Drink Photography Myths

Drink photography is a captivating area of photography, but it is often surrounded by a variety of myths and misconceptions.

I can say from my personal experiences, that these myths were holding me back in my work as I was discovering photographing drinks. In this article, we’re going to unmask five common myths that might be holding you back as you start exploring beverage photography.

Drink photography is a captivating area of photography, but it is often surrounded by a variety of myths and misconceptions. I can say from my personal experiences, that these myths were holding me back in my work as I was discovering photographing drinks.

Myth 1: I can only get natural-looking photos with natural light

There is no denying the captivating beauty of natural light. However, it’s not always available or present long enough to take the photo. On the other hand, sometimes using natural artificial light instead of natural light makes it easier for a photographer to recreate certain light situations.

When you start pushing your creative boundaries and experimenting with different light sources and how to use them to your advantage, another world of options will open. By understanding how light works in nature, you’ll start understanding how you can shape artificial light to mimic it.

Looking at the examples below you can see a comparison between two photos – one done with natural light and one with artificial. Can you tell one was not taken with natural light?

Great news: In the next Mix, Snap, Sip Retreat this September, we’ll work with both natural and artificial light. You’re invited to join!

Myth 2: The more complex the setup, the better the results

It’s easy to think that using lots of props and complex backgrounds will improve your setups—and sometimes, they will.

But that’s not a must. Commercial drink photography is often very simple and focuses on tiny details instead of large, complex setups.

A clean, uncluttered backdrop can serve as the perfect stage to showcase the drink in the best light. It helps hold the viewer’s attention, drawing them in with the vibrant colors, delicious textures, and interesting details that would have otherwise been lost in a busy background.

Myth 3: You need a lot of props to create a variety in your drink portfolio

Continuing with the simplicity of drink photos, you don’t actually need a multitude of props or a huge array of backgrounds to create variety in your drink portfolio. The truth is that with just a few props and a bit of creativity, you can produce a very diverse and interesting portfolio.

One of the things I learned throughout the years I’ve been working as a photographer is that having less options opens another creative part of our brain.

Here are a few examples to show you that simple props and focusing on the drink itself does not mean a boring photo.

Myth 4: Ice in the drink should always be perfectly polished in drink photography

Storytime. I used to hate not having the chance to buy beautiful perfect ice in the store (and was too lazy to make my own).

Until I realized that a lot of drinks don’t require a perfectly shaped ice cube.

Sure, there are some drinks and occasions when you’ll need that, and pristine, crystal-clear ice cubes can add a certain touch of elegance to your beverage images. However, when the drink doesn’t require that specifically, you can use imperfect-looking ice, and it will still look amazing.

Myth 5: Editing Should Make Your Drink Look Perfect

The reality is that editing is dependent on what the requirements of the job are. In the commercial world, we often see highly retouched photos, and they have a place in photography, too. However, a lot of jobs you might get are a lot more loose.

That said, knowing what you need to edit and retouch is crucial. It is also helpful to know when overediting will make your drink look artificial, and your photo loses its droll-worthiness.

Editing is a huge part of the photography process and is the cherry on top of any photo. We’ll dive deep into editing and retouching in the Mix, Snap, Sip Retreat. We’re waiting for you to join 🙂


The world of drink photography is full of myths.

But, once you start questioning these myths, you’ll find that drink photography can be simpler and more fun than you first thought. Remember, great photos aren’t just about fancy equipment or complicated setups. They’re about mastering the basics like lighting, framing, thoughtful editing, and a creative approach.

How Is Drink Photography Different from Food Photography

Drink photography is growing in popularity on social media platforms, and many beverage brands require outstanding drink photos, which is where your beverage photography skills help immensely.

This post explores the nuances of beverage photography, including the unique challenges, creative techniques, and essential equipment required to master this craft and create stunning visual masterpieces.

Drink photography is growing in popularity on social media platforms, and many beverage brands require outstanding drink photos, which is where your beverage photography skills help immensely.

Drink photography is an area of photography that often goes hand in hand with food photography, but at the same time, these two types of photography have unique differences that set them apart.

One of the most significant differences between drink photography and food photography is the lighting. Drinks are typically transparent or translucent, so the lighting must be just right to capture the drink’s texture and color in the most flattering way. Food photography, on the other hand, mostly doesn’t have translucent or transparent texture, but will feature other textures that you may not find in drinks.

Another difference between drink photography and food photography is the styling. Drinks are often served in glasses or bottles, which means you must consider the glass’s shape, size, and color when setting up the shot. With food photography, styling can be done in many different ways. You generally have many more possibilities for presentations and props.

Essential Equipment for Drink Photography

As a professional photographer, I know that having the right equipment is key to creating outstanding photos. Here are some of the essential equipment you will need for drink photography.

Lighting Differences

Unlike food photography, drink photography requires a different approach to lighting. A good place to start is with a simple lighting setup that includes simply a window or a softbox or umbrella, a reflector, and a backdrop.

The key is to understand how to place the light (or multiple lights) and modifiers so they will work for the drink, specifically.

More advanced commercial drink photos often require more than just one light. This means that working with natural light is almost impossible and you need to understand how to work with multiple flash or light units together.

Lens Selection

The lens you use for drink photography is arguably even more important than the camera itself. A good lens will help you capture the details of your drinks, such as the bubbles, garnishes, and condensation. A macro lens is a great choice for capturing those intricate details. It allows you to get up close and personal with your subject, which is essential for capturing the details that make your drinks unique. And in comparison with a lot of food subjects, drinks are tall subjects. This means that using a lens like a 100mm lens would remove distortion significantly.

Props and Accessories

Props and accessories add a lot of visual interest to your drink photography. Some essential props for drink photography include cocktail glasses, straws, garnishes, and ice cubes. You can also use backdrops, napkins, and other accessories to add texture and color to your shots. Just be careful not to overdo it. The main character is still the drink. Too many props can be distracting and take away from the beauty of the drinks.

Styling Techniques For Drink Photography

When it comes to drink photography, styling is crucial to make the drink look appealing and refreshing. Here are some of the styling techniques that I use to capture stunning drink photographs.


Like with food photography, the vessel where the drink is served is very important. But in contrast to food photography, in drink photography, the vessel is usually a highly reflective glass.

Choosing the right glassware is essential to creating an aesthetic appeal in drink photography. I usually prefer to use transparent glasses with a unique shape or texture to add visual interest to the photo. But it is also important to understand how the cocktail is created so you can use appropriate props and make the important things shine. For example, a martini glass would be perfect for a cocktail, whereas a mason jar would work great for lemonade or iced tea.

Beverage photography is growing in popularity on social media platforms, and many beverage brands require outstanding drink photos, which is where your beverage photography skills help immensely.

Liquid Clarity

The clarity of the liquid is another crucial aspect of drink photography. Different drinks have different clarities. As photographers, we need to make sure they are correct. While using plain colored water for drink photos is super helpful (and I do it all the time for personal projects), making a real cocktail in the way it is done by professionals is crucial to make it look exactly as it needs to look.

Additionally, it is important to learn how ice works together with the liquids so that the drink keeps its intended color and texture.

Ice and Condensation

In drink photography, we often use ice and want to portray the look of a chilled drink with condensation. This is something that we don’t have in the majority of food subjects.

Ice and condensation add a refreshing touch to your beverage photography. However, using them wisely is important, as too much condensation can make the glass look messy.

Any drink photographer must know and understand how and when to work with natural and artificial ice.


After capturing the perfect shot, it’s time to take the image to the next level with post-production techniques. In drink photography, post-production is crucial to enhance the visual appeal of the drink. Here are some common post-production techniques used in beverage photography.

Color Correction

Color correction is an essential part of post-production for any type of photography. This technique involves adjusting the colors of the image to make them look more vibrant, appealing, and, most importantly, true to life. In drink photography, color correction enhances the color of the drink, making it look more appetizing.

Retouching Splashes and Bubbles

Retouching is an area of post-production that is done for any type of photography. However, it differs when it comes to retouching foods and drinks.

When it comes to drinks, we are often retouching smooth glass and liquids. This require different techniques than retouching something with more texture, such as food.

Retouching splashes and bubbles is another important post-production technique used in drink photography. This technique involves removing any unwanted splashes or bubbles in the image and enhancing the ones that are present.

Beverage photography is growing in popularity on social media platforms, and many beverage brands require outstanding drink photos, which is where your beverage photography skills help immensely.


While drink photography and food photography share many similarities, they also have unique differences that set them apart. From lighting to props, lens selection to post-production, mastering the art of drink photography requires a deep understanding of these differences and the ability to use them to your advantage. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just starting out, understanding these differences can help you take your drink photography to the next level.

How To Take Sharp Photos (Using A Tripod)

Here are my best food photography tips for you to take sharp photos when using a tripod.

Here are my best food photography tips for you to take sharp photos when using a tripod.

I’ve been using a tripod for most of my food photography journey. However, I’ve not always achieved that sharp look, and for a very long time, I wondered why. I am doing everything right. My camera is on a tripod, after all.

Well, yes, I’ve done the first step. But I’ve also done other things that made the camera connected to my tripod move ever so slightly—just enough to create a slight blur in my photos.

Often, the blur is not visible when looking at the entire photo. It is just a little less sharp.

