Food Photography: How to Take Mouth Watering Shots of Food

Food Photography – An Introduction

Food Photography

Interested in learning about Food Photography? Read on for some introductory tips.

Visit any bookshop and head for the cook book section and you’ll be overwhelmed by the array of books filled with scrumptious recipes accompanied by wonderful photography of the meals being written about.

Colorful stacks of vegetables drizzled with rich sauces on a clean white plate with glistening table settings – you know the shots. Sometimes the photography is almost the true focus of the book with the recipes taking a secondary role.

But how do you photograph food and get such great results?

1. Lighting

Treat the food you’re photographing as you would any other still life subject and ensure that it is well lit. Many of the poor examples of food photography that I’ve come across in the research for this article could have been drastically improved with adequate lighting. One of the best places to photograph food is by a window where there is plenty of natural light – perhaps supported with flash bounced off a ceiling or wall to give more balanced lighting that cuts out the shadows. This daylight helps to keep the food looking much more natural.

2. Props

Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowl and any table settings around it. Don’t clutter the photo with a full table setting but consider one or two extra elements such as a glass, fork, flower or napkin. These elements can often be placed in secondary positions in the foreground or background of your shot.

Photographing-Food

3. Be Quick

Food doesn’t keep it’s appetizing looks for long so as a photographer you’ll need to be well prepared and able to shoot quickly after it’s been cooked before it melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color. This means being prepared and knowing what you want to achieve before the food arrives. One strategy that some use is to have the shot completely set up with props before the food is ready and then to substitute a stand-in plate to get your exposure right. Then when the food is ready you just switch the stand-in plate with the real thing and you’re ready to start shooting.

4. Style it

The way food is set out on the plate is as important as the way you photograph it. Pay attention to the balance of food in a shot (color, shapes etc) and leave a way into the shot (using leading lines and the rule of thirds to help guide your viewer’s eye into the dish). One of the best ways to learn is to get some cook books to see how the pros do it.

5. Enhance it

One tip that a photographer gave me last week when I said I was writing this was to have some vegetable oil on hand and to brush it over food to make it glisten in your shots.

Food-Photo

6. Get Down Low

A mistake that many beginner food photographers make is taking shots that look down on a plate from directly above. While this can work in some circumstances – in most cases you’ll get a more better shot by shooting from down close to plate level (or slightly above it).

7. Macro

Really focusing in upon just one part of the dish can be an effective way of highlighting the different elements of it.

8. Steam

Having steam rising off your food can give it a ‘just cooked’ feel which some food photographers like. Of course this can be difficult to achieve naturally. I spoke with one food stylist a few years back who told me that they added steam with a number of artificial strategies including microwaving water soaked cotton balls and placing them behind food. This is probably a little advance for most of us – however it was an interesting trick so I thought I’d include it.

I’m certain that DPS readers will have plenty more tips on photographing food – feel free to add your tips in comments below!

Satya Murthy

By Satya Murthy

Further Food Photography Tips Reading

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Rob

    Food photography is not a very popular industry as I’ve found. A lot of restaurants I’ve talked to simply don’t want/need it. I find it hard to believe…but, if you’re in the food industry as a waiter/waitress/chef and you’re passionate about food photography…start taking food pictures and submit them to the corporate office. Chances are someone in the marketing department will take a look at them because you’re an employee—you just never know!? You may be given an opportunity to photograph food for your restaurant!

  • Barry E Warren

    This was a good read, Thanks.. Here is one I took the other day. Spent about 30 mins polishing the apples. A little veg.oil would have given them a little more shine.Next time I shoot some food I’ll try it.

  • Choo Chiaw Ting

    excellent tips.. it helps a lot

  • AUSTX photographer

    Um, the 3rd bullet under “Further Tips…” Has a spell check (or auto correct) error. It starts with “7 Tips for Aspiring Food…” Need to check that last word, dude ;- )

  • ashley

    It’s a real term. Food porn. Or foodporn.

  • Hazel

    I like the smoke effect added to some food esp. soups. It looks more appetizing. Thanks for the soaked cotton balls. I’ll try that. :)

  • Oliver

    I just recently wrote a little tutorial on food photography (http://wp.me/p2XOim-d1) and stumbled upon your post. I think you really put down the most important tips. Just recently i was traveling to Prague and astonished how some restaurants advertise their food. They really need to read this article.

  • Angel Laura

    Amazing tips for beginners, Thanks for sharing such an informative guide on photography… food delivery

  • Guest

    This is something I tried few months bag

  • Guest

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  • Yksvoklam Naj

    Took this one few months ago. Black jacket tapped to the wall, some fruit and veggies, little bit of a mist from a spray bottle. Brown painted wood

  • Anuj Grover

    Lovely shot. Spraying raw fruits & vegs gives a great outcome. How did you achieve the completely black background? And clearly there seems to be no use of flash too?

  • Gideon Hart

    The piece of information you have provided is something different and
    unique. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little
    bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  • Guest

    I just discovered this page, the posts and tips are helpful. I have been compiling photos of meals that I cook and anything else to do with food.

  • Guest

    I just discovered this page, the posts and tips are helpful. I have been compiling photos of meals that I cook and anything else to do with food.

  • https://plus.google.com/+RemiZagariRemiZagari/posts Remi Zagari

    Im definitely gonna share this on all over!

  • Kiran

    Great Tips for beginner photographers who are trying out food photography. This was very useful when I started food photography last month along with tips from http://goo.gl/yZFOjk

  • Tom

    This was an image from a restaurant’s FB page (really). I think they should read this article (and fire the cook).

  • Nikolai H.

