Mouthwatering Food Photography Tips

We love to eat and show others what we’re eating. Pictures of food are everywhere. From blogs to restaurant websites to magazines, food photography has become part of our culture. If you want your pictures of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert to make your viewers salivate, improve your food photography with these expert tips.

1. Look at great food photography. Scour your favorite magazines and recipe blogs for photos that make you salivate. Try to figure out what it is about the images that makes them so appealing. Pay close attention to the lighting, colors, composition, and props.

Food Photography

Profumo di Autunno by MartaZ*

2. Use natural light whenever possible. Soft window light is almost always an attractive option for food photography. Don’t limit yourself to your kitchen or dining room. Find the best light in your home and take the food there, go outside, or, if at a restaurant, ask to be seated by a window.

3. Use a tripod. You can take longer exposures if the camera is stabilized, and these longer shutter speeds let you work in low light conditions at your desired aperture without having to add artificial light.

4. Control the light. Even though you’re using natural light, you have some control over its quality. Hang sheer curtains over a window to soften the light, use a reflector or mirror to bounce light into shadowed areas, or block light from certain parts of the photo with a dark piece of fabric or paper.

Food Photography

Food by Nick Nguyen

5. Try out multiple angles and perspectives. To make food look its best, you need to experiment with different angles of view. Try standing on a chair to shoot from above or kneeling down to see the food at “plate level”. Move around until you find just the right perspective.

6. Pay attention to presentation. Stylizing food by deciding on the right location, props, crumb placement, garnish, and background is often more time-consuming than taking the photos themselves. The extra time spent making food look its best will pay off in the end. Carefully planned images will stand out from the mediocre.

7. Be creative with composition. Use the same guidelines of composition you’d use for portraits or landscapes. Think about the rule of thirds. Look for leading lines, color splashes, and objects of interest. Don’t be afraid to cut parts of the dishes off or to zoom in to a small detail. Sometimes including the whole dish in the photo isn’t the most attractive choice.

Food Photography

Cupcake Roses by Ann

8. Use interesting dishes and backgrounds. Scour the shelves of second hand stores for interesting fabrics and dishes. Look for colors and patterns that are complementary and won’t distract from the food.

Food Photography

herbed tofu cakes with curried apple by Joana Mendes

9. Choose colors wisely. Make sure all elements of color go together. Use color theory to appeal to the tastebuds. Let colors illustrate the season. For example, use warm colors to appeal to an autumn audience or bright colors for summertime foods.

10. Show the process. While it’s usually beneficial to have a photo of the finished product, pictures of the making of the dish are great for creating interest. These are especially helpful for food blogs.

Food Photography

Ice Cream and sprinkles by Louise Docker

11. Include props. These may include measuring spoons, raw ingredients, seasonal items, and the like. Props serve to give your image context. Display what went into the dish or who made it.

12. Take a photo before the food is completely finished. Wait for each food to be at its peak of color and texture. Vegetables, for example, look best when they’re undercooked, because they retain more color and look more crisp.

Promote your recipes or get hired to shoot for a restaurant by enticing people with your delicious food photography. Just keep these tips in mind. If you’re handy in the kitchen, you can build your portfolio—and feed your hungry friends–right from home.

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Profile photo of Nicoal Price About Nicoal Price

​Nicoal is a New England photographer with a penchant for learning. Her work ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Visit nicoalprice.com for more info.

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