16 Tips for perfect Burger Photography

Silvain • updated July 15, 2022 • 6 min read

Burger photography top image

Everyone loves to eat burgers, but how about burger photography. Burgers have many layers, it can be challenging to get the perfect shot, make your burger photos stand-out with our tutorial.


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1. Get close to the burger

Use a macro lens or extension tube with your existing lenses to focus closer. Most lenses only enable you to focus on something when you are at least 1 foot away.

If you get close and use a 35mm lens, it’ll be quite wide and you’ll have to crop a lot. A close-up is a really nice photo that shows very detailed the burger and reveals its greasy texture.

Close-up photo burger with details
Close-up photo burger with details, ©Shutterbug75

2. Take advantage of window light

I believe that using natural light as your light source is best for someone who is new to food photography. The North light is fairly consistent throughout the day, giving you plenty of time to make adjustments, whilst the South light changes more quickly but offers more variation.

You don’t want direct sunlight, but rather soft and intimate light. The window light looks nice and eliminates the need to transport a large amount of lighting equipment that is difficult to set up in a restaurant. Consider some open shade if you’re outside.

3. Make use of a light meter

  • Even when you take photos with a digital camera and can inspect the preview image on the screen, you may not always get an accurate depiction of the exposure.
  • Pictures that are severely underexposed will not look good. On the other hand, overexposed photos may be difficult to rescue. Anyhow, it is always recommended to shoot in RAW mode.

4. Locate the “sweet spot” for focusing

Try and find the right spot to focus on, then let the remaining area fade away. This look can be achieved by using a fast lens wide open.

Simply ensure that your burger is in focus. If you’re using a macro lens and getting in close, shoot at f/4 to get an improved depth of field.

clearly visible Focus area sweets spot
Focus area sweets spot at 50mm, f/1.8, @RitaE

5. Hold the camera steady

If you don’t feel confident holding the camera and shooting at relatively slow shutter speeds, invest in a tiny tabletop tripod. Nothing is worse than a blurry, out-of-focus burger photo.

6. Make use of manual focus

When photographing burgers, professional photographers prefer to focus manually. That way, you have more control over what remains in focus and what fades away.

Nothing is worse than using the camera autofocus on a burger when you’re shooting that close only to discover later that the focus ended up on the wrong side of the burger.

Then you may have to redo all and spend additional time on a new burger in order to reshoot it.

Example off camera flash
Example off camera flash

7. Use an off-camera flash

If you really must use flashes, such as in a low light situation or a burger restaurant, utilize an off-camera flash with some form of the diffuser. Use your imagination.

If you don’t have an off-camera flash, bounce the light. If the room has dark walls or a ceiling, try bouncing off a piece of white paper/napkin.

If you’re bouncing and shooting pretty close to the burger, I recommend putting the flash on manual exposure rather than TTL, which gives you a bit more control.

Burger buns
Burger buns in the making

8. Use best buns for yummy burger photography

Finding an excellent hamburger bun might be difficult. But the search is worthwhile because the bun can seriously influence your burger photography.

Professional stylists prepping scenes for fast-food burger shoots often check out 100 plus buns to find the right one. Then they’ll use tweezers to individually place sesame seeds on them.

Make sure the buns haven’t been sliced already, then you can cut them to your own desired size. Make sure you have the same buns for try and error available.

Slice the buns according to your needs. For example, one bun may have a thick top while another may have a thick bottom.

In case the sauce or other toppings begin to soak through the bun, have backup buns available.

Juicy burger photo
Juicy burger, @Eiliv-Sonas Aceron

9. Fattier meat makes it juicier

  • Ask the butcher for a piece of meat that is not too lean, as some fat is needed to make the burger look more juicy.
  • In the process, the meat will shrink and thicken. The burger patties should be broader than the bread and thinner than desired in the end result.
  • Prepare the meat in a nonstick pan with oil until the color is a touch lighter than the color you want for your photos. As it cools, the meat will brown.
  • You can always use a pastry torch to brown specific portions, like the edges.
  • Professional food stylists arrange the beef patties on a baking dish and coat them with cooking oil to keep them ready for their close-up.
  • Alternatively, the patties are individually wrapped in plastic wrap. In this manner, any additional exposure to air will neither discolor nor dry them out.
  • When you’re ready to photograph your burger, rub it with some extra oil to keep it looking juicy. When viewing the images, your goal is to make the audience really like to eat your burgers.
BBQ burger with grill marks
Burger with grill marks, iPhone 6, @Pexels

10. For a authentic look, add grill marks

Grill markings are an excellent way to personalize your burger patties. The marks will give your burgers a more genuine appearance.

