Love it or hate it, food photography is one trend that appears to be here to stay.

Popularized by the prevalence of food blogs and glamorized by those amazingly colorful cookbooks, food photography is fast growing in popularity; joining the ranks among the most popular photography online.

Not all food photography is created equal however; food photos range from professional advertisements to instagram photos of half eaten snacks.

Food photography can be more than just a fun pastime though; professional looking food photos can help generate more readers for your blog, and can give you some great shots for your online portfolio.

In this article we cover how to make your food photography stand out.

Natural Lighting

Lighting is arguably the most important aspect of food photography. You can have a great arrangement and the best tasting chocolate soufflé, but if the lighting isn’t great, your photos won’t be either.

Natural lighting is best when photographing food. For photography, you want the ambient light to be white otherwise it may tint your photos. The whitest sunlight is usually around noon.

Try shooting next to a window with lots of natural light. If the window light is too bright, you can use a diffuser screen, like a white sheet or cloth, to help filter the light, eliminating harsh shadows.


In order to get those professional looking photos, you will need a studio. It doesn’t have to be expensive though; with just a few items you can have your own food photography studio ready in no time.

In the summer, just get a couple of white boards. Set these up by a window with lots of light. Use one board as a clean background to set your food on, and prop the other board up next to the window to reflect the light onto the food.

In winter, or in the absence of natural light, you may want to consider getting a lightbox. You can buy these, or if you’re creative you can make your own. This can make a big difference to your photos, and you will be impressed with the results.


Food needs a stylist, just like any other model does. Add a garnish of herbs to meat, or some fresh fruit on top of a dessert, you want your food to look its best. You can get fancy, or keep it simple. Ask yourself, “Does this improve the dish or distract from it?” Try to stick with a style and setting that really suits your food. If you’re photographing a dessert with summer berries, try including summer elements like fresh flowers.

Use Props

Use props, but only if they help draw the focus onto your food. You don’t want any distracting element in your photos. If they help the food look better, that’s great. If not, don’t use them. Often plain white plates and dishes look best as they allow the focus to be on the food itself. But if you’re feeling bold, you can try some bright colored elements, they just might work for you.


Depth of field refers to how much of your photo is in focus. With a small DOF, the focus is specifically on one thing, with a large DOF, everything in the photo is in focus. Adjusting the depth of field can dramatically alter the feel of your photos. Does your photoshoot call for a small DOF, or a large one? It’s usually a mixture of both that produces the best results.


Don’t forget your tripod! If you have one of these, it can be invaluable for eliminating camera shake and producing tack sharp photos, even in less than optimal lighting conditions. If you have a tripod, try using it on your food photography. It can make all the difference.

Photo Editing

While editing isn’t ideal for salvaging unusable pictures, it’s ideal for improving great photos. With food photography you probably won’t be doing any fancy editing, but you may need to do simple things like adjusting the contrast slightly, correcting lighting issues or cropping.


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Don’t forget to upload your best photos to your online portfolio. Create a diverse online portfolio to expand your photography.

Do you have any great examples of food photography? We’d love to see them. Post links in the comments.