food photography tips and tricks

Making food look appetizing is not quite as simple as photographing your plate. There are a number of tricks that one can use to really enhance the subject. By using your camera creatively, you can capture the scrumptious side of food. Whether it’s your favorite dessert or a Thanksgiving feast, these 9 quick tips will help take your food photography to the next level.

1) Use a Wide Aperture

When I’m about to take a photo, the first question I ask myself is, “what kind of background would be best?” With food photography, I often want the subject sharp, and the background to be a soft blur. As you’ll see in the example, the blurred background allows the viewer to focus on the tasty sprinkles. To do this, I chose a wide aperture by adjusting the f-stop to a smaller f-number. At f/2.8 the opening in your lens is physically wide open, creating what’s known as “shallow depth of field.”

wide aperture photography

2) Keep It Simple

While looking at the scene through your camera, ask yourself, “what’s really my subject here?” This simple question will help to shape your composition. While this may seem rudimentary at first, the impact is undeniable once applied. For a helpful reminder, consider taping a small note to the inside of your lens cap. Check all four corners of the frame carefully. Anything that does not work towards emphasizing the chosen subject should be eliminated. The goal is to create a clean frame as opposed to visual clutter. 

simple photography composition

3) Design Your Composition

Think beyond the obvious subject and consider shape and form when crafting your composition. Adding a fork, for instance, can balance a donut positioned in the rule of thirds. By shooting from directly overhead we create an elegant frame. Notice how the lines of the fork match direction of the frosting.

photo composition design

4) Make a Mess

To make your food photography look real and not just staged, try adding crumbs to the set. This imperfection may seem odd at first, but it adds visual appeal.

food photography composition

5) Use a High ISO

Simply put, the higher the ISO number is, the faster light can get into the camera. At ISO 800 you will get light into the camera faster than you would at ISO 100 or 200. When shooting food indoors, you will often need to be at 1600 or even 3200. I generally do not recommend using ISO 6400 or higher, as it will show an increased amount of digital noise, also known as grain. If noise is an issue for your camera, try using PicsArt’s Noise Reduction Effect.

High ISO photography

6) Natural Light Is Key

Rather than adding flash or working with harsh artificial light, take advantage of the beautiful natural light. This can give a food picture a feeling of bright airiness. Look for spaces where sunlight streams through a window to set up your shot.

natural light photography advantages

7) Add a Pop of Color

Using a shimmering white plate, you can take advantage of colorful reflections. This works especially well with those colorful desserts we’ve all come to love around the holidays.

colorful reflections photo composition

8) Show Detail

Use a zoom lens at its longest focal point, or get physically close to your subject. This gives you the ability to really fill the frame with just a portion your food. Instead of showing the whole thing, you are zeroing in on a smaller but appetizing section. Coupled with a wide aperture, this can be a very effective technique.

close up photography

9) Take a Bite

Great food photography doesn’t need to be staged. Once you are done with your shoot, go ahead and take a bite. This photo adds a sense of authenticity to your shoot. If you’ve made the viewer want to take their own bite, you’ve succeeded in your goal of creating scrumptious food photographs. 

food photo composition

Be sure to share your best food photos on PicsArt with the hashtag #Food!