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Foodie Photos: 8 Food Photography Tips for Beginners

By: Kaylee Pope, Editor,
Food Photography Tips for Beginners

Whether you are looking to start a food blog to show off your recipes or just want to show off your homecooked masterpieces on social media, learning how to properly take photos of food can truly help you bring your A-game. While there are plenty of complicated hacks professional food photographers use to make the food look fuller, fresher, and glossier, these simple tips are ones you can start using today! These foodie photo tips come straight from our test kitchen professionals, so you know they work.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you start out as a newbie food photographer is to take your time and take several photos. Taking a bunch of photos gives you plenty of options for your final product. It is also important to keep in mind that just like anything else, it is going to take practice. You won’t take stunning photos right off the bat, but some practice can really help you improve! It is also a great idea to look at what other people do! 

Before You Get Started - Get to Know Your Camera!

Before you start taking photos, it is important to get to know the equipment you will be using. It is easy to take a bad photo on a really great camera if you don't know what you're doing. If you're spending the cash to take stunning photos, make sure you're spending the time to know HOW to use your camera.
"Learn to use your camera inside and out!  Learn the technical aspect of shooting in manual and what each lens does along with Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO.  This ’triangle’ of settings makes a HUGE difference in leaning to shoot pretty food photos!  For some of us, leaning the technical side doesn’t seem very fun, but it’s like riding a bike, once you have the hang of it you never forget and just keep getting more and more efficient at using your camera."
-Megan von Schonhoff, RecipeLion and 103 Cookbooks Photographer

Foodie Photo Tips from Our Test Kitchen Professionals

  1. Shoot the food as quickly as you can! Food looks better hot and fresh!
  2. Allow food to be food. Ice cream melts, it’s ok! Crumbs happen, cakes do not cut perfectly, and so on. Food looks better the way it is meant to be. Do not clean up every little issue because it will start to look fake. Just let it be!
  3. More is better. I joke that if I ate portions the size of the photos I would be sick! When photographing a plate, you usually put a lot more food on it than you would if you were actually serving yourself. Slices of casseroles and cakes are often giant! A good way to approach this is to use salad or side plates instead of full dinner plates.  The more plate that is showing the less impact the food makes in the photo.
  4. Add in other elements like utensils, glasses, and hands. This gives the food good size perspective.
  5. Play with color. We shoot a lot of “boring” looking dishes but you would be amazed by what a simple herb garnish could do to a white potato soup.
  6. Simple is good. Overhead shots always look nice so do not get too caught up in angles. A good rule of thumb is to shoot at a 45-degree angle and a 90-degree angle but get creative, interesting perspectives can come out of playing with the angle of the shot.
Food Photography Lighting Essentials
  1. Try not to mix light sources.  If you’re using natural light primarily, don’t leave your overhead kitchen lights on.  All lighting is rated on the Kelvin Scale and for people just starting in food photography its best not to mix different temperatures of lighting.  
  2. Try not to light straight on. The best light when using natural light is usually from the side or from behind with a reflector of sorts placed in the front to bounce the light back. Straight on lighting makes food look flat and boring.
Photo tips provided by Addie Gundry and Megan Von Schonhoff

Bonus Tip! One of the best ways to get new ideas for your food photography is to follow food photographers on social media platforms like Instagram. Taking some time out of your day to peruse what other people are doing can help you find fresh, new ways to feature your dishes! Check out some stunning examples from 103 Cookbooks below.

Addie's Confetti Cake
Cheesy Mexican Street Corn
Dude Ranch Beans
Cream Cheesed Stuffed Red Velvet Cake
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