But when you look up close, you can see those pixels are ever so slightly blurred.

So if you’re not getting super sharp photos, even when your camera is on a tripod you should be doing these things:

Must-have techniques to take sharp photos when using a tripod:

1. Remote Shutter Release

A remote shutter release allows you to trigger the camera’s shutter without physically touching the camera. This minimizes the risk of camera shake, especially when using slower shutter speeds. By operating the shutter remotely, you avoid the slight movements that can happen when pressing the shutter button directly on the camera body. Remote shutter releases can be done through a wired remote control or tethering or wireless remote control or tethering. There are a lot of options out there!

2. Self-Timer

When using a tripod without a remote shutter release, setting a short self-timer delay allows any vibrations from pressing the shutter button to settle before the photo is taken. Self-timer options often include up to 10-second delays, giving you enough time to release the shutter and step away from the camera before the exposure starts.

3. Stabilize the Tripod

Properly stabilizing the tripod is key for minimizing vibrations and ensuring steady support for the camera. Try keeping the tripod legs fully extended and securely locked in place. Position them as wide as possible for maximum stability, especially if the floor is uneven. Additionally, not extending the center column of the tripod helps minimize vibrations.

4. Weighted Tripod Setup

To increase stability and minimize vibrations from external factors like walking around your tripod, you can add additional weight to it, such as hanging a camera bag or attaching sandbags. BUT be mindful of the distribution of weight to make sure the tripod is balanced, because you want to prevent the tripod from tipping over.

Here are my best food photography tips for you to take sharp photos when using a tripod.

5. Use a Sturdy Tripod & Tripod Head

Invest in a high-quality, heavy-duty, and stable tripod. The same goes for a tripod head. Choose one that locks firmly and ensure it is securely attached to the tripod to minimize potential movement.

6. Turn Off Image Stabilization

Image stabilization (IS/VR) is a valuable feature for handheld shooting as it compensates for small movements of the camera to produce sharper images. However, when using a tripod, image stabilization can actually introduce vibrations and cause unwanted blur. Check your camera manual to see how you can switch from image stabilization on and off.

7. Avoid Walking Around or Touching the Camera

Once the camera is set up and focused, it’s crucial to avoid touching or bumping the camera or tripod during the exposure. Even slight movements or vibrations can mess with the sharpness of the image, especially when using slower shutter speeds or long exposures. I like to minimize movement around the tripod so I can truly take sharp photos.


In photography, taking sharp photos is a highly respected goal. While using a tripod lays the foundation for stability, it’s the finer details that truly make the difference between a sharp-enough photo and a super-sharp one. By implementing the techniques outlined in this article, you can remove the camera shake quickly and easily.

Invitation to the Food To Frame course

Finding New Clients For Food Photographers

Finding new clients does not mean waiting for prospective clients to find you via Google search or Instagram. It means being proactive in both presenting your work to the random eyeballs (aka posting online) and actively reaching out to new potential clients.

Finding new clients does not mean waiting for prospective clients to find you via Google search or Instagram. It means being proactive in both presenting your work to the random eyeballs (aka posting online) and actively reaching out to new potential clients.

So many photographers I work with leave finding new clients to chance.

Many just wait around for clients to find them and wonder why they are not getting any new work. They think that posting on social media is enough exposure for potential clients to find them.

That’s simply not the case.

I can tell you from my experience that relying solely on social media is not the most effective way to get the dream clients you’ll love working with.

Taking matters into your own hands gives the power back to you.

In this article, I want to address how you can find new clients yourself without waiting for them to find you.

Here’s a quick recap of the article:

  1. Re-visit what clients you want to work with
  2. Create a list of clients
  3. Use your network to spread the word

Re-visit what clients you want to work with

As our career as photographers progresses, so does the vision of our ideal clients.

For that reason, I suggest revisiting what an ideal client means to you as a food photographer every now and then. I do this once a year when I set goals for my business.

Not only will defining the niche and ideal client help you narrow down who you want to work with. It will also help you build a portfolio that will attract those clients.

Create a list of potential clients

As a food photographer, you can work with a multitude of different clients. For example:

  • National or international magazines
  • National or international cookbook publishers
  • Local restaurants and bars
  • Large or small food brands
  • Branding and PR agencies
  • Stock agencies
  • Food bloggers and chefs

I like to keep lists of different types of clients so I can refer to a specific type of client, depending on what my goals are for the year or what clients I’d love to work more with at the given time.

Pro Tip: Keep your list at arms reach so you can add new potential clients on the go. For example, create an Instagram save folder for potential clients so you can quickly save them and move them to your lists later.

Keeping client lists will help you when you are ready to pitch so that you can focus solely on contacting them, which will streamline your pitching process.

Use your network to spread the word

We talked a bit about pitching.

Besides actively reaching out to potential clients, as creatives, we also benefit from the community. This may be a community of your friends and family or business communities.

Be prepared to speak about what you do and how you do it to anyone interested.

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and sharing your photography work with the people you know.

Share it in your personal space, online communities or attend networking events.

Just recently, I got to work with a client by being referred to them by one of my old contacts on Facebook. We haven’t even been in contact for a long time, but they referred me to someone they know.

Finding new clients actively is much less stressful

To conclude this article, being active in your client acquisition is the key to success as a food photographer.

Sure, posting on social media seems effective, but think about how much time and effort goes into that and how slim the chances are that a potential client will actually see your post.

Improve your pitching

When pitching, make sure you are well organized and have a schedule. If you need help with finding new clients and contacts, creating a schedule, and crafting emails, you can join the free 4-day Get Booked Workshop here.

Mastering Client Communication: A Guide for Food Photographers

In food photography, mastering client communication is just as crucial as taking the perfect shot. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to ensure seamless client interactions and create the type of photos that will leave your clients wanting more.

In food photography, mastering client communication is just as crucial as taking the perfect shot. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to ensure seamless client interactions and create the type of photos that will leave your clients wanting more.

Here’s a short article summary:

  1. Understanding Your Client’s Vision
  2. Communicating Your Photography Process
  3. Handling Client Feedback Gracefully

Step #1: Understanding Your Client’s Vision

Ask Detailed Questions About the Photography Project

I can’t stress enough how important it is to ask any question you might have, as silly as it might sound to you. Inquire about the desired style, mood, number, and type of deliverables, and so on to gain a comprehensive understanding of your client’s wishes, needs, and vision.

Visualize The Client’s Vision

Use all the information the client has given you to create a clear image of the end result in your mind. Create and share a moldboard with your client to ensure you are on the same page. As photographers, we are used to imagining things in our heads, but clients usually need a visual representation of what they will get. And this is what moodboards are for. I love using Canva to create moodboards for my client projects.

In food photography, mastering client communication is just as crucial as taking the perfect shot. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to ensure seamless client interactions and create the type of photos that will leave your clients wanting more.

Repeat Their Words

What I started implementing a while ago is repeating everything they said to make sure I understood correctly. The thing is, we often understand things differently from the other person, so repeating it and asking if you understood correctly is one of the most important things to make sure you will do what your client expects you to do.

Step #2: Communicating Your Photography Process

Outline Your Workflow and Set the Expectations

It is imperative for a food photography project to be successful and to have clear communication with your client. Ideally, you want the client to understand how you work and their involvement in the process. This includes timelines for all the project steps, your fee or any additional fees that may arise, and what they need to do at each step. This way, you will avoid unhappy clients.

In food photography, mastering client communication is just as crucial as taking the perfect shot. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to ensure seamless client interactions and create the type of photos that will leave your clients wanting more.

Step #3: Handling Client Feedback Gracefully

As photographers, it is our job to create photos as close to the client’s vision as possible. However, if you have done enough client photoshoots, there’s a high chance your clients weren’t always 100% happy. I like to approach feedback with an open mind, viewing it as an opportunity for improvement rather than criticism.

Sometimes, clients expect the photos to turn out in a way that is not ideal (they might not know it) or are impossible to do for the time frame, the budget, or it is physically impossible. It is very important to communicate this with the client in a respectful manner.


Mastering client communication is crucial for success in food photography’s competitive world. By understanding your client’s vision, communicating your process effectively, and handling feedback in a respectful manner, you can establish strong client relationships and create photos that they will love.

Implement these steps into your workflow to elevate your communication skills with your current and future clients.

And don’t forget to have patience when things don’t go as planned!

Want to get more photography clients this year?

Check my Client pitching email templates, which will help you create better outreach emails quicker.

5 Composition Tips For Better Drink Photography

Discover 5 unexpected methods to create better drink photography. From adding movement to embracing messiness, these tips will revolutionize your photography game. Ready for your photos to capture the eye? Dive in now!

Discover 5 unexpected methods to create better drink photography. From adding movement to embracing messiness, these tips will revolutionize your photography game. Ready for your photos to capture the eye? Dive in now!

Have you ever taken a photo of a beverage and felt like something was missing? Often, I see the students I work with struggle with creating a composition in their drink photos that would make their drink shine.

I am here to show 5 ways you can improve your drink photography today.

Composition Secrets For Better Drink Photography Overview

  1. Add some movement
  2. Use variety in garnish
  3. Use different glassware
  4. Don’t be afraid of being messy
  5. Let things overlap

Tip #1: Add some movement

Adding some movement to your drink photos will inhale life into an otherwise static photo. Consider adding a pour, a stir, or a splash to create a dynamic and engaging composition.

