7 Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Food Photography will help your overall still photography skills. Learn how to take photos and edit them. in proper lighting, camera settings, angles even without using a DSLR camera! Big brands (Coca-Cola & Hatfield Meats) have bought copyrights to use my photos on their websites. You can apply much of these tips to taking photos of crafts, DIY and beauty products as well.
You spend so much time trying to photograph a great recipe just to find out all of that precious time and effort went to waste. It doesn’t get shared on social media. It is so frustrating! I feel your pain but, don’t give up! Here are 7 Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Food Photography!
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Why You NEED to Improve Your Food Photography
Improving your food photos increases your exposure, traffic, reach, followers, and social sharing while building your brand. You’ll get more traffic to your blog as your photography improves. This is important stuff!
Fear not. You can improve your food photos QUICKLY with some great tips, practice and patience. You can do it. These tips will help you build confidence in your photo taking ability and get you where you want to go!
What Camera Equipment to Use
First, let’s talk about the equipment I use now. I too, didn’t know what camera settings I should use. It took me a while just to find the “still images” setting. I’ve come a LONG way! Practice makes perfect!
Now, I shoot in RAW format using the manual settings on my camera. Shooting in RAW format gives me more control over editing my photos in Photoshop.
Check out my blogging resources page for more info. Below, find which camera, lens, and tripod I currently use.
Within two months of getting my Cannon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera, Cannon 50mm 1.8/F STM prime lens Photoshop and a food photography e-book, my photos have drastically improved. Yay! I’ve made it!
I graduated from rookie photographer to big brands like Coca-Cola and Hatfield Meats buying usage rights to my photography. My recipes have been featured on Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Tiny Prints, Boston Magazine, Yummly, and Philadelphia brand cream cheese (Kraft.) Who knew this would happen?
Not ready for a DSLR camera yet?
Do you have a point and shoot camera? That’s o.k. Maybe, you’re not ready to purchase a DSLR camera and photo editing software. I understand. I wasn’t either in the first 10 months of my blogging career. Fear not. You can still get good quality photos without a DSLR camera. Follow these tips.
Related: The Hard Truth About Blogging!
7 Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Food Photography!
Choose the Best Lighting
First, you need enough natural, filtered lighting. Never photograph your food under kitchen lights or use camera flash. Overcast days are the best days to shoot photography. However, even with overcast days, sometimes I still add white curtains.
- No direct sunlight! The photo to the left was shot in direct sunlight and has deep shadows and over exposed lighting.
- Natural light is best especially, if you aren’t willing to pay for artificial lighting just yet.
- Also, try shooting about 2 hours before sunset. The coloring of your photos will be great. I couldn’t believe the difference.
The picture on the left below, was clearly overexposed when I shot it but I didn’t realize it at the time. The color is washed out! I shot this pasta dish at noon with no white, sheer curtains to filter the light. I didn’t know much at that time about photography.
After I got my new DSLR and prime lens, I shot the picture next to it. It is better lighting and styling than the first but, still not right. The third photo is a more recent shot which, is even better!
If your lighting is not enough, your photos will be underexposed. You may not be able to fix them in your computer editing unless you have Photoshop or Lightroom. Even with photo editing software, some low lighting photos are still hard to fix. Hence, you want your photos to be photographed in the best lighting conditions from the start.
Use a Tripod for Still Photography
Using a tripod helps you get sharper images because it alleviates camera shake, which is what causes blurry pictures. When you are holding your camera freely and push down on the button to take the picture, hold the camera as steady as possible.
If you use a tripod, the camera will not shake and you’ll get better quality images.
Therefore, don’t put off getting a tripod like I did. The one pictured above is reasonably priced! It’s a great starter tripod if you want to minimize your expenses when you are starting out. I totally understand that and did the same myself but, now I won’t shoot food photos without it.
Use (AWB) Auto White Balance Camera Setting
White Balance Issue is another popular violation for novice food photographers and I was no stranger to this. If you are shooting with a point and shoot camera, use the still image setting (the tulip symbol) with AWB (auto white balance) setting if you are able to choose it.
