4 beginner tips for great food photography

Did you know that being a food stylist is a real job? It’s true – there are people who are paid to make food look good for cookbooks, magazines, and cooking shows. It’s a small field, but one that can spark curiosity among home cooks and foodies alike. After all, in this day and age, everyone and their mother have posted a picture of food to their social media account.

Of course, amateur photos rarely turn out as well as those taken by food stylists, but with a few tricks you can improve your pictures of summer burgers or that perfect pie. So, if you’re trying to capture a few shots for your website, you’re in luck. Next time you’re preparing to snap a picture of food, consider these four tips for more appealing food photography.

food photography tips for beginners


#1: Work On Your Lighting

No matter what you’re trying to photograph, having good lighting is vital. That’s why it’s so hard to capture a great shot of plated gourmet meals in a restaurant – the lighting just isn’t suited for it. When shooting food, you really only need one light source, ideally a natural one. You don’t want viewers to feel like you were shining a spotlight directly on your food – and if you do, things will melt or wilt.

If you’re trying to add a little more depth to a shot, you might consider focusing your light a little bit more, specifically to the side or back. This can help add some shadow and definition to a dull shot.


#2: Get Closer

Photographers love to experiment with angles and distance, but when it comes to food photography, the best shots are often those taken the closest to the food. In the Easy Mac ad shown here, the most engaging spot in the photograph is the close-up of the fork loaded with steaming macaroni and cheese. You can see the curves and shine and the cheese coating, all of the details that make macaroni and cheese distinct from a visual perspective.

It’s also worth noting that the fork of Easy Mac shown in this ad is also perfectly positioned to draw the viewers’ attention. That’s because it obeys the rule of thirds, a key tenant of photography that describes where people’s eyes go when they look at an image. Learning these basic photography rules can really help you improve your images.


#3: Try an Action Shot

One way you can add interest to your food photography is by taking an action shot of someone taking a bite or of food cooking. This shot of vegetables cooking on a grill works well because there’s activity happening, but the picture is taken early when the veggies still look fresh and crisp. When the food still has a lot of structural integrity, you’ll get a better shot.


34: Consider Your Surroundings

Although shooting close-ups of food is great for capturing detail, don’t forget to consider what’s surrounding your shots. By palettes and settings, you can create a complete atmosphere for your food photographs. We don’t just drop a single item on an outsized plate when we eat (well, sometimes we do), we sit at a table with a napkin and a beverage. There’s no reason to leave these things out of your photographs when it’s done gracefully.


Garnishes also add some flair to your photographs, so adding some fresh herbs or neatly arranged vegetable slices can make your food presentations look more professional. Plating potato salad? Slice some hard boiled eggs and place them on top. Choosing the right garnishes can make or break your image.


Taking photographs of food can be a lot of fun, whether you’re taking them for your personal website, a publication, or just to post on Instagram. And now that you know how to capture your dishes with vibrancy, they’ll look as good as they taste.

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