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Creative food photography composition techniques

With these nine food photography composition techniques you’ll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the rule of thirds, golden ratio or others. We are not going to talk about them today. Today it’s all about forgetting the grid. Well, not forgetting but rather focus on other powerful food photography composition techniques that add something extra to your food photos.

While you still want to keep those grids in the back of your mind, I want you to focus on details. Here are a few composition techniques that will add interest to your photos and help you bring your delicious dish to life.

Diagonals and movement

This is probably a #1 mistake I see with new food photographers (hello, I was there too). We were taught to place things parallel to the table or any edge. Your mom probably didn’t say: ‘Make your bed and make sure the lines are diagonal’ or did she? Probably not. We’re used to placing things straight, which is great in real life because this means order and cleanliness and we love to have a tidy (or at least a tidy looking) home.

But when it comes to food photography using only parallel lines is usually very boring and doesn’t create interest or dynamic.

On the other hand use of diagonals can be a really effective composition technique, since diagonals create movement and dynamic tension.

In the photo below you can see how I used two different diagonals. The napkin is placed diagonally and the dusting of sugar is following the other diagonal.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Negative space

Using space, that isn’t crowded with props is another great composition technique. If used wisely it can lead the viewer’s eye straight to the main subject. It adds harmony to an image and gives a sense of cleanliness and simplicity.

Negative space is not only a plain backdrop, but it can also be a part of the image where the props are very neutral or of a color that’s not distracting from the food but rather emphasizes it.

The great thing about negative space is that it creates a clean space for adding a copy.

This is the number one composition technique that I suggest new food photographers use. When I started out, I had almost no props that would actually be fit for food photography. I had things I used in real life and those are not always great in food photos.

By eliminating or using fewer props you can really focus on the dish itself without being distracted by the props that don’t really look good.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Go off-center

When you take a photo of someone, where inside the frame do you place that person? Was your answer in the middle? Yeah, we all do that. It’s natural to do that. But it doesn’t always make the biggest impact when we look at a photo like that, does it?

The same goes for food photography. Placing the subject in the center can be powerful when you know what you’re doing, but most of the time placing it off-center will lead the viewer’s eye around the image and to that main subject placed off-center.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Lines

Lines are a powerful technique of placing objects in the frame in such a way that they lead the viewer’s eye towards the main subject.

As in the photo below. There are chopsticks leading to the bowl on the left, the napkin is placed so that it creates a line leading to that plate. The rice and meat in the top right plate are styled so that they form a line in the middle. And this line is leading towards the main subject – the plate on the left.

One word of caution. I never set all the lines in a photo to lead towards the main subject. This would inevitably end up looking fake and unnatural.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Layers

This is my favorite composition technique when I want to tell a story. It allows you to add multiple props or layers of food that work cohesively together and tell a story about food. The great thing about layers is that they add texture to a photo. Using layers works miracles with flat foods, that don’t have a very distinct texture.

Layers can be anything. A backdrop, fabric, props, the food itself when it creates a nice texture and so on.

In the photo below you can see a few layers. There’s a wooden backdrop with lots of texture, two pieces of gauze napkins, a cooling rack, a pie pan, the pie itself and extra sugar on top. All these layers add another dimension and texture to the photo. However, they are not distracting since they are neutral in regards to the main subject – the pie.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Framing

Framing is a very simple concept. It literally means creating a frame around your subject so it creates a visual frame and leads the eye towards the main subject inside that frame.

Framing is very useful for dishes where it is not clearly visible what is in the dish. By placing the ingredients around to form a frame they let the viewer know what’s inside a dish and at the same time show where the hero of the image is.

It is also great for storytelling since the objects around your main subjects can tell a story of that dish while still emphasizing the main subject instead of distracting from it.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Repeat patterns

Patterns are one of the most if not the most graphical food photography composition technique of them all, especially when all the elements in the frame are the same.

Repeat patterns can be simply repeating objects of the same shape, like round objects or long objects.

Another powerful way to use patterns is to add something unexpected to the image. Like in the image below. There’s a cookie missing. This is breaking the pattern and adds interest to the image. It makes the viewer wonder where did it go. Did someone eat it?

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Foreground

One of my favorite storytelling composition techniques.

The foreground is the part of the image that is closer to the camera as the main subject. While it is normal to use the space in front of the subject it is less usual to extend the foreground to the point where it looks like there’s an object very far away from the main subject.

This technique adds a sense of space and depth to an image.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Mixing shapes

If with repeating pattern technique is to mix objects of the same shapes, this is the total opposite. By using objects of different shapes you can create visual interest.

This is the most obvious in a top-down photo, but you can do the same with any other angle, like in the photo below. By using a square box instead of something round, I was able to create a line that leads the eye to the main subject – the fruits on the plate. But it also adds contrast to all the round shapes in the frame.

With these nine food photography composition techniques you'll be able to add an extra zing to your photos.

Give these food photography composition techniques a try

I hope you enjoyed my guide and if you try some creative food photography composition techniques, let me know in the comments below.

One more thing, I highly recommend (as I always do) using a tripod or something to stabilize your camera.

I know setting up the scene before setting up the camera is tempting, but in order to take full advantage of powerful composition, placing the camera in its position is the key. Then once the camera is set, start setting up the scene.

And here are some extra thoughts because I love planning 🙂

Planning and sketching

Whenever I can I draw a sketch of the shot. Here’s the reason why?

I could easily rely on creating a beautiful composition by looking at the screen of my camera. But I don’t want to be stuck with the same rule of thirds with all my photos. Most of the cameras these days offer a rule of thirds grid option, so you can see the lines through the screen while you style. And I find this very very useful. But I don’t always follow the rule of thirds. In this case, it’s hard to imagine, where all the props and dishes will go. That’s why I draw a grid or print it out.

5 Best Camera Angles For Food Photography + Which Equipment To Use

Let’s talk about camera angles for food photography! They can literally make or break a photo. And you didn’t style that beautiful dish to fall flat because of the wrong camera angle, right?

Let’s talk about camera angles for food photography! They can literally make or break a photo. And you didn’t style that beautiful dish to fall flat because of the wrong camera angle, right?