    I’m sure it was a softbox or umbrella and a black background

  • Aric Jarvis

    I use me 50mm f1.8 lense on this one.

Some older comments

  • Lenry

    September 5, 2013 03:51 pm

    Cupcake shot needs fill light from the right and a lesser exposure because the frosting is way overexposed.

  • Tara

    June 22, 2013 02:43 am

    I just love that shot with the sprinkles - looks decadent!

  • Amy

    January 26, 2013 11:46 pm

    Great tips,also I have a problem with lighting when I cook at night.
    I am trying to improve my food photography.But ,I feel it is difficult.I feel my photos are not nicer,though I tried much hard... :(

  • Tiny Girl with Big Bag

    January 7, 2013 09:35 am

    Thanks for sharing, useful tips :)

  • andrew

    December 31, 2012 07:34 pm

    these are nice tips, but what kind of light can/should you use for shots of food when you are taking them at night, when there is no natural light? any tips on what you should change in the camera to get the kind of shots you see on food blogs and in cookbooks? is it only macro? im new to dslr and i got a nikon d3100 for xmas. i love cooking and up until now, i have only been using a point and shoot digital camera to document my pics but they aren't very good. i know the camera doesnt make the picture but the one taking it, so any tips on apperature, iso, shutter speed, what kind of light is appreciated. any links would be good too.!!! thank you

  • lemonkerdz

    December 16, 2012 09:59 am

    These tips are great and will help a great deal with my food hubs to give them a greater appeal.
    I have changed my style of photography and it does help.

  • Michael Sagaran

    September 7, 2012 04:50 pm

    Practical tips indeed! :-)

    Philippine Food Photographer http://michaelanthonysagaran.com

  • Jan

    July 27, 2012 11:48 pm

    Thanks for some great tips. As an editor of a stock food site I can say that shooting food images isn't always that easy. Many amateurs could definitely need these tips to increase the value of their shots.

  • Laura Wrede

    April 25, 2012 01:20 am

    Nice intro to food photography. One tip for steam: dry ice works well and lasts longer.

  • Sandrine

    April 10, 2012 07:56 am

    Beautiful food photography where the food is the star. Loving it!

  • Kamila Gornia

    March 22, 2012 02:22 am

    Thank you fro the wonderful tips. I'm a total beginner when it comes to food photography, but I have experience shooting people. This is an entirely different world! Thanks!

  • Hannah Lundberg

    February 15, 2012 04:14 pm

    These are all great tips for food photography!

  • David

    January 25, 2012 03:55 am

    The lighting in the top photo is amazing. Very talented food photographer.

  • S. Diaz

    January 17, 2012 12:53 pm

    Great tips and links to more articles. I just started food blogging and this information will be so valuable! I'm also learning all the ins and outs of my Canon S90, have not graduated to a big fancy camera yet. Thank you!

  • DeskSnacker

    January 17, 2012 07:05 am

    Funny I just read your ProBlogger book (on my Kindle, awesome) and then I stumbled across your website. Good tips. I like the advanced tip about the cotton balls. It's hard to find advanced tips. I'm wondering about lighting though. With the darkness of winter, I'm having trouble with just kitchen lighting. Are there amateur (like purchasing from the hardware store) lights would be easy to purchase and set up for winter kitchen photography?

  • Tampa Wedding Photographer

    January 4, 2012 12:41 pm

    Great tips! Do you have any advice for photographing frozen food?

  • Amber

    December 3, 2011 04:41 am

    This post is a great companion to the latest series running monthly on my blog, devoted to Food Photography.

    The 1st post of the series Food Photography #1: Creating texture & depth, readers can feel free to comment / ask questions and request the next topic for post #2.

    I will recommend this page as a good read - great info in the comments as well.

  • Jolie

    October 29, 2011 10:29 am

    Did anyone happen to catch in #6 the "more better"?

  • Boudoir Photography

    October 26, 2011 02:47 am

    Food photography just makes me want to eat more LOL

  • Terry Thomas/Atlanta

    October 7, 2011 10:11 pm

    Contact the company that prints the packages. Have them send you a selection of their best and cleanest packages - unfolded and with protective paper between each so they do not rub together in shipping. These will be your "hero" packages. Select the best for your photography and the second best as your camera stand-in to use for lighting tests.

    You do not want packages that have been boxed, shipped to a retail store then been put into a display freezer. These will inevitably show wear and tear marks in the photos. Also you do not want packages that have been frozen and thawed as they are not likely to look crisp in your final photos.

    Remove the product from it's normal retail package. (I assume it is sealed in plastic.) Let it come to room temperature.You may need to do this step with several to get the best looking ones. If the product is frozen it's going to "sweat" when the cold meets room air. Put the selected product in a Zip bag that is marked "DO NOT EAT!"

    Set up your lighting and props using the stand-in package.

    When you are ready bring in the "hero" package, insert the room temperature food and create your photographs.

    BTW, there are several excellent books on preparing food for photography. I recently purchased several from Amazon Books.

    The most recent arrival is:
    "Food Styling for Photographers"
    by Linda Bellingham and Jean Ann Bybee
    Focal Press
    ISBN: 978-0-240-81006-5

    I also suggest:
    "Plate to Pixel - Digital Food Photography & Styling"
    by Hélène Dujardin
    Wiley Publishing
    ISBN: 978-0-470-93213-1

    "Food Photography - From Snapshots to Great Shots"
    by Nicole S. Young
    Peachpit Press
    ISBN: 978-0-321-78411-7

    I hope this helps you.

  • Susana

    October 7, 2011 08:02 am

    Hello! Great Article!
    Any tips or advise for pictures of FROZEN seafood products....??

