5 Of The Best Food Photography Tips For Your Blog

5 Of The Best Food Photography Tips For Your Blog

Posted · 26 Comments

I’m not a food photographer, nor do I have any training in photography apart from the training of life and of course God-himself, Google. However… I’ve been asked so many times about the photos on my site and on Instagram for The Whole Daily, that I wanted to create a post on food photography in the event that it may just help you out.

Cutlery

I also warmly open up the comments section for you to add your piece, trained or not, in the hope that together we can totally cover this food photography shiz.  Okay?

If you have a food blog, the better the photographs of your food, the more enticing it will be to other people to eat, make or buy the recipe from you.  You will receive more comments on your blog, more traffic and more engagement with the people you are trying to reach.  If you are going to monetise your blog in any way, this will eventually equate to more financial reward (for all of your hard work).

While I adore clean and fresh photos of food created in a minimalistic setting (like Donna Hay’s – so gorgeous), I am often drawn to creating scenes and photos that feel like home to me.  Warm and inviting and with a touch of ‘Nanna’. 😉

My props and styling will represent this part of me and you will have your own style of course, but these tips will still be relevant for you.

#1. The Camera + equipment

I’ve taken pictures on a few different cameras for my blog, and some of the best – believe it or not – have come from my iPhone 5.  While investing in an expensive professional camera may add instant clarity and freshness to your food photography, a good picture is as much about the photographer, if not more, than the camera.

I bought a Canon EOS 50D (below pic, top left) about 3 years ago off eBay for $500 second hand.  It has been great, although seems to be struggling with focus right now.  My iPhone 5 now takes better photos than the 50D now.  You can take excellent pictures using a phone camera these days, as long as you can hold your hand still – or better yet – buy a small tripod with a phone holder on it for your food pictures.

Phone photo tip: If you press your finger on screen of your phone on the part of the image you want to see most clearly in the photograph, your phone may blur the background slightly for you similarly to the AV mode on a DSLR.  It can also overexpose the food picture itself, so be careful it doesn’t ‘lighten’ your food too much.

I recently invested in a Canon 7D and yes, it’s pretty darn spesh. The camera was just under $1000 and I got a (semi-generic) Tamron lens. The lens is where the mo-nay is at.  To buy a Canon lens was over $2000 – the Tamron was less at $1200.  While this is certainly a big investment, I have bought these because I will use this camera combination for recording videos for eCourses as well as taking all of my food and blog pictures and of course family pics too.  It’s an asset to my business.

It’s also really great to have a tripod at hand that can hold the camera steady.  95% of all of my pics are taken without the tripod, but it is growing on me simply for the ease of being able to take a picture, have a look at it and adjust what I need to in the ‘set’ all without moving the camera out of place.  It allows me to take the same angle shot with multiple scenes.

Also handy when one has had too much espresso…

Canon 50D/Canon 18-55 lens, Iphone 5, Canon 7D/Tamron 24-70 lens

Canon 50D/Canon 18-55 lens, Iphone 5, Canon 7D/Tamron 24-70 lens

My daughter Holly proving that if you have the light right, the angle right, and a semi-decent camera (Canon 5D) you can get a great shot.

My daughter Holly proving that if you have the light right, the angle right, and a semi-decent camera (Canon 5D) you can get a great shot.

In the pictures below I have taken the same shot with all three cameras and you can see the difference in these.  I took all three without adjusting anything on the cameras themselves, simply point and shoot. The Canon 7D photo has a slightly more ‘clear’ image and the built in AV (aperture value) comes into play.  This is what makes the background slightly blurry and can be altered to increase or decrease the focus of background objects.

If you want to recipe to these Raw Tahini Chocolate Slices, it is here (you will be taken to The Whole Daily website)

Choc Tahini Slice Food Photography Tips

Photo One was taken with the Canon EOS 7D (digital SLR – and the most expensive camera) albeit on my first day of use, so probably not to the level it could have been. Photo Two was taken with the Canon EOS 50D (a second hand entry level SLR). Photo Three with an iPhone 5. All within one minute of each other, all simply point and shoot, and all with no editing.  The iPhone photo is noticeably ‘flatter’ than the SLR pictures, but in no way unusable.

#2. Props

I see some absolutely stunning ceramics about at the moment, little dishes and spoons, plates and boards.  I want to take them ALL home but sheesh, the price! You can invest in some of these from local artists or buy online – remembering you really only need one of each thing, not a whole set – or you can do what I do and buy everything from op shops.

