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Food pictures - how to make them look great at home – tips from our photographer

Food pictures - how to make them look great at home – tips from our photographer

How you can take professional food photos at home

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Nick Käseberg

Nick Käseberg

Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

Taking pictures of food is always a bit tricky, right? Be it in a restaurant or at home, if I have delicious looking food in front of me, I want to share it. But it never comes out as appetising on my phone as I want it to be...

For all of you who want to take great shots of your delicious meals, I asked a professional photographer at Kitchen Stories how to do it right.

After you’ve read this article you will know how to hold your camera or phone when taking pictures of food, how to style your meals and your background for the camera, and what you need to do to make the picture Instagrammable!

The right equipment for food photography at home

At Kitchen Stories we use professional equipment, like cameras, flashlights and connected laptops to check the pictures while shooting. But that is not necessary at home!

Phones nowadays have great built-in cameras, and when it comes to the right lighting, our Kitchen Stories photographer recommends using natural light. Just move your plate as close to a window as you can, and your picture will be beautifully lit. This works great during daytime, even if the sun is not shining!

Setting up your background

Setting up a background is all about contrast and making the food pop. Our photographer starts by thinking about the colours of the dish. As an example, when photographing a yellow-ish meal (such as scrambled eggs), you can use a blue plate to highlight the colour of the food.

The background surface can be a bit lighter to contrast the plate, as you can see in the picture above of the smoky aubergine dip with labneh and harissa-spiced nuts. To create this set-up, you can use a tablecloth, coloured paper or even a shirt.

The last step is filling the empty spaces in the picture. Add some ‘props’, such as cutlery, a glass, and salt and pepper shakers around the plate. When framing the picture, the props only need to peek in at the edges.

Perspective: The easiest and best shot is from right above

Our photographer recommends always taking pictures of your food from right above. It’s called a top shot and is the easiest way to make your dish look great. The exception here is burgers and sandwiches, where this bird's eye view will mean you only see bread!

Whether your camera or phone is in your hand or on a stand, before taking the shot you need to make sure to put the food right in the middle of the image. Some camera apps have horizontal and vertical lines on the display, which are great for seeing exactly where the middle is.

Food styling: tips and secrets

Styling food is about form, colour, and composition. Our photographer explains it this way: If, for example, you have rice with meat, you want to place the rice underneath and slices of the meat slightly on top rather than side by side. The food has to interact somehow.

Then you can bring in different shapes to make the image more interesting. For example, cut up scallions bring a green freshness to the picture, as well as extra dimension and more contrast.

The two secret ingredients in food styling for our photographer are mixed cracked pepper and oil. The pepper gives little focus points and adds even more colour to the picture. The oil can make dry looking food appear glossy, and therefore more delicious.

The perfect example is this colourful carrot tart with ricotta right above. The dill, parsley, and pine nuts create focus points in different shapes and colours. And the carrots are glossy thanks to the oil we brushed on before the shoot.

Editing: Are Instagram filters enough?

My pictures never really look right just by putting a filter over them. Our photographer explained to me why. There are so many different colours in food pictures, and by editing them independently, you can really make them shine! The goal is to make the food look real!

Our photographer recommends the program ‘Lightroom’ to achieve the best results. It’s free to download and allows you to adjust brightness, colours, and contrast, even for different parts of the image.

Professional tip: Leave the picture for a day, and then edit it again. If you’ve overdone it somewhere, you’ll see it immediately and can readjust.

Show off your new food photography skills here and post them under your own or our recipes!

Published on May 11, 2024

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