And you don’t need to stop with the ‘real’ action. If it makes sense for the drink you are photographing, you can make sure it has bubbles, giving it that lived-in, action feeling.

Tip #2: Use variety in garnish

In drink photos, we often have not just one subject but multiple subjects. It is easy to get caught in styling them all the same way.

Garnishing them slightly differently will give more interest to your drink photography. Maybe you add something extra to the drink that’s in focus, or you turn the garnishes in different ways. Always keep variety at the back of your mind.

Discover 5 unexpected methods to create better drink photography. From adding movement to embracing messiness, these tips will revolutionize your photography game. Ready for your photos to capture the eye? Dive in now!

Tip #3: Use different glassware

Similarly to the previous tip, you can consider using different glasses for the same drink inside your frame.

Not only can you add interest this way, but you can also add variety in heights, textures, sizes, and colors.

Discover 5 unexpected methods to create better drink photography. From adding movement to embracing messiness, these tips will revolutionize your photography game. Ready for your photos to capture the eye? Dive in now!

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid of being messy

Being messy is often that step at the end of your composition-building process that makes the photo look natural and simply more interesting to look at. And at the end of the day, it makes the photo more drool-worthy.

So, don’t be afraid to add some of the garnishes or ingredients of the drink around the frame.

Discover 5 unexpected methods to create better drink photography. From adding movement to embracing messiness, these tips will revolutionize your photography game. Ready for your photos to capture the eye? Dive in now!

Tip #5: Let things overlap

This is one of my favorite composition techniques that adds dimension and a sense of space to any photo.

Positioning the elements inside the frame in a way where some of the elements visually overlap, crates connection withing the frame and makes it look more natural (less staged).

Discover 5 unexpected methods to create better drink photography. From adding movement to embracing messiness, these tips will revolutionize your photography game. Ready for your photos to capture the eye? Dive in now!

Interested in creating better drink photography?

Check out this instant access Drink Photography workshop.

Elevate Your Festive Food Photography

Let’s elevate your festive food photography together!

It’s that time of the year again when we bring on the most delicious comforting foods, spend time with family, and bring out our decorations.

I love this festive season so much and love capturing its spirit in my food photos.

For that reason, I am sharing a few things I pay attention to when I take festive food photos during the Christmas time and New Year’s festivities.

Incredible tips for festive food photography! I am sharing a few things I pay attention too when I take festive food photos during the Christmas time and New Year’s festivities.

Crafting a narrative with festive decorations

An engaging Christmas story is a photo that takes you on a journey that makes you immediately feel like you’re a part of the festivities.

However, just adding decoration does not create a story that your viewers will relate to. Dig deeper into what those decorations represent and how they can be involved with the food and the scene. What is the setting WHERE THE FOOD IS USUALLY PREPARED OR SERVED?

And don’t forget! The decorations are here to add to the story and not distract from it. Make sure to use decoration that matches the scene in:

  1. Size
  2. Style
  3. Color
  4. Texture

If any of these four key characteristics are off, the balance of the frame and the story will be off, too.

Keep in mind that it’s usually better to take one thing away than add more to the scene.

Be creative with styling

Christmas time is the time when we can be a little bolder with our styling choices. So why not use the decorations you use in real life as part of the set or a part of the dish?

You can include Christmas ornaments in fun ways in the scene like I did in the two photos below.

Here are a few decorations to spark your ideas:

  • Tree ornaments
  • Other sparkling ornaments
  • Pine branches
  • Festive twines
  • Christmas candles
  • Porcelain houses and decorations
  • Pine cones

Engaging the senses: Festive smells and cozy feel

Festive food is all about the delicious smells.

Think about how you can place and style your food subject so you can showcase the taste and smell of the delicious foods. Which food elements can you add to the scene to showcase the taste of your foods? Cinnamon, star anise, oranges, and similar foods are very common for this period.

Our tables are usually filled with baked sweet goods that have a lovely crumbly texture, so don’t be afraid to showcase it. Adding a crumb here and there will give the viewer the idea of how crumbly a freshly baked festive dish feels when they eat it.

The festive season is something that we often associate with a warm and cozy feeling. To convey that sense in a frame, try adding elements that remind you of it.

This can be some elements that are more common, such as warm fabrics, candles, twinkle lights, and materials we associate with a homely feel. Regardless, it can also be something very personal to you or to the viewer who will be looking at the photo.

The composition has a big part in a cozy feel as well since we often use the type of setup where the elements are closer together to convey that warm connection.

We actually touched on this in the 3-Day Composition Masterclass + how to convey different moods and stories into our compositions.

Playing with Christmas lights

Christmas lights simply add that magical touch to Christmas food photos. I love using twinkle lights in my festive food photography. And beautiful as they are, they also can be challenging to figure out.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you use festive lights in your food photos:

Keep an eye on the aperture

Make sure the aperture is as low as it needs to be to get the twinkle light to be nicely blurred, and you get that beautiful bokeh. There is no set rule here as to which aperture to use, but I encourage you to test a few apertures to see which one feels best for the scene.

If the twinkle light is too small and not blurred enough, lower your aperture.

Take a look at how the difference in apertures looks in real-life examples below, where I used apertures f3,5 and f4,5, which may sound very similar, but the look is very different.

Keep the lights at a distance

Distance plays a key role in how blurry the twinkle lights will be. The further they are from the camera if they are behind your focal area, or the closer they are to the camera if they are in front of your focal area, the more blurry they will be. What does this mean?

I like to play with twinkle lights placed behind the subject and make them blurrier. I like to place them quite far away in the back. For a larger scene, this may mean they are a meter or more away. When you photograph a scene from a closer perspective, they can be closer than that.

Test a few distances and see how they make your twinkle lights look.

When you want to create more interest in a festive photo, you can even place the lights before your subjects and place them very close to your lens to create a lovely, soft, blurred effect in the foreground.

Beware of the twinkle light placement

Twinkle lights are very bright and can easily overpower your subject. It is easy to get overboard with lights and add too many to the scene.

Keep an eye on how balanced your composition looks. Does your eye go to the lights or the food? If your answer is light, then you will most likely need to remove a few.

Most importantly, have fun creating festive food photography!

65 Expert Food Photography Tips from Professional Photographers

Since the first day, I knew I wanted to be a photographer (or possibly even before that!) I knew observing and stepping into the world of other photographers was super interesting and incredibly helpful. I have learned so much about professional work from others over the years and am continuously inspired by other professionals in and outside of it.

I wanted to bring you a bit of this world in this article.

My photography colleagues have generously shared their best food photography tips, revealing everything from creating the best light and styling the food to be truly drool-worthy to their best business and mindset advice.

65 Expert Food Photography Tips from Professional Photographers

 My photography colleagues have generously shared their best tips, revealing everything from creating the best light and styling the food to be truly drool-worthy to their best business and mindset advice.


1. Learn to ask questions

When you have created a scene and taken a couple of test shots, ask yourself, “What can I do to this scene to take it to the next level?” I ask myself this every time, and although sometimes I have already created what I think is the best version of the setting, there is almost always another little detail that I can tweak to make it even better. It might be adjusting the lighting, changing the composition slightly, adding a hand or some movement, or a final little garnish for detail.
Nikki Astwood, food, beverage and product photographer

2. Shoot everything!

The great thing about food photography is that we all eat daily, so it’s a perfect excuse to photograph our favorite subjects. The more you shoot, the more confident you become in your skill.
Matt Armendariz, commercial photographer

3. Double diffusion makes a huge difference

I prefer to double diffuse when I am photographing drinks. That way, you can make the diffusion really soft (attached is an example).
Maaike Zaal, food and beverage photographer

4. Keep on working on your personal projects

I always encourage food photographers to do as much test shooting and portfolio building in their spare time as possible. It helps you develop your skills, creativity, and technical knowledge and gives you material for social media and promotions. Also, clients are very interested in seeing personal work because it helps them understand your style and abilities beyond the constraints client work usually puts on showing who we really are as photographers.
Darina Kopcok, commercial food photographer

5. Focus on nailing your lighting and editing skills!

Among the best decisions I ever made was investing in high-quality artificial lighting, which significantly elevated the quality of my work. Learning the nuances of image editing was equally transformative, taking my photos from ordinary shots to extraordinary masterpieces.
Wiktoria Gralka, food & product photographer

6. Go into every photoshoot, big or small, with some sort of plan/vision.

Write down ideas and draw out potential compositions, colors, props, and lighting concepts – there will be times when it doesn’t work, but being prepared in advance will more likely than not end up in success!
Tanya Pilgrim, food & beverage photographer

7. Chase the light!

Always be aware of how the light hits your subject and never be afraid to shape it.
Suze Morrison, food photographer, stylist & chef

8. Exercise your ‘ skill of observation’.

To become a better photographer, we must first become a better observer. Begin by intentionally slowing down, engaging your senses, and looking a little closer and with more curiosity to notice the often-overlooked details around you. Maybe it’s the way the backlight illuminates the white currants on a bush. It could be the unique scent associated with a specific season, a seasonal dish, or an ingredient. Maybe it’s the intricate details of a sage leaf texture. Or ‘sparkling’ droplets on those sage leaves after a rainy day.

