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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

easy-tips-for-food-photography

7 Things to Make on a Long Weekend

Comments 54

  1. Carol H. Rives

    Thanks so much for sharing your tips; you’re photos always look so nice. Besides the recipes, the photos are a big draw to your site… it’s lovely!

    The Soft and Fluffy Blueberry & Lemon cookies were a hit in my home…. thanks for sharing such great recipes!

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  2. Cara

    This is my post! I use a point and shoot and know there is SO much to understand and learn about photography! I am going to look into the white balance on my camera… I love your pictures, by the way–big fan! xo Bigger fan of YOU :)

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      Baker Bettie

      Oh you. And the blushing. Just stop!

      Another tip with a point and shoot (that you may already know about) is to change the setting to a “macro” setting. It is usually a picture of a flower. This will change your aperture and give you that focused in the foreground and unfocused in the background affect that all of us food bloggers are always after.

      Love,
      BB

  3. Danny

    One thing you fail to mention is that you also have a great eye and talent of staging a beautiful shot. Every image is like a wonderful vignette with the textures, accessories, colors, etc…. you have the touch! :)

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      Baker Bettie

      Thanks so much Danny! I don’t think my eye for that is very natural. I have had to practice a lot! Look back at some of my first posts and you will see how little I knew about anything. It is fun to see the progress!

  4. The Modern Home Economist

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. Your blog has inspired me to take better and more artistic photos for my own blog, but I am really no good with a camera – just borrow The Hubby’s. I have tried improving the styling and setting for my photos but not the picture quality itself. I will try using your tips – hopefully I will get some nicer shots. PS I love your little stage shoot for your cookies. It is so sweet that you have a photo shoot area. I have been using my dark kitchen, perhaps that is the problem! Thanks for teaching…

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      Baker Bettie

      So glad this is helpful to you. It took me some time to get my pictures improved and I still have so much to learn. Each shoot, I feel like I figure something out a little better. Just keep trying and changing and guessing and you will be surprised what comes out of it!

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  5. No Telly, No Trouble

    Wow, I really needed this post! I figured that with my crummy point-and-shoot camera I couldn’t get better pictures, but I guess I’ve just been lazy! Thank you for the tips – we’ll see if my food comes out looking better. You forgot one tip: stop eating your food before taking a photograph ;)

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      Baker Bettie

      Ha! That is a good tip. I have had this problem several times. Especially when the post is about a meal! My husband gets a bit frustrated when I make him wait to eat until I have taken my shots.

  6. Heike Herrling

    Thanks SO much for this post. And for breaking it down into language that even nuffties like me can understand!

    I recently did a food photography course, which was great. But I’m struggling to put it into practice. This post made for great and digestible revision. I’m going to keep trying.

    I’m on a point and shoot and want to upgrade, but don’t know what DSLR to look at. In the meantime, I really need to get a better handle on my point and shoot manual features. These tips are really workable. Thanks!

    I fully sympathise with the comment regarding natural light and working full time. It’s impossible! And now that Canberra (where I live) is about to head into winter, I’m unlikely to see natural light at home at all in weekdays. I think I’ll have to plan my weekends a lot better. Or pack an elaborate lunch to take outside at work and shoot (do you think people would find that weird?)

    At the moment, I’m finding my android phone’s camera to be better at taking shots than my point and shoot – which seems crazy. My last post (Marinated Roasted Lamb) was done with my phone where as my others are with my point and shoot. Maybe the phone has better auto settings?

    Thanks again! Great post from a great blogger :)

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      Baker Bettie

      It amazes me too what great pictures some Andriod phones can take. And before I got my DSLR camera, I used my phone sometimes. If you do go DSLR I highly recommend Canon. I have a Canon Rebel t2i but there are several other models that are more affordable. I think Canon is really user friendly and such a good quality!

      I’m so glad this post was useful. It all can get very confusing and overwhelming.

  7. Bam's Kitchen

    Betty, thanks so much for the tips. I am still a point and shoot automatic camera at this point and am thinking about changing this to something different. There is just so much to learn about photography. Do you ever use a photography dome?

