For an all-in-one resource to help you take gorgeous food photos, check out Eat Pretty Things by Trisha Hughes.
When I first started food blogging, I knew literally nothing about photography. All I knew was that I wanted pretty pictures on my blog, with no direction in how to get them. I had never even held a DSLR camera before. But you know what? Now I look at food photography as a hobby that I love too! It’s fun to compose a photograph and play with lighting to get a good shot. I love learning how to work in manual mode, and studying other bloggers’ work to learn new tips and tricks. And I am still learning SO MUCH. But before I got to the point of exploring my own style and learning new tricks, I had to learn some basics.
If you are looking to start your own blog, start photographing your food with a DSLR camera or just improve the photos you take, then you have to start with a few key basics to food photography. If you start with these 5 simple tips, you’ll be on your way to better food photos!
Once you put these tips to practice, you can delve deeper into the world of food photography and start to develop your own style. More on that in tip 5 though!
1. Use Natural Light:
Photography is all about lighting, and when it comes to food photography, you want to use natural sunlight. Harsh indoor lighting will affect the coloring of the food and generally make it a look a lot less appetizing. And never use that flash! You might be tempted at first, because maybe you are in a low-light situation, but trust me. Flash is not your friend! The sunlight coming in through a large window or glass-paned door will provide all of the light you need to start taking better photos.
2. Keep Foam Boards on Hand:
Now that you’re using natural light, you can play with how it hits your food. White and black foam boards from a craft store can act as simple reflectors. On a cloudy day, a white foam board placed opposite your light source (with your food set up in between the light and board) will bounce light back onto your food to brighten the image. A black foam board, however, will create more shadows on your food that can add a lot of depth to a photo.
Foam boards can be bought for really cheap at any local craft store, and you’ll often find yourself reaching for one during a shoot.
3. Build up a Basic Prop Closet:
If you feel like you are constantly finding more plates, bowls and other accessories for your food photos that you think you need, then you are not alone. A prop closet can very easily take over your house if you aren’t careful. It’s tempting to buy that cute plate with the gorgeous, colorful design on it. But chances are, you’ll only use it a few times. Try to focus instead on basic dishes in simple colors (white and black pieces are my favorites) and add some color with simple accessories and cloths.
My favorite props include plain white salad plates, saucers and bowls, ramekins in varying sizes, plain-colored linens to add movement and color to a photo, silverware, cutting boards, my cast iron skillet and mason jars.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on prop either. You can pick up a lot of props from thrift stores or clearance isles, and some items you may already have in your kitchen! Dig through your cabinets and see what items you already have! Also, don’t forget that food can be a prop too! A bunch of leafy greens, fresh herbs or lemon slices added in a shot can help tell a story and create a beautiful photo.
4. Use a Tripod:
Tripods are not necessary, but they will help keep your camera stable. Your hands will naturally shake a little while you hold the camera, and that shaking can result in a blurry photo. If you set up a tripod, you can worry less about holding the camera stable, and more about composing your shot! Just using a tripod helped me to improve my own photos a lot, and it frees up my hands to style as I photograph.
5. Study, Study, Study!
When it comes to food photography, there is always more you can learn and practice. Commit to constantly learning more about composing beautiful pictures, and your food photos will continue to get better and better. Once you are aware of the very basics, you can start learning about new camera accessories, how to shoot in manual mode, how to tell a story through your photos and how to edit the pictures you take.
There are many resources out there for food photography, but I recommend Eat Pretty Things by Trisha Hughes. In it you’ll find everything you need to know about taking beautiful photos so that you can eat pretty things.
Trisha takes GORGEOUS photos for her blog and Instagram, and her ebook is packed full of knowledge to teach you how to do the same. She is a fellow food blogger (her blog, Eat Your Beets, is beautiful!) whose photography I have looked up to for a while, and I couldn’t be more excited to put the information I’ve learned from her book to use and improve my own photography! One look at her Instagram feed or blog photos, and you’ll want to know how she does it. And hey, now you actually can!
Here’s what you’ll find in Eat Pretty Things:
- What camera gear you need to get started
- How to shoot in manual mode
- All about lighting
- Everything you need to know about composition, angles and white balance
- How to style your food photos and use props to tell a story
- 8 videos that show you how to edit your photos in Lightroom
- A bonus chapter on food photography for Instagram to help you grow your brand beyond your blog and take gorgeous photos with an iPhone
Whether you’re just starting out or looking for ways to improve, it’s the all in one resource that can help you take beautiful food photos.
If you want to learn more about the camera/lens and other accessories that I personally use, check out my resources page.
*This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase a product through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I support and personally use.