    Problem A: The product must be inside of the packaging (is for a catalog and website)

    Problem B: The packaging (Bags) has a window, and the product inside must look good.

    I thought about treating the seafood with chemicals to make them resist (And not sweat) inside of the bag.... any ideas? PLEASE HELP....

    Thank you.

  • Denver wedding photography

    September 9, 2011 01:14 am

    Food photography is the next in line for me aside from wedding photography and portrait. Thanks for the share.

  • Peter

    August 23, 2011 04:57 pm

    Hi Guys
    Great advice about continuous lighting for food shits,flash will not work, also canon 100ml macro is the perfect lens( useing a 5 d of course) check out my food shots on my website.

  • Ananda Krishna

    August 23, 2011 04:17 am

    Another way of bringing in the steam element is to burn incense sticks behind the dish. It works well and because of the steady flow of very thin smoke it allows for for ample time to shoot.

  • Jody E.

    August 20, 2011 02:35 am

    Loved the article. Just right for the beginner - not too much detail. I'm waiting for my cotton balls to come out of the micro!
    j.

  • Reimon Andisuwa

    August 20, 2011 01:17 am

    finally ! food photography section! YAY !!!!
    please please please post more for this subject :D
    i'm currently learning by doing and most of the time, i'm out of creativity

  • King

    August 19, 2011 03:53 pm

    Absolutely agree to the comments made. Me and my fiancee tried a little on the food part.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/keerthi_t/2550541463/in/photostream

  • BFeldman

    August 19, 2011 12:12 pm

    Agreed, Michael's effort to getting his point across came off a bit a-hole'ish, but to his credit, if your going to post something (on an 'educational' site) take some extra time to spellcheck it for the courtesy of your readers.

    And as I noted earlier, since this post is really just recycled (with no updates) the author could have at least made a second pass to clean up the grammar since no effort was made to address any of the previous comments on the thread.

  • David

    August 19, 2011 11:06 am

    Good Call Todd.

  • Jenidawn

    August 19, 2011 09:38 am

    since i'm fairly new at this I would love to see the "do" and "don't" example photos of each point. #1 an example with so-so lighting and one with good lighting. #2 examples of good props vs not so good. #3 Well, that one is pretty self explanatory. #4 example a good "style" and a poor "style" You get the picture. I love the tips but would love to see more visual examples.

  • Carolyn

    August 19, 2011 06:22 am

    Hope you do some more articles on food. Cooking and photographing is my hobby. I am slowly improving and this article was helpful.

  • J B Graham

    August 19, 2011 06:16 am

    Very helpful. Thanks for sharing so generously.

  • Ockert

    August 19, 2011 03:36 am

    I agree with Todd. Lets keep this to photography. Subscribe to another site if language is your thing. I have been capturing food for a while now and could still take something from this post. Thanks Darren

  • Todd Beltz

    August 19, 2011 02:01 am

    Great tips here as always. As a food photographer, I'm always looking to improve and this was useful.

    Michael Padnos, maybe you should learn to read and write English properly before you go and critizice the author of this post. Your lengthy and uncalled for post was full of grammatical errors and it made me laugh that you actually had the nerve to try and correct his English. Obviously English is not your native language. If it is then you need to go back to school. Does it really matter if he made a few spelling errors? They put this article out to help others in learning about photography...not about having technically correct paragraphs and English structure.

  • Kris @Krazy_Kris

    August 19, 2011 01:38 am

    Nice! My fav food pix come from http://www.spabettie.com and http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/ - ALWAYS stunning - thanks for the tips! I'm a newbie, but I think my pix are slowly getting better - I think... Not great, but better LOL.

  • Monica

    August 18, 2011 09:38 am

    http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/64861670@N03/6054504870/

    Please comment. Thanks

  • Chef Bill

    August 18, 2011 09:12 am

    I'm new to dslr photography, but not new to food. I look forward to documenting my creations.
    Thanks for the tips.

  • Jico Gallana

    August 17, 2011 12:00 pm

    This was taken at a cafe in Dallas. Hot and cold chocolate milk. Delicious!

    http://jicogallanaphotography.tumblr.com/post/9021695820/hot-and-cold#disqus_thread[img]

  • Joe Bodego

    August 17, 2011 03:00 am

    For such an important part of Photography, this article does not even come close on what it takes to photograph food. Under Macro, a list of lens should have been listed for example the Nikon 105mm 2.8 which is the lens of choice for food photography. No mention of Fish eye lenses which are perfect for vegetables and most important of all- lighting food should be done like "continuous Lighting". The article has good points but too much is not mentioned here.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    August 17, 2011 01:19 am

    Hi

    This one is a bit off the wall!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/breakfast-on-the-coast/

  • Patrick

    August 17, 2011 12:05 am

    Michael, the first sentence that you typed has a typo:-) Awesomely ironic.

  • Michael Padnos

    August 16, 2011 10:02 pm

    "Food doesn’t keep it’s appetizing looks for long so as a photographer you’ll need to be well prepared and able to shoot quickly after it’s been cooked before it melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color. "

    This may be the single worst sentence I have ever seen on this siie.

    First of all, you mean its, not it's. (The apostrophe is only used to abbreviate two words -- it is or it has -- not as a possessive.

    Second, this is te definitive run -on (and in this case, practically incomprehensible) sentence. How about:

    Food doesn't keep its appetizing looks for long. As a p., you'll need etc.

    But best of all, how about this:"

    (First praagraph. The subject is the food.)

    Food doesn't keep its appetizing looks for long: it quickly melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color.
    "
    (Second paragraph. The subject is now the photographer.)

