Tag Archive for: food photography tips

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

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

How To Use Negative Space in Food Photography

Elevate your food photography with negative space. Learn how to create balance, depth & impact. Techniques & examples included!

Elevate your food photography with negative space. Learn how to create balance, depth & impact. Techniques & examples included!

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

Negative space can sound pretty pessimistic, right? Fear not. Using negative space in your work can be very positive. See, what I did just there 🙂

In order to achieve balance in your photos, you must know how to include and place negative space inside a frame. Because, like all good things, it can help a composition, but it can also ruin it.

I’ve partnered with V-Flat World to use their beautiful food photography backdrops called duo boards in some photos showcasing how I use negative space in my work. If you have never tried these, they come with a very handy pair of duo legs that you can use to hold up the board in the back. Such a nice solution!

In this article, you’ll find out:

What is negative space?

That’s the empty space around your subject, while positive space is the space filled with elements. In short, negative space is the boring part of the photo where nothing really happens. I say boring, but it’s far from boring in reality.

Your job as a food photographer is to balance negative and positive space to create enticing compositions.

We also know the term passive space in art, and that’s the space where you might have some things, but they are very neutral and almost blend with the background, so they don’t carry as much visual weight, and just like the negative space create a space for the eyes to rest.

Why is negative space important in a photo?

It adds a sense of size and scale to an image, a sense of space and gives your subject room to breathe. It will lead the viewer to the main subject.

It creates areas in the photo that recede (that’s the negative space) and areas that advance (that’s the positive space). So what this creates is dimension and layers in your photos.

Too much negative space can overwhelm and distract from the subject just as much as something very bold and bright could. On the other hand, if there’s not enough empty space, the frame might be too saturated, and adding negative space would make it look more balanced.

When done correctly, a significant amount of negative space can actually be great and make the subject even more noticeable. This way, it can give a photo a dramatic feel and look. Heck, it can almost make it look quiet and peaceful. 

Simple ways to use negative space in food photography


When it comes to negative space, it can act as a frame for your subject, and using it like that will make your subject stand out.

You can approach that by placing your subject centrally and leaving room around it to make it pop and create a centerpiece for your photo. But be careful not to make it look disconnected from the rest of the image.

In the photo below, I placed my subject in the middle of the image to create a frame with negative space. But you can notice that I added some smaller elements around to make the connection with the frame edges. 


Knowing that negative space holds a massive weight in a photo is essential. Much more than you might think.

This is especially important when you try to troubleshoot a photo where your subject needs to stand out. It can be a balance problem; one way to balance an image like that is by adding some empty space.


Negative space can be used to create movement in an image by leading the viewer’s eye through the composition. It can add dynamic visual interest to an image.

To do that we can use the empty space around the subject to create a sense of direction and movement that leads the viewer’s eye through the composition.

One way to create movement with empty space is to use diagonal lines or shapes. In order to know how to use this technique, you need to look at the negative space as positive, as if it were filled with elements. This way, you’ll notice the shapes it creates.


Negative space can be used to create a sense of calm or tranquility in a photo, by leaving plenty of empty space around the subject. On the other hand, it can also be used to create a sense of tension or drama by filling the frame with elements and leaving very little empty space.

Elevate your food photography with negative space. Learn how to create balance, depth & impact. Techniques & examples included!


You might be thinking: Negative space only works in minimal scenes, with only a main subject and all that negative space. But that’s definitely not the case.

Let’s look at these two photos and see where I’ve placed the subjects in relation to negative space. 

In the left photo – a minimal scene – deciding where to place negative space is just a matter of left, right, up, and down. Mostly.

When it comes to busier scenes, or whenever you add additional elements to the frame, you must also look at the space between the elements and how negative space creates a connection or separation between them. Finding the right balance is achieved by proper composition, which I teach in detail in Food To Frame.

When we create images with lots of elements, we can easily create a very distracting scene, and it’s hard to know where the main subject is. It can make our eyes wander and never stop on a specific element in the frame. This is when we went too far and needed to remove some elements and introduce some empty space.


Leaving empty space is super important whenever text needs to be added on top, for example, magazines, packaging, brochures, and such.

I prepared a magazine cover mockup to give you an idea of how creating photos with the intention of placing text over can be different. For example, look at the image without text and the photo with text. The one without text might feel slightly unbalanced, but placing text over fixes that. Whereas if the picture was crowded, it would make the text hard to fit.


Negative space is here to add some lightness to the frame. It makes the photo breathe. However, adding negative space is not a rule, and many beautiful images have almost no empty space. It all comes down to what feeling you’d like to portray.

6 Tips for Editing Dark And Moody Photos

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you’ll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Today we’re gonna go through tiny little things (that are actually not that tiny) that you need to be carefull about when editing dark and moody photos. I’m gonna take you through a few things I find very important while I edit. And if you stick around, at the bottom of the page, you also have a video of me editing my moody image in Lightroom, with lots of explanation.

And if you’re a fan of presets, which I most definitely am, I have a Moody Food Preset Collection right here.

Correct exposure

Let’s start with basics. Exposure, or better said, correct exposure is abslutely important in any kind of image. The thing I see very often is dark photos being to dark. Too dark to see the detail well and far too dark to make the subject stand out from the scene.

This is not only important when you light your scene while taking it, but also when you edit!

