A new trend in food photography: Mystic light – Un nouveau courant dans la photographie culinaire

(In English below)

Je suis récemment tombé amoureux d’un nouveau style en photographie culinaire appelé en Anglais “lumière mystique”. Il s’agit d’utiliser des matériaux chauds et une lumière indirecte douce pour créer des tableaux qui rappellent les huiles des grands peintres de nature morte.

J’essaye de maîtriser la technique et il me tarde de donner ce style chaleureux à toutes mes photos culinaires…

J’aime aussi beaucoup les mini textes et dessins ajoutés à certaines photos (comme sur celles de sardines à la fin du montage ci dessous). Si vous connaissez un programme pour Mac qui permette d’ajouter des textes et dessins aux photos, JE VOUS EN SUPPLIE donnez m’en le nom…

Voici en attendant une collection de mes photos culinaires préférées glanées ces dernières semaines sur Pinterest. Si l’une d’entre elles vous appartient, n’hésitez pas à me le dire et je la retirerai de l’article.

I recently fell in love with a new style in food photography called “Mystic Light.” It consists in using warm materials and a soft indirect light to create photos reminiscent of still life paintings from the old masters.

I am trying to master the technique and I look forward to use this style in my own creations in the future…

I also love how some artists are able to add short texts and drawings to their photos (like on the photos of sardines at the end of the montage). If you know an app for Mac that allows you to add elaborate text and graphics to photos, I BEG YOU to tell me what it is!!!

Here is a collection of some of my favorite food photos. I took them from Pinterest. If one of them belongs to you, please know that I love your work VERY much and this post is an homage to your creative genius. Do not hesitate to let me know if you want me to take them down.

80 Comments Add yours

  1. Ava Shein says:

    really beautiful hope that i can do the same wooow

  2. I love this look also – I’m attending a food and photography course next week so hopefully I’ll get some instruction on it!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      That is such an old post. I’m glad you found it! The “mystique” look is really easy to create. Just get some really good natural light, earth tones in your props and underexpose everything… Let us know how your class goes… I am creating one myself and I am always looking for best practices…

      1. Oooh I would love to attend one of yours. I was in St. Etienne last Sept…keep me posted if you’re doing classes towards Fall. Thanks Pip

        1. My French Heaven says:

          I sure will. I’m also thinking of offering private classed on the internet… I’ll announce everything soon 😉

          1. oh I would love that…I’ll keep a watch out. Thanks.

      2. Oops I mean St. Emilion

  3. piatopix says:

    Love this food photo style, in fact I am trying to know more about to get into it. If you can advice how to start, where to learn some techniques or read something about it, I will really appreciate. =)

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It’s all about trial and error my friend. The equipment you use isn’t the most important. The most important is your passion of food. There are many good videos on youtube that can help you. All the best!!

      1. piatopix says:

        Thank you for your words =)

  4. nos déliquescences says:

    Tellement beau que je n’oserai même pas manger ces plats (qui pourtant ont l’air délicieux… 🙂 )

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Merci!! 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on naomivaldivia.com and commented:
    Perfect inspiration for the still lifes I want to create. 🙂

  6. Quelles belles photos!

  7. eschect says:

    Your photos of food are incredible – I wish the photos on my food blog were half as good! Keep up the good work

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks! But I do like your pictures too. You have a very good sense of color! 🙂

  8. thefolia says:

    Amazing–it’s time for me to embrace technology! Happy Nesting!

  9. Beautiful collection of photos! I too like the use of mystic light and am beyond pleased if I am successful in achieving it! Good luck to your endeavors, beautiful blog!

  10. Mystic Light seems like a very pretty type of style! 🙂 I love these pictures!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Isabel! Means a lot coming from you!

  11. I love the green tomato photo. I’m going to have to look into this technique!

  12. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Bonjour Stephane! I just gave you a shout out on my blog as well as a bit of a play with picmonkey and mystic photography. I had to get up at 3:30 am to get the lighting I wanted.

