60+ Food Photography Tips From Around The Web

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Topics covered within this guide

  • Equipment 
    • What you actually need
    • Getting affordable equipment 
    • What studio setups are like 
    • Aerial/overhead shooting 

 

  • Lighting 
    • Natural light 
    • Artificial Light 
    • Affordable/DIY artificial light
    • Lighting setup 
    • Dark & moody photography

 

  • Manual Settings 
    • ISO 
    • Aperture 
    • Shutter Speed 
    • White Balance 

 

  • Composition 

 

  • Food styling 

 

  • Post-processing

 

  • iPhone photography 

 

Preface

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

 

Why I created this guide, the short version

Hey, it’s ‘rouk here, and (I’m guessing) I’m like you, because I am fairly new to food photography and styling.

After I became interested in food photography and styling, I started searching the internet for tips on how to actually jump in and do it. What lens do I need? How the hell do I work these manual settings? How the f*** does anyone figure all this stuff out!? I was overwhelmed by the amount of information available, but eventually found the answers to all of my questions, and didn’t want anyone else to go through the long process of finding them.

 

This e-book was a first step into providing a good set of food photography tips, but I envision Beyond The Eats becoming so much more. I’m hoping I can interview food photographers to get specific questions answered, continue to curate good tips, receive guest posts, and do whatever else I can to give people good information around food photography & styling, all while I learn and have fun with it too.

 

Why I created this, the longer version 

Is it just me, or is being new to food photography and styling confusing as f***?

Manual settings, composition, using light in a million different ways, getting the right equipment etc. Going from seeing these beautiful photos of food to actually trying to capture them is a leap to say the least.

 

I’m assuming you’ve either been there too, or are at that point now… Searching the internet for answers to certain questions, finding some very useful bloggers, and slowly finding the answers to your questions, although you still don’t feel like you know enough to pick up your camera and start shooting.

 

I used over 200 different advanced Google searches, I watched YouTube videos, I asked friends for tips, and I used different search engines to find popular content, and in the midst of this research two interesting things began to happen…

 

The first was that I started to think about other people who are new to food photography, and how long it would take them to find these useful tips. The second was that I started to appreciate all of the information around food photography that people put out there for FREE on their own blogs. As someone who runs a blog myself, it was easy for me to appreciate their hard work.  

 

That’s how the idea of a food photography section on Beyond The Eats came along. I had a problem that I thought I could help others avoid.

 

The next step was to create some type of asset that I could introduce myself to people with, and after some careful thought, I decided to start with this e-book for two reasons.

  1. To help anyone who’s new to food photography learn a large set of essential tips in a short amount of time.
  2. To highlight members of the food photography community who are providing great information.

 

I hope you can use this e-book to give you some clarity along your food photography journey, or that it just teaches you some stuff you didn’t know before.

 

I’m also open to collaboration in different forms for anyone who would like to share food photography tips, so do not hesitate to reach out!

Last but certainly not least, if you enjoy this guide please share it.

 

By now you’re probably wondering who I am

My name is Farouk (rhymes with Luke), but most of my friends and family call me ‘rouk for short. I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I am a digital marketing enthusiast.

 

After searching for interests outside of marketing, food is something that peaked my interest quickly, so naturally, I decided to use my knowledge of digital marketing to keep track of my journey around food on Beyond The Eats.

 

Last year, I didn’t know much about food besides how to eat what is on the plate in front of me. I started to study food, the cultures involved with it, and what it means to different people as what food is about gained a whole new meaning to me. I still have a whole lot to learn about food, and the thought of everything I’d like to know is intimidating at times, but luckily I have a strong interest, a lot of places to learn from, and a place to track it all along the way.

 

What is Beyond The Eats?

In December of 2015, I launched a website called BeyondTheEats.com, and my motto is  “sharing stories, experiences, & learning through food”. I started this blog as a place where my love for digital marketing, helping others learn, and food can all co-exist. I edit and shoot the videos that are on the ‘site, write content, and design all my graphics. At times it can feel overwhelming, but I enjoy everything that comes with it as well as the continuous learning process.  