Camera angles are a crucial part of a composition. It should be the first thing to think about when you’re planning a photoshoot. Certain dishes look great using some angles, but they totally get lost using some other angles. But don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. I’m going to guide through what these 5 angles are and what dishes look the best shot at these angles. I’m also adding which equipment I love using when I’ shooting at a specific angle.

Whenever you’re considering angles, think what part of the dish needs to shine. Like, for example, if it’s a pizza you’ll probably want the toppings to shine. And where are the toppings? On top, right? So there you go, you probably guessed it. The best way to shoot a pizza would be overhead since the toppings would be the most prominent.

One more thing, before we start. Even though some foods look best at a particular angle I still like to experiment with other angles. You never know what might surprise you 😀

Now let’s start. Ready?

Here we go…

1. Overhead or 90° angle

One of the most popular angles on Instagram is overhead or top-down. It’s everywhere! Why I think it’s so popular is, because it’s an angle that we don’t really use in day to day life, at least not, when looking at food. But that doesn’t mean all dishes really pop out by using an overhead angle.

I use an overhead angle when I have a flat dish like a pie or a pizza, or for foods in bowls or deep plates that have no height like soups in shallow bowls or plates. It’s great to use whenever all the details of the dish are on top.

I love this angle for making a table scene, where I can tell a story about a dish. A lot of time that’s a story about a gathering of some sort or about prepping the dish. You can fit multiple objects in and they’ll all be in focus.

For this angle, I love to use a 50mm lens. I used to use 30mm on my old crop-sensor camera because 50mm would crop too much out. Whenever I can I use something to hold a camera. A c-stand or a tripod with a horizontal arm work perfectly. If you do a lot of overhead shots and videos, I really recommend getting a c-stand. I just got it recently and I love it! Enough wiggling around with a tripod or blurry hand-held photos.

Dishes that look great using overhead angle:

  • pizzas
  • pies and tarts
  • soups
  • smoothie bowls
  • crepes
  • waffles, pancakes, and cookies when they aren’t in a stack
  • open sandwiches
  • table scenes
Pizza with fresh tomatoes for the article 5 best camera angles for food photography + which equipment to use by Anja Burgar

2. 75°angle

This angle is very similar to overhead, the camera is just slightly tilted. This angle is great for shooting beverages in tall glasses where you want the backside of the rim to be seen. If you shot at a straight-on angle you would only see the front part. I also use this angle whenever I want to show a shine or texture, that can’t be seen in an overhead shot. Like for example this pie below. See how the fruit has more texture and shine in the 75° angle shot.

If shooting a wider scene I use a 50mm lens. But in general, I prefer an 85mm or 100mm macro lens for this angle.

Dishes that look great using overhead angle:

  • table scenes
  • beverages in non-see-through glasses or mugs
  • soups
  • smoothie bowls
A purple fruit pie for the article 5 best camera angles for food photography + which equipment to use by Anja Burgar

3. 45°angle

This is probably one of the most generally used food photography camera angles. It’s great for shooting food up close and whenever the dish has some layers or height, but you also want to show off the top. I love this angle whenever I want to focus on food and have some of the background and foreground blurred.

It’s also great to shoot smoothie bowls or soups with toppings so you can show both the toppings and the depth of the bowl.

I love using my 85 mm lens or my 100mm macro lens for a 45° angle photos. I used a 50mm lens on my old crop-sensor camera, but with the full-frame, there’s too much distortion and I try to avoid using the 50mm.

Dishes that look great using overhead angle:

  • dishes or beverages in tall mugs
  • layered desserts in glasses
  • cakes
  • cupcakes
  • pancake, waffle, or cookie stacks
  • soups and smoothie bowls with toppings
  • beverages in glasses
  • dishes held in hands
A bowl of green soup with bread cubes and cheese on top the article 5 best camera angles for food photography + which equipment to use by Anja Burgar

4. 25° angle

I use this angle whenever I need to show off layers, but where a straight-on angle doesn’t really work or I want to show a bit more of what’s going on in the scene. It’s great for tall dishes and dishes with layers or when you’ve got hands holding a dish so it looks like you’re almost peeking into the plate.

Again, I love the 85 mm lens or a 100mm macro lens when I’m shooting at this angle.

Dishes that look great using overhead angle:

  • dishes held in hands
  • cakes, both layered or lower, like pavlovas
  • cupcakes
  • dishes in shallow bowls or plates
  • waffle, pancake, and cookie stacks
  • beverages in tall glasses
A cupcake with cream and strawberries for the article 5 best camera angles for food photography + which equipment to use by Anja Burgar

5. Straight-on aka 0° angle

This angle works best for tall or layered dishes, where you really want to show off the height and all those beautiful layers. Or where your food is stacked and a higher angle might not do it justice. This angle also works beautifully for action shots such as drizzles and dustings.

I find an 85mm and a 100mm macro lens best for this angle, but a 50mm works fine too.

Dishes that look great using overhead angle:

  • layered cakes
  • beverages in tall glasses
  • ice cream in cones
  • any foods that are stacked
  • burgers
  • sandwiches in a bun
  • pouring or dusting shots
A stack of turmeric bagels with black sesame for the article 5 best camera angles for food photography + which equipment to use by Anja Burgar

Camera angles for food photography

So, we’ve learned which dishes look good shot at which angles, but how do we choose what to use? Ask yourself, what is it about that dish you want to showcase. And remember, a dish might look great at multiple angles, so there’s no one solution.

To help you decide which angles to use I’ve prepared a pdf that you can download and print out to use at your photoshoots.

How To Read Food Photos To Improve Your Food Photography + A Case Study!

Learning to read food photos is one of the crucial things that help you grow as a food photographer. Whether it’s your own photos or other people’s work, learning to observe what’s going on in a photo helps you understand how to create beautiful eye-catching images.

a photo of a chestnut pie on moss for arcticle How to read photos so you can improve your food photography by Anja Burgar from Use Your Noodles blog

Today we’ll be touching a very delicate topic about how you can look at someone else’s work and learn what they did to make a food photo so drool-worthy. The same goes for your own food photos. You might find that some of your photos are awesome and beautiful but some might not be so great. I find it super important to revise both the photos that you like and the ones you’re not so keen on.

If you’re like me, you L.O.V.E. to see behind the scenes of a food photography (or any other) process. I’m literally obsessed! But we don’t get that with every single photo there is and you might stumble upon a photo where you wished you had a bts shot, but there’s no such thing.

