Easy Tips for Improving Food Photography for Beginners

Baker Bettie Uncategorized 54 Comments

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

I often get asked photography questions.  About what camera I use and how to improve food pictures.

To be honest, I do not feel qualified to answer these questions.  Until about 4 months ago, I really only knew how to use a point and shoot camera on an auto setting.  That’s it.

It seems silly, really.  I grew up around photography.  My family has owned a studio photography business my whole life.  Its not that they weren’t willing to teach me, I just never showed an interest in it and they weren’t the kind to force their own passion on me.

Now in my adult years I have found my interest in photography through my passion for food.  I love to share what I create in the kitchen with the world and I knew I needed better pictures to do that.

So I turned to my best resource, my amazing mother.  She has taught me a few really easy and simple tips to greatly improve my photography.  I’m sure I will work with her more to learn more advanced techniques in the future but until then here are a few basic tips for those of you who are beginners like me and are wanting to improve your pictures.

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

#1: Use Natural Light

One thing I do know from growing up in a photography studio is that photography is all about lighting.  I remember watching my mom and dad pull huge lights around the studio, adjusting them up and down, and adding reflectors to bounce the light around.  It all seemed very complicated, but they seemed to know exactly what to do.  So for those of us that do not own fancy lighting, the easiest way to get nice lighting for food pictures is to use the sun light.  I know this can get tricky, especially for those of us that work a full time job. But in my personal opinion, if I can’t take pictures with natural light it isn’t worth doing at this point.  I also feel like sunlight breaths life into my pictures.  It just makes the food look more real and delicious.

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

#2: Turn Off Your Flash and Utilize Your ISO Settings 

This goes along with the same thinking as using only natural light.  A camera flash is difficult to control, especially if it is built in.  If you find that your pictures are still looking underexposed when using natural light, you can adjust your ISO settings.

In film photography, ISO refers to how sensitive the film is to the light. In digital photography, ISO mimics its function in film photography.  Higher ISO numbers are meant for lower light situations.  Typically, I try to use the lowest ISO possible for the lighting situation because a higher ISO produces more noise, or graininess, in the picture.  But if you find yourself in a low light situation, bump up your ISO and it is essentially like the sun came out.

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

#3: White Balance Your Camera

One of the biggest things that can make a food picture look unappetizing is a picture that is not white balanced.  I still have difficulties with this at times.  Typically I leave my camera on “auto white balance.”  However, at times the color still looks too orange or too blue.  If this happens you can go through the various white balance settings (daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, florescent) until the color looks right.  DSLR camera’s also have manual white balance settings for you to set the balance yourself if the preset settings are not accurate for the lighting situation. 

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

Improve Food Photography -Easy Tips for Beginners

There you have it.  The few simple things I have learned to greatly improve my pictures.  My biggest advice is to turn off your auto setting and switch to manual.  Even on a point and shoot camera, there are settings you can manipulate that will help you improve your pictures.  Play around with it!

Edit: I recently purchased Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography E-book. It is incredibly easy to follow and filled with amazing tips for beginners and a few advanced tips too! I highly recommend it for improving food photos.

Click here to visit Pinch of Yum.

Tasty Food Photography eBook


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Baker BettieEasy Tips for Improving Food Photography for Beginners

Comments 54

  1. Becky

    Thank you so much for these tips. I’m going to change my ISO and white balance settings, I live in the woods with no direct sunlight coming in, so I struggle all of the time with the lighting.

  2. Lilly Sue

    What a sweet idea to make a post about photography tips. Right now I am barely getting by with my 4 year old crappy digital camera. It is definitely all about lighting! If I have the right lighting I can get some decent pictures (not excellent, but decent) but if I have to use the flash they are horrible…it picks up on the wrong things and never gives justice to bright colors.

    I am hoping to upgrade soon though :) Nice post!

  3. Kim

    Thanks for the tips……the photography of your food is great…….it really makes you want to eat what you see. Thanks for sharing these great tips!……..KIm

  4. shannon

    thank you so much for this post! It’s already helped me get more out of my photos. I struggle with lighting around here as well, and it’s great to have some tips on how to work around that. you have absolutely gorgeous photos, and the help is appreciated.

  5. andrew

    thanks for the tips. i been using a point and shoot camera until recently so this whole dslr stuff gets confusing, especially when taking pictures of food. i myself like to take pics of what i cook, im a cook. however, most my cooking, roughly 90%, happens at night, when there is no natural light. but even during the day, my house doesnt get any actual sun in…its positioned in such a way that light doesnt actually enter the room, its all very soft light. guess i need to up the iso and white balance then, in that case. little by little. photoshop helps in fine tuning the pics too :) but if you can get any tips from that mom of yours about night photography involving artificial light, that will be awesome!
    thanks again, Andrew

    1. Post
      Baker Bettie

      I feel your pain with the cooking at night it can be a challenge. There are a lot of tutorials online about building your own lightbox that can be fairly inexpensive. I think that would be the way to go. Basically anything you can do to avoid using your on camera flash is helpful.

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