    "As a photographer, you'll need to prepare metiuculously for this rapid decline and act quickly to capture your subject at the moment of its most perfect lusciousness."

    I understand that we're photographers (and you're a very good one) and not writers, but if you want to be read, you have to be at least MODERATELY literate.

    Be kind to your readers! Be careful about your grammar!

    Respectfully,

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    August 16, 2011 11:46 am

    Great post. I am glad someone did a feature on "food photograph", which requires a separate attention :) Nice tips!

  • BFeldman

    August 16, 2011 10:43 am

    Is it common practice for this site to 'recycle' posts? I'm relatively new to dps, but thus is the first time I've seen a post I've already reviewed back as a headline.

    Perhaps I should continue my search for an instructional guide/site.

    Biggest question: are there really no new posts that you have to recycle?

  • Darren Rowse

    August 16, 2011 10:29 am

    Mr Magoo - feel free to share some of yours if you like - link up so we can see how its done :-)

  • Scottc

    August 16, 2011 09:51 am

    If you happen to be photographing food in a more public place, such as a food vendors stand, a little background can help.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5250317397/

  • William H. Stoneman

    August 16, 2011 06:58 am

    Thanks for your insight!

  • Mehreen

    August 16, 2011 06:55 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mak98/6040825341/in/photostream
    My first try so isn't that good. .

  • Wendy

    July 15, 2011 09:39 am

    Hello.

    Can you please tell me what lens you recommend for food photography?

    Thank you.

  • Mr.Magoo

    July 15, 2011 03:06 am

    Pity. Good tips, but no backed up with good photos. 2 out of 3 shouts are over exposed.

  • Morten Fjord Stengaard

    June 21, 2011 06:02 pm

    Because I today are going to shoot some food photographs for a friend of mine at his restaurant, this blog came in handy! Thank you.

  • Don Crowson

    May 31, 2011 04:22 am

    Very useful article. Learning how to light food with more 3 dimensionality has been my recent goal and I found that diffusion light through white matting or wrapping paper (not sure if right description, but two sheets) works well. Learning that less direct light and more diffused light increases 3 dimensionality is my two cents.

  • Anthony11

    May 14, 2011 12:19 pm

    o At food subject distances, you don't need a large aperture for shallow DoF.
    o Attend to a given lens' MFD -- an 85mm f/1.8 prime, eg., isn't going to focus closer than about three feet. Depending on what you're shooting, this can be a problem.
    o For shots where you do want the subject mostly in focus, eg. perhaps a pie, a tilt/shift lens can be invaluable. They're specialized, though, as well as pricey and have a learning curve. An inexpensive entry path can be an older eg. Minolta mount lens adapted to whatever you're using. These are always MF anyway so the loss of AF with an adapter isn't an issue. You'll likely be shooting full manual, but pies tend to be patient posers.
    o For stealth restaurant use, you don't need a full-size tripod. There are inexpensive tabletop units available in the $20-30 range eg. Gorillapod. Turn any audible beeps off and use a timer or radio trigger.

  • Tracie Stamm

    April 16, 2011 10:24 am

    Hi there

    Thanks for the great article on food photography. That article you list in the "PS", though -- I couldn't get the link to work. Is this the one you mean: http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/food-and-health/labelling-and-advertising/marketing/food-styling.aspx

    ?

    Cheers,

    Tracie

  • David

    March 8, 2011 02:35 am

    Patrick is right about the small depth of field - it's a technique that brings eye-catching results, and seems to be all the rage in food photgraphy nowadays.

  • Stock Photos by Kathy

    March 4, 2011 01:57 pm

    I love bringing out texture in food shots. One way I do this is with side or back lighting, and using mirrors or white reflectors opposite the light. I sometimes like using a lace curtain panel as my light diffuser too because out creates a sparkle effect that really makes meat dishes look even juicier and scrumptious. [eimg url='http://c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000G_vOXFNQES4/s/500/I0000G_vOXFNQES4.jpg' title='I0000G_vOXFNQES4.jpg']

  • food photographer

    February 21, 2011 06:29 am

    Cool post. Its all about practise - change angles , lighting set ups and you will get there.

  • Appetise Food Photography

    February 14, 2011 10:23 am

    A nice intro into the world of food photography. The one I get all hung up about is lighting. Great light makes for great shots.

  • Patrick Larson

    January 13, 2011 04:04 pm

    Don't forget wide-open aperture! Small depth of field seems to have worked in all the examples above. It focuses on one portion of the food, which is usually enough. No need for a medium format camera. Usually a good 50 or 35mm lens (f1.8) will work great on an entry-level SLR.

    Great tips. Thanks!

  • Digital Photography Fan

    January 11, 2011 06:56 pm

    Fantastic article packed with tons of great info....Thanks so much!!!

  • miami wedding photographer

    November 27, 2010 03:07 pm

    I have tried. I wish it was soooo easy. For good food photos get a medium format camera.

  • Joseph Bove

    October 23, 2010 02:07 pm

    For a nice steam effect on some food dishes try dry ice with a drizzle of water over it.

  • David

    October 1, 2010 06:50 pm

    Some good tips there. There's a lot more to food photography that simply making a meal and pointing the camera - some of the tricks of the trade are very strange indeed.

  • Food Lover

    September 1, 2010 02:24 am

    This is really helpful lesson, thanks so much for your great tips.

  • Foodie Photographer

    August 31, 2010 11:19 am

    Great article and great tips. This helped because I needed to work on how to use lighting better. Luckily, I haven't had any restaurant staff member tell me to stop taking pictures even though I whip out the bulky DSLR camera to take picture (including an obvious mounted flash for terribly low lighting conditions) and I don't bother to be discret. I haven't gone so far as to whip out a tripod even though my friends suggested it.

