FoodGuest Corner

5 Tricks to Great Food Photography

Professional chefs will tell you that we eat first with our eyes before engaging any other sense.  When photographing food, visual impact is the only sense we have to work with to entice someone with imagery.  The devil is in the details when styling food for shooting, but following 5 simple guidelines will help to produce food images that come to life.


Pay special attention to Color.  Food’s natural colors can run on the bland side.  Fortunately, Mother Nature also provides a wealth of natural colorants as well.  Spruce up your images with fresh garnish or strategically placed still lives of fruits and vegetables.

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Use visually attractive Arrangements.   Creatively arranging food on a plate or positioning dishes with other objects can convey a mood or sense of place.  Try your dishes with various props to create images that span multiple themes.

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Maintain correct Exposure.   Dense food can create a real challenge in keeping lighting consistent in any picture.  Add additional spots to areas that appear darker than the rest of the setting.   Use the photography technique of HDR to capture highlights and shadows in dishes that naturally span the lighting spectrum.

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Keep a clear Focus.   Create a clear focal point for the picture – where you want to draw the viewer’s eye.  Food photography is no different than any other image type in this regard.  Standard techniques like rule of 3rds, select lighting or relative size can help you to establish your area of focus.

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Use tricks to fool the Senses.  It’s obvious how to use Sight in photography.  Engage the other four senses.  Use steam to simulate Smell.   Taste can be stimulated showing elements in the three types of taste; salt for salty, sugar for sweet or lemons for bitter.  Represent the feel of the Touch of food using melting ice cubes or by highlighting rough textures.  What does your food sound like?  Hear the sizzle of bacon or the popping of popcorn kernels.

Simply keeping these 5 simple guidelines in mind when snapping your next food shot will help bring the food alive for the viewer.

Author Bio: Karen Foley is a professional freelance stock photographer who enjoys writing about her art and the creative process.  See more of her work on



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