Food Photography Techniques For Beginners

Photographing food may seem easy. But the truth is that it can be difficult to make a plate of food look enticing, no matter how much effort has gone into preparing it. Many businesses will need to take tempting pictures of food.

Food Photography Techniques For Beginners

Restaurants and cafes will need to be able to put these pictures on their menus to attract customers. Moreover, professional or amateur bakers will likely want to share pictures of their creations on social media.

To create some mouth-watering images of food, these food photography techniques will help beginners (see also: Bird Photography Techniques For Beginners) to create professional-looking images:

1. Presentation Is Essential

Before you start taking pictures, you need to carefully arrange the food to highlight its most appealing features. This presentation will help you elevate a bland dish to something incredibly enticing.

In addition, you need to consider the composition of the rest of the photograph. Though the food should be the main focus of the shot, you will also need to consider the plating, cutlery, and surfaces. Namely, you should find a plate or bowl that compliments the dish.

Make sure that any surfaces in the shot are clean. These surfaces should not divert attention from the food, so you shouldn’t focus on distracting or vibrant surfaces.

2. Use Action Shots

Action shots will allow you to create dynamic food photography images. These shots not only make the food appear more indulgent but also allow you to show off your photography skills.

One of the best action shots that you can try for food is to take a photo whilst a sauce is being poured onto the dish. For example, if you have made a roast dinner, you can take a photo whilst you are pouring gravy on it.

Alternatively, if you are capturing the image of a dessert, you could photograph double cream cascading onto it. Another great action shot technique is to take a picture when someone is taking a bit out of the food.

This will allow you to highlight an element of the food that you may not be able to see from the outside. For example, you may be photographing a muffin that contains chocolate ganache at the center.

Timing is perfect when it comes to action shots in food photography. Burst mode is the ideal setting for these photographs.

3. Utilize Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is ideal for food photography. This is because unnatural lighting can alter the appearance of food. For instance, it may give your food an unusual yellowish tinge. This natural lighting will be especially crucial if you are photographing a vibrant dish.

If natural lighting is not sufficient, it is best to use soft lighting. Harsh shadows rarely complement food photography.

When using artificial lighting, it is best to try to create the illusion of natural lighting. Feel free to experiment with different sources of lighting until you find the best option.

Though natural lighting is preferred, it’s recommended that you opt for indirect sunlight over direct sunlight. This is because indirect sunlight will create a much more natural image.

4. Experiment With Different Angles

The angle of your shot will also impact the quality of the image. The truth is that certain foods will look better from certain angles than others. Often, the best way to determine which angle you prefer is to simply experiment with different angles.

Some of the best angles for food photography include:

  • The overhead angle: this shot will be taken directly above the food. This shot will work best if there are lots of different components to the dish. Moreover, it will work wonderfully if you want to accentuate the texture of the food. However, it is not recommended that you use this angle if you wish to emphasize the height of a dish.
  • The close-up: close-ups will allow you to show all of the details of a meal. This angle is recommended if you want to accentuate details that would be overlooked if the shot was taken from further back. 
  • The height angle: for this angle, you should simply lay the camera flat on your table and take a picture of the food. This is a magnificent angle if you wish to showcase the height of a dish. It will be especially effective when foods are stacked atop one another. For instance, you could stack cookies.
  • The diagonal angle: this amazing angle will enable photographers to create dynamic and interesting shots. 
  • The three-fourths angle: this angle allows you to highlight both texture and height. This is because it is in between the overhead angle and the height angle. This shot is excellent for dishes served in bowls, as you can see a little more of the food.

To pick the right angle, you should take into consideration the shape, height, and texture of the food.

Namely, you will want to focus on something that makes this dish distinctive from other foods. This way, you can create some unique photos that will stand out from the crowd.

5. Add Props

Props will help to give your food photos more depth and detail. Not to mention, they will allow you to establish a mood. When adding props, you should consider what atmosphere you want to create in the photo.

For instance, if you want to give your photo a homely vibe, you will likely want to use props with a rustic vibe that would typically be found in the home. This could include wooden spoons.

You should also find props that add to the color scheme of the composition. For instance, you might want to pair colorful food with dark props. This way, the vibrant dish will stand out more.

As with many of the techniques on this list, you can test different props. Some of the best props for food photography include wooden chopping boards, parchment paper, glass jars, and marble slabs.

6. Get Rid Of Clutter

Though props are a worthy addition to your shots, you should refrain from adding clutter. Essentially, you should only add props if they add to the vibe or atmosphere of the photo (see also “How To Use Props To Enhance Your Food Photos?“). Any props that do not contribute to this style will be considered clutter.

When using props, you should only aim to use a handful of items. Anything more than this will likely be considered clutter, as it will detract from the image. You should also consider what is present in the shot, as you don’t want to include a dirty napkin in the image.

7. Consider The Rule Of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a key technique in the world of photography. This technique can help you to compose attractive shots for food photography (see also: Flower Photography Techniques For Beginners) by correctly positioning the content.

For this technique, you should imagine that the photo has been divided into nine equally-sized squares. This should be created by imagining two vertical lines and two horizontal lines, which are spaced evenly apart.

According to this technique, the main subject of the image should be placed at an intersection of these lines. In this case, the food should be positioned so that it meets at least one of the intersections.

This technique is designed to create a focal point in an image. The viewer’s gaze will immediately be taken to the subject, thus removing other distractions.

Even within this framework, you can try different compositions. For example, you can try placing the food in different interactions to see which position you prefer best.

8. Create A Unique Style

The best food photographers will have a distinctive style that differentiates them from other photographers. As a result, you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new and break traditional photography rules to create your style.

As a beginner, you don’t need to start with a unique style. Instead, you can gradually cultivate your style over time. To help inspire you, it can be worth looking for other examples of food photography.

This way, you can see what you like about these images and attempt to replicate them in your photos.

9. Use Color Psychology

Lastly, color is an essential consideration when preparing a food photography shot. Color psychology is an important technique. This refers to the process of exploring how different colors can affect a person’s mood and behavior.

When it comes to food, colors will impact how appealing a dish is. For instance, gray is considered one of the least appealing colors for food. If you want to make a bold image, you should incorporate passionate colors like red and orange into the picture.

Meanwhile, if you are trying to make food look healthy, green should be added to your image. You should also try to complement the color of the background so that it complements the color of the food.

To create a more striking image, you might want to pair colors on the opposite ends of the color wheel. One such example is pairing an orange food with a blue plate.

Final Thoughts

There is an art to taking fantastic food photographs. By following these top techniques, you can photograph a range of delicious dishes so that they are incredibly inviting.

Though food photography may appear challenging, these methods can make it a much simpler process.

Laura McNeill
Scroll to Top