 

What does “stories, experiences, and learning” mean?

 

Stories are the journeys of restaurant owners, chefs, farmers, & anyone else I can think of who works with food in an interesting way. This is where the idea for the site started. I felt that someone needed to capture more of these stories and share them with the world, so here’s my shot.

 

Experiences are food events, blind taste tests, and any other fun outings I can think of that have to do with food. This is the portion of my website where I just have fun, and honestly, this is a place where anything can happen.

 

Learning is simply learning about food in different ways. This includes but is definitely not limited to the the history of different foods, culture, & food photography. It took me a long time to arrange my ideas for this section, because I want it to be a place where you actually look forward to visiting to learn new things about food.

 

Other great food photography guides & resources

 

Before fully diving into this thing, I’ll mention some other cool food photography guides and people that cover a whole lot of topics.

 

No curated food photography post online would be complete without mentioning Rachel from Two Loves Studio. If you’re just getting started with food photography, her website is a GREAT place to start, get acquainted, and take a look around. I think her “99 food photography tips” post is a great place to start. I have personally spoken to Rachel, and she also spoke during my Food Photography Summit, So I wholeheartedly encourage you to head her way with questions about food photography. 

 

In this guide, you’ll find more than 60 tips from over 30 food photographers across the web, but there were two sources that were very helpful throughout the process. The first is Christina of FoodPhotographyBlog.com, and the second is Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. Highly suggested!

 

Below are links to some larger all encompassing food photography guides.

 

  • This guide from Cookie & Kate covers tips for taking great food photos such as “minimizing clutter” & moving around to find the best light source. It also includes tips for troubleshooting, which cameras you can use for food photography, lenses, recommended software, & where to buy food props.

 

  • Taylor Takes a Taste also provides a series of food photography related articles that will help you start quickly. These essential articles cover topics such as “$5 fixes for your food photography” and “how to choose an aperture for your food photography”. But wait, there’s more. They also offer a FREE PDF file that contains 9 mini-lessons that will help you instantly improve your food photography! Enjoy.

 

  • As if I didn’t already love Serious Eats, they released this excellent article titled “The Serious Eats Guide to Food Photography”. Among many other topics, this guide covers lighting, composition, manual settings, post-processing, and even styling! This is a must read.

 

  • This guide from Sally of “Sally’s Baking Addiction” titled “Food photography basics” covers manual settings, equipment suggestions, and general tips. The article is clearly articulated and I assume that spent a lot of time putting it together.

 

  • Christina from FoodPhotographyBlog.com created this detailed e-book with over 30 food photography tips for bloggers. As aforementioned, she also has a lot of information on her website in general that will help to make shooting food photography much easier for you.

 

  • Charlotte from Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen published this great piece that contains 15 general tips for new food photographers. Charlotte managed to pack in a lot of good information in a short time.

 

Section 1: Equipment

equipped

 

This section will help you to find out what equipment you actually need, how much you should spend on it all, how to set it up, and walk you through a special shooting technique.

 

Essentials

 

What do you really need?  

 

  • Melissa from Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach blog created this list of 5 essential items for every food bloggers photography kit. In it, she lists 5 items that she feels are essential for food photographers to bring with them to every shoot. She assumes that everyone reading owns a camera, so her suggestions are mainly around accessories.

 

    • 1. Walk some distance when the parking is bad
    • 2. Fit into tight spaces around restaurant tables
    • 3. Produce good results with a variety of shots quickly

He also covers more specific topics like the camera, lighting, and tripod he uses, and even touches on some styling tips.

 

Affordable equipment

How to save money on some of the necessary equipment.

  • Dana & John from The Minimalist Baker wrote this post that includes different food photography setups for $500, $1,000, $2,000, & $3,000! So cool. Within it, they do a great job of looking out for everyone from the beginner who’s not sure what to buy, to the pro who’s looking to upgrade their equipment.

 

Lenses

I’m not sure about you, but it took me awhile fully understand lenses functionally. They vary in cost, quality, & many other factors, which makes it almost necessary to get information about them from the right sources. The resources below will help you navigate the world of lenses.

