I often get asked questions about my food photography and how to create beautiful images for a blog and Instagram. I decided to create this guide of food photography tips for beginners to help you start your food photography journey!
I’ve been sharing some of my favorite tips & tricks for food photography on my Instagram stories and live sessions, but these aren’t available long-term. So I created this guide of food photography tips for beginners as a resource you can refer to help you improve your food photography! (Make sure to follow along on Instagram for more live sessions stories of my photography setup!)
Whether your completely new to food photography or have some practice already, you can find some helpful information in this guide including some of my favorite camera gear and photography “secrets!”(Take a look back at the very first photo I posted on the blog, compared to now!)
Let’s get started!
Food photography tips for beginners
1. Find your light
Okay. so this is the NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT TIP in food photography. Sorry for the aggressive capitals, but if there is one thing to take away from this blog post, it should be the concept of lighting!
1.a) Natural light
- Natural light is the best type of light for shooting food photography. At least I think so. It’s free and readily available to everyone. I encourage you to explore where you can find natural light in your home. Don’t feel like you have to be limited to shooting your food in the kitchen just because that’s where you cooked! Try photographing your food in the bedroom, or garage, or even taking your food outside (though be careful to keep your food in the shade, direct sunlight isn’t your friend for food photography.) Tip: turn off the overhead lights in your room to make sure you don’t get a yellow tint in your photos!
1.b) Light source
- The angle of the light will change the way your photo looks. There are 4 (main) possibilities for light angles: side light (from the right), side light (from the left), front light, and backlight. Play around with having your light source at a different angle and find a style that you like. (*tip: certain types of food/dishes may look better with different lighting. Try each light angle on your subject to find one that looks best!)
2. Shoot with a DSLR camera
If you’re serious about food photography, you’ll want to invest in a DSLR camera eventually. There is nothing wrong shooting with your phone, and many phones produce great quality images, however, if you want to create really high quality “wow” photos, a DSLR is the way to go!
The number one “secret” to shooting with a DSLR camera, is shooting in manual mode. This is a great way as a photographer to develop a style and learn to work with light and have more control over your photos.
I recommend you practice playing around with these settings and how they all relate to each other. There really is no replacement for practice!
Let’s dive into this a little deeper by exploring the 3 key components of manual mode
- ISO measures your camera’s sensitivity to light. Basically what you need to know is: lower ISO=higher quality image (less noise), but less light. Higher ISO=lower quality image (more noise), but more light. So, if your shooting on a bright day with lots of light, you can shoot at a lower ISO. If your shooting on a darker day with less light, you may need to shoot at a higher ISO (Here’s a short video that displays this concept!)
2.b) Aperture (or “F-stop”)
- The Aperture is the hole in the camera that lets light in. Think of it like your eyeball. If you move from a lighter to a darker area, your pupil expands to let more light in. The camera works in a similar way. A wide aperture will let more light in, while a small aperture will let less light in. The aperture is also how photographers achieve a bokeh in their photos. (a blurry effect in the background) An aperture setting of F1.8 will give you a lot of blur, while an aperture of F6.0 will give you less blur. (Here’s a short video that displays this concept!)
2.c) Shutter speed
- The shutter speed is the amount of time your camera’s shutter is open. The longer it is open the more light it lets in. (a low shutter speed) The shorter it is open, the less light it lets in. (high shutter speed) The important thing to remember here is if you are shooting handheld at a low shutter speed, (less than 1/60) you may end up with a photo that isn’t so crisp. This is because our hands shake a bit when we photograph, so shooting at a higher speed genereally helps to create sharper images . I always recommend shooting above 1/60 if you’re not shooting on a tripod (Here’s a short video that displays this concept!)
3. Food styling
Now that you have found your light and understand your camera settings, you’re ready to set the scene! So what goes into creating a yum-worthy food setup?
- This is how you will set the scene. One composition tip you will hear about a lot in photography is the rule of thirds. Basically, if you break your image into a grid of 3 squares, the “best” points of interest will be where the lines intersect. (If your interested, you can read about this more in depth here) Another important aspect of composition is layering. This applies to how you layer the food in your dish, as well as props. Layering can give texture and interest to your photo. (i.e. Adding a napkin under your dish, or garnisihing it with cilantro)
- Props are a great way to give a “feel” to your photo and to tell a story. You may opt for more vintage props like old pots and spoons, or you may gravitate towards more modern props. Whatever props you use, they’ll allow you to create a style for your images. (You also don’t need to over do it with props! Sometimes a napkin or a fork is all you need!)
My camera gear:
- Canon rebel t6s
- Canon 5d mark iii
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 lens
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0 lens
- Manfrotto 290 Xtra Aluminum tripod
- Manfrotto compact ball head
- Manfrotto lateral arm
Other gear I use for food photography
Great resources for food photography
I hope these food photography tips for beginners are helpful for you! If you have any questions or are interested in more food photography guides (maybe on styling or editing?) let me know in the comments below!
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