Whether you just take the occasional picture of sushi for Instagram, or you’re a passionate food blogger, you probably know that it takes a bit of effort to get a good picture. Well, hopefully I can help you with a few tips of my own!
I’ve been doing photography for about 5 years, which is even longer than I’ve been blogging for! A lot of food bloggers write these posts and show how ugly their earliest food pictures were. I’ll be honest, since I had already been doing photography for a while, my food pics weren’t all that bad! Nonetheless, photographing my food and sharing it on my blog has improved my general photography skills insanely, and I’ve improved so much at staging and photographing my recipes too! I’m shocked at just how much there is to learn. But, the good thing is that with only a few tips, you’ll be on your way to taking some of the best pics out there. The tips I’m gonna give you here will help make people appreciate your recipes that you’ve spent so long making, and the food that you’ve so beautifully prepared. Not to mention, your Insta is going to be so much more fabulous! It’s the saddest when someone works really hard to make a beautiful meal but the picture makes it look unappetizing. 🙁
So, I really want to help y’all, since I have a pretty good understanding of how to use a dslr (one of those fancy cameras) and have been doing food photography on my blog for about 2 years. Feel free to critique me if you think I suck (though I’d be pretty hurt tbh). I definitely don’t think I’m a pro or anything!
I hope you guys appreciate my tips!
5 Most Important Tips for Food Photography
Tip 1: Lighting is the Most Important.
If you want to hear the most important tip for food photography, this is it. Shoot in bright natural light. You might have the most beautiful setting, but in photography if the lighting sucks, theres a 90% chance your picture is gonna suck too. On the other hand, I bet you’ve taken a picture and been shocked at how beautiful it was, when you barely tried. – probably because of the lighting. No offence, come sometimes my instagram friends, who don’t seem to have that much of an eye for photography, will upload a picture that is so gorgrous that I’m blown away, and every times that’s happened its been because the lighting happened to be gorgeous wherever they were (okay, maybe they improved their skills, or maybe I was too judgy and they actually had a great eye for photography, sorrry)
Tip 2: Always Simplify.
Keep things as simple and tidy as possible (background, surface, plate, decorations). If you want to go for a cozy busy look, thats all good. But be intentional about it. Remove things that don’t compliment your focus (the dish), and fill the space with things that are neatly arranged.
Tip 3: Compliment Your Food.
No. I don’t mean “Wow, little spaghetti you are so long and pretty and saucy.” I mean, go ahead and do that all you want! (btw have you heard that talking to plants makes them grow better? So maybe talking to your food will make it taste better?) Anyway, what I mean is that you should add things that compliment your dish: decorations, napkins, cutlery, ingredients, even a whole place setting. Ooh, and if you can, add something bright & colorful to your food.
Tip 4: Everything’s Better When it’s Fresh!
(except lasagna..and stews) But seriously, when food is fresh it looks so much more beautiful than when it’s been sitting out for a while. I once read a tip when I first started food photography that you should spritz your food (if it’s supposed to be a warm dish) with a little bit of water if it gets cool in order to give it a fresh looking glow. Well…I personally think that’s a bit extreme, because I plan to eat that food after. And I don’t know about you but I don’t really like soggy grilled chicken with water all over it. A tip I try to use often is to get the photography session all set up while your food is cooking. Set up the location, the decorations, the empty plate, even take a few practice shots to make sure that your settings are all good. That way when the food is ready you’ll be able to take your best pictures when the food is looking its’ best. And you won’t have to eat dinner when it’s cold..which we do around here wayyyy to often because of my obsession with photographing my food.
Tip 5: Try out Different Angles.
This one helps me so much. Sometimes you think one angle looks great, but you move to the other side of the table and then realize that the lighting and everything makes the photo 10x more beautiful! Always always try different angles, different heights, flat from above, table level, there are so many different things you can try. In my opinion the reason this is so helpful is because of lighting (since lighting is soon super important). How something is lit, for example if the main source of light falls on the front or the side of what you’re shooting. Usually, it’s not the most attractive to have the main source of light be coming from the same angle you’re shooting from. That’s why simply flashes on cameras and phones usually aren’t very flattering.
Here are a few samples to show you what I mean!
These first few pics are some pretty ugly ones I’ve taken:
Not a terrible picture, but if I had just settled for this angle and didn’t try out different ones, I never would have taken the beautiful picture I have below!
Ew. This is not a flattering picture at all! It was nighttime so I didn’t have access to natural light and was stuck using the harsh overhead lighting. As you can see below, it’s still worth it to try even in bad circumstances.
This picture isn’t too bad, but when you see the picture below you’ll be shocked that with a little proper use of lighting kale can look so much more delicious!
And here are some similar ones that are wayyyy more beautiful. Simply by using a few of the tricks I’ve showed you, you can make your pictures look a lot less like the ones above and a lot more like these ones:
A few adjustments of the angle I was shooting from, and I went from dark and underwhelming, to super appealing and bright!
This one I still don’t like that much, but it’s a lot better than the similar one above. I turned on all the lights in my kitchen, and then had to use some pretty heavy editing to make this one look okay. Moral of the story, if you can avoid unnatural light (unless you have fancy flashes) try to do so.
See the difference between the look of the kale in this one and the one above? That’s because of effective use of lighting, and the result of using natural light.
I hope you guys give some of these a try, I’d love to know if any of them work for you, or what your own tips are! Also, I think I had my sassy pants on today, so hopefully I didn’t annoy you too much!!