When you edit your photos, choose the auto white balance. Do NOT tinker with tint especially, when you are a new photographer. It is very easy to add too much green or too much red to your photos. Lately, I have been using custom white balance but, now I have an eye for it.
Shooting in natural light will help alleviate color issues.
Choose Good Shooting Angles to Improve Your Food Photography
In my opinion, the easiest angle to shoot is overhead at a 90 degree angle. Make sure you are at a true 90 degree angle. The tripod will help with this but, this angle is only good for “flatter food.”
If you choose to take photos from the front of the food, shoot at a 45 degree angle which is about eye-level if you were sitting at a table and looking down at the food. So, sit at a table with the plate of food in front of you with the camera pointing down from your face and that is about 45 degrees depending upon your height.
However, if you are photographing a stack of pancakes, a hamburger with fixings or pile of cookies, bending down and shooting the stack head on is the best angle. When you are photographing a whole pizza, take out a slice and shoot from above at a 90 degree angle.
Keep Your Photography Subjects Straight
It helps to use small round bowls and plates. Use the lines in your viewfinder and align them to the table to help you shoot straight.
Below, I shot the first cranberry relish photo under kitchen lights. It’s awful composition and lack of food styling. Yuck! I didn’t even know it at the time.
The lighting, composition and styling of the third photo below is good. Plus, Good Housekeeping featured this recipe three years in a row using my photo!
Use the rule of thirds. In this rule, most of the object appears in 1/3 of the frame. Take the frame and divide it into 9 equal parts as shown above in the first picture of this post. The object should lie at the intersection of two of the lines. It should either be to the right or left so the cup is sitting on the intersection of the lines.
As mentioned above, using the rule of thirds will improve your composition. If you haven’t used proper composition while shooting your photos, you can crop them during editing.
Saturation give more color and appeal to your photos but, don’t over saturate them. If you saturate too much, they will look fake. Be careful using this editing tool.
- If you shoot without enough lighting, you will need to bump up the exposure while editing. Don’t overexpose your photos. Expert tip: If you see white objects in your photos that are too bright white, you may be overexposing the photo.
- Under exposure is a common problem. With practice, you will start to see which photos need more light. Ideally, you want just the right amount of light so you can see the color in the food, highlights and shadows. It also depends on the mood you are trying to set.
- However, adding too much exposure will make some parts of the photo too visibly bright especially, white areas. It’s best to have the right lighting from the start- while shooting.
Food Photography Styling
- First, use small white plates and bowls when you are just starting out your food photography. It is the easiest for beginners. I had a hard time using a square white plate so I stopped using it. For example, butternut squash soup looks great in cobalt blue bowl because of the contrast.
- Always, make sure your utensils are straight when you are photographing the food.
- Also, use a light colored kitchen towel or cloth napkin, a fork or spoon and a small beverage. Match the colors to each other. Rustic silverware looks great in photos. Set the mood. I style my fall food photos with brightly colored fall leaves and warm, autumn colors.
- Choose a good, stylish surface to shoot upon. Use a white foam board. They cost only a few dollars at a craft store or $1 at Dollar Tree. But be careful because white will reflect light which, can overexpose your photos. Consequently, if you have too much light, you can shoot on a black foam board.
Are you ready?
You can drastically improve your food photography (or any still photography) by using a tripod, proper lighting, the correct camera settings camera shooting angle, photo editing, along with good styling.
These 7 Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Food Photography will help your overall still photography skills. You can apply much of these tips to taking photos of crafts, DIY and beauty products. Keep practicing so you can increase your website traffic and get more eyes on your recipes and products!
That’s wonderful Hannah! I’m excited for you and am so happy my tips really helped. Let me know if you have any additional questions.
I had never thought to get stuff accepted on FoodGawker, but using these tips, I’ve now got 3 accepted. I’ve doubled my views and stats