  • shatterspeed

    August 15, 2010 06:43 am

    Hi guys, I'm using a plain-simple point-and-shoot (Fujifilm F31fd), it has semi-manual controls. Under what settings should I set the camera on? This model also doesn't have I.S. and therefore is quite troubling shooting under low-light circumstances, any tips to compensate for this upset? Thanks.

  • Nils

    August 12, 2010 06:19 am

    very helpful tips
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/themainingredigent/4882637657/' title='burger day' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4118/4882637657_6cf2dd3b4d.jpg']

  • JimmySlo

    August 7, 2010 05:50 pm

    Very cool article! I'm having a lot of fun with my new Canon 7D and 50mm 1.4 lens, perfect for food!

  • Monjii

    July 16, 2010 08:08 pm

    Thanks, great simple tips. Am doing my first lot of food photography for my brothers new food venture and am slightly nervous, it's the issue of trying to make the food look inviting, but i will take your tips and see how i go :)

  • clippingimages

    July 12, 2010 06:25 pm

    hmmm....................delicious.its so informative article.like it........

  • Scott

    July 1, 2010 06:46 am

    Another good article. Macro shots are definitely interesting for food shots.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottmichaels/3819600580/' title='Cupcake Macro' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2482/3819600580_d5c6f616fe.jpg']

  • Nathan Ciurzynski

    June 24, 2010 09:49 am

    Just completed my first full food shoot. Wow...long day. It was a lot different than I expected it to be...meaning that I really enjoyed it. I'd love any feedback.

    http://www.sensoryescapeimages.com/blog/2010/6/23/food-shoot-with-amy-pilz-of-twin-treats.html

    Thank you!

  • Mom2my10

    May 1, 2010 06:03 am

    Great, great post.. So great I just signed up to get your newsletter and can't wait to see what else I can learn. Just got a Nikon D70 and so excited to learn how to take photographs, especially of food.

  • Ishrath

    April 25, 2010 04:36 pm

    Good points. Here are my experiences with food photos:

    Use macro - get one good point to focus on - to bring out the texture of that ingredient.

    Click the food object from an angle which you can see while eating or in general display - makes it more appetizing to look at.

    Use natural light as much as possible for most compositions or use a light box.

    Take many shots with various DOF and angles. Something that looks great on your viewfinder will look different on the computer screen and vise versa.

    Clean the backgrounds, cutlery, etc to the best shine. This reduces post-prod work.

    hmm.. still thinking.

  • Asiye

    April 9, 2010 07:10 am

    thanks! a great blog and wonderful tips. i really love cooking and taking photos, and really want to learn more about food photography!

  • S Lloyd

    April 2, 2010 12:11 pm

    I am seeking for a great solution (at good value $$$) for
    close-up food photography in low light conditions: for ie, at restaurant dinings with very weak light and yet get sharp clear close up detailed pics from such condition with no use of flash.I bought the 550D but now I am searching for the right lense to go with it: What do you think of a 60mm f2.8 paired with the 550D? Any better suggestion given what I want to do?

    Also: Would the 550D paired with a 60mm f2.8 make superior low light macro food dinner’s food pics than a Canon 350D paired with a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 lens?
    Thanks
    PS: I do understand the necessity of a tripod, but most restaurants will never accept that I get in with a Tripod. I haven't yet used that Canon EOS 550 (just have the body and I am now planning for the Lens), but if this is going to be shaky enough to the point that taking photos without a tripod would be impossible, please let me know: I will return the digital SLR.
    Thanks to all for your replies.

  • naveen

    April 1, 2010 11:49 pm

    I would suggest a dry ice ? how about that ?

  • Sukh

    April 1, 2010 07:08 pm

    Hey Darren,

    Really great tips there buddy. But just have a question which if you don't mind might be more specific.

    I currently have a chocolate bar which i'm running myself and baking on my own.

    Living out here in Thailand food photography is hard.

    This is more of a hardware question.

    For chocolate pieces, i'm currently using a Canon D450. What lens is best suited for chocolate piece (truffles) photography?

    Thanks

    Sukh

  • Victoria Giannakis

    March 27, 2010 11:41 am

    I also thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to photography.

    I love taking pictures of food 'yummy' 'colorful' food, the best part is eating the food after the photo shoot.

    Please feel free to look at my website http://www.spacephotography.com.au if anyone requires food and or product photography I would only be too happy to help.

  • DGrub

    March 16, 2010 01:53 am

    Nice introduction of food photography. I like every point except steam. Steam always fogs up my lens. So I dont like taking pics with steam. A similar topic is also covered at http://desigrub.com/2010/03/taking-studio-style-photos-on-your-kitchen-table-part1/ . Love to hear comment on the article.

  • Paul

    March 11, 2010 07:57 pm

    Have a look at food marketing using photo and film, at Food marketing with photo and film. The moral of the text is... don't believe everything you see - a healthy dose of skepticism is useful!

  • S

    March 11, 2010 09:28 am

    This article is full of errors! Please proofread.

  • Bradley Hill

    March 6, 2010 02:16 am

    Great article. While I've been involved in a photography related business for quite awhile now, I am just now starting to really get into the art of photography itself. Food photography is definitely one area that I have been interested in trying my hand at, so I will definitely be putting these tips to good use.

  • Julie M.

    March 3, 2010 03:21 am

    Good stuff! My problem is that I actually eat what I cook and most of my photographed meals are at dinnertime with three kids running around, so I do the best I can what what I have, but yea, the background could use work as well as the lighting. I'll definitely take some of these tips into account though. Thanks!

