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Food Photography: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginners

If you flip through the pages of old magazines, you will find decades-old food photographs. But recent years have seen a booming rise in food photography. You can do food photography for Instagram posts, create food review blogs, and make your cooking page or channel. You can also do food photography for different restaurants.

In short, food photography has immense potential that you can try out. Not only that, it can be fun to take pictures and taste all the delicacies. So here we are with our ultimate guide to food photography to help you learn food photography from scratch.

What is Food Photography?

Food photography is a form of still-life photography. Here the photographer takes clicks of foods, beverages, and ingredients in the most mouthwatering and appealing way. Food is the main subject of this photo, whether just a spice or ingredient or a whole meal. It is one of the trending kinds of photography. 

What is Food Photography

Food photography varies from photographer to photographer. But it is important the picture reflects the aesthetic and inspiration of the person for whom you are taking the photos. Therefore, it means along with looking delicious, a professional food photographer must also bring out the story behind the food. 

For example, when the subject is spices, your photograph can reflect the food and culture it is used in. If you are taking pictures for a romantic restaurant, take pictures of food in a sensual or romantic ambience. 

Food photography can be your thing if you want to be a professional photographer or if you’re a health-conscious person who wants to display your healthy diet to motivate others. It can also be your thing if you like experimenting with food and recipes and tell it to the world through cookbooks or blogs. No matter whatever the reason you want to click food photography, it can be one of the enjoyable work you can for

Places where food photography is used are:

1. Food packages

2. Advertising platforms (Catalogue, magazine, TV or social media, etc.)

3. Websites

4. A cookbook or for recipes

5. Restaurant & menus

6. Food blogs,

7. Stock photographs

8. Videos

How to Start Doing Food Photography?

Some of us have a passion for cooking, some like to travel around and try out restaurants and cuisine, some take photography as a passion. You can start food photography at home or wherever you want with all the resources you have close by. But when you are just starting with a food photography journey, don’t seek perfection as seen in a gorgeous magazine, cookbook, or nutrition website.

Food photography used in magazines and cookbooks has a professional team working behind the scenes and the photographer. They might have an art director who plans the setup, a food stylist who tweaks with different ingredients, food, props to create the layout to make the subject food look photogenic. A lot of work goes just behind the scenes to make the food look scrumptious as well as artistic.

When you are just beginning food photography, it is likely you are running a one-man show. You might not have all those people that will create the setup or ambience to click the food. But knowing what goes behind the scenes and the different roles that are necessary for food photography. And it can help you take beautiful pictures. Spend some time planning the visual direction before shooting the food you will be using as a subject. 

Use a beautiful backdrop, props and adjust the food as much as possible that highlights the deliciousness and authenticity in it. Make sure not to overdo the background or use too many props or complicated patterns that may steal the food’s charm. Get your inspiration from famous food photographers and Instagram posts, and Pinterest boards. There are unlimited ideas for food photography out there.

If you want professional guidance to begin the food photography journey, our course on Food Photography will help you through it.

What are the Types of Food Photography?

Food photography is a skill or hobby that you can take on at any point in your life. If you like to cook or show it to the world or love to eat at a different restaurant and try out diverse cuisines, you can take food photography as a profession. Moreover, the food photography industry is very popular and can be beneficial for displaying your skills.

Types of Food Photography

There are three major types of food photography. They are Packaging, Advertising, and Editorial. Let us grab a look at each of them in detail.

1. Packaging

Packaging food photography is a technical photoshoot of packaged foods. Here you may require professional lightings, attention to detail, and photo editing skills. Therefore, a studio is good for the photoshoot. Product packaging photos should highlight the subject in the best possible way. Photographers have to capture the details of the food that is being packaged. 

food photography packages

The product packaging gives the message to its customers of what’s in it. Therefore, it is important to display the exact food product. All the details should be in one picture, like the precise colour of the food, quantity, and the food should look realistic and appealing to the consumer. For this kind of photo, the light must be flat to show most of the details. You can definitely add some special effects and edit your way through it to bring the best in it.

2. Advertising

Advertising food photography is used to make ads, Instagram and Facebook promotional post restaurant menus, flyers, brochures, and billboards. The food photograph should promote a business or buy the product. As a food photographer, you need to work with the art director and the client closely.

