3 Tips For Food Photographers

Food makes for wonderful photographic subject matter, and some of the results of taking photos of food are absolute works of art. When you take photos of food, however, it’s not just a quick snap on your cell phone for Instagram or Facebook – it’s much more than that if you want to get it right and really make something of your work. Here are some of the best tips and tricks for getting the perfect photo of your food and turning your meal into a piece of art to be proud of.

Photo credit: Roman Odintsov,


Use Natural Light Where Possible

If you want something to look good in a photograph, the right lighting is one of the most important elements. Think of all the movies you’ve seen, the documentaries on TV, the best concerts you’ve bought tickets from for, your favorite pieces of photographic art… they all have one thing in common, no matter what the theme; the lighting is right. Having the right lighting means that you can show your subject matter off at its best.

When shooting food, natural light is the best thing to use if you possibly can (it may not always be possible, of course, depending on your location and budget). Natural daylight is preferable over artificial lighting since it won’t leave a strange orange or yellow glow that needs to be removed with editing (assuming this is even possible). The more natural your subject looks; the more people will enjoy the photo.

Use A Neutral Background

The background of any food photo is going to be just as important as the subject matter in a different way. Although you want the food itself to stand out, the background needs to be as neutral as possible so that no one notices it at all. You don’t want anyone’s attention to be taken away from the food and distracted by the background you have chosen. Your background doesn’t have to be totally plain, but whatever you choose should compliment the subject of the photo.

The three best backgrounds you can choose are:

  • Brown wooden backgrounds
  • Light backgrounds
  • Dark backgrounds

When shooting dark food, use a light colored background, and when shooting light food use a dark colored background to give the best contrast. Wooden backgrounds are great since you can utilize tables and chopping boards and set the context for the image too.

Use The Best Angle

Taking the photo of your food from the best angle can make the difference between a good shot and a great one. It’s often a good idea to shoot from above, particularly if your food is in a bowl or arranged prettily on a plate – shooting from the side means you’ll miss out on the attractiveness of the arrangement. When shooting from above you’ll be able to include all of the little details that would otherwise get lost, plus you can make sure you get cutlery and other ‘props’ in the shot too if you want to.

Of course, if the food does look better from the side (food with layers is a good example of this, and anything in a glass), then this is how you should shoot it. Don’t always try to photograph from above if it’s just not going to give you the detail you need.

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