Photographing Food - Tips & Tricks

Photographing Food - Tips & Tricks

by Sparkle Hill

One type of still life photography is food photography. Cookbooks, magazines, and online websites are filled with images that display mouth-watering entrees.

Food photography is an art of it’s own. The way the food is arranged on the plate, the colors, the lighting, and the setting all play a role in good high quality food photos. Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction when learning the art of food photography.


One thing that can really make or break a photo of food is lighting. You don’t need a lot of fancy flashes or studio set up to get good quality food photos. Typically, natural light works very well. Find a window that has plenty of natural light coming through and use that as your light source. You can use one flash bounced off of a wall, ceiling, or reflector to help spread the light evenly.

If shooting with direct natural light, consider creating a diffuser between the window and set-up. You can put a sheer white fabric over a window to help keep the light more subtle, resulting in less harsh shadows and highlights.


You don’t want to put too many extra props in your set-up because you don’t want to take away from the star of the show, the food itself. Adding a nice folded napkin or maybe a piece of silverware or glassware should suffice.

You can also add things like sauces or other ingredients as props in front of or behind the food. For example, maybe put a few fresh strawberries to the side of a strawberry cupcake. Or perhaps a nice spoon of some sort of flour off to the side of a fresh baked loaf of bread. You can also include something that tells the food’s cultural heritage. 

Make sure the bowl, plate or any other dishes you are using to display the food is clean and compliments the colors of the entrée. In many cases, a simple white plate is all you need.

Also, make sure the area the food is displayed on doesn’t have background clutter. Keep the area clean, organized, and tidy.


In some cases, shooting from above can work. If you have a plate of tacos, shooting from above and looking down on the food may be the only way to see all of the yummy details inside the shells.

In other (and most) instances, it’s best to shoot from eye level. This allows you to see more details of the entrée from the plate to the top of the food.

In some cases, it’s best to get a shot from both above and at eye level. An example would be if you are taking a photo of cupcake with beautiful swirled frosting piled high finished with colorful sprinkles on top. Shooting from eye level will show off the swirls on the mountain of frosting. Likewise, shooting from above will show off the colorful sprinkles.

You can even put the two angles side by side in a collage via post processing and make them into one image. Also, shoot from a couple of different angles so that you can decide later on in the culling process which works best. 

Photographing food doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure you have proper lighting and a set up that makes the food visually appealing. The setting, props, and the arrangement of food can make or break an image. Look at other food photography and take note of the techniques that were used to get professional quality photos.

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