Everyone wants to take food photos nowadays. Food can tell a story, like what time of day it is, where you are or who you are with. Food can also portray a general mood or experience. It seems we all want to use photos of food to remember our experiences at home and while traveling!

Use natural light and natural light only

You might have noticed that people tend to look best in natural light, and in the same way, food looks its best when the light comes from the sky or is muted by a window. It’s helpful to keep in mind that a regular camera flash will give food lots of unnatural shadows and won’t make it so appealing. For this reason, we always look for a table near a window, if we are inside, or usable outdoor light. By ‘usable,’ we mean that bright sunlight on a picnic table without any shade is not always the best. It is often helpful to use half shadows (called penumbra), which will avoid the food being too bright.

Tray of fruit including bananas, oranges, apples and grapes. Big brunch buffet at a table. The table has juice, cereal, eggs, tomatoes and more! Two iced coffees sitting on a coffee station. The coffee station is where you prepare your coffee.
Breakfast at a rustic bar. The breakfast features toast, eggs, olives and Israeli salad. Chicken sandwich with pico de gallo and avacado at a bar.

Want to experiment with lights?

Consider renting a lighting kit from Lensrentals! You'll find a great selection of lights and accessories to experiment with before purchasing. Use code "HALFHALFTRAVEL" at checkout and receive 15% off!

Shop now

Include a human element

While food on its own can be beautiful, a photo of food can be made complete by adding a human element. To the viewer, and also for you, when you look at your photos in years to come, this will give the photo some context. Some favorite examples of ours are holding our coffees with our hands, reaching for a dish in the middle of a table or placing a hand on the side of a plate. You’ll see that you’re giving much more personality to the photo.

Loaded waffles with mellon, mango, banana and blue berries. On the side of the waffle is a bear latte.

Angles are everything

Nowadays, the ‘flat lay’ photo style is trending for everything from accessories to food to books. Flat lay photos mean that the camera is placed directly over a flat surface to give all objects involved an equal perspective. In all honesty, sometimes we have to do this a few times to get it right. If your camera is tilted even the smallest bit, you’ll first notice it in teacups and glasses with liquid. Flat lay photos also help with giving more context to a photo, such as the tablecloth, your shoes, if they are included below the surface, or the place settings.

Big brunch buffet at a table. The table has juice, cereal, eggs, tomatoes and more! Healthy breakfast with cereal, toast, kiwi, orange juice, apples and oranges. Regular black coffee and a bear latte on a ledge by a window. Single pastel de nata sitting on a table in Portugal.

Take photos of food while plates are full

While this sometimes means waiting for other plates on the table to arrive or holding off digging into your meal for a minute, it’s worth it to take photos of food before altering how it’s plated or before you get a lipstick stain on a cup.

Healthy breakfast with cereal, toast, kiwi, orange juice, apples and oranges. Toast with Nutella, Israeli salad on a rustic bar. Big breakfast with toast, eggs, tomatoes, cereal, coffee and more!

Share this article

If you enjoyed this article, give it a share!

Last updated on October 13th, 2021