Food Photography Advertising

With the help of a food stylist, you can use props and decorative objects in a creative way that will highlight your food in a palatable way. Sometimes you can also work as a food stylist. You have to understand your client’s requirements and bring them out in the photo using proper backgrounds with appropriate colours. 

But whatever you are using in this food photography, it must focus on the food at its best and tell the brand value. You have to make sure the image quality is very high as it will be published in various places from magazines to billboards.

3. Editorial

Editorial food photography is aesthetic food photography. It is used in cookbooks, recipe books or blogs, magazines, newspapers, and other forms of editorial aspects. While Packaging and Advertising, Food Photography is used for commercial purposes. Editorial food photography is done to give an aesthetic value to the food, the surroundings and to tell the story behind it to the viewers. 

editorial food photography

Editorial is one of the popular food photography among professional and amateur food photographers. It is because it doesn’t strictly bind the photographer to the client. There are scopes for experimenting as well. For example, you can be the cook or one with the food and the photographer at the same time.

The photographer may take aesthetic pictures or videos of the cooking process or visit any restaurant or food market. It may include spices, raw ingredients and any other cooking-related product. Light plays a significant role in this photo as well. Since the photos will be posted online or printed, they must have excellent quality.

Camera or Smartphone for Food Photography?

When it comes to photography, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely a Camera. But if you are just beginning with food photography and growing your skills with whatever you have, then a Smartphone can be your hero. 

best camera for food photography

When you want to take food photography to a professional level, you may want to have a good Camera that will help you take professional and creative pictures. However, we have come up with how and which camera, smartphone to use to take yummy food photographs.

Camera for Food Photography

There are a wide range of cameras out there which is handy to take the best food photos. We won’t be saying which camera brand is best, but we will go through how to pick the best camera for yourself.

Camera for Food Photography

If you want to start learning food photography with a camera, you can choose point-and-shoot cameras. Point-and-shoot cameras are low in price and also easy to use. But as your skills start to grow and your budget allows, you can buy a DSLR camera. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. DSLR helps you to click pictures in different kinds of light.

Here are some of the characteristics you must look for in a Camera while purchasing it for food photography:

1. Size of the Sensor

The first thing you need to decide when buying a camera is the size of the sensor. Next, you need to choose between the cropped sensor and the full frame. While the cropped sensor is cheaper in price and creates excellent picture quality. You can select cropped sensor as a beginner. But as a professional food photographer, a full-frame will allow you to take more professional photos. 

Camera sensor size and lense

Even if you are a beginner and thinking about taking your food photography far, you may want to think of a permanent solution. A crop sensor camera lenses might not be transferable if you’re going to upgrade your camera. 

Here, you have to decide if you want to start it professionally right from the beginning and use a full-frame camera and build your lenses. Or you can choose a crop sensor and basic lenses to learn and upgrade later.

2. Megapixel Range

The resolution or the camera’s megapixel depends on the purpose you will be using the images for. When you are taking pictures for posting online and not printing, it is unnecessary to purchase the camera with the highest resolution. Most of the time, websites and social media pages need a picture of 2000 megapixels at the most to load faster. To make it more clear to you, 1 megapixel is equal to 1 million pixels. You need a camera that captures the detail at its best and gives you enough room for editing resizing without harming the image quality. So here, you can skip buying the camera brand that offers you the highest resolution.

food photography

But when it comes to taking food photographs for printing the images for magazines, catalogue cookbooks or billboards, the picture must have outstanding quality. Here it is important that have your final images have 300 DPI (dots per inch) in comparison to the size of your image. 

3. RAW

One more thing your camera can do is shoot RAW images rather than directly converting the image into JPEG or other formats. Thus, you can edit raw images without ruining their quality. It is a must-have feature of the camera that a professional photographer needs. The best camera for you is the one that has several options and settings that you can choose from to click the image right. You can edit your raw pictures with software like Adobe Photoshop.

