On food photography

I had a busy Sunday morning yesterday, I attended a one hour talk on food photography. It was a fascinating talk presented by a stylist and two photographers and I thought I would share with you some of the tips they passed on as they styled, presented and photographed a plate of smoked salmon with various accoutrements on the side .
  • Always use good quality ingredients.
  • Everything has to shine, onions need to be golden, tomatoes need to be bright, you can add oil to the ingredients to make them shine. 
  • Get as many backdrops as you can from various sources - council clean ups, charity shops, wallpaper makes a great backdrop on a table.
  • Contrast - use warm and cold colours together.
  • If you light from behind it will bring out the textures of the food.
  • If you are making salads use a shallow bowl and pile up the ingredients to create height.
  • Undercook your vegetables to bring out the colour.
  • Use a mandolin to cut and slice stuff as food looks much better cut this way.
  • If your lettuce or rocket looks tired place it in a bowl with a stainless steel knife and it will spring back to life. 
  • Do portrait shots, not landscape shots.
  • You want the viewer to feel like they are there sharing the food so use a crushed napkin, not a folded one.
  • Think of where you are sitting at the table, you want to put the camera at that angle.
  • Decide if you want shallow depth of field (I did) or all in focus and adjust your aperture or lens according. I shot the above using my 50mm F1.4 lens with an ISO of 125 at F1.8 and 1/100 sec using natural light.
I thought I would practise over the next few weeks with the build up to Christmas, who wants to join me?


  1. Oh this is fab! I am a commercial food photographer here in Chicago and agree with everything here! I have been known to use mashed potatoes in a bowl to add volume to pastas and salads (shhhhh…it's our secret!). Beautiful shot too!

  2. Excellent, Justine! Your December adventure sounds like fun ... can't wait to see the results! {I'd join you but that would require actually cooking 'real' food.}

  3. Justine,
    Thanks for sharing those photography food tips. Can't wait to try them out. I would love to join your challenge. Don't know that I'll cook every day but couple times between now and Christmas...so we'll see what happens.

  4. fun stuff, some I didn't know so really good. Guess you are going to get that practice in Portrait shooting. :) I will join in as much as I can, love food shots not that good but the fun part is in eating afterward. So good Justine.

  5. I couldn't wait to read this post, since I had my little Baker home this past week. I love to photograph her stuff. Great tips and thank you so much for sharing.

  6. I like the way the color of the tablecloth accents the food colors.

  7. Turned out beautifully! What a fun event, and very interesting tips - thanks for sharing:)

  8. Good tips. Thanks for sharing.
    I love shooting food . . . food is beautiful.
    My rule #1 . . . make it look yummy!

  9. Looks great justine, love the colour of the table too. Is the reason for shooting in portrait to get depth in the picture? Interesting. Looking forward to seei Ng some mor styled food here.

  10. Thank you for those tips! I like the one about the knife in salad! Looking forward to trying it myself and seeing more of yours!

  11. Hi Justine, great tips and truly beautiful photography. Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment - it really made my day to receive a compliment from such a talented photographer :)

  12. Great tips and your photo is a nice example. I usually don't think of photographing my food until it's already half eaten!

  13. Lots of great tips. What a wonderful photo. Looks so yummy..



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