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9 Food Photography Tips For Beginners

Okay, so you wish to be a food photographer? Food photographer Samantha Peel from Welly Pictures takes you through 9 top tips.

Well have a think, how can I improve my own process, well keep reading and attempt to use these set tips that I as a professional photographer keep to.

Tip 1 - shoot with proper lighting

The best simple lighting to use when shooting a food photograph is daylight. Once you have set up your scene you can try these different options to bounce or soften the light source

  • Sidelight – the light source is next to your scene

  • Diffuser – placed between the light source and your subject

  • Reflector – is placed opposite the light source to ‘reflect’ some light back onto your subject and scene.

Tip 2 - be organised

You may think, what do I mean by being organised! Well I mean, start planning ahead. When taking photographs for a recipe book or when on location these are areas and props that I like to plan for:

  • Plan the style of the pictures I want, once each picture has been taken

  • Consider the colours and style per photo

  • Props I need for the shoot plan, including a backdrop, table settings, napkins, silverware

  • Glasses or drinks to accompany the dish

  • Consider extra scraps of food around the dish

Essentially, I try and get the whole scene set up before I even start shooting. Otherwise, I’ll be overly stressed out trying to position dishes and take pictures and set up the perfect shot all at the same time.

Tip 3 - Tell a story

A really effective marketing strategy is to tell a story through a selection of visuals, this can be completed with stills or video footage. You can form photography that can tell a story with one image, but this process is more effective with multiple images.

Here are some examples of documenting a process for making banana bread, which can be used via website details, magazine articles, and social media posts.

Tip 4 - Garnish!

The word garnish means to decorate or embellish a food dish when you are taking a food photograph.

Using garnish on your food photographs will tell a story and add more content to each photograph.

Tip 5 - Be inspired

I have included being inspired, as I tend to plan for a shoot and look at other’s work for inspiration. Never stop learning from others.

Tip 6 - Invest in some backdrops

When on the location you may need to provide a backdrop if the area isn’t in keeping with the theme of the photograph.

Tip 7 - If you’re using a DSLR, learn manual!!

The best practice is to learn or start using is manual, rather than auto as you have more control.

Tip 8 - Invest in a good lens!

Most cameras are sold with a kit lens which is good, but shooting food is better with a 50ml lens. If you wish to buy a 50ml lens, then you can either purchase a 1.4 or a 1.8 lens.

Tip 9 - Composition- triangle & colours

One element that really makes your food photographs pop is the colour of the food and the props. You should always learn about complementary colours and harmonious colours.

This means deciding upon set-prop colours to match the colouring of the food or to be the opposite colour so that the dish stands out.

There is one other element that can improve the quality of a photograph and this is considering the composition you have used and the most used composition for food photography is a triangle. This is used when placing objects next to the dish, so they form a triangle within the frame.

After reading these tips, if you use them you will naturally improve the quality of your food photographs. I hope that this has given you a small insight into a photographer’s mind when shooting styled food photographs.


Chatting Food Contributor: Sam Peel

I am a commercial photographer in Northamptonshire and I always strive to share my passion with others, either via 1:1 tutorials, workshops or professional photography sessions. At present, I am living my dream, while consistently developing my own practice, with each client that I work with. I specialize in food, fitness, property and headshots-personal branding. I gain and keep paid clients as I can guarantee that my love of photography will bring their brand to life with a selection of carefully taken images that can be used for company adverting or marketing.

Follow Sam

Twitter: @SamPeel19

Facebook: @wellypictures

Instagram: @welly_pictures


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