Essential Food Photography Tips with Examples

These are essential food photography tips which everyone should study to be able to capture the taste in a photo.
It takes more than just food to cook up a delicious photo.

Whenever you visit a magazine stall again, notice how many cooking magazines are there. Those magazines are all filled photos of delicious, appetizing food. I don’t know about you but when if see such tempting images for anything more than two minutes, my stomach starts behaving like a brat.

What is in those images which makes the food seem even more delicious than it usually is? Today we’ll discover exactly that!

Laura Letinsky, a fine-art photographer and professor at the University of Chicago says:

People want perfection, even if it’s a falsehood

Now you might think otherwise but Professor Letinsky is indeed speaking about food photography.  So today’s question is, what makes that falsehood? Here are the elements:


If the light is right, anyone can take reasonable food photos.
Bad lighting is the recipe of disaster for any kind of photography, but it is rather more important in food photography.

Bowl of Onions. An example of Food Photography

Make sure your subject (food) is well lit from all sides. You can use flash but in my opinion, daylight works the best. There can be a whole article about food photography lighting. I’ll write it if you comment and demand it.

While It’s Hot

Food looks at its best when it is freshly cooked. You must capture it right away. That way, you’ll also get some smoke evaporating from the plate, and that smoke works as appetizer for the viewer.

If you’re in a restaurant, you’ll need to be quick in adjusting the camera settings, placing the props and finding the right angles.

Stylizing It

You already know about the props. You might want to use paper, cutlery items, raw recipe ingredients etc., it’s your imagination and sky is the limit.

Example of food photography with using rose petals as prop.

One thing beginners can forget is the background. Remember to keep the background bright and symmetrical with the subject.

Garnishing for Photography

To enhance the beauty of the food, you can try to add extra garnish. For example, you might overdo with olive oil in a salad plate to create twinkles. Again, sky is the limit.

Bend Over

Meringue photo taken from the subject level.

I’m just reminding the beginners that they should be at level with the subject to take good photos. To come at level with the plate of your food, you’ll have to bend over.

Go Macro

It is a good idea to focus on just one part of the dish. This highlights all the elements individually.

Find the Right Angle

Coconut Macaroon photo.

Food itself will tell you how it wants to be photographed. All you have to do is observe it closely, notice the things that grabbed your attention, then set your camera focus on them. Simple.

Home is Better than Restaurant

Alyson Lyons, the photographer of all the photos in this article, says that photographing at home is better than restaurants. That’s because you have more control in home. You can cook it keeping photography in mind, rather than taste!

 Food Photography Gear

Personally, I feel food photography should not be made complicated. One Digital SLR camera and one 50 mm f 1.8: lens should be enough to start off. I’m suggesting 50 mm lens because it’s small, lightweight and inexpensive.


1. Don’t overdo props. This is a common mistake beginners make. Only one or two props in secondary positions of background/foreground, that’s it, no more.

2. Not staying prepared. If you’re home/ studio, you can set up the shot with an empty plate and adjust white balance and take test shots while the food is being cooked.

Related Read: Alyson Lyons did not just took these photos, she’s awesome writer. She wrote an article about her experiences as food photographer at Nikon. I highly recommend that article.

Further Related Readings

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