  • Zack Jones

    February 25, 2010 12:21 am

    @John -- I met your son Johnny when he was down here in Charleston for the Food and Wine festival. You can use a light box, no problem. Since I assume you'll be in NYC shooting his creations you can pick up a lightbox at B&H Photo.

  • Roopa

    February 23, 2010 02:56 pm

    trying my hand at food photography
    From Munnar-Alleppey

  • Roopa

    February 23, 2010 02:54 pm

    i'm generally impressed with food pictures that appears for Pizzas, fruits and pastries. so i tried my hand at it for the first time. please comment on my picture that i've attached along with this.[eimg url='http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ECRfLXwYJ3mStW6C_KXdRw?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ-Mia_tjOyXgAE&feat=directlink' title='ECRfLXwYJ3mStW6C_KXdRw?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ-Mia_tjOyXgAE&feat=directlink']

  • isle of man mansions

    February 10, 2010 09:32 am

    I am trying food photos. It is tough to avoid yellow light at night. Wjhat soprt of lights can you buy that are cheatp that mock daylight.

  • Thelma Seymour

    February 5, 2010 07:56 pm

    Hi, in reply to John luzzin, yes by all means use a light box to photograph your sons creations. I use a portable lightbox to photograph food for a website. The lighting is always consistent and the focus is on the food itself. Try from all angles, eg looking down at the food, down close, using macro, and also focusing on a particular piece in the dish. Against a white back ground the colours in the food look brilliant. This is the website I take photos for http://www.eatout-brisbane.com.au.
    Cheers. Thelma

  • Mark

    February 5, 2010 07:37 pm

    Great starter article. I started doing a few food product shots and picked up some "juicy" tips from some experienced pros. For mouth watering beef, cook partway maybe to a strong pink "rare" and then add emphasis with a handheld propane torch and baste with motor oil (not the used kind). For evenly spaced "grill" marks use one of those electric charcoal starters. Substitute milk in a cereal shot with white glue thinned with water. Add a fresh picked look to produce with spritzes of water mixed with glycerine. This is a good technique for flowers, too.

    Trengove Studios in NYC is one of several unique places that specializes in making excellent food props. Among them are acrylic "pours," spills, splashes, and drips. They sell and rent many food props including hand crafted ice out of acrylic and glass, and some nifty props that simulate frost, drips, and condensation on glassware. They also make resin fruit, foods, and even sushi.

  • tabletopdrummer

    January 30, 2010 01:39 am

    Thanks for all the tips, this is a fun thing to do, but not an easy task.
    After trying to do it myself, I really found out how good the pros are, they make it look so easy.

  • John Iuzzini

    January 29, 2010 04:37 am

    Hi, My Son is Johnny Iuzzini, reknown Exec. Pastry Chef in NYC, I would love to be able to shoot his work, can I use a light box in the kitchen since there is no natural light to work with? I shoot a Canon 50D and have a vast variety of lenses including a 100mm Macro lens.
    Thank you,
    John Iuzzini

  • Doragen

    December 31, 2009 03:54 pm

    This tutorial really helps me a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ryuji

    November 23, 2009 07:19 am

    Thanks for this nice article! I do people photography and some products, and I enjoyed thinking about the similarity and difference between food and handbags, shoes and jewelry...

  • Patti Londre

    August 7, 2009 06:57 am

    Exceptional content, thanks for that. For your readers, I blogged a series on this subject, interviewed some really talented food stylists for super tips and tricks: http://worththewhisk.com/category/food-photography-1-0-1/

  • mrloo

    August 6, 2009 08:26 pm

    Ohhh I am a traveler and I love taking photos of the food I eat. They don't turn good. :( But I am willing to learn. Thanks for this great article Darren.

  • naveen

    July 29, 2009 01:04 pm

    I forgot to mention . my budgets are around 3000-4000 CAD

  • naveen

    July 29, 2009 01:03 pm

    Hi,
    I am expanding my love for photography ,and engaging myself with good pair of canon DSLR with few sets of lens and filters .I may use these photos to put in menu or website or even blow up make hoarding
    .So I a looking for 21 mp camera with lens and filters .Please advise or suggest me with model numbers of camera bod ,filters,lenses etc.
    Thanks in advance
    Naveen

  • Suresh Sharda

    July 26, 2009 04:47 pm

    A very good article Darren.I would love to see more article and tips.Thanks.

    Suresh Sharda

  • Divina

    July 25, 2009 09:08 pm

    I'm new to photography. I'm still learning about the where light should come from and how it works. Although there are a lot of food stylists tweaking your photos to make it look great, I want a "what you see is what you get" food photos. Thanks for the tips.

  • Eric B

    July 24, 2009 06:47 am

    Good article.

    Years ago I worked with a great food photographer. It was amazing what he and his wife would do to get just the right image - it was like magic!

    One thing to remember with food photography is that you don't have to eat it. That means you can prepare food different from the way it would be cooked - and food stylists do exactly that. Want a great looking 1/3 pound hamburger - try lightly boiling it and creating the color articially with a paintbrush and gravy mix. Want great looking whipped cream - try mayonaise or shaving cream. Blanch vegatables to get that bright color.

    There are dozens of tricks of the trade to create those mouth watering images of food.

  • andy

    April 21, 2009 02:50 pm

    Lots of good information. I have gotten some ideas for doing some food shots as well as ring shots from this article. I think the best peice of advice given was not to get to much on the plate.

  • Myint Oo Tha

    March 29, 2009 11:46 pm

    Thanks for the greate article. I'm from Yangon , Myanmar. I'm learning food photography from your article.
    I'm food writer and I do my own photography for my receipe.

