Tips For Taking Food Photos

I post my fair share of food photos around here – some with my phone, some with my fancy camera and some with…wait for it..my Polaroid! HA! I rarely ever post those, but if you ever come to my house, you’ll see a bunch of random Polaroids printed around my house. They’re kind of fun! Anyway, food photography is kind of a weird thing – it’s not like people or landscapes…it requires a bit of staging, lighting and angles. Today I wanted to share a few tips I use to take my food photos. I should add – I am NOT a photographer. These are all self-taught tips and things I’ve learned along the way that make my life a little easier.

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Tips For Taking Food Photos

1. Natural light is your friend. It never fails, when I’ve finally finished creating a recipe, it’s long past the optimal time to take the photos so I have a spoiler alert for many of you – most of the time when I’m sharing – it’s a day old or more. For me, natural sunlight hits my house at the perfect time (not too bright or harsh) between 9AM and 10AM. Using natural light means I don’t need a flash on my camera or an indoor lighting set-up. When you’re able to utilize natural light, it takes the harsh glares off the food and it appears more palatable.

2. Did you notice I didn’t say the hours for the best natural lighting in my kitchen? It’s because I don’t shoot there. Don’t be afraid to move around you house to secure the most natural light setting. I prefer shooting in my living/dining room where the light streams in through a huge window. Our kitchen has a gross oblong overhead light with a tiny window so there’s really no escaping the glare and the window size prevents even natural lighting. I have a huge table in my living room that allows me to set up props for a shot if I need them or an all-white table for more basic photos.

3. Angles, angles, angles! Work those angles, babe! If you ever come into my house when I’m taking pictures of my food for blog posts, there is a 99% chance I’m standing on a chair. I shoot using my 50mm lens (perfect for crisp food photos!) and grab a chair or stool to get the “from above” shot. Yes, I could absolutely use a tripod, but I want to avoid shadows and I’ve just never had as much luck doing that. My shot list for photos includes:

  • from above
  • straight on
  • from the side
  • from far away
  • as close as possible (investing in a macro lens would be helpful, but…I’m not there yet!)

I am also sure to take 3-4 photos from each angle, so that if I upload them into Lightroom and I don’t like the way one looks, I don’t have to set up the entire shot all over again.

4. Use a basic background. I love my DOCKSTA table from IKEA, because it looks great, but also provides an even white background for photos. If I’m shooting something that’s really colorful or with a lot of detail, it works perfectly. If I have a photo idea that requires a bit more planning or props, I use our farmhouse table that sits in front of a long window. It’s a basic wooden table, but is easily transformed with napkins or table clothes to get the shot I want.

October 20, 2017

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  • I love these tips, it’s funny you say IKEA for shooting because I’ve bought $5 cabinet doors (the ones in that front extras section) to use as little tables and backdrops for my blog posts, and it works great. I am definitely a big fan of a variety of angles, too.

    Meg, Borrowed Heaven

    • That IKEA table has served me so well! I also have EAMES chairs that have a solid white background that flows, so that is good for product shots when I want a seamless white background. I love IKEA so much!

  • Jen

    These are such great tips! I am terrible when it comes to taking food photos!

  • Your photos are always top notch! I can only stand to use natural light, which is best in our playroom. So clean up time before mommy has to take pictures!!