This practice can help you notice more of the magical ‘little things’ that surround us every day. It can help you discover something extraordinary in ‘ordinary’ and capture it through your own lens. And it’s always worth ‘sharpening your lens,’ as the way you see is what makes YOU unique.
Bea Lubas, food photographer 

9. Lighting is the key to a beautiful photo

Over the years, I have learned that lighting is probably the most crucial part of food photography. A soft, flattering light is what you want, whether it comes from natural or artificial sources. When light is too harsh or too dark, exposing your subject properly and getting the best image quality becomes more challenging.
Chad Montano, food photographer & videographer

10. Be honest about your goals and skills, stay open to learning, and practice to improve.

Focus your efforts on the areas of your workflow that need improvement, whether it’s food styling, photography, editing, or the business side. Once you’ve improved one area, move on to the next and continue this cycle. Trust me, you won’t be bored ever again.
Kristina Smodila, food stylist & photographer

11. If shooting with natural light, don’t be afraid to move things around to find the best light.

Carry what you will shoot around the house, try out different windows, and see what light works best for the mood you want to create. Try out different angles. I love to shoot with side light and shoot at a 45-degree angle, a 90-degree angle, or a flat lay. I tend to try all these angles for each thing I shoot.
Aimee Twigger, food photographer

12. Don’t be afraid of Photoshop and editing.

Sometimes, doing something in post-processing is easier than getting it done during the shoot.
Julia Konovalova, food photographer 

13. Try not to replicate what others are doing

Strive to carve your own path, even if it means making mistakes along the way. Find your authentic voice. Initially, it’s okay to imitate, but eventually, develop your own unique aesthetic. This differentiation will help you stand out from the crowd and be more competitive.
Erika Rojas, food Photographer

14. For beginners, the backlight is always the top tip I recommend.

It adds beautiful depth to the photo, shows the textures, and adds beautiful tonal contrast to the images.
Lucia Marecak, food photographer and educator

15. Never. Stop. Learning.

Even after years of shooting, I still learn something new. Learning is actually what keeps me interested and motivated. So don’t stop at the first book, video, or course. Keep going! Study other niches, too.
Roberta Dall’Alba, photographer

16. Pre-planning is key to delivering a successful project.

I cannot stress enough how planning ahead of your shoot is so important. Practice the lighting you’ll use, sketch if needed, take test shots with props, etc. This will help solve any issues ahead of your shoot, leaving most of your time to focus on creating beauty.
Gabriel Cabrera, commercial photographer

17. Work with the gear you have until you master it.

Invest in new items only when you find a technical bottleneck situation and/or start earning money with photography.
Reka Csulak, photographer & mentor


18. Keep it real

And don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
Matt Armendariz, commercial photographer

19. Plan, plan, plan!

A very important one is to PLAN your photo shoots (unless when you’re having one of those “freestyle” creative moments:) which I totally support) – by planning, you can ensure you buy everything you need (and more) and the best-looking ingredients.
Roberta Dall’Alba, photographer

20. Keep it simple

Let the star shine. Props are supporting characters.
Gabriel Cabrera, commercial photographer

21. I think the most appealing food photos are those that look the most organic.

Use lots of supplementary ingredients to not only add visual style elements but also add context to your dish or subject. Scatter herbs, berries, nuts, seeds, etc, and then tweak them so they don’t look too placed. Be loose. An artfully placed drip or drizzle will bring viewers into the scene and imagine how good the subject is to eat.
Darina Kopcok, commercial food photographer

22. Think about what kind of mood/feeling you want to portray from your image before anything else.

Lighting and propping should come more naturally once you’ve made that decision.
Tanya Pilgrim, food & beverage photographer

23. Put aside some money from each paying job

… that you can use to invest in quality props that you really need to curate the type of prop collection that supports your style.
Reka Csulak, photographer & mentor

24. While working with color in food photography, it’s best to keep it simple.

Too many colors overcomplicate the process. If monochrome or one color is hard to work with, select two or max. three colors & work only with them in the composition. Choose props, backdrops, and garnish in line with the selected colors. 

Working with a limited palette does not distract the eye with too many colors, saves time by making decision-making easier, tells a cohesive visual story, and builds our skill of working within boundaries.
Dyutima Jha, food photographer and podcaster

25. Don’t be afraid to show a few flaws.

Very few of us bake perfect cakes, have clean set-ups, etc. A few crumbs, holes, and drips keep things real. Not everything needs to be edited in Photoshop.
Suze Morrison, food photographer, stylist & chef

26. I always keep a little bit of avocado oil on hand.

I like to add it to something like a steak or bread to give it a layer of sheen. When light hits it the right way, it will create that beautiful specular highlight.
Chad Montano, food photographer & videographer

27. Think in layers

Whenever I am styling a scene, I start with a base first, then layer props and ingredients on top from there (or in front or behind if it’s an angle/front-on shot). I start with the larger pieces of my scene and end with the small detailed pieces that I call the garnish that really bring the scene together and create that added depth and interest.

As important as having all the right props and ingredients in your scene, it is equally important to know how to edit and remove anything that doesn’t make sense or is cluttering up the frame and detracting from your hero.
Nikki Astwood, food, beverage and product photographer

28. It’s about texture and color

I love to use props that are old or rustic. They have a cozy element to them. I love color, but I find it pleasing to try and use props that go well with the subject. The color wheel is really handy here. Think about different textures, too. It’s great to add different layers of texture, even if it is just the seasoning or styling on the plate.
Aimee Twigger, food photographer

29. Look for props in the clearance sections.

Sometimes plates and dishes have cracks or chips that could easily be photoshopped or covered with food.
Julia Konovalova, food photographer 

30. Less is often more.

When it comes to styling and props, don’t overcrowd your composition. Choose a few carefully selected elements that complement the food or drink. Keep it simple, and let the main subject shine. Sometimes, a single well-placed prop can make all the difference in your shot.
Erika Rojas, food Photographer

31. Add some greenery

Green herbs always go well and improve the photo no matter how “ugly” the food is 🙂
Lucia Marecak, food photographer and educator

32. Add a human element

If I struggle to tell a story in a shot with the food and props on their own, I love adding a human element. It could be just hands or some movement.
Aimee Twigger, food photographer


33. When you’re short on time to set up a real background, use two backdrops

One for the table and another for the wall, like tiles or wood, to create a genuine space vibe easily.
Kristina Smodila, food stylist & photographer

34. I used to only shoot handheld, but in the last few years, I tend to use my tripod for most shoots.

It’s great as it means the camera stays in one place, so if I need to composite any of the shots with Photoshop, it makes it easier. Especially for client shots if I need labels to be clear. If I am shooting for a brand, I like to have a plan of what I need to capture beforehand. That way, I can get all the shots I need.
Aimee Twigger, food photographer

35. Tether on client photoshoots

If you can, use an iPad and set it up to tether further away from the set so the client can see the images you are making without them hovering over you.
Gabriel Cabrera, commercial photographer

36. Get creative with painted backdrops.

Instead of buying expensive backgrounds, you can create your own unique backgrounds for food photography by painting them. Use a large piece of sturdy cardboard or a wooden board as your canvas. Experiment with various colors and textures to match the mood of your dish. With a bit of creativity and some paint, you can have a custom backdrop that adds character to your food photos.
Erika Rojas, food Photographer

37. Turn images into black & white while editing to check the level of tonal contrast.

It helps to understand how much tonal contrast the photo has and helps edit images in a better way.
Lucia Marecak, food photographer and educator

38. Use gelatine in spray for beautiful droplets

Something I’ve learned from another photographer (Valentina Solfrini): to make vegetables and fruit look fresh, instead of water, use spray gelatine. I don’t always do this, but when I do, I see how cute the droplets look (especially when they don’t “vanish” after just a few minutes). Also, it’s NOT inedible, so you can still eat the food without throwing it away.
Roberta Dall’Alba, photographer

39. Correct things right in front of the camera

This way you can save time in post-processing and avoid losing pixels via extensive corrections.
Reka Csulak, photographer & mentor

40. Once you have taken your hero shot and are happy, walk around your set and snap from different angles.

You will be surprised by what you find. Sometimes, this is what makes a new hero.
Suze Morrison, food photographer, stylist & chef

41. Take multiple photos.

The more, the better. I like using a variety of focal lengths and compositions to get different looks.
Chad Montano, food photographer & videographer

42. Learn creating composites

The coconut splash picture (below) is created from several pictures: one with a clean coconut and then several others with the splash and falling coconut pieces. I combined them all in Adobe Photoshop.
Maaike Zaal, food and beverage photographer

43. Be purposeful with your prop shopping

Buy pieces that will last and be able to be used for multiple scenes and themes. For food photography, I love to have a mixture of more modern and some vintage props, which makes for a great collection.

Clear out regularly as well, and take anything you don’t use to the second-hand store. As we all know, props can get out of control.
Nikki Astwood, food, beverage and product photographer

44. It’s food, so there aren’t any hacks, really.

We can’t mess with it too much, as that’s not the nature of food. Just keep shooting as often as possible and use the best light you can get!
Matt Armendariz, commercial photographer

45. When in doubt, use side backlighting.

It has such a great way of wrapping around the light. Angle your set to the window or place your light at 10:00 or 11:00 if you imagined your set like the face of a clock with your camera at 6:00.

