50 Tips For Food Photography (A Complete Guide to Food Photography)

You can get really creative when shooting your food photos, but you need to know how to make them shine. This food photography tutorial will surely teach you how to do it. Now let’s come to my 50 tips to improve your food photography. I hope you find them to be insightful and instructive. Get ready for a long scroll!

If you feel it’s too much to read, check out my video about these 50 tips for Food Photography…

1. Absorb Beautiful Imagery

Continually look at good food photography on blogs, Google, Instagram, or Pinterest. Regular referencing really refreshes your creativity and inspires you to create through your own lens.

2. Sketch Your Vision

Plan out your ideas for your photo shoots by sketching them. When sketching, focus on the story you want to tell, think about the props to use, visualise the colour palette, and make notes about the lighting direction and all aspects related to the composition.

3. Be Organised

Now that you have a vision, make sure you have the necessary gear and ingredients to make it happen. A day before the shoot I make sure I have everything in place so that I can avoid unnecessary stress in the middle of my photo shoot.

4. Get a decent camera

One of the best ways to improve your food photography is to start with what you have. You may start with your mobile phone and once you have clicked a few good photos you may invest in a decent camera as per your budget and interest.

5. Recharge Your Batteries

One of the worst things that can happen during a shoot is having an unnecessary delay because your battery is dead. Always charge your batteries thoroughly and have spare ones ready too.

6. Set a Low ISO

When possible, it is best to leave your ISO on the lowest setting and only increase it if necessary. Because if you raise your ISO too high, your photo will look more grainy and less crisp.

7. Shoot in RAW

If your camera allows you to, always shoot in RAW. This will give you the greatest flexibility in editing later on.

8. Stop Using The Auto Mode

Get away from the auto settings, and let the real creativity set in. If you are not comfortable using the manual mode, try the semi-automatic modes like aperture priority and shutter priority.

9. Use Negative Space

Give the viewer some room to breathe, by adding some negative space in the picture. It’s soothing for the eyes and mind to have somewhere for them to rest in the picture.

10. Think Layers & Texture

Things that are in the dish look great when layered into the photo. Aim to have about 3 layers of texture in your photos, like a napkin, cutlery, herbs, spices, or ingredients.

11. Tweak Your Light

As with all types of photography, light plays a very important role in food photography. Make maximum use of natural window light, which makes your setup genuine and classic.

12. Look At Your Shadows

Look at your shadows. Shadows tell you what the light is doing. It should match the mood you wanna set in your photo.

13. Side, Back, or Top Light

Light your subject from the back, side, or top. Avoid having the light source coming from the same angle or direction as the camera.

14. Use Artificial Light

Using artificial light can make beautiful food photography possible at any time of day and in any conditions. Putting together a quality light and softbox can change everything.

15. Use a Tripod

To get those razor-sharp crystal clear photos you need a tripod. It is even better if you can control your camera with a remote.

16. Use Fresh Ingredients

Food photography is all about the appearance of the food, so you need to make sure that the food is in a good condition. Wilted lettuce in the salad or a bruised tomato can ruin your photo.

17. Invest in Quality Backgrounds

A beautiful background will transform your food and make it stand out properly. Marble, concrete, wood, tile, discover your signature look with a quality backdrop.

18. Consider Shooting on The Floor

Consider using your floor as your background for some cool flat lays. Just make sure it is nice and clean.

19. Use Props

Use props that only compliment the food. The food is your hero, so don’t overthink the styling. Using the basic and common ingredients in your food is enough sometimes.

20. Minimise Clutter

If that spoon, napkin or busy background doesn’t add to the photo, it detracts from the photo. Focus on what is most important.

21. Add Side Dish

Adding a simple side dish can elevate your composition and make it look more inviting. For instance, if you take images of a cup of coffee, you can place a plate with a piece of cake near it.

22. Don’t Get Too Close

Don’t zoom in so close that viewers can’t tell what the food is. It is a good idea to use a macro lens for your food shots, but please avoid going too close so that the viewers are unable to identify the dish.

23. Think About Colours

The food is all about colour. If the dish itself does not have a powerful one, you can add colour with props and surfaces.

