10 Food Photography Tips and Tricks for Beginner Photographers

Food photography can be tough at first, but if you understand some of the basic concepts, you can start taking amazing food photos sooner than you think!

In this 5 minute video I talk about 10 simple tips and tricks for better food photography. If you're just starting out, or are having trouble capturing amazing food photos, you must check this out!

I've also included a text version of the video below :)

10 Food Photography Tips for Beginner Photographers

1. Find a good setting

  • Choosing a good setting for your shoot is very important for the overall mood of the image. Try to shoot in rooms that have windows, neutral colored walls, and tables with neutral and darker colors that serve as a good background for your food photos. 
An example of a perfect setting for food photography. Notice the soft light entering through the windows and reflecting off of the dark wooden table.

An example of a perfect setting for food photography. Notice the soft light entering through the windows and reflecting off of the dark wooden table.

 

2. Natural light is the only light source you need

  • The sun is all you really need to capture beautiful food photos. Artificial light sources don't match the same quality as natural light, and can make your food look unnatural. Try shooting in front of a window where natural light enters the room, this light is typically soft and perfect for food photos.
Natural light is beautiful - it's all you need!

Natural light is beautiful - it's all you need!

3. Shoot in the morning or late afternoon

  • The light from the sun is best in the morning, and in the late afternoon. This is because the sun is not at its highest point in the sky, resulting in softer and more golden light. This light is perfect for food photography, and some of the best shots I've taken were early in the morning or right before sunset :)
A perfect example of afternoon light. This was shot about an hour before sunset. While the light is still a bit harsh in places, it is much softer than it would be during mid-day.

A perfect example of afternoon light. This was shot about an hour before sunset. While the light is still a bit harsh in places, it is much softer than it would be during mid-day.

4. Use diffusers to soften light and reflectors to redirect it

  • Using diffusers and reflectors to further manipulate the light from the sun is a great way to get perfect lighting in your shots. Use a diffuser to weaken the light from the sun by placing it between your food, and the sun. You can also use a reflector to reflect the light from the sun onto different parts of your food, giving your food a much more 3d look if done correctly.
The outcome of using a diffuser in front of a window.

The outcome of using a diffuser in front of a window.

5. Focus on composition

  • Lighting and styling are essential to food photography, but if your composition sucks, nobody will give your photo a second look. Make sure to focus on your composition in every shot, and make it easy for your viewers eyes to navigate across the image. Checkout my blog post on compositional templates. Although I wrote this post with travel photography in mind, these basic composition guidelines are relevant across all fields of photography, including food!
A simple composition that works. 

A simple composition that works. 

6. Use a shallow depth a field

  • Using a shallow depth of field in your images is a great way to keep the focus on your food, and not the background of the image. It can also add a much more artistic touch to your images. There are two ways to achieve a shallow depth of field in your photos: using higher focal length lenses and using a lower aperture. Higher focal lengths (such as 50mm, 85mm, 100mm and beyond) are great for getting up close to your subject, while reducing distraction in the background. Lower apertures (2.8, 2.0, 1.8, 1.4,) allow you to further isolate your subject from the background, keeping the focus on your food. Note that if your aperture is too low, you might not achieve enough focus in your image. Try experimenting with different apertures until you find one that works.
There are other objects in the frame, but the shallow depth of field allows us to focus on the food. 

There are other objects in the frame, but the shallow depth of field allows us to focus on the food. 

7. Minimize clutter

  • While props are important, don't let them distract from the most important thing in the image: the food. Try shooting food with and without props, and see what works best. Sometimes the best food photos are very minimal in nature, and contain no props at all.
Simple, yet beautiful.

Simple, yet beautiful.

8. Shoot from different angles

  • Many new photographers get stuck shooting from the same angles. Try moving around and shooting from different angles. Don't be shy to try new things, you'll take some of your best shots from angles that you didn't expect!
Food shots from above are interesting and easy to compose, but there are plenty of other angles that work as well.

Food shots from above are interesting and easy to compose, but there are plenty of other angles that work as well.

9. Use different backgrounds

  • If you are shooting multiple dishes in a single café or restaurant, shoot them in different places. Having variety in your photos is much more desirable than a bunch of photos with the same background. Try inside and outside, and move your dishes around to get a different look. 
Try tossing down some fabrics - these are great for switching up your background.

Try tossing down some fabrics - these are great for switching up your background.

10. Shoot everyday

  • Take your camera with you and shoot as much as you can! Don't want to carry it? Use your smart phone. As long as you're applying the lessons you learned in this blog post - your smart phone will suffice. The most important thing is that you keep shooting. The more photos you take, the faster you will become a better photographer. Shooting food isn't easy, but with time and practice, you'll be surprised at what you can come up with :)
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