Cameta 101: How to Take Delectable Photos of Food

Food photography seems to be everywhere on social media. It’s almost as popular as cat pictures. If you want to take your photos to the next level then here is some gear and tips for you. A great photograph can inspire people to try something new or eat healthier, and having these tools can help you be the motivation for that.

Gear You Need:

You can shoot with your point & shoot, mirrorless ILC, DSLR camera, even a smartphone. I prefer to shoot with an interchangeable lens camera. This way I can shoot at different angles and control the depth of field much better than I can with a smartphone. Also, the pictures have better quality and sharpness.

50mm lenses for Canon, Nikon and Sony. These lenses have a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, perfect for low-light shooting. If you’re shooting in your kitchen or in a restaurant with dim lighting then this is a great choice to capture as much light as possible. Also, the wide aperture creates beautiful shallow depth of field for a nice, blurry background which keeps the focus on the details of your meal. This is great for shots from above that are super popular on Instagram.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

Macro lenses for Canon, Nikon and Sony
These lenses are great for angled shots from the side. If you want to focus on the food with a blurry background then this is perfect for that. You don’t have to get close to the food… in fact, you will need to stand back a bit which is good so you don’t get steam on the lens if the food is hot.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 G VR Sony 90mm f/2.8

When you shoot indoors, or even outside in the shade, there can be some dark shadowy areas that make the image look muddy. Using a reflector to bounce some of the available light onto the shadows can really brighten up the image.

Precision Design PD-MR32 5-in-1 32″ Collapsible Reflector Disk

Continuous LED Light with Mini Tripod
This continuous light source is great to hand hold or put on a tabletop tripod to add some light to your food. Sometimes window light isn’t enough, especially if it’s a cloudy day. You don’t have to worry about using a flash, and the light is dimmable so you can adjust it to your preference.

Vidpro LED-150 Ultra-Slim Video Light DLC Mini Adjustable Tripod

Tripod for Camera
I highly recommend using a tripod for food photography. Whether I shoot from above or from the side, I want my pictures to be as sharp as possible. I have tried to take pictures handheld and they are never quite what I want them to be. If you are using a macro lens and want to fine tune your focus point then use a tripod. You will be so happy that you did in the end.

Sunpak 65″ Pro M4 Heavy Duty Video Tripod


Light and Shadow
Use natural light whenever possible for realistic-looking color. If you only want to add a little accent light from the side then that’s great, but try to use as much natural light as possible. Don’t forget about the shadows. Harsh shadows can add a lot of drama, while soft shadows create detailed subtleties, so make sure to notice the parts in shadow especially if you want to create a specific lighting style throughout your pictures.

Use subdued colors for a subtle effect, or use bright or contrasting colors to add some energy or create an exciting mood. If you are shooting pumpkin muffins then maybe you want to throw in some orange or brown leaves. If you are shooting a pasta dish with vegetables then accent the background with the color of one of the veggies.

Sprinkle some ingredients or flowers around to add texture. Arrange food like a still life, get creative and have fun. Dash the plate or cutting board with a spice or drop some berries on it. Put the food on a spoon and hold it so that people see your hand and can imagine themselves taking a bite of the food. Take a bite out of a muffin or meatball and put the food back in the pic to show a human touch (plus, this shows the tasty inside). If shooting from an angle make the background blurry. If shooting from above remove unwanted distractions.

When I photograph food, I always have a few shots in mind that I want to get, as I’m sure you do too. After you get those shots, move around and try out different angles. Moving to the other side from a higher angle may have better light than the other side. I have had so many beautiful accidents by doing this.


Shoot with an interchangeable lens camera to get the most control over your photographs and the best quality. Invest in some lenses or rent them to try them out. Having good quality lenses makes such a difference with those subtleties you want to capture. Use natural light and a small accent light to bring out the details in the food. Use color or lack of color to your advantage. You can build a nice style depending on recurring color palettes in your pictures. Add some flowers, leaves or spices to accent your picture. Don’t forget to think outside of the box and try out different angles or props, because every shoot is an opportunity to discover something new. Now it’s time to cook, blend and chop up your favorite meals and break out your camera for some exciting and shareworthy photos!

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