Let me tell you, reading a photo can reveal so much of what’s going on behind the scenes. And you can learn so so much from that!

So I’m saying you should read photos instead of books now?

Well, not literally.

What, we’re focusing here today, is how to observe what works in a photo and what doesn’t. Reading theory is one thing but actually recognizing all those things in real life is a whole other story.

We’re all tempted to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest or wherever you find beautiful food photos and feel either inspired or overwhelmed. If you happen to stop and think about what’s really going on it the photos, congrats to you! You’re really taking in the content instead of just glancing it. If not, let me show you how you can do it!

So, how do you read food images?

If you’ve ever read any photography book, you’ll know that most of them are structured in a pretty similar way. They have chapters about light, camera settings, composition and so on.

You can approach reading photos in a similar way.

What you do is observe all these topics separately and think about what it is about that particular thing (eg. light) that makes the photo beautiful. There are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help you determine just that. Let’s start!

1. Camera settings

I know, except if you can somehow really get the camera settings, you can’t know all of them exactly, but there are a few signs that can tell you what settings were used.

The most obvious setting is usually the aperture setting. The focus area is either narrow, wide or anything in between. Different dishes and different angles will look better at different apertures. You can ask yourself, what’s the focus area and why is it so? If it’s very narrow does that help the food stand out? Does it help tell a story?

The second setting is the shutter speed. This is not very obvious when the food is still. But it gets really important when we’ve got an action shot. You can see it mostly from the fact that the moving object is either blurry or sharp. No setting is right or wrong, but you can ask yourself why was the shutter speed set that way?

a photo of a chestnut pie on moss for arcticle How to read photos so you can improve your food photography by Anja Burgar from Use Your Noodles blog
From seeing that the pie is in focus while the other parts of the photo are out of focus, we can determine that a wider aperture was use so that there’s only a part of the image in focus. Let me tell you a secret. To achieve that I placed the pie onto a cake stand so it’s much higher and the effect of a wider aperture can really be seen.

2. Love the light but how did they create it?

Here are a few questions that will help you determine how the light was created and why it works?

Is this a bright or dark photo? What’s the subject or story and does it match the lighting situation?

Where is the light coming from? The best way to determine that is to look at the shadows. Light is coming from the opposite side of the shadows. So it’s quite easy to read if it’s sidelight, backlight, or if there’s an angle to the light source. Why is the light coming from that side? Is it to emphasize something in particular (like texture)?

How are the shadows? Are they deep and dark or are they somehow less obvious? This will help you determine whether the photographer used a white or a black fill.

a photo of a chestnut pie on moss for arcticle How to read photos so you can improve your food photography by Anja Burgar from Use Your Noodles blog
The light is coming from the upper left corner, which we can determine from shadows that are on the bottom right side of objects. The shadows are quite dark, so we can guess that no fill or a black fill was used. This creates a moody effect and adds warmth and coziness to the image.

3. Reading composition as a pro

The composition is such an important aspect of food photography but it’s also very easy to read.

First, you need to focus on the main subject. Where in the frame is it positioned? You can draw imaginary lines on a photo, like for example lines that follow different rules like the rule of thirds, centered composition, golden ratio and so on. Once you’ve learned where the main subject is positioned you can determine where all the supporting elements fall. How many are there? Is there a negative space and where is it located? Why does that work?

a photo of a chestnut pie on moss for arcticle How to read photos so you can improve your food photography by Anja Burgar from Use Your Noodles blog
The grid here shows the golden ratio. The cake is placed in one of the four interest points (cross-section points). The bowl with chestnuts is placed on one of the lines, while the other two bowls are placed in the center of two of the nine sections created by the lines.

4. What are the colors?

Blah, blah, blah, color theory. Who cares? I’m joking, I care a lot. It’s such a powerful tool and observing colors will give you ideas to which colors work well together and which don’t. Sure, there’s so much theory on the topic, but observing the colors in actual food photos is so much more powerful. So I suggest you both read color theory in well… theory and in food photos. This will give you the idea of how to actually use it in practice.

And remember, rules are meant to be broken, so when it comes to creating your own food photos, don’t be afraid to go outside the box and experiment. You might be surprised!

a photo of a chestnut pie on moss for arcticle How to read photos so you can improve your food photography by Anja Burgar from Use Your Noodles blog
Since the main subject is brown, vibrant colors were added to the scene. Bright orange is close to brown colors so it doesn’t distract from the scene and the green acts as a natural contrast element since browns and greens are often found together in nature.

5. How about styling?

Food styling is such a broad topic. Each dish has a lot of different ways in which it can be styled. While there is no universal question to ask yourself when it comes to reading styling in a food photo, there are some ways you can go. You can ask yourself, is the styling simple or is it very complex? Does it look very natural or staged?

One of the most important styling techniques is layering, so it’s a good strategy to focus on learning how many layers does the photo have and how are they helping to achieve focus and interest in a food photo.

a photo of a chestnut pie on moss for arcticle How to read photos so you can improve your food photography by Anja Burgar from Use Your Noodles blog
Looking at texture, we can see lots of layers here. First is the background, which is out of focus (layer 1), then we have a plate under the pie (layer 2), then the pie filling with a swirl on top (layer 3), a chocolate cream on the sides (layer 4) and hazelnuts and chestnuts on top (layer 5).

A quick exercise for you to do today

No, I’m not grading this task, thank god! 🙂 But I want you to put all the above stuff in real life.

I want you to take one photo that has inspired you lately and go through all these steps. Write it all down, don’t just make a mental note. Writing makes you really think and focus on what you’re doing. Then if you’re feeling really brave pick one of your own photos that you feel just doesn’t work and do the same. Compare those two and see what you can do next time to nail the food photo just like that inspiring artist did!

One short note: This works best if you were trying to achieve the same mood and maybe a similar dish in your ‘not-so-great’ photo as in the inspiring photo you reviewed first.

Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful and what have you learned.

If you happen to wanna learn more about light you can enroll in my Free 3-day Master Of Light E-Course.

A game-changing trick that will improve your drink photography

I’m not a huge fan of faking it when it comes to food and drink photography. But sometimes, especially when you’re working for a client, you need to shoot a perfect shoot and we all know that a perfect shot takes time.

