How To Take Good Food Photos

Food photography done well can improve your brand and increase your sales. Below are 5 important food photography tips. Pick what's useful to you. Most importantly, practice and you'll get better over time.

  1. Style your food
  2. Take photos with good lighting
  3. Use proper equipment
  4. Use the hero shot tip
  5. Professional editing

1. Style Your Food

Step by step food styling

1. Style the dish with ingredients that are cooked with the dish. While this is not mandatory, it helps the viewer understand and see what the dish is made of.

2. Use fresh produce to style. Choose garnishes and ingredients that have little to no blemishes. This will elevate the dish and make the final photo look presentable.

3. Look for inspiration online. There are tons of very good professional food photographs and guides online that can help with whatever dish you are trying to style.

1. Do not overcrowd or over style the dish. Keep it simple, elegant and stylish. Overcrowding the dish will result in distracting the viewer from the main focal point - the dish.

2. Do not overwork your sauce. The sauce should be styled nicely and simply. Overdoing it will result in a messy overall look to the finished product.

Alternatively, you can engage a professional food stylist to help you.

2: Take Photos With Good Lighting

Read more: Food Photography Lighting Tips

With Reflector photography
Without reflector photography

1. Try out different light sources such as flash, studio strobes, continuous lighting or even a lamp. Light is light, so different types of light will create different sort of mood and image.

2. Do use different types of light diffusers such as soft boxes, reflectors, paper or grids. Work with what you have, and try to be creative. Diffusers are very important in this kind of work, so always remember to diffuse.

3. Try out different power modes on your light source, figure out what’s the best lighting power for the area you are shooting in. If you have a lot of ambient light, then maybe a stronger light source will be necessary. If you work in the dark then bring down the light power. Try different power settings with different ISO settings as well. There is no 1 true setting.

1. Do not point light directly at the dish, always from the sides, direct light will cause shadows to wash out and very harsh highlights creating a image that has no depth.

Wrong food lighting setup

3: Use Proper Photography Equipment

Food Photography Behind the Scenes 2

You will need a modern DSLR, any brand is fine as long as it is able to trigger an off camera flash, tripod mountable and high enough in resolution.

A prime lens will be more suitable for food photography as it is sharper than the zoom counterparts. A good focal length is 35, 50, 85 or 100mm. There are no rules as to which is the best, as this depends on the dish type. I generally use macro lens for food photography as it goes really close up without losing any important detail, a longer focal length also makes food stand out of the background due to compression.

A sturdy tripod is necessary, as this allows you to shoot with very low ISO and low shutter without any blur or shaking. A 90-degree tripod is useful for top-down photography.

A wireless trigger is very important, as this allows you to plate with ease and to trigger the shutter without touching the camera. This reduces any unwanted movements or accidentally touching the tripod or camera.

Always shoot in manual mode and in RAW only.

4. Use The Hero Shot Tip

Food Hero Shot

The hero shot or the main shot is the most important part of food photography. This is the final shot of the dish, and the most important shot of the dish.

Always take multiple shots and angles of the finished product. This will prevent any technical issues that you may be unforeseen while shooting.

Always shoot from a top down angle (90 degrees) as well as regular (45 degrees) angle. Some dishes are better looking from different angles, and having both angles shot will make the final selection process easier.

The hero shot should be simple, neatly arranged, clean, and delicious looking. The colours should work together and there should be multiple textures involved.

Always choose appropriate plates or bowls for the hero shot. Remember to compliment your dish with the correct coloured or shaped bowl/ plate.

Keep the styling outside of the dish simple. They do not need to be in focus, so arrange them at the back or sides of the main dish. Remember that less is better, as you do not want to overcrowd the photo.

Remember that the focus point is the main dish, and compose your photograph around it.
Use low ISO, small aperture (5.6 and above) for hero shots. You want to capture as much detail as you can.

5. Professional Editing

Before Food Photography
After Food Photography

Use professional photo-editing software such as Photoshop and/or Lightroom.

The aim of post-processing is to create an image that is both pleasing to the eye and catches the attention of the viewer. The final photo should look natural, eye-catching, not too dark and not too bright.

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Food Photography Before and after Nespresso

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