Assess your scene as you style and compose by bending down to the same level as your lens so you can see the way the camera does. And always, always shoot tethered so you won’t miss the small details that can make or break a photo.
Darina Kopcok, commercial food photographer

46. For lighting, I like to make sure my main subject/focus is lit the way I need it to be, first and foremost.

Then, I like to step back and see where I can add more dimension if needed. Is there something that can help enhance the scene I’m creating? Take your time where you can and play around!
Tanya Pilgrim, food & beverage photographer

47. Create endless variations of cake stands

Buy a candle holder you like and combine it with any plate you like to create an original cake stand.
Maaike Zaal, food and beverage photographer

Lately, I’ve been creating my custom cake stands using just a cup or bowl and a plate. These stands are unique and can be personalized to match any style. This tip can save you some money and space. (Example in the photo of a cake below).
Kristina Smodila, food stylist & photographer


48. If we want to create a successful business in food photography, we cannot look for instant results.

Like any other business, it takes time to build a client base, get the word out, hone our skills, establish our process, and gain momentum. It is tough in the beginning, but only because it’s new to us. The more we do, the easier it gets. We cannot try out food photography for a short time and then give up, saying, “It didn’t work for us.”

There is no such thing as overnight success.

Anyone who has made a name in the industry has done so by doing the work without giving up. It is 100% possible to build a profitable and sustainable business as a food photographer. As long as we are patient, know what we want, and pursue it relentlessly, a thriving business in food photography is guaranteed.
Dyutima Jha, food photographer and podcaster

49. Try to add lots of different styles to your portfolio.

Even if you prefer to shoot in one style, I find it’s best not to niche down too much there. It’s good to show what you can do.
Aimee Twigger, food photographer

50. Business skills are just as important

In our line of work, business acumen is just as important as the ability to create beautiful visuals.
Reka Csulak, photographer & mentor

51. Photography is a hard business to be successful at.

It comes with a lot of ups and downs. It’s all about connections and relationships. If you have a great shoot, that client will hire or recommend you again. It takes time to build a clientele and find consistency, but it’s definitely achievable with a creative and positive mindset.
Chad Montano, food photographer & videographer

52. Photography business is a business of people

While we may be running a business or taking photos of cakes, never forget that we are the business of PEOPLE. Relationships matter most.
Matt Armendariz, commercial photographer

53. You need to be pitching constantly.

Sending out targeted pitches and proposals every week to the clients you want to work with will transform your business. If you never post a single image on social media again, you can have a successful career through active pitching.
Darina Kopcok, commercial food photographer

54. Don’t be afraid to invest money into your business.

It will ultimately stop you from growing!
Wiktoria Gralka, food & product photographer

55. Spend less time worrying about your Instagram feed and more time focusing on your portfolio.

Make your portfolio tell a cohesive and compelling visual story.

This means curating your work in a way that not only showcases your technical skills but also conveys a consistent style and a clear narrative. Whether through color schemes, lighting choices, or the overall mood, make sure that every image in your portfolio aligns with the story you want to tell about your expertise and the type of clients you want to attract.

All your marketing efforts should lead potential clients to your portfolio, where you display your best and strongest work. A well-structured, visually engaging portfolio showcases your talents and leaves a lasting impression on potential clients.
Fanette Rickert, food & product photographer

56. Developing a business mindset is an ongoing process.

Stay committed to personal and professional goals, polish your skills and strategies, and remember to play and experiment to sparkle your creativity. Don’t be afraid to say YES to projects that scare you and NO when your gut tells you to.
Kristina Smodila, food stylist & photographer


57. Use your senses to guide your style.

Mood boards are useful, but leave them aside and use your imagination to guide you. Would you eat that food? Would you drink that cocktail? What would make you drool? Use that to create your signature look.
Gabriel Cabrera, commercial photographer

58. Stay true to your creative vision while also adapting to market demands.

Invest time in building your portfolio and marketing your skills to prospective clients. Maintain a growth mindset, continuously learn, and seek inspiration from various sources. Be patient and persistent in your journey, as success in food and drink photography often comes to those who blend their artistic flair with strong business acumen.
Erika Rojas, food Photographer

59. Food Photography is a lonely job.

Many creators fall into the trap of comparison, which blocks their creativity, and they lose their passion. If you feel this way, I strongly advise you to meet other creators (photographers) in person and talk and shoot together for personal projects or help them as an assistant for their client shoots. This will help them find passion again.
Lucia Marecak, food photographer and educator

60. Stay true to yourself, and be inspired, but never copy.

We are all creative. We just have to harness our unique style.
Suze Morrison, food photographer, stylist & chef

61. Always prioritize inner work, working on your mindset.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be able to persist, not give up, and actually succeed (whatever success means to you:) because that’s different for everybody).

The very first step – as cliche as it may sound – is BELIEVING in your skills, in what/who you can become. Results are a natural consequence. Believe in your uniqueness, trust your vision, and do what makes you feel alive.
Roberta Dall’Alba, photographer

62. Always go with your curiosity.

This is something I have been working on a lot lately. Don’t rush things. If you feel something would look better with an extra prop or different lighting, try it out and see how it looks. When you say to yourself, “What if I did this?” it is the time to experiment and see where it takes you. I often get a better result, making the whole creative process run more smoothly.
Nikki Astwood, food, beverage and product photographer

63. Don’t get too caught up in what other photographers are doing

Your work is unique, and there are space and client needs for everyone: creativity ebbs and flows. Make sure you give yourself the space you need to recharge your creativity from time to time.
Tanya Pilgrim, food & beverage photographer

64. When I am feeling stuck creatively, I love to take my camera and take photos of something totally different from food.

I like to shoot nature. I take my camera with me on a dog walk and just take photos of things I see on the way. It often sparks a new idea for me. 
Aimee Twigger, food photographer

65. This is a tough one, but don’t get too caught up in the numbers.

I found that one thing that hindered my creativity was creating for the sake of creating. I felt like I had to have something to post on Instagram, and it had to be something that would get likes. I found it was ruling what I created. Since I have decided not to worry about those things anymore, I feel like a weight has been lifted, and I feel so much more authentic when I do create.
Aimee Twigger, food photographer

Creating Depth in Food Photos: A Quick and Simple Technique

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? 

We are about to uncover what depth in food photos stands for and learn a straightforward technique to add depth of space to your frame. You can achieve it in many different ways, and I’m going to show you two of the simplest ones. But trust me, they can make a world of an improvement in your food photos.

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? A simple way to creating depth in your food photography.

What is depth in food photos?

Depth refers to a perception of three-dimensionality in the frame. When done right, it gives the illusion of space and volume. It also gives the subject space to stand out and makes the frame appear more realistic and natural.

The easiest (and also essential) way to add a three-dimensional feel to a photo is to create a background, middle ground, and foreground.

What are the background, middle ground, and foreground?

The middle ground is, in short, the part of the photo where the focus lies. It is the middle part of the photo in terms of depth. It is the part between the foreground and the background. This is the part of the frame where your subject lies.

The background is the part behind the middle ground (or your subject), and the foreground is the part of the photo in front of the middle ground. That’s the space between your subject and the camera.

A photo may include only the middle ground and foreground (without the background) or the middle ground and background (without the foreground). And that is up to you to decide what works best for the subject you are photographing and feel you want to create.

However, in a lot of situations, when the photo lacks a sense of space, adding both a background and a foreground is ideal.

How to add a background and a foreground to a food photo?

In this article, I am going to show you two techniques I use in my work to make the background and foreground work best.

In short, to do that, you want to make the background and foreground blurry in regard to your middle ground, which is in focus.


Adding distance between the elements in the middle ground, foreground, and background is the easiest, most clear way to add a sense of space.

Imagine having your subject on a table that is right next to a wall. The distance between the subject and the wall is so small that both are relatively in focus. That means the sense of space is not as pronounced.

Let’s look at the photo below. I started with a cup placed so it touched the background. What this means is that both the background and the middle ground are in focus. Actually, there really isn’t any background at all. At the same time, nothing significant is placed in the foreground of the image as well, making it look flat.

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? A simple way to creating depth in your food photography.

When I moved the cup towards the camera a bit, I was able to create a separation, and the background was already a bit blurred. I also placed some elements in front of the cup, making them appear a bit blurry. In this photo, you can already feel a sense of space.

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? A simple way to creating depth in your food photography.

What if I went even further? In the next photo, I placed the cup further from the wall, and now the wall looks even more blurred. What that means is that now there is a clear focus on the cup, which is the main subject. It is beautifully isolated while still having a context of what is happening around it.

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? A simple way to creating depth in your food photography.

That being said, the first two photos are not bad. And I am not saying you absolutely need to follow this all the time. But hopefully, this will give you an idea of how differently a photo can feel, depending on how much depth you create.

We will talk more about depth in an upcoming workshop with Bea Luba and me. In order not to miss it, get on the waitlist!


Using aperture is an addition to using the distance between the elements. If you learn to use both together, your photography will skyrocket. And this is why you’re here today!

To sum it really quickly, aperture can be used to control the amount of light hitting the camera sensor, but it also controls how much of your scene is in focus.

When setting the aperture on your camera, you will find that it is measured in f-stops. We won’t go into detail as to how that works. If you want to know more, check Food To Frame.