A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!

Today we’re looking into shooting drinks. I’ve always wanted to try this trick. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing fancy. I’ll show you how easy it is and it saves you lots of time.

It’s called GLYCERIN.

Have you heard of the glycerin trick? Glycerin is a thick liquid that mixes well with water and creates the most beautiful and natural-looking condensation effect. A condensation effect that will last for hours. I’ve put it on a test and loved the result. Since I didn’t have any fine-mist spritz on hand I could only create larger drops, which were perfect for what I was shooting – beer. Usually smaller droplets look better, so I suggest buying a spritz that produces a finer mist or one where you can control how fine the mist is.

But why not just use cold glasses. Sure, that’s perfectly fine. I’m doing this all the time. The thing is, natural condensation doesn’t last very long. If you’ve ever shot cold drinks, you know the condensation looks great for a few minutes and then the super fine mist that’s creating the matt turns into drops. So if you need the drink to look cold for a long time, this is the perfect solution. But it makes the drink unedible. You’ll learn why in the next section.

Okay, so how did I do it?

First, a cold glass produces both super-fine droplets, that create a matt effect on glass and larger droplets that we can actually see. So for this to look natural there are two steps to follow:

  1. Spraying the glass with a clear matting spray (hello unedible).
  2. Spraying the glass with a 50-50 water-glycerin mixture (vegetable glycerin is considered edible, but only in very tiny amounts!).

Did I just spray the whole glass?

Nope. You spray the parts where the drink will actually be touching the glass. This is where the condensation happens in real life. Therefore you need to cover the bottom edge of the glass if the glass has any thickness. And you should also cover the top of the glass if you’re not pouring the drink all the way to the top. See the photo below for a reference.

A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
Glasses prepared to be sprayed.
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
A glass with matting spray only.
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
After I spritzed some water-glycerin mixture.
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
And here’s how it looks with water in it.

Does the matt spray ruin my glass?

Yes and no. If the glass is pretty smooth, the spray can be removed easily with kitchen soap and hot water. It does take some extra work, but I could remove it entirely. You can see that I used a glass with some textured writing. I wasn’t able to remove the spray entirely in those tiny edges. So be mindful of that and maybe try first with a glass that you don’t mind destroying.

Some other things to be careful about and other uses

  1. When taping the paper around your glass be sure to make it perfectly straight. If you check the top photos you can see that I didn’t do this and you can see the edge of fake condensation being all wonky.
  2. Also, be sure to pour the liquid to the edge of the fake condensation, otherwise you’ll end up seeing a straight line and it will look fake. Sort of like the photos below. They are not perfect, but it was an experiment. In the end, I was hoping to get a great beer shot, so I put more effort into that one.
  3. You can use the water-glycerin mixture to spray over fresh fruits, vegetables, and greens to make them look fresher. If you wash them carefully after the photoshoot they are still edible.
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!

Final shots

So I took all the things above and made the beer photo. My idea was to make a beer pouring shot where you can really feel the freshness of the beer and make it look cold and refreshing. Here are some final shots…

A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!
A game-changin trick for food and drink photography. Sometimes you need to shoot a perfect shoot and this trick really helps!

Conclusion

Hope I helped just a little bit. If you try this trick let me know in the comments or write me on Facebook or Instagram.

In case you want more useful tips about photographing drinks Joanie Simon’s got a great video about that! Her tips also helped me with this little experiment. She’s awesome by the way 🙂

How To Take The Perfect Action Shot In Food Photography

Are you just as in love with action shots in food photography as I am? Do you struggle with catching the right moment and have problems with perfect timing. You’re in the right place!

Are you just as in love with action shots in food photography as I am? Do you struggle with catching the right moment and have problems with perfect timing. You're in the right place!

I’m going to help you with some short tips and tricks that will help you create beautiful action shots.

Action shots are one of my favorite types of photos when it comes to food photography. They tell a story, they are… well, actionable, they have this human element in them and they have such a distinct dynamic.

Have you heard the saying ‘Practice makes perfect’. I couldn’t agree more. The more you’ll try to do action shot the easier it will become.

But first, let me guide you through some tips that will help you grow your repertoire in food photography by adding action shots!

Let’s start!

1. Get a tripod

Unless you have a helper on hand (if you do, great for you!), you’ll need a tripod to hold the camera.

I find a tripod very useful for one other reason too. When taking action photos things, usually get quite messy. Even though you clean, I usually find that I missed a spot and it ends looking awful in the photo. I usually take photo of the scene before I even take the action shot. That way you’ll have a ‘clean’ photo which you can use in Photoshop to fix the mess that you might have missed. You couldn’t do that without a tripod since your composition would move if you handheld the camera.

2. Shoot in manual mode and set shutter speed first

Shutter speed is everything in action shots. It’s the most important setting, so you need to adjust it first. If you want a crisp sharp pour or sprinkle, you need to increase your shutter speed. If you want a blurry pour or sprinkle you have to decrease it. I try to use shutter speeds at 1/160 or above for crisp pours.

Second, adjust the ISO. I try to stay under 800, but since a lot of my photography is very moody and dark, I need to go up a little more.

Then, adjust the aperture. Unless aperture is really important to the story, I tend to adjust that last.

Are you just as in love with action shots in food photography as I am? Do you struggle with catching the right moment and have problems with perfect timing. You're in the right place!

3. Focus manually

I never use auto-focus for action shots. It’s just too unpredictable and I would end up with too many unusable photos.

My tip for setting the focus point is to either focus on the spot where the moving food will hit the non-moving food or if it’s possible, place an object about as tall as the pour/sprinkle will be and focus on that object. Lock the focus and remove that object and take a photo.

4. Adjust your food to movement

Sometimes some foods are too small to see or too dense to flow smoothly. When I’m shooting a recipe, I don’t want to stray too far away from what real food will look like. Sometimes I need to adjust it, anyway. Like adding some water to a sauce, so it has a smoother spill, or using coarse sugar instead of icing sugar to make the grains more visible.

Are you just as in love with action shots in food photography as I am? Do you struggle with catching the right moment and have problems with perfect timing. You're in the right place!

