So you are a foodie and love to take pictures of what you eat. Food can be finicky, difficult to capture in all its glory — the colors, the smells, the textures, and tastes. Do your pictures always end up looking a little bland? Don’t worry; you don’t need years of practice to perfect your food photography skills to get stunning shots. There are all sorts of secrets to take stunning food photos, and I’ll share some of my favorite tips for taking great food photos.
Tips For Taking Better Food Photos
Food photography is all about the light! Learn about the light, and you will learn how to take better food photos. There is nothing else as important. First, one must learn and become aware of where the light is coming from, how intense it is, and how it hits the food. Then once you know that, the trick is to work with it and know how to make it work for you.
- Start with natural light. I always have everyone learn with natural light first. Turn off your overhead lights, that ceiling bulb is a much different temperature than your window light. Don’t use the flash in your camera, ever.
- Find your best light source. Just because you cook in the kitchen doesn’t mean you have to photograph there. Learn where your light comes in at your house. As food bloggers many times we are chasing light all through the house. I have a wall of glass at my house that faces east. In the morning with some diffusion it is gorgeous once the sun gets over that wall. But by the afternoon, it’s a pretty flat image. I have a large south facing window upstairs that works really well.
Pick Pretty Food to Photograph
Not all food and photographs are created equal. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yes, some food is plain ugly. Not only is it ugly, but it’s also hard to photograph. So when first starting out, I recommend staying away from the tricky stuff. You know what I mean, brown gravy, a roast, curries.
Food with color and vibrancy is great to use when starting out. Think of something as simple as fruit. You get oranges, yellows, reds, pinks, and they have so much texture.
Start with White
I always recommend starting with white. A great food blogger can work with just a white plate and make that meal look gorgeous. Starting with white lets you focus on the food without the distraction of colors and props. Eventually, you can work your way up to different color palettes and adding props.
I think the second-best tip for taking better food photos is to learn to use a color wheel. Adobe has a great free color wheel system. Once you know how to work with complementary colors, your life will change. We use the color wheel to decide simple things like what to put on our plates. You could use it even when you try to choose props that go on the table to be included in the photograph. It’s a great practice to get into the habit of using your color wheel.
Other Photography Equipment
Reflectors and Diffusers:
I mostly use inexpensive foam boards to bounce light back onto the plate. We use the white ones to bounce light back and reduce shadows. We use the black ones to bring out more shadows. You can buy these most anyplace nowadays. All craft stores will have them and even the larger shopping chains like Target. I always buy the large ones then cut a few down to smaller sizes. Sometimes the large size works perfectly. Other times you may be in tight places and have a smaller working space.
To diffuse some window light, you can easily use a sheer white curtain to cover the window. You could also use an inexpensive shower curtain. Or go to your favorite fabric store and have them cut a few yards for you of sheer white fabric. I tape these over the window when the light is harsh.
I know…I know… Tripods get a bad rap. I, like others, love the freedom of movement with hand holding my camera. But I’ve learned that my tripod gives me much greater control over my settings. And let’s talk about tack sharp versus a tiny bit of blur. No one wants a blurry anything after all the effort you put into getting the photograph all set up. I’m a fan of Manfrotto. I’ve had my Manfrotto for over 10 years. A good one is an investment, but given the life of it, I’ve easily gotten my money’s worth.
We also like to do a lot of overhead shots. Where are my flat lay people? You know who you are. For this setup, you are going to need an arm for the tripod. We also use Manfrotto for this. I love shooting overhead, and this setup works well.
Well, there you have it, our basic tips for taking great food photos. If you have gotten a great image or learned a few new things, please share on Instagram and tag us #SerenasSweetAcademy. I’m always excited to see what you are doing.
Five Day Food Photography Challenge
Want to take your food photography up a notch?
I’ve been photographing food for years and have learned some tricks of the trade. Join me on this 5-day challenge where you’ll learn how to master the art of food photography, one bite at a time. You’ll be amazed by what you can do with just a few simple tips. You will learn how to make your photos pop with color, texture, and lighting. Sign up today!
If you are looking for other photo or baking tips, please take a look through our website. We have plenty.
- Understanding Aperture in Photography
- Food Styling: Making it Real
- Food Photography: 5 Ways to Create Texture
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