 

 

  • One of my favorite posts on lenses comes from Christina of Food Photography Blog. This article titled “what lens should you use to shoot food” goes into madd detail around the difference between different lenses, and also has great images that make it easy to follow the examples throughout.  

 

  • Shiran from Pretty.Simple.Sweet published an article titled “The Best Camera & Lenses For Food Photography”. In this article, she writes about the difference between zoom, prime and macro lenses, reviews a couple of DSLR cameras, and gives some general good advice for choosing lenses.

 

  • It’s not specifically focused on food photography throughout, but Tracy of The Things We’ll Make wrote this article titled “Choosing The Best Lens For Food & Still Life Photography”. This article includes topics such as choosing lenses, their prices, and investing in your food photography the right way rather than diving in head first.

 

  • Tiffany from Peanut Blossom blog writes about what she’s learned is the best lens for food photography over time. I love this post because it is written from her perspective of years of trial and error and I love learning from other people’s experiences.

 

Studio setup/Studio box

What does the set-up look like for a food photography shoot?

 

  • In this article, Ashley from Edible Perspective gives us a look into her food photography studio setup. After reading through this, the way food photos are shot made way more sense to me. She goes into detail about her equipment, her setup, and what she thinks you must have.

 

  • David from “I Bake He Shoots” created this useful 2 part article titled “How To Setup A Food Photography Studio”. in part 1, he mentions accessories like the table and surfaces you need, before going into more detail around equipment in part 2.

 

  • Kylie of “Yeah Imma Eat That” (how can you not love that name), published an article titled “My Food Photography Setup” that has a few items she’s gathered over the years, and explains what she has found works best for her.

 

Aerial/Overhead Shooting

After looking through 1,000’s of food photography images, it’s clear that the overhead shot is something you must be able to do, but how do you do it?

 

 

 

Section 2: Lighting

2-lighting

 

 

LIGHTING. I’m pretty sure it deserves all caps. It seems that important because it is always highlighted as the main tip to shoot good food photography. I can  feel the whole food photography community screaming USE NATURAL LIGHT at me right now actually.

 

Generally, most articles you’ll read online say you should live and die by natural light. However, some people believe that artificial light can be as good if you do it the right way. Whatever your preference, you’ll learn plenty about both below, including how to set up artificial lights for cheap and how to get the perfect “dark and moody” shot.”  

 

Natural light

 

  • Mandi from Making Nice In The Midwest published a great article on the topic titled “Lighting Tips & Tricks For Bloggers & Photographers”. Mandi goes into full detail about her personal set-up, and gives different photos to show the differences between natural and artificial lighting.

 

Artificial light

 

Unfortunately, Natural light isn’t always available. In these cases when there isn’t any natural light, you need to “create” the illusion of natural light through using artificial lighting. There are different ways to produce artificial lighting across many different price points, and the resources below will help you gain some perspective around cost and quality.

 

  • In this article, Lindsay from Pinch Of Yum breaks down how to use artificial light to shoot your food photography, and the equipment you need. Within the article are plenty of pictures and an easy to follow narrative to help you along the way.

 

 

  • Stephanie from Eat. Drink. Love. published this great post that covers using white reflectors, artificial lighting, & foam boards to help improve your photography.

 

  • In this article, Trisha from Eat Your Beets covers “Tips For Shooting Low Light Food Photography”. Not only does Trisha clearly show what she means by using images to explain, but she also goes into detail around topics like how to embrace shadows and find the proper light source.

 

Affordable artificial lighting

Save some bucks on artificial lights.

 

 

Lighting setup

How to create an inexpensive light box.

 

 

 

 

Dark and moody

 

“Dark & Moody” photography has a darker background and feel, which can really bring out the vibrant colors in some foods. It seems to be gaining popularity and is something that seems like most food photographers should have some level of familiarity with.

 

 

  • In this first article titled “A Trend We Love: Dark Food Photography”, Stacey from YuppieChef.com dsicusses why she likes dark food photography, the impact it makes, and gives some tips on how to shoot it.

