17 Best Tips for Fruit and Vegetable Photography

Silvain • updated June 22, 2022 • 10 min read

Fruit and vegetable photography, tips

Fruits and vegetables are great “photo models”. They are colorful and come in a variety of shapes and textures, which makes them so attractive. 

Photography of fruits and vegetables reminds us of “still life photography” and also of paintings with dramatic directional light done by Dutch masters in the 16th century.


» Listen

 

Lets start with the 17 Best Tips for Fruit and Vegetable Photography


1. Use only the best products

Choose the best fruits and vegetables to use when it comes to this and spend more time picking your fruits and vegetables. Make sure everything is right. This could mean going to the farmer’s market rather than the grocery store. Or you could go to some of the more expensive organic shops.

Food stylists will even drive to different stores to find the best things they can.

this image shows, a woman buying fresh vegetables at the grocery store
Get fresh fruits and vegetables

Check your greens for cuts, bruises, or signs that they are getting old. Look at how fresh the items are in general. Even a little bit of weariness on fruits or vegetables will make them look terrible on camera.

If you have the choice, only take pictures of fruits and vegetables that are in season. They will naturally be at their best and at their peak.

Soaking the fruit or vegetable in a mixture of water and ascorbic acid is a way to make it look better. This is a vitamin C part that will help them stay fresh.
You can also put the fruit in a protective box to keep it from turning brown. Fruit Fresh is the most well-known brand.

If you want to take a picture of your raw fruits and vegetables, wash them with pretty cold water first. The colors will stand out more. Sharpen your knife before you cut the fruits and vegetables into pieces. This will make sure that the photo of the cut looks good.

this image shows how prepare a cucumber for photoshoot
First style and prepare all

2. Style before you take a photo

Food photography, including photography of vegetables, is a lot about styling. Even if you choose to focus on just one vegetable, that’s a styling choice, as is deciding where to put it and how it should look (whole, chopped, peeled, etc.).

If your vegetables aren’t alone and you want to add props, you will also need to think carefully about these. Do you want to put the food on a stylish designer plate or in a wicker basket? Do you want to add spoons and forks? Do you want to add something human?

Using different style elements, you can create the mood you want and send a certain message with your photos.

3. Pick shutter speed, aperture, ISO

The exposure and look of your photos will depend on how you set up your camera. So, getting the right exposure is important, but you also need to think about how each setting will affect the picture.

Think about your camera’s three primary settings: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO .

  • When there is something moving, you need a fast shutter speed. In the case of photographing vegetables, this may be a drizzle of water or a hand cutting the food.
  • When shooting with your hands, shutter speed is also helpful. The faster the shutter speed, the less likely it is that your camera will shake.
  • The depth of field is partly set by the aperture. Relatively small apertures give you a deeper depth of field, while larger apertures make the background blurry in a nice way. Keep in mind that focal length and how far away the camera is from the subject also affect depth of field.
  • The ISO is the last part. Beginner photographers often forget about this setting, but a low ISO will make sure the image is smooth, while a high ISO will add noise.

4. A tripod is a must-have

Most of the time, you need a tripod when shooting with constant light and no flash. It will let you take pictures when there isn’t much light, with a low ISO and a slow shutter speed. So, you will get shots of good quality.

Second, you’ll be able to set up the frame correctly so that there are no tilted horizontal lines. People don’t make these kinds of shots on their first try.

So, putting the camera on a tripod makes it easy to change the composition without having to run around with the camera in your hand.

example shooting fruits from above
Camera above subject shooting down

5. Switch your point of view

The placement of the camera in relation to the object you like to photograph is very important. It affects the composition, the depth of field, and what you actually want to say with your picture.

image show oranges photo taken at table level
Photo taken at table level, @charlottelmhr

There are three popular angles used in food photography:

  1. down from above
  2. table level
  3. 45-degree angle that simulates how you see food while you’re sitting down to eat.

Please note, that this is a recommendation only; you are free to move around as you like.

Simply start how you pictured it at first and then try different angles. You might find a great position you hadn’t thought of before.

Various fruits, photo taken at 45 degree angle
Various fruits, photo taken at 45 degree angle, @Evie Fjord

6. Light up your fruits and veggies

No matter if you use a natural light or artificial light source, the lighting will have an impact on how good your photos will look.

If you don’t feel comfortable using the flash, use a steady light. So, you’ll be able to see where the light is hitting your subject. Or you can just use sunlight. In their natural state, fresh fruits and vegetables look great.

Try and shoot during the daytime when there is a lot of light, and spread it out to make it look softer.

Use backlight to bring out the texture of your subject. Make sure that the light source is behind you. Use a reflector to send some of it back to your scene from the front.

Light from the rear can make the back of an image too bright without giving enough light to the front. Make sure the light is even by adjusting how far away it is from your set.

You could also use side lighting on the side. Fruits and vegetables look also good when they are lit from the side.

