Taking the best possible food photos

Pumpkin PIe

With the holidays almost here, there will be a lot of food photos. So we thought we’d compile some basic food photography tips from 3 excellent sources:

First up, from Digital Photography School, are 11 Quick Food Photography Tips to Make Mouth Watering Images – here are some of the tips we especially liked:

  • Pick the freshest ingredients
  • Lighting is everything (natural, back lighting is recommended)
  • Keep it simple, but you will need props or garnishes to compensate for inherently unattractive food like brown soup
  • Use simple props – and don’t forget raw ingredients, especially behind a food that doesn’t make its components obvious (blended soups, for example)
  • A photograph taken of the food cooking can be more interesting than the finished dish
  • Clean the plate

Michael Ray, in Digital Food Photography Tips, has some excellent ideas of how to work the camera:

  • Shoot from a lower angle than you think you should
  • Crop in tightly
  • Use a shallow depth of field (it’s OK if the background is blurred)
  • Add a little oil (this is a very common tip)
  • Don’t overprop, and the prop should be appropriate (adding a candied flower – beautiful though it may be – to a Brussels sprouts salad wouldn’t work)

Finally, in this article from SmugMug, a professional food stylist talks about how she learned her craft, some of her worst moments, and then gives some excellent pointers in how to make food look good. Particularly interesting was her list of garnishes that will improve almost any dish:

  • Parsley – chopped parsley makes any dish look like a restaurant eat.
  • Mint Leaves – Place them on top of cupcakes, in cocktails, or chop them into Asian dishes for added color and enticing edibility.
  • Feta Cheese – Perfect for sprinkling as a finishing garnish on soups, dips, and Mediterranean dinners, feta adds nice texture without overwhelming a dish. 
  • Lemons and limes – toss sliced lemons into water for a simple background addition that looks great in final shots. Place little lime or lemon wedges to the side of final dishes to add interest and color to things like cooked chicken, pasta, or even summertime desserts. 
  • Raspberries, Strawberries, or Blueberries – Fresh berries make a gorgeous add-in for desserts or breakfast pictures. If you think your photo needs a little sumthin’-sumthin’ try scattering a few berries in the background to lend a warm, welcoming effect. 
  • Whipped Cream – Use it as sour cream in a pinch, or pipe a small dollop on dessert photos to really make them gorgeous.

Happy shooting everyone!

Photo of Pumpkin Pie by Bakerella


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One Comment

  • boardingace  on  November 27, 2013

    Very cool tips – thank-you!

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