 

 

 

 

Section 3: Manual settings

3-manual-settings

 

To get that exact look you’re aiming for in your food photography, you’ll have to use manual settings. Manual settings control a lot of different things, some being exposure, depth of field, and overall image quality. The tips below will help you transition into using these settings, and how to use them to achieve whatever look you’re aiming for.

 

ISO

 

How high quality can your image be?

 

 

 

Aperture

 

Those photos with the background blurred perfectly, how you do that?!

 

 

 

  • If you’re more into visual learning, this YouTube video gives a good overview of what aperture and focus are as more of a demonstration.

 

Shutter Speed

 

How does it effect your photos?

 

 

 

  • One specific thing that can be achieved by using shutter speed correctly is capturing steam from hot food. I’ve always thought this effect looked so cool, and wanted to know how people get that look right. Luckily, Ashley from Edible Perspective has us covered with this tutorial.

 

White Balance

 

Those pictures that are too yellow or too blue are just gross if we’re being honest. Luckily, those problems can be a thing of the past once you understand white balance.

 

 

 

 

 

Section 4: Composition

4-composition1

 

Unfortunately, you can’t place your food in front of the camera and hope for the best. You should be strategic about where you place items when framing your food photography if you want to get a dope photo.

 

What is composition?

 

  • Ramya wrote this dope in depth article on Cucumbertown, and it’s pretty much everything you need to know about composition within one article. She writes about how to use colors to make food stand out, using white space, and she even shows the process of how she uses composition to transform an example image step by step.

 

 

  • Jennifer from Foodess gives 5 good tips for achieving good composition in food photography, including using negative space and using the rule of thirds. All 5 are tips that can be used to improve your food photography.  

 

  • Samantha from Samantha Seeley gives this list of 7 composition tips that include some great visual examples.

 

 

Section 5: Food Styling

5-styling

 

Food styling can be a complex topic. With all of the options available for props, combined with your own personal style, food styling can be difficult. Luckily, there are a few helpful resources that can help you begin to navigate the world of food styling.

 

  • Serious Eats released this article titled “Food Styling 101: Pro-tips To Step Up Your Game”. Within it, they not only explain what food styling is and the goal of food styling, but they also explain how to approach food styling overall. This is a good place to start.  

 

 

  • Alida from Simply Delicious Food gives us 10 great food styling tips, including embracing the elements of art, and choosing your desired mood.  

 

 

  • This guide from Christina of Food Photography blog gives a great explanation of exactly what props to look out for and where to buy them. She covers topics like where to get antique items, silverware, search terms to use to find props and more.

 

 

 

Section 6: Post processing

post-process

 

After you shoot your  food photos, they need to be edited to really bring out the features of the photo and set the desired mood. While most photographers prefer Adobe Lightroom, I was able to  find tutorials for editing your food photos in both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Elements too.

 

  • In this post titled “How To Edit Photos In Photoshop”, Katerina from Diethood shares her personal process of how she edits photos using Photoshop. She mentions that this isn’t THE way to do it, but just her way.

 

  • Incase you’re looking for other options, Dara from Cookin’ Canuck blog not only shows you  how she edits photos using Adobe Elements, but also gives some general good tips around food photography in the process.  

 

 

 

Section 7: iPhone photography

7-iphone

 

Do it for the ‘gram..

Many professional food photographers say that your iPhone is a great way to start shooting food photography. Whether you’re looking to capture food photos at home or while out at your favorite restaurant, this section has got you covered.

 

  • Shooting food with your iPhone could be its whole own e-book. In fact, Nicole from Seasonly Creations created a whole e-book on the topic that you can download here.  

 

  • Besides the full e-book mentioned above, here are 5 iPhone food photography tips by Diane from Balanced Bites. The majority of other information I found around using the iPhone for food photography was fairly similar.

 

Thank you for reading through this e-book, and I hope you learned a lot from it. I imagine this to be a small sample in comparison to the amount of information around food photography that I’ll have in the future, so stick with me!

 

I’m open to collaborating with people who would like to share food photography tips in different ways, so don’thesitate to reach out to me at BeyondTheEats.com via my contact page or @BeyondTheEats on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest.

 

If you found this useful please share it.

 

Happy shooting!

 

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