20 tips to improve your food photography

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  1. Shoot hungry. I know it will sound strange, but food photography is like fashion photography. You have to like/want/DESIRE your subject in order to take great sensual shots! They talk about “food porn” don’t they?
  2. Shoot at an angle (about 45°). It’s nice to have at least a few tri-dimentional shots in a series
  3. Tilt your camera for a more interesting shots
  4. Colors: after composition and light, probably the most important aspect of food photographyIMG_9681 _Snapseed
  5. Don’t stage too much: props are here to make the food look more appetizing. I should care more about the chicken than the chair or the cat passing by. Focus on the food! It’s called “food photography” not napkin or furniture photography
  6. Don’t style the food too much. A good barber makes you look like you didn’t just have a haircutluygmygmigu
  7. Use people if you can. It helps your viewer relate to the shot. Children and older people are best. Few people can relate to a stunning looking man or woman (I’m in luck)
  8. Show hands holding stuff or pouring stuff on stuff :0)kkl
  9. Natural, soft light from North is best. Shoot inside by a window or outside in the shade.
  10. A 50mm lens gives you great flexibility and great depth of field if it allows for lower f stops (1.2 or 1.4). It is by far my favorite lens to use for food. I like the Canon L135 f2 for portraits but the 50 for almost everything else.
  11. Translate senses like smell, texture, taste… YES you can taste with your eyes! Your food should not look like it could be made out of plastic (butter melted, croissants with crumbs, steam, oil spray…). I put the raspberries below in the freezer for a few hours. This shot was taken about 5mn after I took them out…H92A1015
  12. Compose your picture well. Let people imagine/guess what’s outside of the shot…
  13. I rarely use a tripod. Use your breathing, your body, elbows on a chair or table… This way you’ll have more freedom and flexibility to play with the angles and the lightIMG_0949 _Snapseed
  14. Don’t shoot auto. Use AV or M and just pick the right aperture (the camera will choose the speed). You want to avoid using your flash! Choose your point of focus and exposure (lighting, composition and focus) remember it’s still photography: you can afford to take time to a certain extent
  15. Take lots of pictures. Then be ruthless in your selection process
  16. No shame in touching up your shots with a photo app. What counts is the end result. Just make sure it all looks very natural. It’s like makeup: apply lightly!! I use Lightroom.
  17. Find the face of your food by rotating the plate and moving around your subject. Shoot from above too:IMG_7281 _Snapseed
  18. Use backdrop and support materials like wood, natural slate, craft paper, newspaper or cloth. I like darker, earthier shades: grays, darker blue, silver, dark tin, natural deep red, brown and green like in old still paintings. Softer lights and earthy colors in the background help bring up the unprocessed, organic quality of a produce
  19. Use supports (table, plates, bowl…) that reflect the personality of your dish and yours. The wooden table I use can be seen in 80 year old family pictures. I think it’s a lucky table :0)IMG_9100 _Snapseed
  20. Use Pinterest for great inspiration

77 Comments Add yours

  1. Sho says:

    I enjoyed your tips about using people and the use of hands – haven’t tried that before!

    My last job required me to talk regularly to restaurant owners, and I often took food-shots for them. The 50mm is the best lens! Amazing for both food and people. 🙂 However, I’ve also used a telephoto lens at full zoom a couple of times.

    Please keep the photography tips coming, I learn something new every time I read them.

    PS: Thanks for following Sunshine In Seconds. I’ve just migrated to a self hosted site though: my blog can now be found at sunshineinseconds.com 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’ll check it out!

  2. Linnell says:

    I’m drooling over your gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing these tips – I need all the help I can get!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      The only thing to remember is to have fun and shoot as much and as often as you can 😉

  3. Adarsh says:

    I haven’t put in much effort into learning food photography these tips sure will help me work in that sector too. I have photography blog too. I just an amateur (http://throughthelen.blogspot.in/). Thanks for the tips 😀

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I will certainly check it out! 😉

  4. This is wonderful – so helpful, and the photos are stunning. Thanks for posting this!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My pleasure dear Iris. I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  5. Thanks for the tips! They will come in handy when I take more pictures for my blog. I currently use my iPhone5, have a Canon but I find that complicated and by the time I figure it out the food looks very tired already. Love your delicious pictures! simply gorgeous

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Celina! Yes, the Iphone can be quite fun. And it doesn’t get in the way fo one’s creative inspiration. In a sense, the shots end up being quite honest (don’t know if I’m making any sense…) Have a lovely day Celina!

      1. I reposted your photography article on my fb page and also my wordpress , friends love it. Have a great week ahead!

        1. My French Heaven says:

          Thanks for the promotion Celina! I should hire you as my media consultant 😊☺️ i hope you have a lovely week !

  6. alisonwroby says:

    If you have a course, film it for those who aren’t local! I’d love to see how to improve my photography. Thanks for the tips. I guess it’s time to graduate to my Canon rather than relying on the iPhone. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You know I use my Iphone quite a bit though. The new one next month should have a better camera. I’m going to be all over it! The best you can do for now Alison, if you want to make better use of your DSLR for your art is watch all the Youtube tutorials you can. I’m sure you already do. Check out SLR lounge here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTSgfO_OkfRX8dm4YhCg3fg as well as well as the B&H channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/BHPhotoVideoProAudio

  7. skd says:

    Useful tips. Just what I need to know.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Glad you liked the tips! Thanks for dropping by!

