My approach to food photography is very simple. Try to make the food look as good in the pictures as it did in person. Often, this is easier said than done.
I only shoot with natural light.
I don’t use a flash, any fancy reflectors, or artificial lighting setups. I time my photo shoots around when I know the light in my house will be most flattering. In the summer, I can shoot into the later afternoon. In the winter, all bets are off after 2pm.
I don’t use a tripod and shoot freehand, 100% of the time.
I have one camera and two lenses, and everything I do, I do with lens A or lens B.
When I started blogging in 20o9, I used a point-and-shoot camera, and had no idea what I was doing. Over the years, and tens of thousands of images and thousands of hours of practice later, I’ve improved.
I’ve upgraded my equipment many times, but no amount of money spent on equipment can substitute for practicing and taking pictures almost daily. I learn something new with every food photo shoot I do. There are no big secrets or shortcuts. Keep taking pictures and practicing, making tweaks and adjustments, until you get the images to look the way you want them to.
I am my own harshest critic and although I won’t publish images on my site unless I like them, when I go back and review them three to six months later, I’m never satisfied. It’s what keeps me pressing on to improve, grow, and become better.
Below are links to what I use.
From July 2013 to the present, this is the camera body I shoot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III
I only use three. After trying out tons of lenses and playing around with them, all photos from 2012 to the present have been taken with the three lenses below.
The images taken with the 50mm are sharper, but I cannot get as close to the food due to the minimum focal distance of this lens being about 18 inches. Any shots closer than 18 inches, such as closeups of cookies, are taken with the 24-70. Since buying the macro lens mid-2014, it’s my number one lens and primary workhorse.
Natural light is best and given the constraints of my condo, I have to shoot in the morning on sunny days. I boost and supplement morning light with this light. It’s the only indoor light I’ve used that I’m satisfied with how it makes food look. It’s mounted on this stand.
Backpack for Camera & Laptop combo – I love this bag and highly recommend it for anyone with a laptop (fits a 17″ Macbook Pro) and a big DSLR with a couple large lenses. It’s my salvation in airports and traveling because I can wear it on my back, the weight is evenly distributed, and my hands and arms are free.
Camera Bag – A custom bag I had made and it’s very pretty, but it’s not a rugged bag nor is it very large. However, if you’re taking an afternoon trip or a weekend trip by car, and just need something to put your camera and a lens or two in, this is a good option.
second Camera Bag (re-purposed) – A bag I tried and although I had high hopes for it, I don’t reach for it much.
Tamrac N25 Neoprene QuickRelease Camera Strap (Black) – It’s very bouncy and lightweight and for taking pictures of desserts in my house, it’s perfect. It’s not the strap I’d recommend for a rugged outback adventure, but for a lightweight, comfortable strap that’s bouncy and springy, I like this one better than many others I’ve tried.
Tripod – I own it, but I never, ever, ever use it. I shoot freehand, 100% of the time. I thought I would use a tripod, but I just don’t.
DIY: Making Lightbounces & Using Light – Rather than investing in fancy lighting gear, I use 49 cent pieces of white posterboard with some L-brackets I taped on; extremely low tech and practically free.
Photography-Related Workshops and Events
Thermador Kitchens and White on Rice’s White Party, Irvine California, February 27, 2013 (scroll to end of the post)
Blogshop San Francisco, April 9-10, 2012
KitchenAid, Cook Books, & Photography Event, February 29, 2012
Real Food Styling Photography Workshop, April 2011
Food and Light Photography Workshop, Boulder Colorado, August 2011
Mexico City Photography Tour with Penny de los Santos, July 2011:
Mexico City: Friday Night Out
Published Photos & Galleries
Helpful Photography Books and Resources
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin of Tartlette
Jenn Cuisine – Extremely comprehensive with links to hundreds of other helpful sites and information