5. Remote control vs. Timer

There are a few options here:

  1. Remote control: I don’t often use it for action shots. I suggest using it only when you don’t need to be as precise about the spot where the moving food hits the surface. Otherwise, there’s too much to think about and it gets very messy.
  2. Self-timer: This is the setting in the camera, where the camera will take one photo after a few seconds after you push the shutter button.
  3. Continuous mode: I use this one the most. This setting takes multiple photos in a burst but with a delay, so you have time to prep for the action shot.
  4. Interval timing: Not all cameras have this, but it’s quite useful to take photos of a process that takes a long time. Like, if you wanted to take multiple photos of kneading bread. You can set the interval timer to shoot one photo in intervals that you set. It can be a second, or it can be minutes or even hours.

6. The right angle

Think about which angle will show the action best. You want an angle that really reflects the beautiful action. Also, think about the background. Is the background contrasting enough so the action will be visible and if there are any distractions in the background?

Are you just as in love with action shots in food photography as I am? Do you struggle with catching the right moment and have problems with perfect timing. You're in the right place!

7. It doesn’t have to include movement

When thinking about action shots, we usually imagine something moving in the frame, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Have you heard of implied movement? That’s when nothing is really moving in the frame but there’s something that tells us, that it’s not a still image and there’s some action going on. Like in the photo below, where I’m cutting oranges. Nothing’s really moving but the knife and the orange wedges let us know that there’s movement in real life.

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The takeaway…

Action shots are fun. And messy. And the most beautiful pieces of art! They take practice and sometimes they take some ingenuity. But anyone can create beautiful action shots! If you happen to create some action shots I’d love to see them! Tag #useyournoodles and @useyournoodles!

How I Styled Shrimp Pasta – A Time-Lapse

Watch my food styling process of this shrimp pasta dish from start to finish in a time-lapse.

Watch my food styling process of this shrimp pasta dish from start to finish in a time-lapse.

Hi guys! I finally managed to get a video of my food styling process up. For those of you who are following me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this video of me styling this delicious Shrimp Pasta. However, I wanted to explain more about the process, so stick around.

How I Start My Food Styling Process?

First things first – a concept! And a story. I think this is the most important thing in any food photography since it gives you or whoever is photographing the grounds to take a good photo. If you are not familiar with how to form a story or a concept you can get my Free Photoshoot Planning Worksheet and it’ll guide you through this process. Super easy and quick, but I can’t stress enough how important it is.

Second, I draw sketches which I also help you with, in my worksheet. In the photo below you can see a few sketches I made for this photoshoot. I try to think about angles that work for the dish I’m shooting and the compositions that will support my story.

While I sketch, I usually decide on the props, although I change them during the photoshoot if it turns out they didn’t fit the story or they don’t pair well with the dish.

Do I follow the sketches 100%?

Nope. Definitely not! The sketches I make are my starting point and my guideline for the photoshoot. They serve so I can get a great composition quicker and to focus on textures and the story. I change things up a lot during the photoshoot. I start placing the larger objects where I draw them on the sketch and then follow with the smaller ones.

A lot of the times it turns out the smaller ones need to be placed in another position for many different reasons. For example, I don’t always draw the correct size of the props and when they are placed in that position they look awkward. I either change the prop or change the composition.

How Do I work My Time Frame?

As you probably know, photographing food and styling requires a lot of time management skills. I usually make a mental note of a good old paper note about how I wanna time my process.

When does a particular part of the dish need to be cooked?

Which props and food I can place before even starting to cook or while I cook something that takes a long time and doesn’t need me to stand next to the stove?

Which foods need to wait until the very last minute to be placed on the set and how I’m going to keep it looking fresh until then?

How fast do I need to work the camera? Is my food going to melt fast? Is it gonna get cold and unappetizing? How can I fix that?

These are all questions I ask myself before even starting to cook.

So How About Styling This Shrimp Pasta?

I styled this set in three stages.

The first stage was before I even prepped food for cooking because pasta cooks quickly and needs to be served right away. And the type of sauce I used can wait, it needs to be cooked at the same time as the pasta. I only placed props on the set, no food. I set the food next to the set.

Second, was while my pasta was just before cooking. I wanted my props to look as fresh as possible so I didn’t want them to sit on the set for longer than needed.

The third was placing pasta on the set and moving quickly so it doesn’t start to look dull.

Final thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this short food styling tutorial and time-lapse. And remember, it all starts with planning!

What equipment do I need for food photography?

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.

What Are The Food Photography Equipment Essentials

1. A Camera

Now, that’s an obvious one. It doesn’t need to be fancy schmancy to get you started, though.

Go to your local camera store and ask to try the cameras to see what feels the most natural. I tried an old Nikon (maybe it would be different with a newer one), but I felt like Canon was more intuitive for me personally. You might be different, so I won’t suggest which brand you should buy. They are all good, you just need to figure out what’s best for you. If you have the option to rent a camera, I’d suggest doing that.

Can you use a phone? Sure, you can! I’ve seen beautiful photos shot with a phone. Now personally, I’m not a fan of phone food photography. I like to hold a big old camera in my hands. It just feels different. But if you’re on a budget and already have a good camera on your phone, you might start from there. But, if you’re going to shoot commercially, then you’ll want to do with a DSLR.

Crop Sensor vs. Full Frame?

A crop-sensor camera has a smaller sensor and therefore crops out a part of the image. Crop sensor cameras are cheaper but also produce smaller images. A full frame sensor has some other advantages like a broader dynamic range and better low light/high ISO performance. But all in all, crop sensors can produce stunning images too. Scroll through my old posts. All posts before May 2019 were shot with the old crop sensor camera.

2. Lenses

When you’re buying lenses, you should think about how you can use those lenses once you upgrade your camera. If you’re starting out with a crop sensor camera, you can still use lenses designed for a full frame camera. But you can’t use lenses designed specifically for crop sensor on a full frame camera. Lenses for crop sensor cameras are cheaper, but if you plan to upgrade eventually, you might be better off buying the full frame lenses.

One more thing, when you’re considering buying equipment, I recommend spending more on lenses than you do on a camera. They really do make a difference.

Want a great cheap lens?

You probably heard of the nifty fifty. I find this lens worth so much more than the 100€ (a little over a 100$). Before I had my full frame the 50 mm was on practically 99% of the time. I used a 30mm for wider shots and flatlays. Now I use the nifty fifty for wider shots and flatlays and I still find it amazing for the money I paid.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A nifty fifty on the left and a 100mm macro lens on the right. My top two choices, but the macro is quite expensive.