  8. Great post! I love the AV mode too (or rather the P mode in my Nikon) too to change the point of focus. Love your photography 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, I am a Canon man. Not necessarily better than Nikon. It’s just that after you’ve spent a small fortune on lenses you’ve pretty much got to stick with a brand. Don’t you 🙂

  9. Jessie says:

    Thank you very much for sharing the useful tips! I agree that 50mm is a perfect lens for food photography. Your tip, ‘don’t shoot Auto’ makes me feel guilty. ^^ Since I purchased Canon 100D, I have shot auto and rarely used AV. I’ll keep your tip in mind. Thanks!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Auto’s OK, but you can’t choose your point of focus. Aperture mode is as easy as Auto but let’s you focus where you want and include depth of field which creates lovely soft blurs… I think you should try it Jessie. You’ll feel so great when you realize how easy and useful it is 😉

      1. Jessie says:

        Thank you so much your tip. I’ll give it a try next time. Anyway I love the warm feelings coming from your photos. I guess your feelings and emotions when you take photos are mirrored in your pictures very well. That’s your technique, not the camera. ^^

        1. My French Heaven says:

          That is so nice of you to say Jessie! You make my day 😉

  10. J’ai failli manger mon écran 😉

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Ha ha! Passes déjeuner la prochaine fois que tu es à Bx!

  11. anjlm says:

    Thanks for the great tios’

  12. What useful tips, Stephane! I’m looking at macro lenses for my Nikon, which I’m starting to use more now, even though the iPhone is so easy to take and I can get good photos with it. But I need a macro lens now. I’m interested to see you recommend the 50mm, which is quite a bit cheaper than the 40mm I was reading about.

    janet

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I don’t know Nikon gear well enough (or at all) to give you advice. But look at the Sigma Art series. They used to make crap but these are quite good… I like the 50mm because it’s good for so many things from portraits to street photography. As for the Iphone, it is the one thing I couldn’t live without. They should be releasing the 6+ in september with a much improved camera…

  13. dmnicholson says:

    great tips! and a really fun read too! definitely bookmarking this post 🙂
    also, is that a squid carbonara? – it looks incredible!!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks and yes. If you type “calamari spaghetti” in the search box you’ll find the recipe. Quite easy to make and fast too…

  14. gorgeous and helpful! I wish you’d teach a short course. If I come to visit could we work on food photography?!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m actually planning to build a course. I just don’t know how I could market it properly… Maybe a group workshop next year… 😉

      1. Build it and they will come… sign me up!

        1. My French Heaven says:

          Oh I love that movie 😉 OK then. Now I have to find a corn field 🙂

  15. platedujour says:

    Thank you! I agree with most of those points- but my favorite lens is 100mm f/2.8. L by Canon 😉I love your pictures anyway!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I just sold mine, but I agree! Fabulous lens 😉

      1. platedujour says:

        I have the 50mm one f/1.8 and I agree it’s a great one too!

  16. Great post my friend! You are the best…

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are too kind my darling friend!

  17. Great tips. Thank you! 🙂

  18. solaner says:

    thanks for the tips, Stéphane!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      😉

  19. Great tips, thank you. I still can’t imagine ever taking photos anywhere as good as yours though!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are being too kind (and too modest) Rachel. Looking at your pictures, I feel you see and understand light very well and that is THE MOST important part of good photography. So well done and keep practicing. Mostly HAVE FUN!!

      1. Now you are being too kind! Thanks very much for your lovely comments. My new kitchen is not good when it comes to lighting so it is a bit of a struggle sometimes to get a decent photo!

  20. Paul Palop says:

    yeah! pretty much agree with all your bullet points! awesome post! 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Paul! You don’t need any lessons from me, that’s for sure!

      1. Paul Palop says:

        im not so sure but thank you! 🙂

  21. Fantastic tips and great photos. I just got my first DSLR and find that taking stills of things like food or nature is a great way to practice shooting manually because there’s less pressure. Shooting my 5.5 month old manually will take quite a bit more practice! Thanks for sharing!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I never shoot manual. My brain isn’t wired to understand all that stuff (I kind of do but…) I always shoot on aperture mode. It is simpler and makes me feel more creative. The tool should never stand in the way of our creative inspirations. Have fun with your DSLR!! Remember you’ll have to put together a slide show for your baby’s wedding one day. Might as well take a lot of embarrassing ones now that he/she is most vulnerable 🙂 Just kidding!

  22. These are all great tips, thank you!

  23. ladyredspecs says:

    Tips from a master, thank you. Some foods are especially tricky to photograph. I’m often torn between posting an especially delicious recipe with a mediocre pic and not posting at all. The flavour usually wins!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Whether it’s food or people, the flavor always wins in my book. Pretty dishes and pretty people are often quite dull 😜

      1. ladyredspecs says:

        I must be super interesting then!

  24. Francesca says:

    Very useful tips. A million thanks.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are most welcome dear Francesca! 🙂

  25. so these are your secrets- lol! thanks for sharing. your photos are always simply stunning.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh I have many more secrets to share 😉

  26. Angeline M says:

    Thank you for some wonderful tips!! Now all I need to do is cook 😉

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Good! You go Angeline 😉

  27. I love your simple, no nonsense tips. Alas I fear that I may be a little too challenged in the photography department. If I could borrow even a little of your flair by following your instructions I’ll be over the moon, Stephane.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I find your pictures quite good. You’re not giving yourself enough credit 😉

  28. Great post – thanks so much for the advice.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My pleasure Nancy:)

  29. Such luscious photos! I’m hungry now. 🙂

  30. Ashley says:

    As usual, simply amazing. I love this! 🙂

  31. Ashley says:

    Truly amazing…as usual. I simply LOVE this! 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m glad you like it Ashley! 😉

  32. Antonia says:

    Thank you for this post! Great tips 🙂

  33. Sadie's Nest says:

    Thank you! You now are not just inspiration, but my favorite mentor.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Ha ha! I’m honored 😉

  34. Great tips, Stephane. Thank you! 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Most welcome 😉

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