    Thank you for inspiring. Hogs and Quiches! ~Janet


    1. My French Heaven says:

      Hogs and quiches! I LOVE THIS!!! It is so you! 😉

  13. Coco says:

    Il y a un logiciel pour Mac pouvant répondre à vos besoins : Pixelmator pour environ 14 €
    Sur l’Appstore : https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/pixelmator/id407963104?mt=12

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Merci! J’ai aussi découvert “picmonkey” sur le net et “over” pour l’Ipad…

      1. Coco says:

        Merci à mon tour ! 😉

  14. THE TREND FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY::) you make me smile with “f you know an app for Mac that allows you to add elaborate text and graphics to photos, I BEG YOU to tell me what it is!!!”…well…the answer is: Adobe Photoshop…Adobe Illustrator…a graphics editing programs..forget all the rest…if you want THAT result…

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I think your photos are some of the closest to the technique I like. Full of soul!!

      1. hey!! you make me feel SHY!::))) Shame on you…oh, no! THANK YOU!!!!!

  15. Steve says:

    Photoshop has text input. I’ve used it on the header to my blog. These are wonderful shots and a marvellous technique. I’ll have to look into it. Thanks.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I like Photoshop but I feel only PHDs like yourself are smart enough to use it 🙂 I like simpler programs. Go check out http://www.picmonkey.com. You will love it!!

      1. Steve says:

        Just had a look. It’s very simple and easy to use. And you’re right, I only use about 5% of the capabilities of PhotoShop; you need a PhD in PhotoShop to use it fully!

  16. Sofia says:

    So interesting, they really do resemble old paintings of the masters.
    PS I read the previous comment and I just recently discovered picmonkey too, I’m using it quite a bit!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Picmonkey is the best! Huge time waster for me though. I’m having WAY too much fun with it 😉

      1. Sofia says:

        Oui, I know what you mean, hehehe

  17. Spoon Feast says:

    I LOVE picmonkey already! Thanks for sharing that gem of a tool.
    Couldn’t you also write on your photos using the watermark procedure? I’ll have to try that next time I’m watermarking a batch of photos.
    I do like the look of the old masters in these photos too. Using angles and this playing with light make things so much more interesting.
    Nice post!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks! I cannot stop toying around with picmonkey since I was introduced to it. The problem is that it has become a huge time waster 🙂 The watermak procedure is great, but no app or program had enough fonts for me. The iphone/Ipad app called “over” is really really cool too…

  18. gotasté says:

    Beautiful photos and great lighting! most artiste may have used photoshop for elaborate text but you’ll have to purchase it.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks! Photoshop is great but it gets on my nerves as I feel you need a PHD of some sort to be able to really master it 🙂 I now use picmonkey on the net as well as “over” on my iphone…

      1. gotasté says:

        Haha..a designer will say the same to you about your wonderful cooking skills. I’ll certainly let you know again if I found something. 🙂

        1. My French Heaven says:

          Thanks my friend! 😉

  19. Salut Stephane, thanks for telling me about picmonkey. I have never heard about it until I read your post, incroyable I know. I’m actually toying with it as I type this and like you, I’m thinking of upgrading as well. Unbelievable how good your photos already are and I can’t wait till you develop your own lumiere mystique style. Thanks again & bonne journee.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Yes, I cannot believe I haden’t heard of picmonkey before. The problem is that I am having so much fun with it, I end up wasting a lot of time… 🙂

  20. ciao! just the best. it’s all about light and shadows. this style is formidable for food photos. thanks for the update.

  21. Treedson says:

    Lovely pictures, it looks alike Vermeer’s painting

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It really does. Doesn’t it?

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear!!

  22. ampc says:

    Yes! I’m actually about to get a print of nashi pears from At Down Under (http://atdownunder.com/2013/05/27/baked-nashi-pear/) to hang in my kitchen. LOVE LOVE LOVE this style.

    Once you figure out how to do it, I’d love advice on a good camera to get (saving up for one since I use my iPhone) and a lesson. 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It’s all about soft natural lighting and earthy darker tones and materials. Composition is key too! As for a DSLR, I really like the Canon T5i with a 1.4 50mm lens… I will get the Canon 5D mark III when I have saved my pennies 😉

      1. ampc says:

        Thanks!! I will keep your camera recommendations in mind 🙂

  23. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Inspired. Time to revisit Chardin. Thank you Stephane!

