Food Photography 101: 5 Tips To Get The Best Photos 

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Food Photography 101: 5 Tips To Get The Best Photos 

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Food Photography 101:  5 Tips To Get The Best Photos 

By See Colin Quintana 

While flipping through magazines or scrolling through Instagram, you will come across many beautiful food pics.

Believe it or not, achieving the same attractive, eye-catching photos isn’t all that hard. You just need to know what tips and tricks to use. 


Here are 5 food photography tips to get the best shots: 

  1. Lighting is key 
  1. Angles matter 
  1. Play around with the camera settings 
  1. Composition that catches the eye 
  1. Editing software will make your photos look professional 


Tip #1: Lighting Is Key 

Perhaps the most important tip for taking great photos is to get the right lighting. There are many things to consider when deciding which light source is best. 


Natural lighting 

This is the best type of light to use when photographing food. Shooting in a dark room with a big window will create a more dramatic look.

Creating softer-looking photos can be achieved by using a few pieces of equipment to manipulate the light. 

  • DiffusersThese can come in many sizes and will spread out the light, creating softer images without deep shadows. 
  • Light boxes-These portable diffused light devices will cast a soft glow over your food, eliminating harsh shadows.  
  • Bounce cards-This is a white piece of foam board or similar material that will bounce light back onto the subject to minimize shadows. 
  • Fill cards-This is a black piece of cardboard or foam board that will stop the light from bouncing back onto your food, creating darker shadows.  


Continuous lighting 

Continuous, or directional light is an artificial light source that allows you to see how your images shift when you move your lighting position.

Using this type of light source can create harsh shadows, so using a diffuser will soften the look. When shooting videos, continuous lighting is best.  


Flash lighting 

Flash photography is mostly used at night or when there isn’t enough natural light coming into the room.

You can get rid of shadows cast by your food by placing the flash at the opposite end of the other light source.

You can also use flash to capture movement, like pouring syrup or chocolate sauce. 

 When Shouldn’t You Use Natural Light For Food Photography? 

The worst times to take food photos using natural light is during blue hour and golden hour.

Blue hour refers to the sky turning from black, to dark blue, to blue the hour before the sun rises and from blue to dark blue, to black, after the sun sets.

Golden hour refers to the first hour after the sun rises and the one hour before the sun sets.  

 Although many types of photography is best taken in this kind of environment (landscape photography, for example), this is not optimal for food photography. During blue and golden hour, the sky emits blue or golden hues that will take away from the natural colors of the food itself.  


Tip #2: Angles Matter 

To take the most flattering shots of your food, you have to consider the type of food you have and what angles are optimal. Stacks of pancakes or cookies and layered cakes deserve a side shot to showcase the height.

A charcuterie board or soup should be shot from straight above to show off the many types of foods and textures there are. 


Tip #3: Play Around With The Camera Settings 

Food photography is best when shot in manual mode.

This allows you to control the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Continually adjusting each of these will eventually get the images you desire.

Let’s discuss these settings further. 



This refers to the opening of the hole in your lens in which light passes.

This is measured in f-stop. The bigger the f-stop, the smaller the aperture and vice versa. So f2.8 is a larger aperture than f16. 

 You can adjust the aperture to control the brightness. The smaller the aperture, the sharper and darker the image.  

A higher aperture means that your pictures might be brighter, but your depth of field can be altered.

A higher aperture also means that the object in the foreground is sharp, with the background blurred out (referred to as a “shallow focus”). The picture below is an example of a “thin” or “shallow” depth of view.  



ISO is a setting that allows you to brighten or darken a photo. This ISO number can range from 100 (low ISO) to 6400 (high ISO).

The higher the ISO number, the brighter the image. However, the higher number also creates a grainy or “noisy” image.  

 If you have enough light in the environment in which you are taking your photographs, then stick with a lower ISO to get the sharpest, brightest images. 


Shutter Speed 

The shutter speed is the length of time the shutter is open to allow light to pass through to the sensor.

It is responsible for changing the brightness of your photo as well as freezing or blurring action shots.

Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of a second (the fastest is 1/4000th of a second) all the way up to 30 seconds on some cameras.  

 A longer shutter speed means more light is exposed to the sensor, thus blurring any motion of the shot.

It can also stop motion with a faster shutter speed. The photo below of coffee being poured captures the dramatic overflow perfectly. 

However, a faster shutter speed also means that less light is exposed to the sensor, thus resulting in a darker photo.  


Tip #4: Composition That Catches The Eye 

Rule Of Thirds 

This rule is used in all types of photography and it refers to the placement of the subject of your photo.

Imagine that your photo is divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, forming a nine square grid.

The placement of the subject should be within the intersections or along the lines of those grids.  


Use Complementary Colors 

To make the photos more pleasing to the eye, you can use complimentary colors.

A combination of blue/orange, red/green, or yellow/purple or any combination of colors can create contrast with the staging of the subject and the background/props. 


Stage Your Photos To Keep The Eye Moving 

The subject of your photo deserves center stage, but the staging of props can allow your eye to move along all the parts of the photo.

Arrange your props to create an S-shape or curve to keep the picture flowing from one side to another or position the props to frame and guide the eyes to the focal point. 


Tip #5: Editing Software Will Make Your Photos Look Professional 

 So, you’ve got your desired lighting, your angles, and your composition just the way you want it.

Your photos might look good, but in order to take them up a notch and get professional looking, magazine-worthy photos, you will need to use an editing software.

There is a lot of software out there. The most popular is Lightroom and Photoshop. Each has its pros and cons.  


Lightroom is much more beginner-friendly, allowing you to organize your photos and applying preset edits across a range of photos.

You can also be assured that your edits are saved individually so you can go back to any previous edited version. 


Photoshop is used most extensively by many creatives in the media industry.

This software gives you complete control of the image, from layering, replacing, altering or removing objects completely, as well as use automated plug-ins and actions to make time consuming editing simpler. 



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