3. A Diffuser

Diffusers are used to diffuse the light. The surface of a diffuser is matte and therefore disperses the light in different directions making it less direct and creates softer shadows.

You can use a collapsible translucent diffuser that usually comes in a 5-in-1 pack with a black, white, gold and silver sides. All very useful. I love it because it folds to a very small size and is super transportable and light.

If you’re only shooting at home, you can just as easily use a thin white curtain or a big sheet of tracing paper. I used this one for a very long time and I still use the curtain a lot.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A diffuzer is used to create a more dispersed light. This one is foldable and extends to a 120×90 cm.

4. Black And White Foam Board

These too are super important and very cheap. Write those two down, cuz’ you’re gonna need them!

A black foam board is used to block the light from reaching the subject. Placed on the opposite side of the object it sucks the light and creates deep shadows.

On the other hand, white foam board is used to bounce the light back on the subject and make the shadows softer and brightens up the part of the subject that would otherwise be in the shadows.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A white foam board folded in half so it stands on its own.
There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A big black foam board used as a negative fill or to block light.
There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A simple setting with a black cardboard attached to a white foam board used as a negative fill.

5. A tripod

A lot of photographers like to work without a tripod because using a tripod makes you more stationary and it’s hard to move around.

I personally have used tripod since I first started, and I love it. It is especially helpful if you’re shooting in low light situations where you need to use a slower shutter speed. By holding a camera in hand you’re risking a blurry image.

One other thing, by using a tripod you can clearly set your focus is. May I suggest using manual focus at this point 😊

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A tripod with a horizontal head is very useful for overhead shots.

But I don’t have the cash?

Don’t worry. I’m all about cost-effective solutions. For the longest time, I used an old crop-sensor camera (my Canon EOS 600D). I just recently upgraded to a full frame, so that’s not essential. At first, I shot with a kit lens and I think it’s completely okay when you’re just starting out. When you feel like upgrading without spending too much, the cheaper you can go is by buying a nifty fifty. That’s a 50mm f1.8 lens. Until recently I used a very very cheap (also not very sturdy) tripod, which was completely okay. The reason I upgraded is to buy one with a horizontal arm.

Really, you can start food photography on a budget and still produce beautiful imagery. So don’t get overwhelmed by what other people are using. Use what you have or can afford and build from there. The most important thing is to work on your photography skills, not the equipment.

I hope this little guide was helpful. If you have any further questions ask in the comment section and I’ll try my best to give you the answers.

8 Cheap Food Photography Backdrops

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.

When it comes to money I make sure to spare as much as possible for stuff that matters. Don’t get me wrong backdrops matter a lot. But in my humble opinion, there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there’s no need to go for expensive stuff. I’d much rather spend money on quality ingredients or a good photography lens than a backdrop because as you’ll see in this article, cheap backdrops are all around us. You’ll probably find at least five immediately after you finish reading this.

Let’s dive right into it! Where can you find all the cheap stuff I’m talking about? Here are some of the cheap backdrops I use…

1. Reclaimed Wood

We all love the texture of wood. It adds such a nice rustic character and warmth to a photo. I really only have two reclaimed wooden pieces that were used by my dad at his construction job, but I can tell you those are my two favorite pieces. Whenever I have a very homey dish I resort to a reclaimed wood because it adds a lovely story to my images.

The beauty of reclaimed wood is that it naturally has desaturated hues which are perfect for food photography. New wood often has a very orangey saturated colors not very fit for food photography.

Many times people want to get rid of the old wood and they’ll give it for free or a few bucks

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
My dad’s old construction work wooden board.
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
A piece of wood we used as a cake stand at our wedding. It’s broken but that adds a nice touch to the shot.

2. Tiles

These days you can get tiles that are HUGE! I’ve seen tiles measure 1x1m!!!

What is more, you can get tiles for really cheap. I paid 10€ (about 11$) for the tile below. It measures 60x60cm and I love working with it because it is very easy to clean, looks beautiful and it really isn’t that heavy.

One thing to look for when tile shopping is matte finnish. Luckily it’s the era of matte tiles so that’s not really a huge issue 🙂

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
My 10€ 60x60cm tile.

3. Fabric Backdrops

I love how versatile fabric backdrops are. So many options here:

  • table cloths
  • tea towels
  • napkins
  • bed linen
  • old clothes
  • curtains
  • fabric scraps

One thing to look for in a fabric that you use for food photography is texture. Some of the best options are linen, lace, wool or anything with thick weave or interesting texture or pattern.

Although fabric such as linen is not cheap per se, you can get smaller pieces such as teatowels or napkins for a very good price.

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
Lace table cloths are perfect for creating a feminine look.
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
Some very cheap IKEA tea towels.

4. Old Metal Trays

If you were thinking of throwing out your old baking trays think again! They are one of the most beautiful and most inexpensive backdrops. The more scratched and stained the better 😀 I bet your grandma has a bunch of them just waiting to be photographed. Second-hand shops are perfect for buying metal trays. Look for vintage trays with scratches, patina, and textures that are not too shiny. One extra plus is that metal trays can be used from both sides and chances are the two sides look completely different. So you got two backdrops in one. WIN!

But here’s the trick. You can make any new baking tray look used. With a bit of experimenting, some baking and scratching you can make your own old metal tray. Stay tuned for a tutorial!

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
My old white baking tray. It changes whenevre I’m using it 🙂

5. Paper

It doesn’t get cheaper than paper. Look around your house and try to find paper like:

  • baking paper
  • paper bags
  • scrap paper
  • newspaper
  • wrapping paper
  • old photographs

I love to crumple up baking paper or paper bags to add some texture oherwise they make look a little flat.

When using newspaper, old photographs or wrapping paper with a very distinctive pattern, make sure they are in line with the story you want to portray and don’t overshine our main subject.

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
Using newspaper instead of a plate to make it more interesting and feel more like street food.
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
Baking paper just as it came out of the oven.

6. Vinyl Backdrops

Even though I don’t use vinyl backdrops, I have a few good ones. My absolute favorite is my vinyl marble backdrop. Marble is SUPER expensive and not to mention it’s also very heavy.