Smartphone for Food Photography

You can take your food photography to the next level with a smartphone as well. But here, you have to mainly concentrate on taking pictures for websites, blogs, and social media stories and posts. The smartphone is the most popular way of doing food photography. Most food bloggers start their food photography journey with a smartphone. And trust us, it didn’t fail them when it was done right. 

best smartphone for food photography

You have to use tricks and techniques to take food pictures with your smartphone. A phone camera is fast to grab and take a picture. Use natural light to take good quality food photographs. You can also instantly edit the picture using editing apps and software.

If you are using a smartphone, its camera must check the size of the sensor, resolution, focal length, aperture. Most importantly, make sure you have a phone with a high megapixel. These things will give the quality picture that you are looking for. You will also get your space to edit and resize the image before posting it. You can find many phones in the market if you want to choose a smartphone for your food photography. 

Here are some tricks that you can follow to do great food photography with your phone.

1. Use Natural Light 

When you are doing food photography in a restaurant, or any other place, make sure you have a source of natural light. Natural lights help to make your food look fresh. Restaurant’s artificial lights can be inconsistent, might not give you enough light to work with. There is the sensor and the shutter speed for the camera that usually take care of the light around the surrounding. But for a smartphone camera to take an excellent fresh click, you can invest in artificial light sources that will give your food the natural light with which you can take the picture.

2. Utilise the Grid Mode

Turn on the grid mode of your smartphone camera to focus on the food. It is essential when you are shooting a picture with a subject; in this case, it is the food. Let us tell you why?

Utilise the Grid Mode

Do you know about the rule of thirds? When you turn on the grid mode, it creates 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines on the display. It creates 4 intersections. The rule of thirds insists that when focusing your camera on the subject, you have to adjust your camera in a way that makes your subject fall on one of the intersections. 

This rule is very effective because when your subject falls on any one of the intersections, it grabs more attention than if it was placed randomly at any camera position. It is one of the proven methods that help subject the focal point of the picture. As a result, the subject looks appealing to the eye and helps its viewer to grab attention to it.

3. Experiment with Angles

When it comes to food photography, do not forget to experiment with different kinds of angles. As you are using a phone, it helps give more.

Experiment with Angles

Maybe you want to capture the juiciness of a burger, take shots from the sides that focus on the dripping sauce of it. But hey, you do not have to do exactly what we are saying. Take several shots from different angles and select the best picture that highlights the food and the surrounding that enhances it even more. 

4. Never Ever Zoom

Do not ever zoom in while taking pictures. First, it can ruin image quality. Second, you should capture your images from a distance you prefer without using the mobile camera zoom. This will give you room to edit or crop later on.

What Equipments are Necessary For Food Photography?

As you start or grow your food photography, you can carry some equipment that will help you capture quality images. Here is the list of equipment that you can have with you.

1. Prime lens

Prime lens

When you are using a camera, using prime lenses can give you sharp, clear and realistic photographs. It will make the sweets and savouries so real that people can taste them from the picture. A prime lens of 50 mm focal length will help to capture the deliciousness of the food. But it is also good to have a much wider angle lens for scene-setting clicks or while clicking in a tight space.

2. Tripod & Tripod Arm Extender

camera tripodcamera tripod with boom arm

You will need a solid tripod to take steady images or to make video content while you are cooking or eating. There are ranges of different tripods out there. You can choose a tripod that suits you and your style of food photography. Your tripod has to be compact yet durable so that you can shoot food pictures wherever you want to. In addition, your tripod has to give your camera or phone the stability and versatile angle to click the unique food pictures.

 A tripod arm extender is also helpful when you are taking images while cooking or stirring. It also helps to take dining shots from above.

3. Lighting kit

For the best quality food photography, a strobe light is the best option. It gives natural light to the food and makes it look fresh and gives it the realistic colour in the photos.

4. Backdrops


If you are doing food photography at home or studio, you can use some backdrops that go with your food. For example, marble or wooden boards make a great backdrop for food photography. For doing studio and commercial food photography, you can use a Flashpoint shooting table.


Ready to Click Mouth Watering Photographs?

Now you have everything that you need to start your food photography. Like all other creative things such as cooking food, food photography is also a creativity that you have to learn through lots of experimentation.

Camera for Food Photography

You have to try several angles, lights, shots before you capture your best pictures. As you know all the basic things to start food photography, you can start today, and if you still have your confusion, you sign up for our Food Photography course today.

September 23, 2021

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