Food Photography: Helping Food Look as Great as it Tastes! | Do Try This at Home: Food Photography: Helping Food Look as Great as it Tastes!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Food Photography: Helping Food Look as Great as it Tastes!

This post was originally written by the amazingly talented Valerie Laramee way back in 2010, and actually just a month or two before I got my very first DSLR camera. However, it is every bit as relevant four years later! (Especially if you had been struggling like I was to find a way to make your food not look like barf.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Food Photography~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
By Valerie Lamaree

Just a few tips from me. I don't profess to be some kind of crazy amazing food photographer, but I enjoy cooking a lot, and trying to make my food look pretty, and I enjoy taking photos, so it stands to reason that I would end up taking photos of food.

I think back to my own childhood, and I think of all the memories I have that are kind of hazy- or just not there. This is in the back of my mind a lot when I take photos of my kids' everyday lives, just little details, their toys, their activities, the things they make. I want them to have a picture of their childhoods to look back on, and what they eat is a big part of it. (It's a bigger to some than others- my Nicholas is a real little gourmand. )

So, anyway, I just want to share some tips that I use, some examples of food photos that I like, and am proud of, and I want to encourage everyone to take photos of your own food, especially things that you make that are special, or that are real standbys in your home. Write your recipes down (or type them) and pass these down to your kids. I think they'll be happy to have them when they are older.

My first tip is that anytime you make something special, or that took a lot of time, take photos of it! How cool will it be some day when your kids are talking about those cool cookies Mom sent to school for Halloween to be able to show them the photo.

Another tip is to start collecting some cool dishes or serving platters to use. I find a lot of cool plates and stuff at TJ Maxx. I also keep my eyes open after the holidays to get nice trays and things on clearance. JoAnn's and Michael's really mark their stuff down after the holidays. the Halloween plate above came from JoAnn's after Halloween, and I think I paid $2 for it.

My challenge to myself for this summer is to see if I can find some cool, vintagey looking stuff at yard sales or flea markets to use in food photos. I want some cool looking old silverware.

One technique I use a lot is to open up my aperture and focus in on one food item, while using more of the same food item and/or ingredients from the recipe in the blurred background.

Get close to the food.

Arrange things so they look cool. Try stacking cookies instead of piling them on a plate.

You can't really go wrong with cookies though. They look good piled on plates too.

Or just on the cooling rack.

I like food to be photographed in an appropriate setting, so I use my kitchen a lot, with a wide aperture to blur out the BG. (My kitchen looks a lot nicer with a little blur on it )

A word to the wise- be super careful photographing soups, stews, or anything that might be confused with a pile of regurge on a plate. If you are very conscious with your setup, you'll have no problems.

I used a round cookie cutter to help mold my rice into a perfect circle to hold this gingered beef.

You want to avoid anything that would end up looking like this:

If you have any friends who own restaurants, offer to take food photos for them, if you have an interest in food photography. My friend Charlie produced some amazing stuff for me to photograph, and he has used a lot of my photos on his websites and menus and stuff.

Having plenty of time, and plenty of space, and tons of natural light can also make a pretty huge difference in the kind of photos you can get. His restaurant was perfect for photos.

More posts in the "Tips for Improving Your Photography" Series:

Five Tips for Better Images! (Without Buying Stuff) - By Megan Love

Letting your Kids Call the Shots: Tips for Getting Great Photos of Your Kids - by Meg Kelly Anderson

Shared on:

Texas Women Bloggers


MarkD60 said...

My camera has a special setting for taking pictures of food.

Jill said...

Have you used it Mark? I wonder what it's like? Similar to macro maybe?

Staci said...

Fantastic photos! I find that mine are sometimes hit or miss,really pretty or looking like it had an unfortunate accident.

Jill said...

Mine too Staci - that's why I'm trying to improve!

Unknown said...

This is great info! I def need to go to Goodwill and yard sales to see what I can scoop up.. I have a few posts that I am proud of re the food photography but others where they do not look good at all! Linking up W TWB Sweet Tea Link Up

Bobbi @ 3GLOL said...

Thanks for all the great tips. Been trying to pick up as many tips as I can. Oh, and my to do list this summer is to get more plates, serving dishes, platters, etc too :)

Jill said...

Thanks Aimee & Bobbi! I am definitely still working on it too!

Tracy said...

Oh my goodness, I need to go and eat something now.
Everything looks so delicious.
I am still working in auto with my camera though.

Unknown said...

Great pictures and tips. I don't photograph a lot of food but I do appreciate all the tips you shared and will book mark this page for future use!

Anonymous said...

Great tips! I do a lot of posts with recipes, so I will probably be referring back to this. :-)

Bethany @ Our Journey to Ithaca

Anonymous said...

This tips are perfect for me! I so need help with my food photography. :-) Thanks for linking this up in the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party! I'm pinning to the group board and to my personal boards for reference.

Unknown said...

Hi Jill,
What a great post!! I just took Craftsy's Basic Photography class, and was hoping to take their food class, but after seeing this post I don't think I need to! Stopping in to let you know I will be featuring it tomorrow on Made in a Day! Thanks for pinning!

Jill said...

Wow! I didn't realize I was so behind on comments for this post!

SO EXCITING Kim! I mean, I didn't actually write this OR take the pictures, but it's still SO exciting!!! Can't wait to tell Valerie!

Thanks Rebekah, Bethany, and Valerie! I'm glad it's useful!

Tracy, you have SO much talent in other places - no surprise you have no place to fit in photography. Besides, don't you have your own personal photographer!?!?!?

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing these tips with us. I've been looking for something like this to make my food look pretty like the ones you showed here in your post.

Definitely bookmarking this one! Hope you're having a great weekend.

P.S. I found your post on Sverve.

Jill said...

You're welcome Corina!!!! I hope it does you right! :-) Valerie is the best!


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