Food Photo Techniques To Start Shooting Like A Pro

By Lucy - 6 min read

Delicious tips for mouth-watering pictures

You might not be a food stylist or a pastry chef, but chances are you’re going to photograph a plate of food more than once in your photographic career. Maybe it’s to celebrate your newest vegan recipe success or to document a simple plate of freshly sliced persimmon – it’s just too beautiful to not photograph. Before you bust out your camera on your next cooking adventure or fancy dinner outing, read these tips for making the best of it.

Show the process

Much like any subject, telling a story makes for compelling photos. Instead of only showing the finished product, get some action shots of the plate actually being prepared.

Use props

What makes a good food photo dressing? Simple props like utensils, ingredients, and colorful plates. This is where you can let your inner food stylist emerge.

Pick the right ingredients

Think about color, texture, and even the context of your photo. Are you showing a rustic table with farm fresh ingredients or maybe something more polished, like fine cuisine?

Use appropriate lighting

Natural lighting from a window or a skylight will give you a soft light to work with. Avoid harsh flash and fill in shadows with a piece of foam, card stock, or the white side of a reflector. If you’re shooting with indoor lighting, make sure your image is white balanced, either in-camera before you shoot or in editing after it’s shot.

More is less

When you’re cooking, it’s easy to have a cluttered countertop. Take the extra step of removing items that clutter your photo. Clear away what’s in your image so that the food is the focus.

Get a before and after

There’s a kind of magic in cooking. A few basic items get chopped, arranged, sauteed, maybe baked, and suddenly they’ve transform into a completely different (and delectable) final product. A before and after celebrates just this, while telling a story.

Put your food into context

The truth is if there’s food around, there’s probably a hand nearby, too! Place people into your photo – have them nab a treat, hold a plate, sit at a table or put them to work by peeling or chopping. Giving your photo context gives your photo authenticity and makes it more relatable, too!

Shoot before it’s fully cooked

If your food is out of the oven or off the stove for too long, it will dry up. This will change its texture and your food might end up looking wilted or shriveled. Shoot it before it’s fully cooked, so that it maintains its moisture. If you’re planning on eating it (why wouldn’t you be!), then simply finish cooking it once you’re finished shooting.

Have clean surfaces

There’s nothing like a dirty plate or table to make your image look sloppy. Brush away crumbs and wipe up distracting drips of food. Simple!

Shoot multiple angles

Shooting from above? Classic. But there are so many other angles. There’s the side, and the other side, and wait, do circular objects have sides? The point here is try a variety of angles. Let your own creativity surprise you!

Make food look fresh with oil

Looking for that healthy glisten that your food subjects just aren’t serving up? Pour a tiny bit of cooking oil onto a plate and rub it onto your food with a paper towel or a small brush if you have one.

Get more inspiration at our food, cupcakes, and cookie collections!

Header image by @daniellereid