sat on.

You might not notice when you look on the back on your DSLR so it’s well worth getting in close and zooming in on your images to really check for little imperfections. These really show up once you look at them on your computer and by that point it’s usually too late to correct as the food has been devoured!

Take some time and have a close look at the food before you take the photo. It might just save you a lot of time sat in Photoshop cloning out imperfections, smudges and dirty plate marks.

 Don’t Shoot Wide Open All The Time.


This is a common mistake in food photography. You have looked at the dreamy looking shots in the food magazines and want a slice of that action. You get your fasted lens, slap it on your camera and shoot that bad boy as wide as it can go. Result? A paper thin depth of field and a not very engaging photo.

Switch it up and vary your apertures. Just like shooting from different angles, try to keep playing around with the depth of field. You decide where to draw the views eye and attention. And keep viewing your images at 100% to really make sure you focus is spot on as even the most steady handed photographer will miss focus now and then shooting wide open!

 Use Contrasting Elements.

Ultimate food photography tips

You have the light just right. You have the perfect depth of field and composition. But you still aren’t happy. It just lacks some punch and invention. Try introducing some contrasting element in the scene. If you are shooting something with bold colour then why not choose a nice coloured background to really set off the subject and make it leap out at the viewer.

Same goes for texture. If you are shooting something like soup that all smooth and soft, grab a lovely piece of crusty bread to really sell the image and give it some depth and that all important contrast. You will be surprised at how making very slight changes can make a huge impact on your food photos.

So that’s it, your ultimate food photography tips. Let’s have a quick recap of what we covered;

  • Make Sure It Looks Appetizing
  • Food Photography Lighting
  • Use a Simple Composition
  • Eat Before You Shoot!
  • Keep an Eye on the Details
  • Don’t Shoot Wide Open All the Time
  • Use Contrasting Elements

These food photography tips will help you get started taking some mouth wateringly and delicious food photos. Just make sure you have plenty of extra ingredients and that you are taking pictures on an empty stomach!

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