Photography for Food Bloggers

Kristen over at Dine and Dish recently organized the second Adopt A Blogger event. Experienced bloggers “adopt” new bloggers and offer advice, ideas and assistance to help them navigate the blogosphere. I’ve adopted Carmen of Carmen Cooks.

Last week, Carmen mentioned that she is really interested in improving her food photography. She mostly cooks and photographs at night, so it’s a big challenge to capture good colors and resolution in the artificial light. Boy, have I been there. Until recently, night time was my only opportunity to cook and photograph too. And it’s certainly a huge disappointment when you make a fantastic meal, but cannot capture a good shot.

Now – full disclosure – I am still learning about taking the best photos myself. But here are a few notes on photography to help you along.


It goes without saying that natural lighting is always best. It brings out the richest colors. But, if you cannot use natural lighting, then a photo studio in a box is a good alternative for the beginning to intermediate photographer. The good thing about units like this is that you can pack them up and put them out of sight when you aren’t using them. Further, they provide even results every time.

If you aren’t ready to invest in a photo studio in a box though, some people simply use colored posterboard for background and prop it up on a laptop or books. This creates the same even background.

Avoid the Flash

Flash - No Flash

Avoid using the flash that comes on most cameras. Notice how the indents and texture of the cupcakes above are white in the flash photo? The white of the flash catches on shiny surfaces like this and creates the glare and distortion that you see. It ends up being a lesser shot.

However, in this case, neither photo really worked since the no flash photo didn’t have enough light areas to help adjust it to delectable proportions. Sometimes, a shot just doesn’t work …

Take Lots of Photos

Versions of a photo

It’s also important and helpful to take many photos of your subject — in different lighting, with different backgrounds, etc, so that you can find the right shot. I typically snap between 15 and 25 shots per dish. That way, when a photo doesn’t work, you have others to choose from that may work.

A photo doesn’t have to be 100 percent perfect, either, even the best photographers use photo editors to help them get the best color and clarity.

Photo Editing

Photo Editing Before and After

When professional photographers take photos for publications, the snap of the picture and download of the file isn’t the end of the process. Using a good photo editor can enhance a photo and make it tantalizing. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements, which has a lot of the benefits of Adobe Photoshop, which many professionals use, without the breathtaking price tag. It’s pretty easy to use and really does improve photos.

Here’s what some other food bloggers say about photo editing/styling:


  1. says

    Photography is the challenge I’ve set for myself this year, and I’ve been testing different set-ups, lighting, styling, etc. It’s as important to find your voice as a photographer as it as to find your writer’s voice, and every bit of advice really helps.

  2. says

    Thanks so much, Sarah! I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to look at your photography tips until now – I’ve been having a crazy couple of weeks at work .. still am, but am trying to dig myself out and take some time for my blog! Thanks for the tip on the photo studio in a box – I never knew they had kits like that and will look into it!


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