  • The higher the f-stop, the more of your scene will be in focus. Meaning more of the background and the foreground will be in focus.
  • The lower the f-stop, the less of your scene will be in focus. That means that lower f-stops create more of a separation between the foreground and the background, leaving the middle ground in focus.

Let’s look at a practical example.

In the photo below, I had my backdrop placed quite far away from the scene, but it is still not blurry enough for this photo. The pattern is too recognizable, and there isn’t enough separation between the subject and the background.

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? A simple way to creating depth in your food photography.

I used an f-stop 11 in the photo, making a big chunk of my frame in focus.

Now, let’s look at the second photo. I left the setup exactly the same (besides some greenery), except I switched the f-stop to 2.8, which is the lowest setting on the 100mm lens I used to take this photo.

Creating depth in food photos is often spoken about, but what does it really mean? A simple way to creating depth in your food photography.

You can see how much more blurry the background appears. You can still see that there is some pattern, but it is very subtle. And with just changing the f-stop, I was able to create a sense of space.

Additionally, I added some greenery in front to add foreground and enhance the sense of space even more.


In conclusion, creating depth in food photos requires a bit of practice and observation. Observe how the background and foreground interact with your subject whenever you take a photo. Do these add a sense of space to the overall image?

Budget-Friendly Food Styling Prop Tips

In the eight years I’ve been taking photos of food, I learned how to collect the best props that don’t break your budget which I gathered in these food styling prop tips. What I found is that often, the most used props are not the ones that cost the most.

In the eight years I’ve been taking photos of food, I learned how to collect the best food styling props that don’t break your budget. What I found is that often, the most used props are not the ones that cost the most.

On the other hand, it’s also very easy to get caught buying cheap props that are nearly useless. 

I’ve thrown away quite a few inappropriate props I collected in my beginning years. 

To help you avoid that, I gathered my best tips to collect excellent food styling props you can afford which will last you a long time.

1. Shop at thrift stores and flea markets

Secondhand stores and flea markets are my number one favorite places to get affordable, unique props that often have a special character because they were previously used.

When shopping at flea markets, be prepared to haggle. Frequently, the price they offer you won’t be the last. So don’t be afraid to counteroffer what you’re prepared to pay.

My second tip about buying second-hand props would be to use your traveling or day trips to find unique props. I’ve heard from some of my students that there is no place to buy second-hand props in their area. In this case, you can use any time you go somewhere else to hunt down some thrift stores.

There are a few thrift shops and flea markets around my area, but I still like visiting them in other places because I can find different things there. I’ll give you an example. Vintage cutlery here is not easy to get if you want unique, decorated pieces. But in the area close to Italy, people have many more of those. So whenever I am there, I’ll visit a flea market.

2. Declutter and donate food styling props you don’t need anymore

This tip might sound weird, but give away props you no longer use. Maybe they are not your style anymore, or you simply don’t do projects that require that prop.

It is okay to let go of props you have accumulated if they don’t serve you anymore.

You can donate them to thrift stores or a friend who might use them.

Why give them away?

This way, you’ll have more space for either other props you use or more space and better-organized prop storage.

3. Buy props that can be reused in many situations

As you continue building your prop collection, you will notice how easily you can get your collection to full. Yes, you may have the space, but will you remember that you even own every single prop? Most likely not.

Therefore, I recommend building a collection where you can use props in many situations and combinations.

Buy props with a simple shape and texture and a neutral color. When considering color, buy white, off-white, beige and brown, light grey to dark grey, and desaturated blue food styling props.

4. Buy small props

Food and drinks often look better in smaller vessels. I recommend buying smaller props than you would use in real-life situations.

The glassware and tableware you’ll find in regular glassware shops are often too large for drink photography. I prefer buying them secondhand because those props are often smaller. Don’t ask me how that’s possible or if people used to drink less (because especially the glassware is smaller). I have no idea, but I know that most of the glassware I use in my drink photography is second-hand.

5. Don’t buy the entire sets

If you can, avoid purchasing entire large sets of anything. Chances are you’ll only need a few.

Depending on the style of photography you normally do, 3 of each is usually the magical number. Often, even two is enough.

The reason for that is that many compositions look best when you use three of something, otherwise called the rule of threes.

However, that doesn’t mean you need three of the same. Usually, the composition will look much more dynamic and exciting if the props are not the same.

I recommend buying four or more of the same food styling prop if you photograph a lot of carefully curated table scenes. And no other situation.

In the eight years I’ve been taking photos of food, I learned how to collect the best food styling props that don’t break your budget. What I found is that often, the most used props are not the ones that cost the most.

6. Use props you already have

Looking around your kitchen and dining room, you might spot some tableware that would look nice as a prop. Make use of those.  

If you photograph at home, you can even intentionally buy props or kitchen utensils and tableware that you could use in both photography and real life.

This way, you’ll save money and space.

One way to save money and space is to combine different food styling props you already own to make something else. I like doing this with cake stands. I don’t often photograph cakes on cake stands, so it wouldn’t make sense to have a lot of cake stands in my prop collection.

Instead, I combine a plate with a small bowl or a candlestick to create the illusion of a cake stand.

7. Paint your food styling prop

You heard that right. You can re-paint an old food styling prop or new finds to match your style.

In the example below, I bought a new wooden cutting board, which didn’t really have the look and color that would match my style. Instead of using it as I purchased it, I used a kitchen torch to make it appear used and worn out. I would recommend a better tool for that, but it worked!

In the eight years I’ve been taking photos of food, I learned how to collect the best food styling props that don’t break your budget. What I found is that often, the most used props are not the ones that cost the most.
Homemade ‘vintage’ cutting board

8. Save the bigger bucks for one-of-a-kind, artisan props.

In my business and personal life, I am a relatively frugal person. I save where I can, and the tips above are undoubtedly helpful.

Where I won’t save are some unique pieces, especially handmade ones, that will bring my food styling from good to great.

I recommend using a part of the budget to scout handmade ceramics in your local area. It is often cheaper to purchase the ceramics locally because shipping for heavy items can be pretty significant.

4 Essential Composition Tips For Better Food Photography (with Bea Lubas)

Here are four essential composition tips that will transform your food photography, adding flow and a natural feel to your photos.

Here are four essential composition tips that will transform your food photography, adding flow and a natural feel to your photos.

Composition is the part of the food photography process that is usually the most frustrating to students simply because there are so many elements and techniques to think about.

In this article, I joined forces with my friend Bea Lubas to bring you four essential composition tips that we use to make our compositions look natural and flowy.

These are easy composition tips that you can apply straight away. If you do, don’t forget to let us know in the comments or DM us on Instagram (@useyournoodles, @bealubas)!

So here are the four essential composition tips to help you compose your images more easily:


Food photography is unlike a lot of photography genres. We, as food photographers, are there to create a beautiful composition. One thing that I like to create in my composition to make it appear more natural and organic is flow.

Adding flow helps lead the eyes through the composition and to your main subjects. There are many ways to achieve that, but my favorite is using curves.

Curves are imaginary lines that you use to place your elements inside the frame. It’s about positioning your props, dishes, and all the elements in the frame in harmonious progression. 

Curves can take different forms. You’ll hear me speak a lot about the S- and the C-curve in the article Using curves in food photography and some other curves as well. But actually, a curve can take any shape that feels natural.

Here are four essential composition tips that will transform your food photography, adding flow and a natural feel to your photos.
Photo: Anja Burgar


One of my favorite color techniques that you’ll see me use in my work over and over again is choosing props and the background in the same color.

This technique really helps to draw attention to the food, even if you decide to fill the scene with many items! And what color of props and background to go for?

This will depend on a few things.

  • Firstly, what color would help to enhance your subject? What color would make it ‘pop’?
  • Secondly, it will depend on the type of contrast that you’d like to create in your image. High color contrast can help to add a more energetic vibe to our image, and low color contrast can help to infuse our frame with a soft and gentle atmosphere.

When selecting a color, we can also consider color psychology and what emotion the selected color can help to evoke.

Here are four essential composition tips that will transform your food photography, adding flow and a natural feel to your photos.
Photo: Bea Lubas


Using negative space in a composition can give it a sense of balance. Not only in busy setups but also in simple scenes, the visual elements need a counterbalance to make the photo more pleasing to the eye.

My favorite way of including negative space in a frame is when I intentionally leave place inside the composition, especially around the main subject. This gives the entire composition some breathing space, makes it less intense for the eye, and, at the end of the day, brings focus to the main subject.

Creating negative space is a delicate balance. Finding a sweet spot might take a bit of experimentation, but when you find it, you’ll see how more relaxed the entire composition looks.

Here are four essential composition tips that will transform your food photography, adding flow and a natural feel to your photos.
Photo: Anja Burgar


A beautiful sense of depth can help to draw the viewer in and make our image more captivating, and it’s something I try to always pay attention to when building my compositions.

One of the techniques that I find very effective is to place the elements at different planes within the frame. Some items are in the foreground, some in the middle ground, and maybe some in the background, too.

When placing these elements around the frame, I also like to place the items one behind the other  – the overlapping helps to create more sense of depth and make the composition look more natural, too!

Here are four essential composition tips that will transform your food photography, adding flow and a natural feel to your photos.
Photo: Bea Lubas


Composition is a beautiful yet delicate art. Knowing how to fill the frame so it tells just the right story is key.