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  8. frugalfeeding

    Natural light is the most important for me. Great little post. I’m still using a point and shoot since I’m having to save, but I think I do an ok job. Still, I wish my photos were quite as cool as yours.

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    2. khalid

      I was looking for an impressive iPhone/iPad app for editing my photographs and one of my friend had recommended me very cool app named “Photo Splash Fx”. Although I have tried many others but this one is simply wonderful, as it enables me to

      · Make my shots awesome, no matter if they are old vintage, black and white or new high resolution colorful photos, by applying a plethora of special effects.

      · Use selective colors, variety of brush sizes (adjust manually or automatically), gestures like Pan/Zoom/Splash, unlimited Undos, Colorize, Tintalize, Recolor, blend brush to create custom effects and text blending on your photo.

      · It supports both landscape or portrait mode and options like loading/importing photo from Cloud, instead of just from the camera or photo library.

      · Choice of 135+ built-in effects on different parts of the same photo and still have the option of creating your own custom effects.

      · Option to make favorite list of built-in effects to choose them easily for future.

      · Sharing my edited photographs with friends through Email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picassa, Dropbox or post it in form of the post card, to anywhere in the world.

  9. kochfrau

    your tips are comming just on time, as I want to focus more on the quality of my food-photographs. For the understanding it helps a lot to see what can make what kind of a difference. cheers. verena

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      Baker Bettie

      Thanks Verena. I’m sure professional photographers look at my photos and see a million other things that need to be improved, but I wanted to show those who are beginners like me that it isn’t so complicated to start improving your shots!

  10. Kiri W.

    Thank you for sharing this! I really don’t have a fancy camera, but I also know little other than ideally, natural light is the thing to go for. Thanks! :)

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    2. khalid

      Being an experienced photographer are you looking for some impressive iPhone/iPad app to make your photographs masterpieces instantly with a few taps? Try Photo Splash FX, with following unique features that you can’t find in any other app altogether:

      · Make your shots awesome, no matter if they are old vintage, black and white or new high resolution colorful photos, by applying a plethora of special effects.
      · Use selective colors, variety of brush sizes (adjust manually or automatically), gestures like Pan/Zoom/Splash, unlimited Undos, Colorize, Tintalize, Recolor, blend brush to create custom effects and text blending on your photo.
      · It supports both landscape or portrait mode and options like loading/importing photo from Cloud, instead of just from the camera or photo library.
      · Choice of 135+ built-in effects on different parts of the same photo and still have the option of creating your own custom effects.
      · Option to make favorite list of built-in effects to choose them easily for future.
      · Share your masterpiece with your friends through Email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picassa, Dropbox or post it in form of the post card, to anywhere in the world.

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      Baker Bettie

      You are very welcome Emily. Camera’s can be very confusing, but I am finding the more you play around with it and read about it the more simple it becomes. Happy photographing!

  11. jillstobie

    Super tips – thank you! Will need to check out that white balance since my camera isn’t a posh one. Love your clear explanations and examples.

  12. The Soupstache

    I know exactly how it feels to have to take photos without natural light since I usually work during the day, but these tips on using camera settings seem so simple to do. Thanks!

  13. RavieNomNoms

    Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing them! I think it takes time to get used to your camera too. It is very unlikely that 2 people have the same camera. Thank you for your beginners tips! I will have to go start messing with my white balance and my ISO settings :-)

  14. milkayphoto

    Excellent tips. I also prefer to shoot in natural light. Flash is helpful but typically, must be dialed down as most built-in flash units are simply too harsh. I also use a flash diffuser which provides a nice fill.

    What makes your photos sing is your attention to styling. The shallow depth of field draws the viewer in. Also, little details such as cups of milk, or a fork piercing a piece of cake, or even cookie crumbs makes the image more engaging.

    Nice to see your setup! I thought you you just yesterday as I was about to toss out a VERY rusted cookie sheet. I took a second glance and realized it is NOT trash and will become a useful background for future photos!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

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      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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