When you’re buying vinyl make sure they are matte because they can cast strange reflections when shot from the side. I mostly use them for flatlays, because I like my backdrops to have some sort of texture and shooting from the side makes it quite obvious that the vinyl is flat. For marble that’s not really important as it is flat anyway. But I’m careful about using vinyl backdrops with motives that scream texture but are otherwise flat.

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
My favorite marble backdrop. Did I fool you? It’s not real marble, it’s vinyl. Can you tell?
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
Another one of my vinyl backdrops. I love using it for flatlays!

7. DIY Backdrop

Making your own food photography backdrop does take a little time, but you can have whatever you need in the size that you need. And it’s really cheap!

All you need is some plywood or some sort of similar wooden board, some paint, a brush or a sponge and maybe some tile grout for extra texture. If you’re interested in making your own backdrop but not sure how to start, keep an eye on an article in the near future. I’ve got you covered! But just to show you a few of mine that I made using different techniques.

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
My favorite black DIY backdrop!
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
This one is slightly blue-ish 🙂
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
And a light grey one…

8. Food and Unusual Objects

I’m pretty sure that you can find some unusual objects around the house that would make perfect backdrops. Look for interesting colors, shapes, textures, patterns, anything that would make your food pop.

And food! Food is a great backdrop for food. When it makes sense. Think about the dish you’re shooting and if there are any ingredients that would look great placed under your subject. Some ideas are greens, sugar, flour, spices…

there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
I used sugar to mimic snow.
there are so many choices for free or really cheap backdrops that there's no need to go for expensive stuff.
Another thing I found around the house that my dad used at his construction job. I have no idea what it is, but has a nice texture.

Now go off and find some cheap food photography backdrops

Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to look for new interesting backdrops that don’t cost a fortune. In the flood of perfect shots, we (including me!) tend to think ‘Oh, I don’t have enough backdrops or enough fancy props’ but the reality is that you can use what you’ve got already. When you’re feeling constrained and challenged the most beautiful things will come out.

When I’m writing this in May 2019 I own a total of two reclaimed wooden backdrops, two two-sided backdrops that I made myself, a tile, a small wooden backdrop that I made from new wood and colored it and three vinyl backdrops. This is not a lot, but I can get so so many different styling with them when I’m combining them with other cheap backdrops that I mentioned in this article. I also don’t have a ton of props, but I can manage. What’s gonna make you a good photographer is understanding the light, your subject, composition, styling the dish… not the props you own!

8 Common Mistakes In Food Photography And How To Fix Them

I’ve gathered some common mistakes in food photography and added some simple fixes that will take your food photography to the next level.

I've gathered some common mistakes in food photography and added some simple fixes that will take your food photography to the next level.

If you are reading this article about common mistakes in food photography I’m guessing you need some help. And trust me, we all do! Why? Because it’s so easy to forget about detail when you have so much to do. If you cook the dish you’re shooting it takes time and effort. Then there’s light, composition, styling, camera settings, etc. So much to think of!

Just look at the photo above. I love the composition, light, and styling but there’s one thing I can’t overlook. It’s the grease marks at the edges of the soup. While I was shooting this the soup got cold and cold grease doesn’t photograph well. I didn’t include this in my list of common mistakes, Let’s say it’s an extra! 🙂 How I could have fixed it? Shoot faster or reheat with a hairdryer.

There are a ton of mistakes you might be doing but these are the ones I see most often.

1. Focusing incorrectly

In order to draw the viewers eye to the right part of the dish you need to define where you want the focus to lay. Whether you are shooting at a wide or narrow aperture, you need to know your focus point.

What to do: The way I ensure my focus lays where I want, is to zoom in on the spot I want to be sharp and then manually focus. Camera screens are way to small for us to see if we’ve nailed the focus. The zoom option is a good alternative. Ideally, you would shoot tethered, but honestly, unless it’s a commercial shoot I don’t shoot tethered. So far the zoom button has worked well.

2. Tungsten contamination

There’s nothing worst but an unintentional orange highlight from that light you forgot to turn off. If you’ve made this mistake before you know it is very difficult to fix this in post-processing.

What to do: Turn off that light! Make a mental note before shooting to turn off ALL lights, not just the ones in the room you are shooting in. Turn them off in the hallway, kitchen, … If the light (even a small amount) can reach your setting it needs to be turned off.

I've gathered some common mistakes in food photography and added some simple fixes that will take your food photography to the next level.

3. Not using fresh ingredients

Food photography is all about looks, so we need to make sure the ingredients we use are fresh and look great.

What to do: buy fresh ingredients and use tricks like lemon water for foods that oxidize and change color. Cold water is great to keep greens like salads and herbs crisp.

4. Overcooking

There are a ton of dishes that just doesn’t look great on a photo after they have already been cooked. They loose texture and color and do not look very appetizing in a photo. If it looks good in real life it doesn’t mean it will look good in a photo. Not even fresh garnish can save those dishes.

What to do: Think about whether your dish will look overcooked in a photo. If so, try undercooking the dish or even cook different ingredients separately to make sure each ingredient is cooked to perfection.

5. Not trying new things

I have a favorite setting for shooting which I know will work almost every time. But if I didn’t try anything new, like new light setups, new dishes, new angles, new props, new stylings, new compositions and so many more I would end up with photos that all look the same. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and try new things because you can fail. BUT you can also find amazing new things about photography and it’s how you find your style.

What to do: Easy! Next time you shoot, start with what you are used to. That way you’ll be sure to have some good shots. Then change things up and see what happens. You’ll be surprised!

I've gathered some common mistakes in food photography and added some simple fixes that will take your food photography to the next level.

6. Using wrong props

In food photography food is the hero. Yes, the whole scene can be the hero too but esencially you want the viewers eyes to go to your dish. Props that don’t match the story or are too bold can move the focus from the dish to that prop. Not cool.

What to do: Chose props that will help tell the story and match the style of the whole setting. Beware of brightly colored props because they can easily distract. Also, some colors don’t work as well in food photography. Red props are very difficult to work with!

7. Overstyling

Guilty! When I look at my old photos, I’m blown away (not in a good way) by how staged they look. Of course, it’s all staged, but the viewer shouldn’t think so. The best food photos are the ones that look natural and true to life.