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Create contrast

Okay let’s talk more about your subject popping out. This is definitely always the most important thing to achieve. So just like with exposure, we also need to take a really close attention to the contrast in our images, especially when they are dark.

With dark and moody photos, contrast is your power! You want contrast, but you also want to make sure it’s not blowing out the detail.

There’s no one tip for making the contrast perfect, it’s all about your creative vision. But generally, if you take a good look at all the detail up close, you’ll be able to see, if you’re loosing some important parts of your image.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.


Naturally, when we shoot images in a dark setting, we’ll get lot’s of shadows. And shadows will enhance textures. And texture is good. The problem arises, when you’re shooting a textured food on a textured backdrop. If you just adjust textures and shadows for the entire image, you might see your backdrop distracting from your subject. This will especially be prominent in flatlays, since you’re most likely have the backdrop entirely in focus.

Local adjustments are your friend in this case! With local adjustments, you can apply the edits only to a particular part of the image.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.
Invitation to the Food To Frame course

Local adjustments are your friend

We discussed local adjustments a bit in the previos tip. And here we’ll talk about the full power of local adjustments in editing dark and moody photos.

Shooting in a dark style can often create things like too bright highlights, too dark shadows, not enough exposure in some parts of the image, and so on. Even if you pay close attention to all these things while you shoot, you might still get some things look a bit off.

Local adjustments are super helpful in these cases.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Don’t go overboard with a vignette

We love a vignette, right?

And for a good reason. A vignette in dark images will definitely give a definition to a dark image. However, this is the one edit to be careful about. It’s very easy to go overboard and make it look fake.

Here’s where you should be very tough on yourself and asses whether your vignette is looking fake or real.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Your camera makes a difference

You’re probably thinking ‘What has my camera to do with editing?’

Each camera creates the photos a little bit differently. Each one will produce different colors and contrasts. And therefore the edits will also need to be different.

If you only ever use one camera, you’re already used to it. You know what kind of images it produces. But when you take another camera in your hand, let’s say you got a new camera. This camera will see things differently and you’ll have to adjust your edits if you want to get the same result.

With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you'll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.

Watch me edit a dark and moody photo in Lightroom

To see how I’ve applied all these tips into my editing proces what me edit an image of some blood oranges in Lightroom.

To download the raw file used in this video

Get your raw files and join my community

The free raw file is waiting for you, so you can edit it alongside my video!

You also get access to my creative community and get updates about new articles, videos, workshops and information about new products and exclusive offers!

    After joining here, make sure you confirm your subscription to get access to the files.

    By signing up you’re consenting that we send emails about photography and training offers. We don’t send spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Number One Newbie Food Photography Mistake

    We’ve all started and we’ve all made this super easy fixable food photography mistake. Let’s go through my old images and see how to spot the issue.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Today, I’ll walk you through a few mistakes I see new food photographers make all the time. They are very easily fixable and I’ll show you in my old photo examples. If you prefer following a video, here’s my YouTube video, and below you’ve got a transcript of the video.

    In case you’re interested in more mistakes you might be doing and how to fix them, I have an article about that too.

    Not making the main subject the hero

    So one of the most common things I see food photographers do is not really thinking about their main subject and making it the hero or the focal point of the image. There should always be one clearly defined center of attention in the image. Always!

    Actually, the more complicated scene you do, the more chance you have of missing what your hero subject is.

    There’s a number of reasons why this can happen.

    Let me explain.

    Image #1

    Let see the image below, for example. This is one of my oldest recipes from the blog. These are some super delicious chewy Guinness caramels. But you can’t really see it, because it’s wrapped in a wrap. I wasn’t thinking about, what about the hero dish is important. It’s not the wrap, it’s the caramel.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Image #2

    So in the image below I’ve opened up a few caramels so the viewers can see them, and the image is a bit better, but everything that’s happening around is still overpowering. The bog glass and can in the back, the big bowl on the side, they all compete.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Image #3

    Let’s see the third photo.

    I’ve zoomed in a little and gotten a little more depth of field which is making the stuff around less obvious and less prominent.

    Let’s see another photo form the same photoshoot. Again, the caramels should be where our eye goes, but that’s definitely not the case.

    I mean it’s far from a perfect photo. I was just starting out. But through showcasing the caramels in the front and keeping distarctions away, blurred in the back I was able to keep the focus on the caramels, not the props and I also kept the storytelling.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    Image #4

    Let’s see another photo form the same photoshoot. Again, the caramels should be where our eye goes, but that’s definitely not the case.

    First of all the caramels are not in focus. I missed the focus and placed it on the top of the glass, so now what’s in focus is the beer head.

    Second thing, I’ve placed the caramel too close to the edge of the frame, so it gets lost in all the things that are happening inside this shot.

    And third, the caramel compared to everything else in the frame is very small. So it also gets lost in terms of size.

    Number One Mistake Newbie Food Photographers Make

    My tip for you if you’re seeing these kinds of issues in your images would be to get good at less busy scenes first, so you can focus on your main subject instead of all the props and an elaborate story.

    And I suggest identifying your main subject and keeping it on top of mind all the time during the photoshoot. Always re-evaluate if your main subject is really the hero.

    So, this was the number one food photography mistake I see new photographers make. I hope you got some useful tips, let me know in the comments if this is something you struggle with as well.