    1. My French Heaven says:


  24. sph3re says:

    Merci pour le tuyau. Les résultats sont tout simplement fantastiques!

  25. At last you’ve appeared! I don’t know what you (or more probably wordpress) did, but don’t change it. As this is about photography I’ll ‘like’ it from my photo blog, but grumpytyke will be waiting for the next cooking lesson.

  26. J’aime beaucoup ce style de photographie aussi, même si mon style de photo sur mon blog est complètement différent. hihi
    If you have an iPhone, you can use several free apps in order to write on the pictures, like InstaCollage and Pic Stitch. I’m not sure of any to use on Mac itself (I’d like to know too! lol)

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Aboutgarden just introduced me to picmonkey. It’s a photo editor on the web. Truly incredible!! http://www.picmonkey.com/

      1. Ooohh! I’ll check this out, merci!

  27. aboutgarden says:

    j’adore ton blog et jaime aussi ces photos… j’ utilise simplement Anteprima o Pic Monkey http://www.picmonkey.com/

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Je n’arrive pas à y croire! Tu me rend tellement heureux!! Je viens de suivre tes conseils et suis allé sur Pic Monkey. J’ai tout de suite payé la souscription complète pour l’année!! Je n’arrive pas à croire que personne ne m’en avait parlé. Quel site incroyable. Simple, ludique, complet… Je vais y passer des heures. MERCI! MERCI! MERCI!!!

      1. aboutgarden says:

        pas de quoi…
        et bon travail

  28. Leilani says:


  29. Rosa de los Vientos says:

    Bonsoir Stéphane! 🙂 Bon…enfin…bref, je ne suis pas une foodblogger, mais ces photos, ils sont absolument formidables!; je suis sur le point de ne dessiner plus…

    1. My French Heaven says:

      J’espère que tu vas continuer à dessiner!!!! Tu as beaucoup de talent!!

  30. Such beautiful photography. A wonderful feast for the eyes. I’m sure we will soon be in for a very special treat with future posts featuring your very own mystic creations.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It certainly is a learning curve. I am close to finding the right settings… 😉

  31. I also use a Mac. Love it but I too want a simple app or free, reliable download to add text occasionally. But some people overdo it!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I agree! It’s only a plus if you don’t overdo it. I found a good app for the Ipad/iphone. It’s called “over” and is really fun to use… 😉

  32. A lot of the photos you’ve selected have been shot using, presumably, south-facing light to the right or left of subject, rather than behind. That’s what I’ve been doing with soups and sauces as there’s less sheen. Funny, I’m going lighter already with my tones. Had enough of winter, I guess.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Tell me about it! We’ve had the worst weather in France. The sun is slowly coming back and it’s about time. I was about to go nuts… I need to play more with light and exposure…

    1. My French Heaven says:


  33. What a beautiful style. Thank you for sharing this concept.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Yes, I am in love with this new style… 🙂

  34. It’s odd, but the soft lighting makes the photos look as if there is a story behind them – as if they’re part of a set from some atmospheric film (or even a romantic dinner for two). It adds a new dimension to them. Looking at the food is making me drool over my keyboard! Re adding text etc, this can be done in either Photoshop or InDesign. Without these – haven’t a clue how you would do it.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I found the ideal solution with “over” for Ipad. Fast and fun…

  35. ary says:

    de tres belles photo, tu as raison ce style est superbe pour mettre en valeur les aliments !

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Tout est question de lumière (comme d’habitude en photographie). J’ai du mal à trouver les bons réglages… Comme pour tout, il faut du temps pour apprendre. Mais quand on aime quelque chose, c’est un plaisir de retourner “à l’école” 🙂

    2. ladyredspecs says:

      Wow you’ve really upped the ante! Your photos are beautiful. I use “photon” on the IPad to add text to photos, adobe photoshop on the PC

      1. My French Heaven says:

        One of my readers introduced me to picmonkey. It is truly incredible. I even purchased the upgrade and feel it’s the best investment I’ve made this year!! http://www.picmonkey.com/

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