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7 Tips for Aspiring Food Pornographers

A Guest Post by Heather from eatwell.eatgreen.

Good food photography induces a physical response. A really great food photo makes you hungry, makes you salivate, makes you want some for yourself.

food photogrpahy pear

All in all, it’s no surprise that the big food photography sites on the web like Tastespotting and Foodgawker are known as the food porn sites. Whether you are a recipe blogger, trying to write your family cookbook, or just stuck at home on a wet afternoon, there are a few simple tips that can make your food photos truly seductive.

1. Pick physically attractive stars
Sure, beauty comes from the inside, but until someone invents taste-o-vision, visual appearance will remain a critical part of food photography. And that means choosing fruit without bruises, lettuce without brown edges and meat that isn’t overcooked.

2.Don’t be afraid to enhance your assets

Food pornography isn’t about dieting and small portions, it’s about generous, even lavish quantities, and creating an idea of abundance.  If you have big cups to fill, and don’t have quite enough food, just use padding.  For example, by putting an upside down saucer or a tea cup into a bowl, it will make it easier to fill the bowl right to the top.

3. Consider the use of multiples.

Repetition of simple elements helps create the idea of abundance. One cookie on it’s own looks a little mean, a whole pile of cookies is much more enticing.

640pumpkin-e1277184630724.jpg

4. Think about a garnish

Garnishes are the lacy lingerie of the food world.  They may not be the main event but they add a little colour and a hint of what’s to come.  Consider a herb that is in the dish, a little chilli, or even just a sprinkling of black pepper to make an everyday meal seem more alluring.

5. Use flattering lighting

Poor lighting makes food look unappealing, especially the use of direct flash. You won’t find anyone in the adult entertainment industry working with the lights off and nor should aspiring food pornographers.  But you don’t need fancy camera equipment, daylight is perfect for food photography.  Don’t be shy to take the action outside.

6. Focus on the main event

Good food pornography tends to favour a shallow depth of field, really focusing on the action in the foreground.  Keep the background uncluttered, again, so that the focus is brought onto the food.

7. Find the “money” shot

Try both portrait and landscape mode when shooting. It can create a different feel to the finished photo.  If you are wanting to submit to one of the foodporn sites, you will need to crop the photo to a square format so it’s a good idea to keep this in mind from the beginning.

Above all, remember that food pornography is best shared.  Don’t  just sit there drooling over the computer screen, bake those cookies and enjoy them with someone special!

640cookie-e1277185488804.jpg

Read more food photography tips and techniques.

See more of Heather’s work at eatwell.eatgreen

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to DPS. Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

  • http://www.fotographixs.com/blog John

    I must admit that the title is an eye catcher. I had never heard the term ‘food porn’. The analogy is, well, interesting. Not sure I’ll be able to look at images of food without thinking about this article.

  • http://www.tylerrobbins.net Tyler

    I did a whole thesis show of food for my MFA :

    Pleased to Meat You

    All shot on a 4×5 monorail @180mm on Kodak ektachrome in the middle of winter.

  • http://catalepsicfox.com JamesMNgo

    Great tips! Most of my food photography are all basically candid in some form or another.

  • Scott

    Given the slant of the article, I’ll leave it to the viewer to “interpret” the photo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4371198620/

  • http://foodiesoul.blogspot.com/ foodie

    very helpful especially for newbies like me! :)[eimg url='http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_HoW154mweQM/TEMuFqAZVBI/AAAAAAAAACc/Z6k_6ZfdQ48/s1600/securedownload-14.jpg' title='securedownload-14.jpg']

  • http://www.eatwelleatgreen.com Heather(eatwelleatgreen)

    @scott
    Great photo scott and a perfect example, with a strong focus on the food and generous proportions. I’ll leave it at that and not go into your fetish for beetroot in burgers, my guess is you’re australian?!

  • DoctorP

    Has anyone noticed the title yet?? Or am I missing something

  • http://allineedismycamera.blogspot.com Dee
  • http://foodientravelbug.blogspot.com MeiTeng

    Yeah…what’s with the title. I must be missing something….

  • http://icanimagine.wordpress.com gopi

    @doctor… it’s explained in the post. And one has to be blind to miss the analogies, or rather, innuendos.

