Mastering Food Photography



Ahh, food. We love it all—the sweet, the tangy, the salty, the savory, and last but not least, the not-so-good-for-you-but-oh-so-good food. What do we do when we want to share our fabulous food finds? We snap a picture of course.

  • Constance Higley Photography
  • Constance Higley Photography
  • Constance Higley Photography
  • Constance Higley Photography

Don’t be fooled. Your food may be sitting in front of you with a Top Chef seal of approval, but take one bad picture, and that homemade ceviche can look like a tragic little pile of tomatoes. Avoid the mistakes and learn how to master the art of food pics.


We can’t always control the environment we’re in, but if you can, try to use natural lighting when it comes to food pictures. Harsh lighting can make your photos look flat and can blow out the subject. If you want to have a bit more control over your lighting, use a reflector to tinker with how the light complements the food. If you don’t have an actual reflector, buy a cheap foam board and reflect or deflect lighting to your advantage.

"Mother may have said not to play with your food, but when it comes to food pictures, play on, playette."

Choose Your Focus

Do you want a close-up of the syrup dripping off your pancakes? Or do you want a shot of the entire darling table setup? Try a photo where the main entrée is the center focus and then take a new photo with scattered ingredients in the background. Remember that your food doesn’t have to fill the entire frame. Align your food items to the left, crop only a portion of your plate, or create a design with those organic blueberries you picked up at the farmer’s market.


Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles. Stand on a chair, get low to the ground, do a close-up, or try a bird’s eye view. Food can look better from certain angles so be sure to move around. Still need new ideas? Rearrange your food to find a fresh perspective.


Because you want the food to be the focus of the photo, keep the background noise minimal. If the background is too busy, the food may disappear into the background. To add extra pizzazz to the photo, incorporate food-related items like ingredients, cups, and silverware along with non-food-related items like summery flowers and sunglasses. Don’t have any of those items on you? Use the two things you always have with you—your hands. Hands can act as powerful accessories in a food photo. If you do include your hands, change up the look with simple jewelry pieces and colorful nail polish.

The point of food pictures is to make onlookers say, “Mmm!” “Ooh!” and “Gimme a piece of that!” Take pictures that personally make you want to eat the food you photographed. Fiddle around with different angles and lighting. Mother may have said not to play with your food, but when it comes to food pictures, play on, playette.