24. Add Emotion

Some foods are associated with certain emotions or feelings. Coffee makes you energetic and sleepless, and chilies are spicy and hot. Try to bring these associations into your composition!

25. Add Human Element

Adding a human element to the photographs makes it visually appealing. E.g. holding a coffee mug or stirring a pot or pouring beverages.

26. Include A Little Action

Still life doesn’t have to be still when it comes to food. Get a little movement into the scene, and bring it to life. For example the pouring of liquids, steam rising off hot dishes, etc.

27. Include Cutlery

If your photo contains food beautifully arranged on a plate and surrounded by forks, spoons, etc., you are sure to interest people. The thing is that our mind is accustomed to certain phenomena, so an image of bare food may look unrealistic.

28. Garnish A Little

Use garnish that really makes the food “pop” and become alive in photos. Garnish is not just limited to green herbs and coriander. Anything that adds another layer of texture or colour can be your garnish.

29. Clean Your Lens

Clean your lens before and also during the shoot. Steam or dust on the lens can ruin your shots!

30. Create An Appealing Composition

Don’t be afraid to rearrange the pieces of food on your plate or mix in non-edible elements. Use the different photography composition rules to guide the viewer’s eyes across both the frame and the plate.

31. Create Lines

Instead of having the items scattered in your photo such that they may distract the viewer from your main subject, you can arrange them to create a path for your viewer’s eyes to follow.

32. Try Repetition

To make your images engaging, you can place identical or similar elements near each other. Thus, you’ll get a kind of pattern.

33. Show The Cooking Process

It is recommended to take images at different stages of the cooking process. You can photograph fresh vegetables right after they have been washed, then take images of the same raw pieces when a cook chops them, etc.

34. Shoot From Varied Angles

Different foods have different angles that show their best look. Explore the angles you can think of for each dish, and don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative!

35. Think Vertical

Make it a habit to click a few vertical shots along with horizontal ones. They attract more real estate on websites and social media apps like Instagram.

36. Experiment with Different Heights

You can stack your food and create a visual difference. You can use a cutting board to create some height and raise the subject.

37. Photograph Splashes

Splashes are a great way to add motion and dynamism to your shot. You can use sugar cubes, fruits, vegetables or the beverage itself.

38. Be Original

It is great to view references and take inspiration from other food photos but see how you can take those photos in your own unique way.

39. Plan Your Story

Tell a story, don’t just plop a dish down with a few props. Try to give some character and context to the dish you are photographing.

40. Pile Up

Food like chocolates, biscuits, etc can be piled up in many ways. You can also make various shapes and arrangements with your piles.

41. Simple is Pretty

Simple pictures make your food look delicious without having to make a considerable effort. All you need is a creative eye and a yummy bowl of food.

42. Break the Rules

Follow your heart and passion for food. Sometimes you should forget all rules and logic and just create.

43. Edit your Images

Editing helps us to put our final touches on an image and stamp it with our style. Maybe you can correct some mistakes you committed while you were shooting.

44. Practice

Visualise the shot, be creative, click, check how you can make it better, and try again. Practice makes a photographer perfect.

45. Keep Learning

Never stop learning and perfecting your craft. If you think you have mastered something continue to look for new things to perfect.

46. Don’t Force It

If within two hours you haven’t got what you had in mind or something that makes you proud, let it go. Maybe you can try tomorrow, or change your idea. Don’t force your body and your mind.

47. Set Time Aside

Set aside time every week to shoot for yourself, whether it’s just for fun, images for social media or your portfolio. I like to shoot my photos and videos on weekends as my weekdays go in my job.

48. Observe Your Images

After your photoshoot, go back and look what you did on your computer. Write down what you liked and what you didn’t. Learn from it and repeat the next time.

49. Write a Little

Pick 10 food photos you totally love and write out what it is that you love about each image. Writing about photography may help you think about your work and progress in completely new ways.

50. Have Fun

It’s food photography, not rocket science! You can use food to illustrate a lot of things about culture, people, and ethics but it can be fun and delicious in the process. 

I hope you find these 50 tips to be useful guys. Do comment on what you want to read more about on my blog. Thank you so much for reading. If you liked my blog, please give it a star and start following me. Thank you and happy clicking!

Also Read – 50 Tips for Landscape Photography


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