You will get especially lucky if you like the ‘white-plate’ look, because there is white ‘everything’ in op shops.  Most are open on Saturdays as well, so go in and browse about.  They’re great to find old cutlery with patterned handles, large funky utensils and also pieces of fabric you can use as ‘table cloths’ or napkins.

It’s worth keeping your eye open for old chopping boards you can paint an edge around, cups to use as props beside your main dishes, and well washed tea towels or napkins that will give your photos a look like they are really on a table to be eaten.

Much to my husbands chagrin, I also hoard papers, linen and ‘stuff’ that could be used in photographs.  I have found that the wrappings from fresh flowers and ribbons or twine from gifts make great props, either to style sweet treats or as an ‘underlay’ or cloth underneath the food.

Food-Photo-Tips1

A small ‘pile’ of fabric, netting from bunches of flowers, paper from paper bags, tea towels, doilies and cups and plates from op shops.  Against the window you can see my black and white painted MDF boards I picked up from Bunnings.

 

If you are a beginner and wonder what the best thing to use for your photographs are, start with an all white palate.  This means your food will be the hero and you won’t be relying on immaculate styling to make the food stand out as much as your plates and clutter around them. All-white plates and props are also the easiest to come across at a budget cost.

Pick up some fresh white tea towels and launder them once, scrunch up some baking paper and use a white backing board to your photo’s to increase the freshness of your photographs and keep a simple shot.

Plates, boards and cloths look great when they are layered together but not too ‘busy’.  Think about how you’re going to set your shot up and set your scene before you make your food.

Photography-Tips-Food-

I stack the more colourful props I have in Freedom Furniture wire shelves.

Food-photography-tips3

When in doubt, stick to white. Something I don’t have enough of in these pictures.

Cutlery

Op Shops are the BEST for getting old cutlery and utensils great for styling your food pictures.

Food-Photo-Tips

A mix of different ‘vibes’.

#3. Lighting is everything.

I could say this 100 times over but seriously, it is.  You can pretty much take a picture on any type of camera, and if the lighting is right, you can get a pretty good shot.  Natural light is a MUST.  Never use your built in flash for food photography (never ever, ever ever).  It makes the food take an orange tint and appears less appetising.  Food photographs taken in natural light are much more beautiful and have an ease on the eye.  Play around with where the light source comes from depending on the dramatics you would like in your shot.  I always take my food photos near or right next to a window inside and look for an even light.

A lot of food photographers will use either white or black boards to either reflect light onto the food or to absorb the light from the area.  White boards make the scene seem more open and lit up on all sides, a black board will remove some of the light from that side and help to create a more dramatic shot of the food. You can buy light boards at art supplies stores and you may find some foam ones, which are light and easy to move or prop up.

I went to Bunnings and bought about 6  thin MDF boards and have painted them with black, blackboard and white paint and use them for lighting, but mostly as a backdrop.

These two pictures were taking within a minute of each other and have not been edited at all. The top photo was taken with me angled facing the food with the light coming in the window behind me and the bottom photo looking directly at the chocolate slice facing the window.

These two pictures were taking within a minute of each other on the same camera (7D) and have not been edited at all. The top photo was taken with me angled facing the chocolate slice with the light coming in the window behind me and the bottom photo looking directly at the chocolate slice facing the window and light source.  It’s hard to get a good food shot if the light is facing you as the food will be too dark.

The tip shot shows these noddles in full sun. The food looks over exposed and the shadows are harsh. It's not soft or nice for the eyes to look at. The bottom picture is taken inside with no natural light. It could be lightened using an editing program, but really it's best to get your light right to begin with.

The top shot shows these noodles in full sun. The food looks over exposed and the shadows are harsh. It’s not soft or nice for the eyes to look at. The bottom picture is taken inside with no natural light. It could be lightened using an editing program, but really it’s best to get your light right to begin with.

This is an example of how different colours and backgrounds can change the look and light of a shot. The top photo has a black backboard and blue cloth, middle photo has a white background and white cloth, and bottom photo has a wood board back and base. Which would you choose?

This is an example of how different colours and backgrounds can change the look and light of a shot. The top photo has a black backboard and blue cloth, middle photo has a white background and white cloth, and bottom photo has a wood board back and base. Which would you choose? (note how the black board creates more shade at the back of the image – and the white board opens the back of the image up?)