To learn more about composition and put your new knowledge to practice, we invite you to join our 3-Day Composition challenge from October 5-7th. Get all the details in my IG highlights. But to dive even deeper into the topics + get more tips and our Composition Guide, head over here.

See you in the challenge!

6 Ways To Create a Focal Point in Food Photography

I am sharing some of my favorite ways to create a focal point in food photography. There are simple techniques you can apply to take better food photos today.

A cover for a blog post called 6 Ways To Create A Focal Point In Food Photography

If you ever took one lesson and applied it to your food photos, it would be this – make sure your photo has a focal point.

There are exceptions to this rule, like anything else in life, but truly keep this sentence in the back of your head. ALWAYS!

Creating captivating images is all about the viewer understanding and emotionally connecting with what they are seeing – your food photo.

And if you want to achieve that, you need to master creating a focal point in a photo.

 If you’re looking to enhance your food photography skills and make your dishes pop off the screen, then you’re in the right place. Because in this blog post, we’ll delve into the concept of the focal point and its crucial role in food photography.

The Heart of Food Photography – The Focal Point

In food photography, the focal point is the heart and soul of your shot. It’s the element that immediately grabs the viewer’s attention, leading their eyes through the frame and making your subject shine.

So, what happens when your photo doesn’t have a focal point?

As I mentioned, there are times when there is not just one focal point. But in most cases, you will need only one focal point in the frame.

When you don’t have a clear and compelling focal point, your food photos risk falling flat and failing to engage your audience. So what that means is they will be confused with what they are seeing or have a hard time knowing what exactly is happening in the frame. Where should they be looking?

So, how can you master the art of creating a powerful focal point in your food photos? Let’s dive into these six super easy techniques you can use straight away to make your food photography a million times better.

For more in-depth concepts and techniques around the focal points and composition, enroll in my masterclass – Food To Frame.

Here are some of my favorite ways to create a focal point in food photography. Keep in mind that, in most cases, you will use more than just one of these techniques.

1. Leading Lines

Leading lines are one of the most effective and straightforward ways to bring the viewer’s eye to the focal point. But it is also quite tricky since you need to learn what works and what doesn’t.

These lines can take the form of utensils, tableware, or even the arrangement of ingredients and even just empty space. However, keep in mind that the subtlety of leading lines can be an art in itself.

If you want to read more about leading lines, I have a whole article on this topic.

2. Depth-of-Field 

When you skillfully blur out parts of your frame either in the back or in the front of your subject, this can create a stunning way to emphasize whatever is not blurred.

The depth of field is a super technical thing because you need to find that sweet spot in your camera settings, aperture to be exact, and the placement of the elements in the frame. 

In general, we know:

  • Shallow depth of field, where the majority of the frame is out of focus, aka blurred and
  • Deep depth of field where the majority of the photo is in focus
  • And all the spots in between

Lower aperture settings create a shallower depth of field.

Higher aperture settings create a deeper depth of field.

When you can master how narrow or wide the depth of field your photos need, you have mastered one of the most powerful techniques for bringing focus into the areas you want without any distractions.

3. Post-Processing

Post-processing is where your food photos truly come alive. It’s that final way to make everything in your photo shine – especially the focal point.

During editing, make sure that your adjustments not only enhance the colors, textures, and contrast of your entire frame but also accentuate the focal point. 

Any kind of local adjustments that you can apply to only parts of the photo will have a great impact on the way your final photo looks.

Using local adjustments, brushes, masks, and all this fun stuff is one of the things a lot of my students are super scared of. But trust me, it’s not too scary once you know how to work all the tools.

When you learn a new software, the first thing I suggest doing is learning to work with the tools that allow you to edit parts of the photo instead of the entire photo.

4. Play of Light and Shadows

Light is essential to any food photo, right? Well, so are shadows.

But the thing is, light is not just a way to make your subject bright and visible. It is far beyond that.

The way light and shadows play can not just add depth to your food photos but also create an emphasis on your subject.

Whether it is making it brighter, keeping the surroundings in the shadow, or having stronger shadows on the main subject in comparison to everything else, the possibilities are truly endless.

And I encourage you to explore light and shadows more.

5. Layering

Layering can be achieved in various ways. You can create layers in multiple ways, using the space around your subject. 

I like to teach layering in different directions and how those affect the final photo, plus how the layers interact with each other.

Actually, creating a depth-of-field is one way of adding layers to your photo.

But one of the simplest ones is placing elements below your subject (which would be the props) and on top of your subject (which would be the parts of the dish or garnishes).

Layering adds depth and visual interest to your photos, so do not forget about it.

6. Enhancing Textures and Shape

Texture is something we don’t often associate with creating focus. 

When intentionally enhanced or sometimes even reduced, texture can bring additional focus to a focal point. This can either be done through styling, camera settings, or, finally, editing.

Note that this is usually not the main technique for creating a focal point but rather something that supports all the other techniques.

Similarly, emphasizing shape through careful placement of both your subject or other elements in the frame can bring focus to that particular shape.

When a shape is clearly standing out, it will immediately attract our gaze.


With these six techniques and your creativity in your toolbox, you’re all set to become a pro at creating a clear focal point in your food photos.

Just like any craft, practice is the key element. The more you practice, the more intuitive these techniques will become.

And guess what? The next post is just around the corner. We’ll keep delving deeper into the exciting world of composition for food photography. So, stay tuned for more juicy insights and tips that’ll make your food photos absolutely delectable!

4 Tips To Create a Killer Photography Portfolio

Uncover the secrets to an exceptional photography portfolio that will bring in trusted, high-quality clients and leave you confident AF.

Uncover the secrets to an exceptional photography portfolio that will bring in trusted, high-quality clients and leave you confident AF.

Uncover the secrets to an exceptional photography portfolio that will bring in trusted, high-quality clients and leave you confident AF.

I like to see the portfolio as a representation of the skills and style you have, which are there to not only show everyone your gorgeous photos but, most importantly, be the entry point for your clients to see whether you two are a great fit for each other.

Only if you look at it this way will you be able to get clients who will end up being happy about your work and who will keep returning to you for more and more photos.

In this article, I gathered 4 of my top tips to apply today so your portfolio starts shining and bringing in those wonderful clients.

So, let’s dive right in.

Become comfortable with uncomfortable

My students would often say they are stuck in a rut and don’t know how to step up their photography. And it’s always because they are afraid to do something differently.

Embracing discomfort in photography is what pushes you to grow as a creative. It’s a process, and because of that, it takes time, patience, and persistence. By continuously challenging yourself, you’ll not only improve your photography skills but also develop a unique style that sets your work apart from the rest.

Two exercises to practice being uncomfortable

  • Next time you schedule some time for a personal photoshoot, do some research beforehand. Ask yourself, which is the one area you want to be brilliant at? Is it a specific style of photography, the way you edit your photos, or a certain composition style…? Define it and find examples for inspiration. Then, do everything the same way as you would normally, except for that one thing you defined.
  • Keep a journal. Document everything you learned during a photo session that pushed you over your boundary. Write down everything from what you observed to what your feelings were.
Uncover the secrets to an exceptional photography portfolio that will bring in trusted, high-quality clients and leave you confident AF.

Get trusted feedback

Finding your mentor in the world of food photography can be a game-changer.

Seasoned professionals have an incredible amount of knowledge and insights, which makes it easier for you to determine what your focus should be and how you can create a portfolio that will talk to the kind of clients you want to be working with.

With the right guidance, you can refine your portfolio to perfection.

A great mentor offers constructive criticism, which is sometimes hard to hear. When I tell my students I’ll be brutally honest, they often get scared. But in the end, they are empowered to take action because they know exactly what to do.

So, don’t hesitate to seek out that guiding hand to improve your work and your photography portfolio. Your mentor can help you uncover nuances in your work that you might have missed.

Be extremely picky

It can be tempting to select photos we are personally fond of. And it’s hard to choose just a handful of images to display in your portfolio.

But the pickier you are, the more successful you will be at getting more clients and the type of clients you want to work with.

When choosing images for your portfolio, you need to consider these 3 things:

  • Is it the kind of work you want to be doing?
  • Are the photos showing your skills and versatility within your niche?
  • Do clients you want to be working with search for these types of photos?

If not, it’s a pass.

If yes, then you have to do the hard work narrowing down your selection so your portfolio is not overcrowded.

Uncover the secrets to an exceptional photography portfolio that will bring in trusted, high-quality clients and leave you confident AF.

Start and end strong

Think of your portfolio as a story. Every story has a banging beginning to captivate the reader or listener. Then it has a lovely narrative taking you through the story. In the end, it finishes with an unforgettable ending.

If you treat your photography portfolio the same way, you’ll have a much better chance for brands to actually check each image and see it as a part of a story.

Start with show-stopping photos, continue with your carefully selected photos, and then finish off with something unexpected and, again, show-stopping. 

Crafting a Food Story (A Case Study)

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.

*This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.*

What is storytelling?

In food photography, a single image can tell a story that goes beyond the plate. A well-crafted food story forms the foundation of every captivating food photo, giving the viewer more than just a visual experience.

When we create a narrative, it can:

  • engage the senses,
  • trigger emotions, and
  • create a personal connection with the viewer.