What to do: One thing that will help immediately is to think in odds. Odds create triangles and triangles make beautiful compositions. Also, let your scene get messy and sprinkle around some crumbs, flour, sugar or whatever is in that delicious food of yours. Place the spoons more organically and not parallel to each other, use diagonals. Study other people’s work and write down what makes the scene look natural.

I've gathered some common mistakes in food photography and added some simple fixes that will take your food photography to the next level.

8. Crooked horizon

I cringe at a crooked horizon! This is one of my pet peeves in any type of photography. Are you guilty of creating crooked photos that make the dish look like it’ gonna fall out of the frame?

What to do: Use a level guide button, turn off the grid on the camera when shooting or fix this in post processing.

5 Tricks To Master Dark And Moody Food Photography

These five easy tips and tricks will help you get better at dark and moody food photography and create jawdropping still life moody shots.

These five easy tips and tricks will help you get better at dark and moody food photography and create jaw-dropping still life moody shots.

Hello to my first photography related post! I’ve been planing on writing about photography for a while and it’s finally time. If you know my blog then you already know I’m all about moody and dark. Will make some brighter tutorials in the future as well but for now let’s stick to what I love most!

I’m really excited to share my thoughts on how to achieve dark and moody in your food photos with just these 5 little tricks. Now, they are not the holy grail of food photography so you can make exeptions and play with what you learn here. These will guide you to learn more about how a moody and dark photo comes to life and maybe try some new things.

Let me first start with what I think is the most important in any type of photography.

1. Story

You will hear me talk about having a story non-stop. I truly believe that the photo must have a well written story in order for people to really understand the photo and engage with it. This will help you choose the props, setup the light, style your dish and also help you with your editing process.

Before even starting to cook what you wanna shoot you need to build a story around the star dish. Think about what atmosphere do you want, what time of day you want to set it in? What season it is? Where is it happening? Who’ll be eating it? Are they alone or are there more people? Is this a date or is it a lunch at your grandmother’s place?

Thinking about how your dish makes you feel will give you a lot of answers. Does it make you happy, does it make you nostalgic, does it make you proud? In my opinion, feelings are a huge component of a good food photo. So really dig deep, because trust me, this will improve your photography no matter the genre.

2. Tweaking the light

There are lots of ways and setups which help you achieve a moody and dark atmposphere. You can even get a moopdy shot in a very bright even sunlit rooms, but let’s focus on the most common and easy thing you can do.

First of all you need a very thin strip of light that lights your main subject aka your dish. You can achieve this by blocking the part of the light that lights all other parts of your photo. You can use anything, I’ve used books, curtains, pillows… Use whatever’s handy and will hold still. I use black and white foam boards to either block the light or to use as a negative fill. Negative fill means you place the foam board on the side of your subject that is opposite your light source and it will prevent any ambient light to hit the subject meaning you get nice moody shadows.

You can get foam boards pretty much everywhere. Hobby stores, office supply stores… They are cheep and light and you can get them in different sizes.

If you look at the photo below, you can see I’m using a white foam board on the left to block the part of light that’s hitting the background. If I placed anything behind the pears it would be in the shadow too. On the right side I have a negative fill. In this case it was a white foam board and a black paper clipped to it. See how you can create gear out of nothing 🙂

These five easy tips and tricks will help you get better at dark and moody food photography and create jaw dropping still life moody shots.

3. Use a tripod

Tripod is key to creating crisp photos in low light conditions. If your setup is very dark and your camera doesn’t handle high ISO very good, then it’s time to get a tripod. I’m gonna assume you shoot in manual mode (if you don’t I’ll be posting how to work manual mode very soon. Make sure you subscribe so you dons miss it).

Now, when you are shooting in low light conditions you are going to have to up that ISO and shoot at a lower f-stop if you want your shutter speed fast enough to prevent blurry images. One thing I hate in food photography is super grainy photos. If you are shooting at high ISO you will get more noise both in detail and in color. What an acceptable ISO number is will vary from camera to camera, but for mine, it’s 800 and above. Tripod solves the noise problem because you can set your ISO at a lower settings (ideally 100-200) and you can get away with very slow shutter speeds especially if you pair it with a remote control.

4. Dark(er) props

Dark props with everything I’ve listed above make the food really shine in dark and moody food photography. Dark props will make your dish stand out and complement it at the same time. You don’t want the props to draw your eye away from the main subject.

Therefore, search for dark backdrops like dark stained wood, old stained baking sheets or you can make your own. There are tons of tutorials on how to make them.

Texture adds so much depth to photos, especially if you want a moody shot. By texture, I mean props that have cuts and bruises, stains, bumps, scrathes… When buying props keep an eye on anything vintage, stained, old. You can check flea markets, thrift stores or in your grandma’s attic. Props that are matte and not very reflective will work the best because reflections in an overall dark shot are hard to manage.

One of the props that I like most for adding texture is fabric. Anythin from tablecloths, to napkins or apron. Linen is my go-to fabric!

I find it hard to get dark vintage ceramics, though. I suggest finding someone who makes their own pottery and find something fitting there. It’s always nice to support local craftsmen, right?

These five easy tips and tricks will help you get better at dark and moody food photography and create jaw dropping still life moody shots.

5. Post processing

The right post-processing will make your dish pop and help tell the story.

I love using local adjustments to boost exposure on everything I want to stand out. This way you don’t need to brighten the whole image but rather have control over what parts need some exposure boost. I love using Lightroom’s color sliders to individually set the luminance, saturation, and hue of any color. I use luminance sliders to help to brighten up only parts of the photo based on what color I choose. You can play with saturation and desaturate anything that’s distracting. And use hue sliders to color correct parts of your setting that aren’t true to life. Be careful, though! These must be minor adjustments otherwise you may end up with a dish that does not look like food at all!

A vignette is always welcome in dark and moody food photography. Be careful here as well. Always keep in mind that a vignette should enhance the shadows without looking like a filter.

Conclusion

When I first started with food photography I shoot light and airy although I always wanted to create the beautiful dark and moody atmosphere in my photos and failes every single time. This tricks helped me to create the dreamy dark and moody food photography that I always wished I could do.

I’d love to hear more about your struggles in dark and moody food photography. Let me know in the comments bellow. What do you need help with?