Any tips for a rank amateur food photographer?

Many of the photos accompanying the recipes are AMAZING. I'm usually happy if my shots are in focus. I don't have high-tech equipment, but I'd like to learn more. Any suggestions?

  • Posted by: wssmom
  • March 3, 2011


Anitalectric March 4, 2011
whoops, that first link was the wrong one. Here's the right one:
Anitalectric March 4, 2011
Check out this:

And this:

Happy snapping!
monkeymom March 4, 2011
The Pioneer Woman has a section on photography that is so easy to understand and implement. For point and shoot cameras, natural daylight is the way to go. If you have a manual camera, then follow the tips on the blog below.
innoabrd March 4, 2011
In my younger days I did some TV commercial work and once did a shoot for Red Lobster. They flew in food stylists and a lot of the food was not fit for consumption by the time they were finished with it!

I had a column in a magazine in Egypt for a while and did my own food pics. The tips above are pretty solid. If you don't want to invest in a full-sized tripod, try one of the little 6 or 8 inch ones with bendy legs. They'll do the trick in a pinch and are pretty cheap.

The flashes on most point and shoot cameras are lousy for just about everything. Natural light is generally best, and many cameras have a setting especially for shooting in natural, indoor light with no flash. The shutter times can be long, which is why you need the tripod. If you have a bigger camera that can take an external flash, try pointing it up, away from the food and bounce it off the ceiling, or a piece of white foam core.

Also, experiment with the aperture settings. I don't remember enough about it to really go into detail, but you can get nice effects by pushing it one way or the other, for instance getting your foreground in sharp focus while the background fuzzes out a bit.
Couldn't B. March 4, 2011
A tripod is a must. It allows you to use natural light even if it isn't super bright. I also use large pieces of white poster board as light reflectors
Sodium G. March 3, 2011
Flash makes food like a bit wonky, so it is best to shoot with natural light in the morning. And if I've made something for dinner that I want to photograph, I put a small portion aside for the next day and then eat it for lunch! It really works wonders for your pictures.
wssmom March 3, 2011
All wonderful tips! Thanks so much for the direction!
AntoniaJames March 3, 2011
Here are some interesting tips, from three who are said to be pretty good at it:

jfinnert March 3, 2011
One highly rated book is "Food Styling for photographers", by Bellingham and Bybee. It was eye-opening to me, and a little disappointing, to learn that food styling is all about creating an artificially appealing image. For example, a high quality photograph of ice cream may be created by first creating a flour substance that looks like ice cream, but is not, and then coloring it and spraying it with a mister and putting it in the freezer, etc. A photograph of a roll may require buying several bags of rolls and selecting the 'hero' roll to photograph, handling it carefully, etc. Evidently, doing it at a professional level requires enormous patience. Food photography also requires mastery of lighting techniques, and there are many excellent books on that subject.
Sagegreen March 3, 2011
When I asked the same question about 8 months ago, theoutcrop was kind enough to offer this advice, "try a tripod,and turn off the flash - and set up a cheap reflector (using just a garage light aimed on a piece of white poster board to reflect light back down to your food - or, setting it up near a window so that it gets some natural light - or, actually moving your food outside into the shade!) when you do the tripod, you can have it aimed directly down over your food, you'll have to have it tall enough and so that you can focus on your subject." My best luck is when I shoot my food outdoors, as a rank amateur. If Sarah Shatz, or someone as wonderful, ever wants to offer lessons, I bet we would all want to flock to workshop!
TiggyBee March 3, 2011
thirschfeld = master of photography in all things food!
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