Weird Hopefully Helpful Tips. Some I do, some I should. 

A lot of great food photos have food in them that isn’t cooked all the way.

Do not overcook your greens.  They will end up looking grey in your photographs.  It’s best to blanche them (put them into boiling water for less than a minute, remove and run under cold water).

Food flops are a given, so it doesn’t matter if only three of your cupcakes turned out looking like stars.  Use those in your photographs and gobble the others up quick smart so no-one sees the evidence.

Get a spray bottle of water to ‘freshen’ up your veggie’s, meats or fruit dishes or to add a sheen to the food (this is something I’m yet to try but know l need to do looking at some older pics of mine).

Put less on the plate than you would eat.  If I was photographing a savoury lunch or dinner dish I used to overcrowd my plate by putting as much food on it as I would eat   It means that the eye fights for focus on the finished image and doesn’t quite know where to look.  Place a small amount of each element on the plate and then garnish and photograph.  If it means one lettuce leaf or 2 slices of carrot, do that, rather than a pile.  Less is more.

#4 Editing

It’s good to do a bit of a quick edit to make sure your pictures are presenting as well as you like.  The most common edit that improves the look of a photograph is to increase the ‘brightness’ or the exposure, then you may like to add a little clarity to your images as well.  If you have taken your pictures in the right light and checked as you were taking them you shouldn’t need to to much more than this.

Try not to overpower your pictures with hue, saturation or contrast.  They will take the natural light ‘look and feel’ out of your food pictures and make them (dare I say it) look tacky.

If you are taking pictures on your phone, you can download the free PS Express app (PhotoShop found here) which can brighten your pictures for you right on your phone.  If you are new to editing, I recommend taking the exposure or ‘brightness’ to the most dramatic end of the scale and then moving it back to where it feels ‘right’ in your eyes.  An over-bright or over exposed picture is not a great thing, and I’ve had a few of them on my site which make me cringe when I look at them now.

This picture was taken with my Canon 50D. I wanted a 'sorbet' look, so I increased the exposure, increased the highlights and removed some of the yellow in the board. I All of these things I have done only slightly. Amazing what a difference it can make.

This picture was taken with my Canon 50D. I wanted a ‘sorbet’ look, so I increased the exposure, increased the highlights and removed some of the yellow in the board. All of these things I have done only slightly. Amazing what a difference it can make.

Also think about the composition in your shot.  Is everything too central? Does it look too much like the food is a sore thumb in the middle of your shot?  It may work well to cut the photo off centre.  This can look more gentle and may be easier on the eye.

For a lot of the most recent food photos on The Whole Daily, I used a program I downloaded for $120 called VSCO which integrates with my adobe photoshop.  It has many filters of old style cameras that I have used in a lot of my shots to give them a somewhat vintage look.

#5. Have fun. 

You will improve.  Practice, have fun, and if you’re ever in doubt.  Less is more!

I’d love to answer any questions for you you may have about food photography, your blog, or my process. Ask away and I’ll do my best to help you out.

When you’ve got your light and your background sorted.  You can get a result like this one below.

Food-Photo-Tips2

The picture below was taken in this set-up (with the marble board removed and the blue side of the painted MDF board facing the camera).

Food Photo Tips 3

You’d never know what goes on behind the scenes if you didn’t see it yourself huh? The end result.

 

5 Of The Best Food Photography Tips For Your Blog was last modified: February 11th, 2016 by Alice Nicholls

BE NOTIFIED OF OUR BLOG TO PROFIT ACADEMY LAUNCH FIRST + RECEIVE VIP TREATMENT

  

26 Responses to "5 Of The Best Food Photography Tips For Your Blog"
  1. Morgane says:

    Great great tips here! Thanks a lot!
    Not long ago I was looking for a course in food or product photography which could mix stylism and photography; and no one offers to teach that… So seeing that other people than me are interested in this kind of things reassure me!

    Personally, I have self-taught myself in studio photography and art direction when working for a fashion brand. For work I use a digital camera and try to find the perfect way to make an item ‘pretty’; but at home, I only take photos with my iPhone, a reflector found on photojojo.com for $15, two boards of ply wood from Bunnings (one just as is, one painted a duck green colour) and the free app VSCO and this is where I have the most fun! – can check my instagram account to see @morganecazaubon

    I try to find inspiration around to feed my creativity; but I would love to attend a course on the subject. So maybe this little blog post might just be the tip of the iceberg and some other people would keep sharing their tips!

