Food Photography for Beginners

Michael • updated November 10, 2022 • 8 min read

Food photography for beginners


Food Photography, a quick explanation

Well, in a nutshell, it’s just pictures of food. Is that all? Well, no. Food photography is an art just like any other kind of photography, and it can be used to give food a whole new look or feel.

It can also be used in business to advertise, market, and do other things. Professional food photography isn’t just for Instagram; it’s also a serious business. Photographs of food are used on menus and in ads for restaurants.

Food photography is also used on food packaging and other places. In fact, it can be a very good way to make money.

What makes a good food photo?

A successful food image must show off the best parts of the dish. Its colors and textures are what make you want to eat it, so you want to make sure they are all clear.

Taking pictures of food isn’t always easy. ‘ Aside from the obvious difficulties of taking pictures of hot food and making sure it always looks fresh, the biggest challenge is probably something most people wouldn’t think of styling.

Create a good mix of setting, styling, and props, but most importantly, the food has to make you want to eat it right away. It’s essential to take the time to prepare well.

You eat with your eyes. If someone puts up a food image and it doesn’t look good, you will not go to try it.

How to find the best Camera for Food Photography

#1. Camera equipment for food photography

When you first start taking pictures of food, you will eventually ask yourself, “Which camera is the best one to use if I want to take pictures of my food that look good?”

Is a smartphone enough, or do you need an DSLR camera that can quickly cost several thousand euros? To say it right off the bat, there is no camera that is made just for taking pictures of food.

So, you can take great pictures with any camera, even smartphones. Even though phones have gotten better at taking pictures over the past few years and, in my opinion, have now surpassed compact cameras as hobby cameras, they have one problem: they reach their limits quickly.

When taking pictures of food, most photographers use DSLR cameras. If you want to take professional photos and work on projects, you will need an DSLR camera for food photography sooner or later.

Food photos with smartphone

It’s not new to use a phone to take pictures of food, and it makes a lot of sense. Smartphones are compact, making it possible to get close to the subject for the best creative angle.

There are still more justifications for using smartphones for food photography. The majority of smartphones now have ‘Portrait’ modes that enable shallow depth-of-field effects, and a variety of lenses can be used for different compositions.

Have a look at the Essential Tips for Smartphone Food Photography

What are the 3 Best Lenses for Food Photography?

#2. Lenses are more important than the camera

How do you take photos of food that look good, and what lenses should you use? What are the 3 best lenses for Food Photography? I’ve had my own experiences and tried out one lens or another over the years.

My eyes were opened when I switched from a kit lens to a fixed focal length. That’s when I realized that the lens is more important than the camera itself.


#3. Photography Basics


The opening of the camera lens, known as the aperture in photography, determines how much light is let into the picture sensor. Your camera sensor will capture more light when the blades are open, while as they gradually close, less light will reach the sensor.

It is typically represented by numbers like 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16, and is calibrated in f/stops. Lower number f/stops provide more exposure, whereas higher f/stop numbers provide less exposure because they represent smaller apertures.

Make sure you first read your camera’s manual to discover how to set Aperture Priority and start experimenting with aperture in the “Aperture Priority Mode” of your DSLR or mirrorless camera to see what works best for each individual shot.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed of your camera refers to how long it is left open when taking a picture. If your shutter speed is 1/100, that means that when you are taking a picture, the shutter is only open for 1/100th of a second.

Unless you utilize a tripod, which will be covered in Part III of this series, the lower your shutter speed, the more motion blur you will have.

However, never shoot handheld unless your shutter speed is at least 1/100  The general rule I’ve seen others use is to always use a tripod if your shutter speed is below 1/60 of a second (for most lenses).

If you use a tripod, you don’t typically need a fast shutter speed for food photography because the majority of the photographs are static.

However, you will require a faster shutter speed to freeze the motion for a shot like sprinkling powdered sugar on a cake or pouring beer into a glass.


The term “ISO” describes how light-sensitive the sensor in your camera is. This means that a low ISO level (like 100) is appropriate if you are shooting in an area with plenty of light because your camera does not need to be particularly sensitive to light.

Your camera is particularly sensitive to light if you’re shooting in low light, and you might need a high ISO setting (like 1600).

Your images will appear grainier and have more “noise” the higher your ISO setting is. While this may appear artistic and appealing, for most novices,

Make every effort to maintain a relatively low ISO. You can reduce the graininess with a modern DSLR or mirrorless system camera, but for this food photography beginner tutorial we keep it simple.c

How to set Exposure Time in Food Photography

Exposure – aperture, shutter speed, and ISO

Exposure, or how light or dark your image will be, is determined by the combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. To achieve the proper level of exposure, you must balance all three since they each allow you to add or subtract light.

If you choose the aperture/f-stop level you want to use when shooting in aperture priority mode, your camera will choose the proper shutter speed depending on the chosen ISO setting.

When shooting in Shutter Priority Mode, you can choose the shutter speed you want to use, and your camera will choose the right aperture based on the ISO setting you’ve chosen (Shutter Priority Mode isn’t really helpful for practically any food photography purposes).

The most control is available to you and you can independently set each of the three settings in Manual Mode.

White balance settings

Achieving sufficient white balance and exposure in their food photographs is one of the issues I’ve seen rookie food photographers struggle with the most.

Of course, we must appropriately study and set up white balance if we don’t want our food to have an unappealing color cast. Therefore, we need to tell our camera what color temperature “white” is.

All contemporary cameras have an automated setting (AWB, or Automatic White Balance), which functions admirably up until operating in low light.