That being said, not every single food photo will have a story to tell. Photos of foods, dishes, or produce on a simple background, usually used for graphic design purposes, don’t normally tell any story.

Most of the others will have some sort of narrative. Some more, some less. Depending on the style and purpose of the photo.

In this blog post, I want to show you the art of creating food stories in an easy and understandable way so that your photos become more engaging and relatable.

How does a food story enhance your photos?

At the heart of every excellent food photo lies a straightforward food story. But what exactly makes people pause and feel a connection?

A food story is a carefully crafted frame that speaks to the heart. It has the potential to transport viewers to a specific time and place, or evoking emotions.

Emotions are the bridge that connects your food photo with the viewer. A well-crafted food story not only showcases the dish but also infuses it with emotions that resonate with the viewer. Imagine the aroma of freshly baked bread, the warmth of a cozy kitchen, or the nostalgia of a family recipe. These emotions create a sense of intimacy that draws the viewer in and invites them to engage on a personal level. 

 What is more, the way you tell stories in your photos allows you to define your unique photographic style. The way you see your subject and frame is entirely subjective, giving your photo a unique point of view.

Crafting a story

Think about book authors. What do they do when they start writing a book? First, they create a plan, an outline of the story. And it is just the same with a food photo. It should be meaningful and well thought out. 

I like to write down on a piece of paper exactly what story I want to tell in my photos and what I need to do to achieve that. Having a vision before setting up your lights and props is super important. It will save you time and energy trying to figure out all the necessary elements you need and how to bring them all together.

In the case study below, you will get an insight into my thought process when creating a photo and how I create a narrative that speaks not only to me but also to my audience.

Now, let me take you through the steps I normally take to craft a food story in my work.

Case Study

Let’s dive into a practical example to understand better how a food story can be added to a photo.  To bring my story to life, I like to take the following steps:

1. Putting the story into words

For this example, I wanted to create a photo of a late summer breakfast.  I had some late summer produce and some croissants, and they reminded me of not only the late summer but also the Mediterranean. So, I gave the story a time and a place.

2. Determine the feelings and emotions

The idea behind the narrative sets the stage for a mood that’s slightly moody and dark yet still carries hints of the fading summer light. Determining the feelings and emotions gives us a clear indication of what type of light we need to use to match the story.

3. Finding colors that match the story

Colors are one of the most powerful elements of food photography. When trying to tell a story, it is also crucial to know what specific colors will be perceived and how to use them to our advantage.

Inspiration for colors can be various, but since this photo was closely related to a specific season, which is late summer, I tried to use colors that would match that story. Late summer is when the colors are just starting to become more muted, warmer even. 

So, for this scene, I did not want to pick specific color palette beforehand since those were determined mainly by the produce and foods I used. I did, however, want to make the colors more muted. And you will see, later in this article, how I achieved that.

When you don’t have a clear color palette in mind, you can use online tools like Asana Color Palette Generator or Adobe Color Wheel to help you find a combination that would match your food narrative. Learning about the meaning of color and different types of color palettes is something every artist needs to do.

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.
Checking how the colors will look like together with online tools

4. Choosing a backdrop

When choosing a backdrop that helps to tell your food story, you can think about:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Brightness
  • Style
  • And even shape

Looking into my story, I knew I wanted something that could easily be transported to an old villa in the Italian countryside. And that made me think of wood and stone. These were the two materials that reminded me of this place.

I wanted to create a homey, warm feel that would evoke emotions of a season slipping through our fingers.

This is why I chose two backdrops. One dark wooden backdrop, which would become the tabletop, and a cool grey stone backdrop by V-flat world , which would be the stone floor, like you can find in Italian countryside villas.

So, the contrast between the two backdrops also gives the sense of warm meeting cold. Just like the warm summer is slowly transforming into the cooler autumn.

I chose the two Duo Boards, not only because I loved their look but also because adding a backdrop on the floor requires a larger backdrop. When you photograph an element that is further away from the camera, it will take up less space in the frame. This is why a larger backdrop is perfect for situations like these. The Duo Boards are larger than most other backdrops I own, so they were perfect for the job.

5. Adding props that make sense

Like backdrops, all props you use in the frame need to be consistent with the story. If you place an element that clashes with the rest, it will take all the attention from the main subject. So you want to avoid that.

Think about the:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Shapes
  • Sizes
  • Styles of the props when setting up the scene.

6. Shape the light to add the mood 

One of the, if not the most essential part of effectively telling a story is lighting. To create a desired mood, we can use specific types of light and modifiers. This further enhances the emotional impact of the photo. Understanding the nuances of light and shadow is essential to communicate your intended story.

So, the next time you’re on the set, remember that your choice of light isn’t just an illumination—it’s a way to express a story.

In my case, I wanted to re-create a late summer light. For me, the late summer light is darker than mid-summer light and even slightly moody. The shadows are softer but not as soft as the autumn shadows.

And since my scene was set to take place in the morning, the shadows needed to be longer.

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.

7. Styling the food

With food styling, we want to create an experience. The viewer needs to understand how the food tastes and feels in order to feel the emotions and get a full experience. Textures and colors are their visual cues.

In my late summer breakfast photo, I wanted to show different textures, such as the juicy, slightly chewy texture of figs, the crumbly texture of the croissants, and the added sweetness with the sugar dusting.

Playing with texture is the cherry on top of any storytelling.

8. Final touch – Editing 

Editing is the final stage of creating a story in the photo. Having the story written down, as I mentioned in the beginning, helps immensely.

In my photo, I wanted to create muted colors, so I used editing to tone them down. However, I left the figs relatively saturated so they stand out from the rest of the frame.

Making sure the contrast and shadows were edited in a way that is also slightly muted.

And not forgetting the textures. Enhancing the detail not only in the foods on the plate but also on the backdrop was vital to make it all look realistic.


The main objective of the food narrative is to evoke emotions and drive you close to the food to connect with it on a personal level.

So, the next time you pick up your camera to capture something delicious, remember that the story you weave around it will be the secret ingredient to a truly captivating photograph.

Free Work Opportunities: How to Handle Them

As a creator, how do you handle the free work requests? Read further to see all the traps you need to avoid.

As a creator, how do you handle the free work requests? Read further to see all the traps you need to avoid.

If you are an Instagram influencer, content creator, or blogger, you’ve likely encountered situations where brands offer products in exchange for posts or content creation.

The debate over whether accepting these kinds of free work opportunities is okay is fierce. And I’ll leave the final judgment to you. Nevertheless, I want to share my thoughts on what situations is accepting ‘free work’ worth it and how to handle these non-paid opportunities so you can protect your work and keep it professional.

When is working in exchange for products okay?

As I said, it’s up to you to decide if merely having the product is worth it. But in my humble opinion, there are a few situations where unpaid work is acceptable:

  • When the work you do fits your brand
  • When the collaboration will be beneficial for your social media audience, blog readers, and so on
  • When having images with the product will help your portfolio become better and will attract more clients in the future.
  • When having this product or connection with the brand will help your career in a big way (and only a big way counts).
  • When the product you get is of a very high value, and you would purchase this or a similar product anyway. (In my experience, this is rarely the case!)

I can’t stress this enough, but even if you work in exchange for products, you still have to put effort, time, money, and creativity into your projects, so make sure that whatever deal you make, you gain something from that!

Setting the Stage for a Successful Collaboration

It has happened to all of us – a collaboration that left one or both sides of the party unsatisfied. I like to include some strategies:

  • Clear communication: Be sure to communicate in the greatest detail possible about how this will work. Don’t forget to talk about how many images/videos/reels/blog posts… You will produce, how you’ll include that product, and when exactly they are going out.
  • Product integration:  Clarify how the product will be integrated into your content, whether they will be mentioned or tagged, where, or even IF they can use the content you produced, and every little detail. 
  • Usage Rights: From the beginning, you need to let the brand know how the content you create can be used. Will you be the one sharing it? Can they share or repost it? Where can they use it, for how long, and whether they should credit you?
  • Logistics: Who will take care of shipping and import taxes or any other expenses that might arise?

To ensure the communication is clear and easy from the beginning, I created a pdf with clearly written how I work, what kinds of content I can produce in exchange for products, and how long after receiving the product I can post the content. Will you mention or tag them in the post and other vital information?  So they see that I’m serious and my work provides value! I have this PDF ready online and send a link to everyone who contacts me, so I don’t need to explain all these things repeatedly.

Upselling opportunity

Remember that even if you are in a situation where a brand asks you to work for a product, you have the chance to pitch paid work.

You can:

  • Say no to unpaid work and introduce your paid packages from the get-go.
  • Provide a part of the job for free and charge a fee for the rest. Let them know what you can do for free or how they can use the photos for free, and share your rates if they want extra work or an extra usage license from you.

Protect Your Free Work

We already talked that you should discuss the usage and every other important detail about the collaboration, but you should also write it.

A contract is necessary for every work you do, no matter if it is paid or not. You want to protect your work from being used in ways you do not agree with and get fair compensation for different uses.

Free work conclusions

Collaborating for products is work like any other, so you should treat it as such. It is essential to approach any work with professionalism and a business-oriented mind.

Clear communication, brand values, and guidelines are the foundation of navigating any business successfully.

To make sure these product exchange collaborations run smoothly, I advise you to let the brand know how you work and that you are obligated to protect your work while making sure both parties will be better off.