7 Tips for Taking Better Food Photos

The directional light in this photo leads the viewer's eye right to the octopus.
The directional light in this photo leads the viewer's eye right to the octopus.
Evie Carpenter

Let's all be honest for a second. It's not just technology-obsessed millennials who photograph their food anymore. We all live in the age of food porn. At some point or another, we've all been guilty of patiently fighting off hunger as we try to get that perfect snapshot of our lunch.

But whether you're simply sending the pic to your friend or posting it online for all of the Internet to see, there's no reason why that food photo shouldn't look the best that it can. And that's doesn't mean you need fancy, expensive camera. All of the example photos were taken with an iPhone, so grab whatever camera you have, take notes, and good luck choosing just one frame to share.

See also: 10 Best Salads in Metro Phoenix

Look for light.

Light is the most important aspect of good food photography, but you don't need a professional light kit to take a drool-worthy photo. Find a window or sit out on the patio to ensure you have plenty of light to work with. The light does not always have to hit the front of the dish, but should always be intentional. For example, back lighting a cocktail could highlight interesting ingredients in the drink or using directional light can draw focus to a specific item in the photo.

Giving these macarons some height creates more interest than just sitting them on a plate.
Giving these macarons some height creates more interest than just sitting them on a plate.
Evie Carpenter

Change perspective.

Try shooting a dish from either a higher or lower perspective than normal. Show off the height of a food by getting at eye level or lower with it, making it appear larger than life. Alternatively, if a dish is flatter, like a bowl of soup, try shooting from above the bowl.

 

Getting a little too close to the food can create a mouthwatering photo.
Getting a little too close to the food can create a mouthwatering photo.
Evie Carpenter

Get close.

Don't be afraid to get closer to a dish than you think you should. The point of taking a photo of food is to actually showcase the food, obviously, so why not get in there? Unless the plate is especially beautiful or significant, don't waste the space. Fill your frame with, say, sweet, warm icing dripping down the side of a bacon-wrapped cinnamon roll. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but if you're focusing on just one item, don't be shy.

The contrast of the dark background makes this ice cream pop.
The contrast of the dark background makes this ice cream pop.
Evie Carpenter

Clean backgrounds.

Make sure to eliminate any distractions from the background of your photo so the viewer can easily focus on the food you're trying to show off. Look for a background that highly contrasts the food as well -- a darker background for a lighter colored food or vice versa. But also, literally clean your background. Before you shoot, check for any crumbs or rogue garnish on the plate. Paying attention to those small details will make for a more polished photo.

Look for repetition to give the viewer's eye something to follow or to highlight a specific item.
Look for repetition to give the viewer's eye something to follow or to highlight a specific item.
Evie Carpenter

Look for patterns.

If you're shooting a large amount of items, look for repetition to create an interesting pattern for the viewer's eye to follow. On the other hand, you can create repetition and then disrupt it to draw attention to one piece of the pattern.

 

Adding even a small human element can make the photo relatable.
Adding even a small human element can make the photo relatable.
Evie Carpenter

Try interacting.

Sometimes adding a human element to a food photo can actually help to showcase the food whether it's by pulling the focus to a particular part of the photo or by showing how a person could relate to the food. Also from time to time the food you're photographing isn't initially attractive or interesting. For example, the most interesting part of a pot pie is the inside, so breaking through the crust and shooting a spoon scooping out the filling would be more interesting than photographing just the crust.

Exhibit how small or big an item is by providing some sort of scale to the photo.
Exhibit how small or big an item is by providing some sort of scale to the photo.
Evie Carpenter

Give reference.

If a food is especially small or large, put something else in the photo to give the viewer a reference point. Showing the food by itself may still look nice, but the viewer would have no idea that a beaker full of milk is miniature or a steak is a foot long without something to show the scale. This could be someone's hand, a utensil of some sort, or anything with which the average person would be familiar.

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