  • Mark

    LMAO at the title hoping that is is a typo or tongue in cheek

    nice advice going to try some of this later

  • http://www.BFC-Creations.com Rick Booker

    I can remember when this site use to be about photography. I’m outta here.

  • yue

    I find that let the photo become a little over expose will make it looks more interesting if the lighting is bad (ie: hotels with dim yellowish light).

  • http://danferno.deviantart.com Danferno

    @ Rick

    What? :|

  • http://pareandfocus.com Kat Landreth

    Loved this article. Food porn is a great place for a food blogger to start b/c it tends to be a little less fussy than other food photography can be. Here’s what I mean:

    To me, food porn demands less of a story than other food photography. A food porn shot is less about story and more about the hero…the one dish you’re focusing on. Your shot of cookies tells a story with the wire rack and granite counter top, but it’s not a full blown still life with the ingredients you used, the offset spatula and crinkled parchment paper artfully placed under the cookies. Like I said, it’s less fussy.

    Your photos above are great examples of food porn!

  • jimbarman

    Are you running short of material

  • http://lenormand-cafe.de/ Luiza

    REALLY REALLY GOOD! Thank you very much!
    I linked this post to my forum, for having this always if needed:-)

    Regards from Germany!

  • http://ingestiondigest.com Ingestion Digest

    I have been photographing everything I eat since last September. You give some solid advice. I am doing it more as a documentary, but having great photography is a huge plus. The “money shot” is often quite difficult to find sometimes. I have to take quite a few photos to find the “right one” but it is so worth it! Shallow DOF is fantastic for some shots but detrimental in others, it really depends on the plate. Lighting is also a tough issue for me (since I just photograph when and where I eat, it can be a poorly lit restaurant and I try not to use flash). If you can shoot in natural light, do so!

  • http://karenstuebingsdailyshoot.wordpress.com/ Karen Stuebing

    Given the lead in photo and the usage of “food pornography” throughout the article, I don’t think it’s a typo. I have no idea what it means and I don’t think I’m going there. I’ll let somebody else google “food pornography” and see what they come up with.

    There are a lot of good tips for photographing food despite the amusing choice of categorization.

    I don’t photograph food at all. It might be something different to try out.

    I have this one photo of ramps which is food in the ground. I doubt it’s going to be picked up by Food and Wine magazine although Martha Stewart did a show on cooking with ramps. Maybe she discovered them during her stay in Alderson, WV. :)

    And in keeping with the spirit of the article, I was on this hill all day and I did have to go see a man about a horse behind a tree. Does that count? :)

    Btw, this is the tenth time I’ve tried to post this one post. I do block cookies but allow the necessary ones. Apparently, you have to wait for the annoying pop up to appear.

  • http://weirdcombinations.com/ heguiberto

    Thanks for the tips! I will use your ideas when shooting my food for wierdcombinations

  • http://www.prestigeproducts.com.au/online-shop Food Equipment

    A picture says a thousand words, a good photo says at least ten times that…Food being a sensory experience, a food blog must contain good crisp photography to entice.

  • Snapper

    Shouldn’t be the title be for “photographers”…..or is it intentional????

  • Kah Wai

    Hi guys, just started photography not too long ago and have been snapping away, trying to hone my skills! Great tips on food pornography, will try to implement it as soon as I can… Meanwhile, sharing a pic I took when I first started, am still learning!

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/kahwai_pics/4722813613/' title='Kare Katsu Don' url='http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1398/4722813613_6662ff5f06.jpg']

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com Zack Jones

    Great article – I had to read this from home though because the title caused it to get blocked by our filters at work :)

  • Snapper

    Regret my earlier comment on the title….chckd n found the meaning…. :)

  • http://aintshecrazy.blogspot.com Jami

    Thanks for the tips and the inspiration. I like photographing food almost as much as eating it. I am looking forward to improving my skills with some of your ides.

  • http://www.kennethphotography.com Kenneth

    I like positioning the plate so that a backlight creates highlights off the food to make it look juicy and tempting. Natural sunlight can work as a backlight too!

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/niftyken/4637650485/' title='DSC_0232' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4058/4637650485_463f2285d5.jpg']

  • http://PinkBridgePhotography MstMae

    One of my favorite things~

  • wizziewoo

    wow. That title was, different. Not exactly motivating me to try this.

  • http://elblogdenelida.blogspot.com Coque

    I take the photos for my wife’s blog. I have to agree with all the tips offered here, and I’d like to add one: use a low point of vision. Food seems much more attractive to me when seen from the table’s level.

