Food photography 101

Roasted potatoes

Get great shots
of your food

Whether you have a food blog or just want to capture those perfect cupcakes, food photography is a great skill to master. Improve your culinary shots with these basic tips.

Although pros rely on fancy cameras and lots of bulky equipment, a simple point-and-shoot and natural light can work wonders. If you are getting serious about photography, then investing in a DSLR (or digital single lens reflex) camera might be worthwhile. Of course, the old adage of "practice, practice, practice" holds true here and is the best food photography tip of all.

Learn how to 5 Fast tips for better photos >>


One of the most important things to keep in mind when photographing anything, and especially food, is the lighting. Even with all the fancy lights out there, a lot of professional food photographers prefer to use natural light. Morning and late afternoon are the best times to take pictures since the light is nice and soft, as opposed to midday when the sun is very harsh. Place food on a table next to the window or otherwise out of direct sunlight. If at all possible, avoid fluorescent kitchen lights.


If you are shooting in low-light situations, then a tripod can be a big help. It helps to stabilize the camera so the picture of your food will come out crystal clear. You don’t need a big, clunky tripod, either. Try a cute tabletop tripod that works great with point-and-shoot cameras and fits in your purse.


The composition, or way the photo is set up, is crucial as well. Think about how much you zoom in and zoom out, what else is in the photo, and where the food is in the camera frame. Try positioning the food slightly off-center for a more interesting composition. If your camera has grid lines, use those to help make a good arrangement.

Learn more about composition with the rule of thirds >>


Play around with the angle at which you take the photograph of your food to get the best effect. A three-quarters angle is often favored, but also try shooting the food overhead and straight on.


Finally, the way you style or arrange your food can make a major impact. Little touches, like adding an herb garnish to roasts or colored sprinkles to cupcakes, can make the food pop.

More photography tips

Mom's guide to photoshopping pictures
DSLR photography tips for beginners
5 Camera features that improve your digital photos


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Comments on "Food photography 101"

Jodie September 12, 2012 | 12:24 PM

Thanks for these tips on food photography! I always knew there was something more to photographing food than just pointing the camera and clicking but I wasn’t sure what it was. I love taking photos of my dishes to share on my blog and Facebook but my pictures never seem to do justice to my culinary creations. I am grateful that this article has enough advice to help me start taking better pictures of my food. After all, when I invest so much time and effort into preparing a delicious meal it deserves a worthy photo. Thanks again!

Hannah September 11, 2012 | 8:03 PM

I have a blog and I literally just finished photographing cookies I made. I thought to myself how I would love to get some tips on how to make the photos better. They look great in real life but I feel like my photos can ruin the image! Thanks for the tips!

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