Don’t start by lighting the front. This can create shadows you don’t want and make the image look flat.

Use reflectors to block or bounce light to get the most out of your lighting. Use diffuser to make it less harsh.

image shows fresh look cucumber, sprayed with water
Fresh looking cucumber, @krzys16, 50.0mm, ƒ/8.0

7. Add freshness with a spray of water and glycerin

Food photography is meant to show off the best parts of the food. It needs to make people want to eat it. And how are you going to do that? With a few tricks for styling food, of course.

Putting some fruits or citrus in a bowl could be one way to do this. and spraying them with a little water to make it look like the person looking at them is seeing fresh fruit.

I suggest buying a spray bottle with a fine mist if you choose this method. Mix water and glycerin 50/50 and spray your fruits or vegetables before the shoot.

You can find glycerin in most beauty sections of drug stores for a low price. If you mix it with water, the water droplets won’t evaporate as soon as you spray them on the fruits and vegetables. It will stay there until you rinse it off.

  • Just note that Glycerin isn’t safe to eat!

Use your imagination when you take pictures of food. Try to think of new ways to present your food. Cut your fruits and vegetables open to reveal what’s inside. Add droplets of juice or water to give the impression that something is fresh and juicy.

this photos shows a colorfull collection of vegetables
Different vegetables go well together, @congerdesign 45.0mm, ƒ/4.8

8. Make your photos stand out by using color

Adding color to your photos of vegetables can be an effective way to enhance them. The good thing about vegetables is, that their colors already go well together, so take advantage of this. Pick orange carrots with green leaves or a bunch of different colored chili peppers, and then put them together in interesting ways.

But you don’t have to use contrasting colors to make the subject stand out. You can also go for a monochromatic picture style to set a mood or draw attention to shape and texture.

And the color wheel is always a good way to find new color palettes and ideas for color palettes. Adobe Color Wheel is a great tool that you can use even if you don’t have an Adobe membership. It can also show you color palettes and trends based on ideas and concepts.

9. Macro photos enhance textures

The best things to take close-up pictures of are fruits and vegetables.
Taking a close-up picture of an Irish stew isn’t always a good idea.

The person looking at it might not know what is going on. But if you treat a strawberry the same way, it’s easy to understand.

Macro photo of a pomegranate
Macro photo of a pomegranate, @Laura Beutner

When you’re doing macro food photography, the depth of field is very shallow. Most parts of the background might be blurry.

If this doesn’t work for your fruits and vegetables, you might want to take three pictures with different points of focus. In post, you can use focus stacking in Photoshop to combine them into one sharp image.

Choose fruits and vegetables with interesting textures when you take macro shots. The pictures of pomegranates, figs, and passion fruits are very nice to look at.

Use your skills in food styling as well. Cut the fruit or vegetable into small pieces for the photos and set them up in a pretty way. If you want to eat them, that means you did a good job.

image shows a strawberry with light source at the side
Strawberry with light source on the left side

10. The direction of light

If you pay attention to how you use light, you can make your photos look the way you want. Most of the time, you’ll use natural light for vegetable photography, but you can also use artificial light to create a certain mood or when natural light isn’t enough.

No matter what, there are two things to think about when it comes to light: where it comes from and how much it stands out. What I mean is, where is the light coming from and how bright does it look?

Make use of a hard light if you want shadows that are dark and clear. Soft light is what you need if you want even lighting with soft shadows.

Backlight gives you a lot of creative options for the direction of the light. Side lighting is a good way to bring out texture and add depth.

When the elements are lit from the front, they look flat, which is only recommended for flat-lay photos.

image shows oranges on wooden board with props
Oranges on a wooden board, @Nathalie Jolie

11. Use a few props to draw attention to the main subject

A simple food styling strategy is recommended for photographing fruits and vegetables as they are already stunning subjects.

To produce a decent composition, a simple dish like pasta normally requires a bowl of parmesan cheese, some silverware or linen, or other food decoration. Fruits and vegetables are excellent on their own and don’t require anything other than good lighting.

If you use props only one or two to give context without drawing attention away from your subject. Make sure you don’t overdo it on the props. Otherwise, you’ll divert the viewer’s attention away from the product.

12. Use repetition and pattern to add interest

Pattern and repetition can be used to add interest to your images. In fresh fruit and vegetable photography, this is a frequent food styling method.

If your scene is in a minimalist style, make sure you pay attention to composition, as the arrangement of your fruits and veggies within your frame will have a significant impact on the final result.

Make sure to provide some negative space when applying these ideas. Photos that are very cluttered with little space for the eye to rest can make viewers feel uneasy.

To avoid repeating patterns, breaks in color, shape, size, or texture can be used. Just take care of the actual breaking point as this is critical.

The best practice for a break is to place them at a focal point or along the crossing lines of the rule of thirds grid.

image shows an apple with blue backdrop
Apple with blue backdrop

13. Select the best backdrop colors

Food styling is more than just employing props. Food backdrops in photography are also very important. To improve the composition, select backdrops from the color wheel.

