Photography: 10 Food Photography Tips

Do you find yourself getting frustrated looking at food photography on Pinterest wishing that your food photos would look just as good (if not better) than what you see as you scroll through the site? Are you running out of ideas for your food photos? Have you wanted to enhance your food photography skills but are not sure what to do next? Food photography can be tricky … but I’m here to share some tricks of the trade with you.

10 Food Photography Tips

1. Composition

Before you break out your camera, give some thought into how you want to compose the food photo. Do you want to do an overhead photo? What type of mood do you want to set with your photo? How much of the food will you need to get a great photo? Do you want to photograph the recipe deconstructed? You’ll want to map out your ideas so that you can set the scene efficiently.

2. Textures

I’m all about textures. As you can see from my food photography, I prefer rustic, farmhouse props that help tell a story. I think that the rustic props add so much depth to a photograph due to all of the textures that they bring to the scene.

When you’re thinking of the composition, analyze what fits with the food that you are photographing. Take for example a bowl of soup. To me, soup is comfort food so I would want the photograph to exude comfort. When thinking about composition, a rustic bowl and spoon, a stone plates to set the bowl on, and frayed napkins would definitely come to mind. I would want to make the scene as comforting as possible while also showcasing the food.

Simply put, the more texture, the better … as long as the texture makes sense in the story that you’re trying to tell in your photograph.

3. Utensils

You need to make food photographs approachable. If you eat the recipe with a fork, include a fork (or multiple forks) in your scene. If you’re photographing soup as described above, include a spoon in your scene. Utensils are a great way to add texture all while making your photograph look very inviting.

4. Ingredients

Instead of taking ingredient photos, I like to use the ingredients as props. Items like chocolate chips, fresh herbs, and colorful spices are a great way to add texture and depth to a scene. The ingredients also help showcase what was included in the recipe. As you’re preparing the recipe, be sure to set aside a few of the ingredients to use as props.

5. Shapes

I love to use repetition in my food photography to help with the theme. Having a bunch of different shapes in a food photo can create chaos. Instead, think about the shape of the food, recipe, or serving dish and try to replicate that shape subtlety throughout the entire scene in order to make items in a photograph flow without being a distraction.

6. Lighting

Use natural light. I cannot stress that enough. I never use artificial light when photographing food. No matter how many tricks someone might have up their sleeve when it comes to recreating natural light, I just don’t believe in it. Keep an eye on the natural light that comes into your home. Also, you never want to use harsh natural light. In other words, taking photos when the sun is bright will make photographing food a difficult task.

The prime time to photograph in natural light is usually during the morning or evening hours when the natural light is soft. If you have to photograph food in the middle of the day, then use a sheer curtain to help soften the light.

In my old house in the city, I didn’t have a lot of natural light that came into the home since I lived in a rowhouse that backed up to an alley. I had to get creative when it came to finding good natural light. We had a workbench under a car port in our backyard. A lot of the food photos that I have taken for this site have been taken on that workbench. The light that came into the car port was just enough to achieve the mood that I was trying to accomplish in my food photography.

Find your natural light and create your mood. Remember, photography is all about capturing light so use the best light possible.

7. Background

You’ll notice that I like to play with backgrounds in my food photography. I usually use old baking sheets, fabrics, and backdrops while taking photos of food. So many people have commented on the brick wall in my food photographs, saying that they wished that they had such a nice brick wall. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible. How? Easy. All that you have to do is hop onto Etsy and purchase backdrops that will last for years. Ink and Elm is one of my favorite shops on Etsy. I have purchased a brick wall, as well as multiple wood plank walls. The backdrops are so realistic. Plus, instead of having to store real wood planks, all that you have to do is roll up the backdrops and store them.

8. Props

I love to include rustic, farmhouse props in my food photos because they add so much depth, character, and texture to photographs. For more information about food photography props, please visit this page.

9. Crumbs

That’s right. I said it. I’m a person who needs everything in its place. However, put me behind the camera when I’m photographing food and I’m always creating a messy look in my food photographs. Cooking can be messy. Eating can be messy. Food photographs can be messy. Use crumbs to your advantage. Adding crumbs to a food photograph is a simple way to add dimension.

10. Position

Not only do I mean the position of the food and ingredients, but also the position of your body and eye. More specifically, how you capture the food on film. From overhead shots to side shots, what angle will best capture the scene that you have created? Instead of taking the same angle over and over again, get creative and change your viewpoint. Are you always taking photos from the side? Stand over the scene and get an overhead shot. You’ll be surprised and pleased with the results. Plus, different angles means different ways to style the scene. The opportunities are endless.

What is your favorite food photography tip?

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