  • grubgrade

    March 7, 2009 02:33 pm

    You make it sound easy and look so good.

  • Denny

    March 6, 2009 04:32 am

    I am a huge fan of taking pictures of food. I had to buy a 500 GB external hard drive to accomodate my Cuisine album. Is there a way to get critiques on some of my shots?

  • Cait O'Murchu

    February 5, 2009 11:34 pm

    Thanks for makeing me think again! You make learning so interesting and your writing style gentle and very funny! Thanks again so much, will be reading more.

  • Anne @ Pink Galoshes

    January 7, 2009 04:20 am

    What a great article! This is filled with wonderful tips for a novice like me. I especially like the idea of enhancing your food!

  • Peter Alfieri

    December 23, 2008 02:42 am

    Any of you interested in using these great tips on a few of my ORIGINAL recipes? I'm well published and my articles/recipes can be found online. If you snap the pics you'll get credit and notariety. I will submit the recipe and photo with your name on it.
    Thx

  • Emily Snapper

    December 22, 2008 09:21 pm

    I have one word for these photographs = spectacular! I run www.foodsnappers.com, check it out I think you'll be interested!

  • Bob

    December 19, 2008 06:45 am

    Hey I found this great contest offering many prizes from all the sponsers involved.
    They are looking for the " BEST LOOKING FOOD FOR 2009 "
    Take a look at the following site for all the details. good Luck

    http://www.digitalfoodphotos.com/blog/contest/

  • Cooking Dad

    December 17, 2008 06:09 am

    Thanks for some great tips! I love to cook and I like writing down my recipes to share with others, the one thing that has been lacking is good photos.

  • Henrik

    December 14, 2008 12:11 am

    Great article! Very good tips!

  • Joe

    December 10, 2008 10:31 pm

    Great intro, I am really trying to develop my use of colour and also props in my food photography, a good example of props below..

    http://www.foodsnappers.com/galleries/329/food-doug

  • sallie

    November 26, 2008 08:22 pm

    Hi there,

    I was wondering anyone out there can reccomend a food stylist/photographer for some 'ice cream' photography?

    we have an organic ice cream shop in Lakes Entrance (VIC) and are in desprate need for new lightbox menu photos.

    Kind Regards,
    Sallie Jones
    0412 180 840 / 03 51 552972

  • Bob Ricolla

    November 25, 2008 04:37 am

    F.Y.I.

    I took this GREAT class over the weekend. I think you guys might really enjoy it. Have a look. Here is the link

    http://www.digitalfoodphotos.com/blog/?page_id=57

  • Yum

    October 18, 2008 09:31 am

    Not for nothing, but all of your examples are poor.

  • Terry Thomas Photos

    August 12, 2008 03:39 am

    I've not used this technique to create "steam" but have been told it works: Liquid Titanium. Use an eye dropper to put a couple drops of the fluid where you want it and when it vaporizes it is supposed to look like steam. Don't eat the food.

    I've also used this simple rig:
    * get a cheap styrofoam or paper coffee cup & a lid
    * put a flexible tube from an aquarium supply or hardware store into a hole in the side of the cup
    * add a couple ounces of water and some dry ice to the cup
    * put a lid on the cup (important)
    * position the cup above what you are photographing and the cold "steam" will flow down and out of the hose
    * place the hose where you need the "steam"
    * backlight the "steam" with a dark background so it will show up better

    I know food stylists color strawberries with red lipstick to look them look really yummy.

    Remember if you are photographing the food as an advertising illustration you can't change the item itself as that would be false advertising. But there are no rules about making it look good with props or location.

    The best thing about learning about food photography is you can eat your mistakes!

  • Igor

    August 4, 2008 08:06 pm

    Food photography is a great pastime! There are so many ideas enter the head at the kitchen! And so many ways to experiment.
    It can dip you into photography. It teaches how to use light, composition; it force you to learn your camera, lenses.
    It's cheap, it's rather simple, but can bring you gorgeous results. By the way, good photos (with good ideas of course) can benefit you at stock agencies.

    Great, handy tips! Thanks a lot!

  • Ernesto

    July 11, 2008 01:08 am

    Thanks a lot for the tips! It's helped me so much! Very specific and great results!

  • Stewart

    June 15, 2008 08:16 pm

    Thanks for the hints and tips, they are very useful! What I also noticed is that you don't always need to get a photo of the full plate. I've done a few food shots lately where I left out a great deal of the plate, but still showing the main part of it. It looks quite fine, if I may say so.

  • Jacquie Kubin

    May 4, 2008 01:57 am

    I am loving this site! Thank you.

    I am always looking for great shots of food, with recipes and very good instructions for Donne Tempo (http://www.donnetempo.com) a woman's lifestyle, travel and culinary magazine. The pictures could be to accompany a restaurant review or something you have created on your own.

    If you would like to contribute please feel free to email me at editor@donnetempo.com. Some great tips. I would also ad learn how to soft focus the backgrounds of your photograph and use backgrounds such as the fire in this shot of lamb steaks taken at The Hotel Jerome, CO. http://www.donnetempo.com/travel/colorado/0208co06.html
    This photo was taken in a dimly lit room with no external light. It was quite a challenge.

    Hope to see you all on the digital highway.

    Best,
    Jacquie Kubin
    Editor
    Donne Tempo Magazine
    http://www.donnetempo.com

  • Mandy O'Callaghan

    February 21, 2008 01:40 pm

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can point me in the direction of a good photographic agent in Melbourne - looking for representation for my food photography. Examples of my work can be seen at www.sassyphotography.com.au

  • Jennifer

    January 27, 2008 12:14 pm

    great advice! thanks!