  • By showing the grill marks slightly beyond the patty’s edge, by taking the photo at eye level, they will not be visible otherwise.
  • Professional food stylists skillfully put grill marks on the patty with an electric charcoal starter.
  • Another method is to heat a steel kebab skewer with a pastry torch before inserting it into the burger. The skewers must be really hot.
  • You can also, alternatively, heat your skewer over a gas burner. A gas flame gets really. When creating grill marks on the burger patty, make sure they’re all the same distance apart. Aim to make the marks as even as possible.
image shows a burger with melting cheese
Melting cheese, 53mm · ƒ/4.0, @Engin_Akyurt

11. The cheese melt

When serving hungry customers, the melted cheese is frequently placed on top of the patty to allow the cheese to melt, which gives the burger that ultimate tasty look we all love.

So, if you quickly photograph your burger before serving it to your guests, it will have the optimal melting factor.

However, if the photo is staged, you have to act swiftly because all of the toppings on the burger are frequently cold. A pastry torch, which really is a must-have gear for food photography, can be used to melt the cheese.

12. Use a contrast layer

  • Layer your burger with vibrantly colored vegetables. For a European twist on a burger, consider adding some vibrant pickles or topping the burger with fresh green lettuce.
  • A standard burger typically has just various shades of brownish tones and doesn’t look appealing. Add colorful vegetables, salad, or other toppings to make it more colorful.
Burger with vegetables
Burger with vegetables, @phototastyfood.ru

13. For a bit of contrast, add some vegetables

The most enjoyable aspect of a burger shoot is picking what to place on your burger. Burger photos are more appealing when they include a variety of components. Based on what you like to achieve, you could top the burger with pickles, tomatoes, or lettuce.

You might also experiment with different ingredients. These can be everything from sliced onion rings to chopped French or Italian cheese. Food photography gives you absolute freedom in any way. You can style and manipulate your burger as you like.

Arrange or cut the objects you want to add. Place the patty on a baking tray and set it aside until you’re ready to place it on your burger.

Burgers are typically photographed at eye level. There should be no empty gaps seen between the layers of toppings.

Then add the sauces to the edge of the bun right before you shoot. Otherwise, the sauces would wet your burgers. Use a squeeze bottle with a small opening to carefully put any sauce on the burger.

Burger with rustic props
Burger with rustic props, @John Fornander

14. Pick the right props for a good balance

When taking pictures of food, you should always choose the best background and props to tell the story of the food. Your props and backgrounds should look good together and make sense in the photo.

If you want to give your burger photo a more rustic look. Use a darker background and surface to take pictures. Wooden cutting boards, old tools with a patina, dark-colored napkins, and natural linens all help to tell this kind of story.

For an even more rustic feel and a one-color look, you can use a wooden background and surface. 

Keep in mind, that the way you position your props also makes a big difference in how they look.

15. Look at it from a different angle

  • When taking a picture of a burger, it’s important to never shoot from above. There are many tasty layers in a burger that can’t be seen from this angle.
  • When you take a picture of a food item, you need to find the best angle to help sell the item and show off its best features.
  • Instead of pointing the camera straight at the burger, it makes more sense to tilt it up a little so it looks bigger and stronger.
  • Find out more about the different camera angles to photograph food.
Burger photos gets edited in Photoshop
Image editing with Photoshop

16. Edit your photos after for the best results

Most of the editing that food photographers do is done in Lightroom, and then they use Photoshop to make their photos look even better.

Other types of food photography don’t need as much editing as a picture of the perfect burger does. Some of Photoshop’s tools are needed to do this.

Lightroom is a great editor for the whole world. But it can’t do some kinds of editing, such as compositing and working in layers.

It’s also fine if you don’t know a lot about Photoshop. The spot removal tool and the clone stamp are both very useful. Use them to get rid of any flaws in your picture.

If you know what you’re doing, you can zoom in on different areas of your photo. Work on the coloring and use the dodge and burn tools to get the shadows and highlights to look right.

Since a burger is made up of layers, the different toppings can cast shadows on each other. You need to fix these when you are editing.

More food photography:


Burger photo ideas

No Idea how to prepare a burger? Check out this recipes:

What is your take on burger photography, let us know in the comments!

By Furoore team member Silvain

Silvain is a French/German national and has been with the Furoore Team since the beginning. He likes to write about various photography themes, especially food photography. If you leave a comment, he will come back to you to answer any questions you may have.

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