How To Take Better Food Photographs

What does our world revolve around? Food of course. We eat all the time. And while sometimes it may have to be through the drive-through, sometimes we have fun with it.

Like having a group of friends over for a gourmet meal, complete with wines from around the world.

In any case, food ends up being a natural subject matter in a variety of photographs. Foodie blogs are booming at the moment. Cooking magazines are everywhere. And have you ever seen those glorious food photos on the walls at your favorite quick casual restaurant? They make you hungry while waiting in line.

Want to start your own foodie blog, or sell your recipes and photographs to a cooking magazine? Or maybe work with companies to produce great food images for their products and advertising? Start out with better food photographs.

1. Think presentation, not eating

What do you want the final photograph to look like? Do you want a table scene blurred in the background? How about place settings? Are you focusing on the texture of the foods? Play around with the look of the final image, not the way it will taste when you finally eat it. You might have to stack things to get a better view, or combine items to make it more appealing.

2. Know your purpose

Are you showing how to make a recipe? Or what you are having for dinner at a favorite restaurant? Take photos to enhance what your ultimate purpose is. One of my favorite indulgence sites is The Pioneer Woman – she takes you along the journey of putting a recipe together, and you’re starving by the time you are finished with one of her posts. [Fair warning, you WILL have to try these when you see the photos of the process!]

3.Think color

No matter what your theme is – reds, greens, or yellows – accent that color throughout the photograph. Use  similar colors or hues in the tablecloth, dishes, bowls, glassware and surrounding decorations.

4. Lighting, lighting, lighting

On camera flash directed at your subject simply won’t cut it here. If you can use soft, natural window lighting, go for it. That’s always been our preferred method whenever possible. But if you’re in the middle of a dark restaurant, you may need a little light. Think angles. Use a soft light source at a 90 degree angle to your food. Use a diffuser if you are using a flash, or even a simple piece of wax paper in front of a desk or table lamp will soften the light.

5. Use a shallow depth of field

This puts the focus right where you want it to be, and gives the food and ethereal look to it. The wide aperture will also let in more light, especially good if you are working with natural light anyway.

6. Dig in to the food

What makes food great? We eat it of course. Rather than focus solely on the finished product, serve it up and make it ready to eat. Serve up a bowl or plate of food. Use forks and spoons to make it ready to eat. Pull a piece of pizza out of the pie – if you haven’t watched this video on a commercial shoot for Dominos Pizza, this will give you some great ideas.

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