How to make Creative Food Photos with Natural Light

#4. Use Natural light for your food photos

We tell all beginners interested in food photography to use natural light when taking photos. Although there are many professional photographers who use artificial light, if you are just starting out, natural light is the best option to create stunning photos straight away.

One benefit is that you won’t have to think at this stage about learning about all the difficult, technical lighting information, such as which lights to buy and how to use them. Beginners also get experience to handle various natural light situations.

When there isn’t a lot of light, it can be quite challenging to capture nice food shots, but it doesn’t have to be. As food photographers, we must adapt and learn how to continue shooting even when the weather is overcast and it is pouring rain nonstop.

How to use Food Photography Composition for Better Photos

#5. Food Composition and the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the best ways to put a photo together. It can be used in any kind of photography to make more interesting and well-balanced pictures.

Of course, rules should never be blindly followed, especially in photography, so you should think of it as a “rule of thumb” rather than a rule that is set in stone.

3 Camera Angles for Food Photography You must Know

#6. Which Camera Angles to shoot Food?

Using the right camera angle is a very important part of a composition. When planning a photoshoot, it should be the first thing you think about. Some dishes look great from some angles, but they look terrible when captured in the wrong angle.

When you think about angles, think about which part of the dish needs to stand out. For instance, if it’s a pizza, you might want the toppings to stand out. What about the toppings? Isn’t that right?

So there you go, you probably knew it all along. The best way to take a picture of a pizza would be from above, where the toppings would stand out the most.

  • 45° angle – The natural one
  • Tabletop shot at a 90° camera angle down
  • Straight-On Angle – the frontal shot

The 3 Camera angles for Food Photography You Must Know

Why is Color Important in Food Photography?

#7. Create Color Harmony in Food Photos

As you are aware, the human eye is capable of processing a wide range of colors. The human eye (and brain) can frequently “feel” if particular colors will go well together even without any professional training in the arts or design. Of course, some individuals succeed more than others.

We aim to arm you with the fundamental color theories so that you can attain “color harmony,” rather than relying just on your senses to judge whether colors will go well together or not.

A group of colors that blend well together to create an aesthetically pleasing image is what we mean when we talk about color harmony.

The color wheel can be used to assess if the colors in your food photo are harmonious.

Color Schemes, which each define a particular relationship between colors on the color wheel, are typically used to group Color Harmonies.

Food styling explained

#8. Food styling – make it look good

Food styling is the art of arranging food so it looks good on camera and looks fresh during the photoshoot. It involves making food look perfect so it can be photographed for things like social media, advertisement, etc.

One of the most essential skills is one that people don’t always think about: how to style food.

When you’re taking a picture of an antipasti dish or canapes with a lot of different parts, it’s a good idea to structure your dish by putting all the parts on a tray, big plate, serving board, or even a piece of baking paper or newspaper that has been cut in half.

important Food Photography Props for Beginners

#9. Food Photography Props for Beginners

You don’t need a whole shelf full of food photography props. A few props are enough for the beginning, and you probably already have a lot of them at home.

The look of your props depends on your style of photography. If you prefer to photograph dark settings, you’ll naturally need more dark tableware. Or do you prefer baking over cooking? Then baking dishes are more interesting.

How to use Food Backgrounds to your advantage

#11. Backgrounds for your food photos

The entire look and feel of your shot is greatly influenced by the background you choose. Your background helps tell your story and gives context and purpose to your photo, just like any other prop you may utilize.

5 Reasons to use a Tripod for Food Photography

#12. A Tripod is a must have

Every food photographer should have a tripod as a tool. It holds you steady and enables you to capture images from above. It’s crucial to choose the option that best suits your needs. With minimal effort on your side, your food shots seem professional.

People avoid using tripods when taking photos of food because they believe it restricts their flexibility and originality. It is quicker and easier to attempt many different perspectives when shooting with a hand-held camera.

You can connect the camera to your laptop once it is mounted on a tripod. From the laptop, you can see your set changing live.

How to Take Sharp Photos Explained for Beginners

#13. Take sharp food photos

The softness and blur in photos is one of the irritating aspects of food photography. Soft photographs are far less appealing than sharp photos. When you take a photo of a memorable occasion and the pictures come out soft, fuzzy, or out of focus, it is incredibly upsetting.

The key to taking photographs that are razor sharp is to keep camera shake to an absolute minimum. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.

Food Photography Blogger, 15 Creative Tips

#14. Are you a food blogger?

As a beginner food blogger, there are a few tricks and simple ideas and techniques you can use to advance your food photography. Photography is such a crucial aspect of the food blogging game.

#15. Social Media

Food Photography for Instagram

There is no disputing that Instagram has a huge appetite for food photos. Chefs, writers, producers, and home cooks all take pictures, share them, and give them likes on the image-based social media site.

Globally, 500 million people use Instagram, 300 million of them use it daily, including you and me.

Promote your Restaurant on Instagram

Whether they are used for the website, marketing, or social media, food images for restaurants are becoming more and more significant and well-liked.

Food influencer and bloggers on social media in recent years have significantly altered how food is marketed to customers and how it is photographed.

User-taken photos and images that reveal what happens behind the scenes are some of the most well-liked trends in food photography.

Here is How to Promote a Restaurant on Instagram


We love #Foodporn

If you search #foodporn on Instagram, you’ll find more than 286 million pictures of tasty foods. Can we only eat what we’ve photographed? On the causes and effects of a trend toward wealth.


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