How to Take Amazing Food Pictures

by zesty on September 21, 2012 · 82 comments

Happy Friday everybody!  So I have been blogging about 4  years now…. crazy I know and I have had a lot of people ask me about food photography.  I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about just that… FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY.  This is very much an art in itself.  I consider myself very much an amateur at this but I really enjoy it.

I have spoken to numerous photographers getting tips as well as reading manuals and articles on how to take amazing food photography.

For all the people out there like myself, I have put together a list of top tips on what I do to try and take great pictures.  I hope these help you the next time you flip open the lens and take a shot of your meal.

Food Photography Tips

  1. Stabilize your camera. Use a tripod, or prop your camera on a high-back chair to help reduce the photo’s blurriness.  This will eliminate the camera shake, you can also use a timer on the camera to be sure.
  2. Try to cut foods in somewhat geometric shapes for a more professional presentation. I also like to use the stacking technique depending on the dish.
  3. Arrange items on plate in a manner that showcases the strengths of a dish and its high-value ingredients.  I get this from obsessively watching the food network.
  4. Garnish the dish to enhance the color. Adding chopped parsley or chives gives spaghetti green specks that bring out the red color of the sauce. Adding a lemon wedge to a piece of fish kicks it up and gives it some zest. Or, consider ladling a sauce on the plate underneath the food, or over the items on the plate.
  5. Place your dish in a setting which will enhance the dish’s overall appearance. Place the dish on a flat-colored background, such as a uni-colored table cloth or table surface.  I myself like to use a white background and a white table cloth and normally my white square plate. If taking a picture from a side-angle, make sure the picture’s background will not distort the food in the foreground.
  6. Use as much natural light as possible. A camera flash will actually distort food pictures more often than it will enhance them. Try moving your dish into a well-lit area and have a portable lamp close at hand to prop above the dish.  Old school zesty has a five bulb light overhead shining 300 watts of crisp light. My photographer friend said that food can never really have too much lighting just be careful of shadows.
  7. Carefully choose the best angle for taking the picture. Examine the shape and features of your dish, to determine whether it looks best from overhead or from a side angle. Often, taking straight on shots of a dish doesn’t highlight the dish’s more appealing features.
  8. Zoom in so the dish fills as much of the picture as possible. Because I am an amateur I also like to use he macro setting for close ups as opposed to the manual focus.
  9. Work Quickly: food only looks really appealing for a short period of time. Ice cream melts. Veggies droop. Lettuce wilts. So you need to work fast. Even with the best-case scenario, you won’t have more than 10-15 minutes from the moment the food exits the pan or fridge to get your shot. Being well prepared really helps, and having a helper there to plate and dress is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles, settings, and garnishes nonetheless.
  10. Remember: practice makes perfect.

Here is a great resource for both beginners and those who are a little more advanced.  Lindsay over at Pinch Of Yum, created this great pdf guide on Tasty Food Photography.  Great book and a definite excellent starting point to be on your way to great photos.  (Do note, that I am not compensated in any way shape or form by promoting this book.  I just think it will benefit you.)

Here are some food sites that focus on amazing food pictures:

  1. Food Gawker
  2. Taste Spotting
  3. Photo Grazing

I hope everyone found these tips useful and will try some of them out in the future.  I would like to ask everyone, what is their best technique they found when taking pictures.  Share your techniques and we can add to the list.

Keep smiling and have a great Wednesday!


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