    So thanks again Alice!

    • Big-Time Blogger says:

      Such fantastic advice. I’m going to head over to your instagram and make sure I’m following you. The reflector? AMAZING. There really is something out there for everything isn’t there. Thanks so much for your comments and I know they will help others reading this post. 🙂

  2. Simone says:

    HOLY MOLY – you are such a beautiful soul Alice!!

    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. This post was beyond A M A Z I N G for so many reasons!!! I can’t wait to give your tips a try!!! I love taking food pics he he

    Keep being your beautiful self and sharing your incredible message with the world 🙂 You are one of my biggest inspirations EVER!!!

    Love LOTS
    Simo xxx

    • Big-Time Blogger says:

      I will pay you next week Simone! BUT WHAT??? I am so grateful for your comment and taking the time to read this post. I feel all gooey and fuzzy reading your beautiful comment. You da’ bomb! Have a great day honey. Will keep doing what I’m doing. LOVE IT!

    • Indy says:

      Good to find an expert who knows what he’s tanlkig about!

    • to add: the new system only works for some people. Those that like to judge things on a good or bad merit. No in-between. But it also takes away from those that choose not to give such a simplistic rating to videos. If you put the old system back, at least you'll be able to accommodate to people with different approaches.

  3. Thank you so much! Some of these tips were like lightbulbs going off over my head! Can’t wait to shoot some more food pics now. Definitely off to Bunnings for some plywood.

    Also, my hot tip (which I recently learned from watching another food stylist) was to set the scene up on the ground rather than the table. This gives you an even greater range of angles overhead, and then you only need a little tripod to capture the “eye level” shots.

    Also, I learned to set my scene up before adding the food. Get the angles and lighting right, shoot some pics of empty plates in the scene. Then plate up your dish and shoot away!

    Oh, and I made the mistake of showing hubby the photo of all your props and said “that’s the sort of collection I’d like to have.” Um, he went pale. Oops 😉

    • Big-Time Blogger says:

      haha. My husby just shakes his head. You should see me during hard rubbish time of the year. He just cringes. Thanks so much for your comment and advice. I agree that it would be a great idea to set up on the floor. Noted and am gong to action! Have a great day.

  4. ruth says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing these tips Alice. The thing I struggle a lot with is backdrop.. the painted boards idea is a revelation that could really help me a lot! You are wonderful xx

  5. Bec says:

    Darling, I just love this new venture of yours and everything you are sharing!
    Also love that you and your sis have joined forces! You know I love a good sister combo!
    This post is FANTASTIC! Love you lots xxx

  6. Teniel says:

    Great tips here. Thanks so much.

    Can I ask exactly what you search for in the app store for the photoshop light app you mentioned?
    So many apps come up………..Not sure which one is the one you use.
    Thanks so much

  7. Camille says:

    The bts look so complicated. Too much hard work setting up and cleaning it up. But heck, it’s all worth it. 🙂 thanks for these great tips

    • Big-Time Blogger says:

      Thanks Camille, I appreciate your comment. I do notice that at the end of shooting a few recipes I’m not as ‘neat in the square’ as in the first shots. All tea towels and things skew-if. It’s tiring, imagine working with models? … 😉

  8. Claire Baker says:

    Revisiting this post (again) before my trip to Bunnings to play with my new camera and fooooood!! You’re the BEST evah x

  9. Quyen says:

    This article is very interesting, but is hard to find in search
    engine. I found it on 14 spot. You can reach google top10 easily using one handy wp plugin and increase targeted traffic many
    times. Just search in google for:
    Aemikimi’s Rank Plugin

  10. Nikhil Dapanji says:

    Are you a #photographer with a passion for #Travel?If yes travel [o] graphy is just the right place to unleash your talent! Click to participate in contest http://bit.ly/1EtS2E1 

  11. kiran sharma says:

    Are you a #photographer with a passion for #Travel?If yes travel [o] graphy is just the right place to unleash your talent! Click to participate in contest http://bit.ly/1EtS2E1 

  12. Oh I love this, so many tips here as I fumble my way through its all & so learning as I go.
    I love raiding my mums place for props. Lol
    Your so right in knowing what goes behind the scenes of the photo, my mum laughs as me & says she’ll take a photo of me taking the photo… To funny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other Articles We Think You Would Love

 

create-promote-profit-from-your-blog
shine-1
shine