    [eimg url='http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_UPdCLGsPHHA/TEMzXFhexZI/AAAAAAAABZE/Zrz1iKvjfK0/s800/_DSC0988-firmado.jpg' title='_DSC0988-firmado.jpg']

  • Michaela

    Not so keen on the title or the innuendo, but love the content. Some great photos!

  • Joan

    I’m amazed that there’s people on the internet who’ve never heard the term “Food Porn” before, wow. Check out http://foodporndaily.com/ Great tips in this article, thanks.

  • http://cognitivereflection.wordpress.com/ steve

    Interesting blog, One of my main issues is lighting. I sometimes want to take photography of stuff that I have cooked up but there isn’t much access to natural light in my flat and the pictures always turn out with a nasty yellow tinge. I cannot afford professional lighting so wondered if there was a way around this.

  • Cat

    Awful lot of prudes out there, no?

  • Jak

    Anyone who’s never heard of ‘food porn’ must not be a true foodie… :)

Some older comments

  • steve

    February 12, 2013 12:05 am

    Interesting blog, One of my main issues is lighting. I sometimes want to take photography of stuff that I have cooked up but there isn't much access to natural light in my flat and the pictures always turn out with a nasty yellow tinge. I cannot afford professional lighting so wondered if there was a way around this.

  • Joan

    August 28, 2010 10:10 am

    I'm amazed that there's people on the internet who've never heard the term "Food Porn" before, wow. Check out http://foodporndaily.com/ Great tips in this article, thanks.

  • Michaela

    August 21, 2010 08:49 pm

    Not so keen on the title or the innuendo, but love the content. Some great photos!

  • Coque

    August 14, 2010 08:11 pm

    I take the photos for my wife's blog. I have to agree with all the tips offered here, and I'd like to add one: use a low point of vision. Food seems much more attractive to me when seen from the table's level.

    [eimg url='http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_UPdCLGsPHHA/TEMzXFhexZI/AAAAAAAABZE/Zrz1iKvjfK0/s800/_DSC0988-firmado.jpg' title='_DSC0988-firmado.jpg']

  • wizziewoo

    August 14, 2010 01:18 am

    wow. That title was, different. Not exactly motivating me to try this.

  • MstMae

    August 13, 2010 09:27 am

    One of my favorite things~

  • Kenneth

    August 13, 2010 03:15 am

    I like positioning the plate so that a backlight creates highlights off the food to make it look juicy and tempting. Natural sunlight can work as a backlight too!

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/niftyken/4637650485/' title='DSC_0232' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4058/4637650485_463f2285d5.jpg']

  • Jami

    August 13, 2010 02:14 am

    Thanks for the tips and the inspiration. I like photographing food almost as much as eating it. I am looking forward to improving my skills with some of your ides.

  • Snapper

    August 11, 2010 10:46 pm

    Regret my earlier comment on the title....chckd n found the meaning.... :)

  • Zack Jones

    August 11, 2010 10:12 pm

    Great article - I had to read this from home though because the title caused it to get blocked by our filters at work :)

  • Kah Wai

    August 11, 2010 05:56 pm

    Hi guys, just started photography not too long ago and have been snapping away, trying to hone my skills! Great tips on food pornography, will try to implement it as soon as I can... Meanwhile, sharing a pic I took when I first started, am still learning!

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/kahwai_pics/4722813613/' title='Kare Katsu Don' url='http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1398/4722813613_6662ff5f06.jpg']

  • Snapper

    August 11, 2010 04:34 am

    Shouldn't be the title be for "photographers".....or is it intentional????

  • Food Equipment

    August 9, 2010 09:38 pm

    A picture says a thousand words, a good photo says at least ten times that...Food being a sensory experience, a food blog must contain good crisp photography to entice.

  • heguiberto

    August 9, 2010 10:11 am

    Thanks for the tips! I will use your ideas when shooting my food for wierdcombinations

  • Karen Stuebing

    August 9, 2010 04:19 am

    Given the lead in photo and the usage of "food pornography" throughout the article, I don't think it's a typo. I have no idea what it means and I don't think I'm going there. I'll let somebody else google "food pornography" and see what they come up with.

    There are a lot of good tips for photographing food despite the amusing choice of categorization.