  • Russel Wasserfall

    January 24, 2008 05:04 am

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can point me in the direction of a good photographic agent in Melbourne or Sydney - looking for representation for my editorial and commercial food photography.

  • Ramon Moreno

    January 16, 2008 03:09 am

    Good tips.
    i will use some of your tips for my presentation and research paper!!!

  • Ruth

    November 8, 2007 01:12 am

    Thanks for the info. Iam a photography student at Westminster and the tips on this website and the links have been helpful. Thanks again

  • sheilla

    October 9, 2007 07:24 pm

    WOW !! Great Tips !! Im new in this food photography thing, is there any other website that i could visit for more tips like this ?

  • Bill Brady

    July 17, 2007 12:52 am

    I was wondering if you wanted to trade links. I am a food photographer
    in Manhattan and like your content. Bill

  • Hilde

    June 28, 2007 12:12 am

    I'm really picky when it comes to food, but the couple over at deliciousdays.com make me hungry every time I visit. Their food blog is full of beautiful pictures, and should serve as an inspiration - for photographers as well as aspiring cooks!

  • Les Todd

    June 12, 2007 07:44 pm

    When lighting food the best option is to use a softbox above and slightly behind the subject, possibly using a reflector at the front to bounce a little light back to lessen the shadows. If you really study food photography you will notice from the shadows that this is the lighting setup used

  • Gina Sancricca

    May 15, 2007 12:49 am

    I think you should add more informatoin about your schooling and how you find a job for this career/hobbie

  • Julie

    May 4, 2007 10:24 am

    Thanks for the help, this was really nice to look at before doing my role of B&W fruit!

  • Susan

    April 5, 2007 04:11 am

    Thanks for these tips. It's much easier to set up the shot correctly than try to manipulate your mistakes out with the cumbersome PhotoShop. I'm VERY slowly improving. Getting to know my camera has been the most important thing for me so far.

  • Melissa Goodman

    March 28, 2007 02:06 pm

    I found the ideas and tips offered here both useful and easily mastered by a novice ...

    This is one "dchool" to which I will return for advice as long as I take photographs, which, hopefully, will be a lifetime pursuit!

  • Dave New

    March 28, 2007 05:50 am

    Check out http://strobist.blogspot.com to get the lowdown on how to light all kinds of things (including food shots) with a couple of small strobes. The guy is amazing, and is willing to teach everyone about how to get the same results he does. Don't miss the Lighting 101 school, in the sidebar links.

  • sugar

    March 27, 2007 12:51 am

    "Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowel and any table settings around it."

    hahaha 'bowel'
    might need an x-ray for that shot!
    sounds like a post-consumption picture

  • Matthieu

    March 26, 2007 09:49 pm

    Hi,
    Nice article, I'll try with my brother who is cook.
    just one question: what kind of lens would be appropriate?
    I don't have a macro. but I have a 10-22mm ; a 35mm ; a 50mm and a 70-200mm.

    Thanks

  • Pieter

    March 26, 2007 02:57 am

    Thank you for all these great tips and tricks.I've just recently bought a new SonyDSC-H2 Digital Camera and I'm so excited . Can hardly wait for every week's new technics and tips.
    Thank you DPS for a great Web Site

  • Shaji

    March 24, 2007 09:38 pm

    Great Article.
    I have many times, but did not get the expected resluts.
    This article would surely serve to enhance.
    Thanx.

  • Big BAD Benny

    March 24, 2007 05:30 am

    Backlight! Big diffuse backlight!!!
    Daylight is great :-)
    Shoot wide open for smoothly blurred backgrounds and to enhance the point of focus.
    Probably a myth but for flowing water type shots, the pros would use Cointreau as more natural looking substitute - so be creative:-) Love the typo!

  • NaturesPixel

    March 21, 2007 08:34 pm

    Brilliant Article Darren love it Thanks :)

  • Steven T

    March 21, 2007 05:07 pm

    Excellent tips! I've also found that some of the better photos I've seen/taken are the ones where the food/subject isn't fully in frame. This works particularly well with larger plates of food or individual dishes. I tend to shoot this way the most when I eat Asian foods.

    Oh, it also helps to have a full stomach when looking at food photos...drool can be so hard to get out of a keyboard...

  • ilva

    March 21, 2007 04:10 pm

    A lot of good advice! I would also like to add that it's important not to mass up a lot of food on one plate, it's often much better just to shoot the specific food that you want show without the side dishes on the same plate if you get what I mean!

  • kathryn

    March 21, 2007 12:45 pm

    Heidi of 101 cookbooks wrote some food photography tips a while back: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001451.html

  • kevin

    March 21, 2007 08:44 am

    When I was doing my travel blog, I was taking pictures of my meals, but poor lighting in restaurants or the need to take quick/secret photos made a lot of them underlit or washed out from the proximity of bright flash. Here's another article from the San Francisco Chronicle I mentioned in one of my posts: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2006/09/27/FDGHVLBUIC1.DTL

  • Andrew Flusche

    March 21, 2007 06:47 am

    This is perfect! I have been wanting to take pictures of some new recipes I've been trying. However, I figured they would come out less than appetizing. Maybe I can pull off something decent with these tips!

    Take care,
    Andrew

  • Bruce

    March 21, 2007 06:37 am

    Great blog. However, I suggest you make a correction in point 2. The last word of the quote below is hopefully incorrect.

    "2. Props... Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowel".

  • David Wilkinson

    March 21, 2007 05:58 am

    Great article man! I'll be testing out some of the tricks and techniques when I go on holiday in a few weeks time. :) Keep up the great work!

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