  • A color wheel will show you which colors go well together. It will assist you in making key decisions regarding props and backgrounds.
  • A too-bright background and surface colors can distract from your food photography topic. They should be picked with regard to the vibe you want to express, and they should also complement the fruits and vegetables.
  • Cool and dark colors like navy blue and black fall back. Warm colors, such as yellow, draw attention to objects in your photograph.
  • It’s advisable to keep your backdrops in neutral or cold tones. Black and white, blue, grey, brown, and beige are all possible colors. However, there are situations when colors can truly help to enhance a story.
  • Keep in mind that the camera will magnify everything with an orange tone. Remove orange/yellow wooden cutting boards and replace them with a more cold or darker tone.
  • When there are tone differences within a single hue, color pairings can be monochromatic.
  • This method has its uses. However, employing complementary colors in food photography is a fantastic strategy. Fresh fruits and vegetables seem even more appealing with their complementary colors.
  • These are colors that appear on the color wheel immediately opposite each other, such as red and green or blue and orange.
  • The color scheme you can use will be determined by the fruit or vegetable you are photographing.
this image shows a pumpkin with a knife only
Single prop – pumpkin with knife, @henryperks

14. Add context, use a single prop

We discussed employing a few props to draw attention to the fruit or vegetables in your shots. When overusing props in food photography, you draw attention away from the main subject. See also food photography props for beginners.

But what if I told you that a single prop could boost the quality of your photographs even more?

  • A single item can help to add context to your images. It has the potential to have a significant effect without overpowering the viewer.
  • This can be a knife, a bowl, or another instrument used to prepare fruits and vegetables for cooking.
  • Select a prop that matches your meal and backdrop and fits into the scene. It makes sense to place a spoon next to a cut-open grapefruit. It would not make sense to place a spoon next to a banana.
  • When searching for props, look for items that are one-of-a-kind, such as antique pieces. These can be found cheap at second-hand stores.
  • Vintage items typically have a patina. This is an added bonus. They will be easier to photograph because of the reduced glare.
  • When selecting knives, make sure they appear sharp enough to cut vegetables!
rhis image shows a red apple in a dark and moody scene
Red apple in a dark and moody scene,@Sponchia, 75.0mm, ƒ/11.0

15. Photograph dark and moody Scenes

Try something different if you normally shoot in a bright and airy style. Consider the dark and moody food photography style, to add a mystic touch to your photos.

  • These types of images make excellent kitchen pictures because they are fine art.

Use only one light source to get this eye-catching appearance. Block the light with a black foam core and add shadows where you want them. You don’t need much light hitting your set in this style of fruit and vegetable photography.

Remember that a dark style isn’t suitable for every subject. Consider the purpose of your photos and the message you want to communicate.

16. Tell a Story to Draw Attention

Shooting the opposite of macro or simple images is another alternative. Photos featuring a variety of products or props might have a storytelling element and spark the viewer’s interest.

A narrative quality in photographs provokes the emotions of the spectator and draws them into the picture.

The with ceramic plate with fresh strawberry on the cake, as well as the knife and some strawberry in the background, give the impression that someone is gone come and eat it.

this image shows a scene with strawberry cake and props
Scene with strawberry cake and props, @Alexandra Khudyntseva

If you use this method, try placing an item or two on the periphery of your scene. One of the bowls and the knife, for example.

Cropping them out slightly creates tension in the composition. It provides the impression that there is a greater scene taking place. However, the observer just sees a portion of it. People’s fantasies are triggered when they see photographs like this.

You can also try photographing an assortment of fruits and veggies at 90 degrees. Then you’ll get flat lay shots, which are really popular in food photography.

The more pieces there are, the more difficult it is to arrange the shot. Take the time to evaluate and change the positioning of each subject on set.

This may even necessitate the replacement of some wilting pieces by the time you are ready to shoot.

image shows screenshot photoshop
Editing in Photoshop

17. Editing and improving your vegetable photos

I strongly advise you to do some editing if you want to take your veggie photographs to the next level. (However, shoot in RAW to maximize the amount of data you have to deal with when processing.)

Begin by adjusting the composition with the Crop tool. Most systems, like Photoshop or Lightroom, even feature composition overlays to help you crop.
You can alter the white balance and exposure as needed, but I recommend doing your best in-camera to prevent having to correct errors in post-production.

When it comes to editing vegetable photos, I suggest staying realistic. Add your own aesthetic flair, such as giving the scene a vintage look or applying warm tones to mimic golden hour, but don’t go overboard.

If you have fruits or vegetables with a dent, use the clone stamp or healing tools in Photoshop to repair them.


More food photography:

 


Fruit and vegetable photo ideas

 

What is your opinion on fruit and vegetable 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.

.

Related Articles

Your thoughts and questions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.