    I don't photograph food at all. It might be something different to try out.

    I have this one photo of ramps which is food in the ground. I doubt it's going to be picked up by Food and Wine magazine although Martha Stewart did a show on cooking with ramps. Maybe she discovered them during her stay in Alderson, WV. :)

    And in keeping with the spirit of the article, I was on this hill all day and I did have to go see a man about a horse behind a tree. Does that count? :)

    Btw, this is the tenth time I've tried to post this one post. I do block cookies but allow the necessary ones. Apparently, you have to wait for the annoying pop up to appear.

  • Ingestion Digest

    August 9, 2010 03:39 am

    I have been photographing everything I eat since last September. You give some solid advice. I am doing it more as a documentary, but having great photography is a huge plus. The "money shot" is often quite difficult to find sometimes. I have to take quite a few photos to find the "right one" but it is so worth it! Shallow DOF is fantastic for some shots but detrimental in others, it really depends on the plate. Lighting is also a tough issue for me (since I just photograph when and where I eat, it can be a poorly lit restaurant and I try not to use flash). If you can shoot in natural light, do so!

  • Luiza

    August 9, 2010 02:34 am

    REALLY REALLY GOOD! Thank you very much!
    I linked this post to my forum, for having this always if needed:-)

    Regards from Germany!

  • jimbarman

    August 9, 2010 02:30 am

    Are you running short of material

  • Kat Landreth

    August 9, 2010 02:18 am

    Loved this article. Food porn is a great place for a food blogger to start b/c it tends to be a little less fussy than other food photography can be. Here's what I mean:

    To me, food porn demands less of a story than other food photography. A food porn shot is less about story and more about the hero...the one dish you're focusing on. Your shot of cookies tells a story with the wire rack and granite counter top, but it's not a full blown still life with the ingredients you used, the offset spatula and crinkled parchment paper artfully placed under the cookies. Like I said, it's less fussy.

    Your photos above are great examples of food porn!

  • Danferno

    August 8, 2010 11:18 pm

    @ Rick

    What? :|

  • yue

    August 8, 2010 10:03 pm

    I find that let the photo become a little over expose will make it looks more interesting if the lighting is bad (ie: hotels with dim yellowish light).

  • Rick Booker

    August 8, 2010 09:50 pm

    I can remember when this site use to be about photography. I'm outta here.

  • Mark

    August 8, 2010 08:30 pm

    LMAO at the title hoping that is is a typo or tongue in cheek

    nice advice going to try some of this later

  • gopi

    August 8, 2010 07:58 pm

    @doctor... it's explained in the post. And one has to be blind to miss the analogies, or rather, innuendos.

  • MeiTeng

    August 8, 2010 07:39 pm

    Yeah...what's with the title. I must be missing something....

  • Dee

    August 8, 2010 05:01 pm

    I think 50% of the photos i've taken is food.

    http://allineedismycamera.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-take-on-ham-and-eggs.html

  • DoctorP

    August 8, 2010 03:39 pm

    Has anyone noticed the title yet?? Or am I missing something

  • Heather(eatwelleatgreen)

    August 8, 2010 03:08 pm

    @scott
    Great photo scott and a perfect example, with a strong focus on the food and generous proportions. I'll leave it at that and not go into your fetish for beetroot in burgers, my guess is you're australian?!

  • foodie

    August 8, 2010 03:05 pm

    very helpful especially for newbies like me! :)[eimg url='http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_HoW154mweQM/TEMuFqAZVBI/AAAAAAAAACc/Z6k_6ZfdQ48/s1600/securedownload-14.jpg' title='securedownload-14.jpg']

  • Scott

    August 8, 2010 02:19 pm

    Given the slant of the article, I'll leave it to the viewer to "interpret" the photo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4371198620/

  • JamesMNgo

    August 8, 2010 12:22 pm

    Great tips! Most of my food photography are all basically candid in some form or another.

  • Tyler

    August 8, 2010 09:54 am

    I did a whole thesis show of food for my MFA :

    Pleased to Meat You

    All shot on a 4x5 monorail @180mm on Kodak ektachrome in the middle of winter.

  • John

    August 8, 2010 09:47 am

    I must admit that the title is an eye catcher. I had never heard the term 'food porn'. The analogy is, well, interesting. Not sure I'll be able to look at images of food without thinking about this article.

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