Food photography – making your food images pop

Food photography - making your food images pop

Food photography – making your food images pop


What a wonderful thing to be able to capture on your vacation and of course, the delicious food you are trying maybe for the first time in that country. Of course taking candid shots of farmers markets, foodie stores, street vendors or restaurants is typical, but how do you really make those images of food look so tantalizing. You know, food you see online or in printed publications that look so good, you practically want to lick your laptop screen?


Here are some good ideas and tips to make your food photographing pop:


Food photography - making your food images pop

Simple tight focused details

Keep it Simple

First look for simplicity – keep things simple and take out things in the image that are distracting. If the food is not so attractive visually (like a brown stew), just photograph a part of it and add simple props like utensils and plate ware to complete the presentation.



Food photography - making your food images pop

Show it being cooked

Show it being cooked

Yes go into the kitchen and show the cooks and prep people cooking at the stove. Focusing on colorful ingredients or the process of food being prepared and plated can lead to interesting compositions in your photography. You’ll get some dynamic pictures if you get a chance to get into the kitchen while the food being prepared.


Food photography - making your food images pop

Presenting mini fritatas

Add the human element

Including a hand stirring apot or someone serving you the entrée adds so much more to the image than just the food alone on the table. so do include the human element to make it more interesting.

Vary your camera angle

Try different angles of the food when it is served on the table – shoot it from the top, left, bottom or right side. You’ll get different looks and compositions in the  presentations of the food and the images become more dynamic and beautiful to look at. Experiment and enjoy this playful process. (But don’t let your food get to cold in the process of taking many angle shots)


Food photography - making your food images pop

Try interesting angles and natural light

Try to use natural light

Use as much natural light as you can by getting a spot close to a window or a table with lighting and avoid flash at all costs especially since many diners hate flash and fussy scenes with taking multitude of pictures in a restaurant.



Food photography - making your food images pop

Including some of the environment in the photo

Look for the environmental shot

When taking a picture of street food or an atmospheric environment, try to include a shot of the vendor cooking and preparing the food or anything that identifies the scene. Make the imagery complete by including some elements of the immediate environment to define the food and its relationship to that place.



Food photography - making your food images pop

Ingredients for an Italian dish

Take a look at the ingredients

If you are in a market or street food venue, consider taking pictures of the raw ingredients, small details or the food being prepared before the main dish is served. This is similar to the environmental shot, but more about the details of the ingredients and preparation. Even messy spoons, haphazard ingredients, food items or even kitchens can make interesting compositions for food photography

Take pictures of people enjoying their food

This is more effective with street food because you really get the immediate recreation from the person eating it. This is another facet of showing food with the human element to complete that food experience and how people relate to their food.



Food photography - making your food images pop

Selective focus on the grilling

Selective focus

Try to experiment on the visual presentation of the food by selectively focusing on a certain segment, either the foreground, the middle or some visual part that you want to highlight. Keeping parts of the image sharp and the rest fading softly into the background creates a really nice composition in highlighting what is the most visually stimulating areas of focus.

Think about space

Within a restaurant or some space where food is the focus, try to show how the food relates to the subject by creating a sense of place and time. This can be done by showing the entire environment, the food being served by someone, or an interesting table setting or service that makes it truly unique to the space.

Gather around the table

The most casual or intimate moments are created when family or friends gather around the table and share a meal. Try capturing those moments in this type of setting and sharing a meal together. You can create some wonderful images and show something really unique about the place and culture you are visiting.




Food photography - making your food images pop

Chocolate preparations

In the moment

Have your camera always ready for spontaneous moments that may happen with food. You may capture additional details, added visuals and colors or impromptu situations that lead to fun and fresh presentation or moments while dining.

There you go, some simple but effective ideas and advice in making your imagery with food become more alive and interesting when you include some or all the ideas above. Again, if you enjoyed reading this post, please do share it with any of the social media buttons below.

Hope you enjoyed some of my tips on food photography. If you enjoyed the post, please do share it with any of the social media buttons below, thank you.











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31 Responses to Food photography – making your food images pop

  1. Gemma March 4, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    I am terrible at food photos – good idea to get in the kitchen!

  2. Juan Carlo February 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    These are some mouthwatering photos you got here Noel. As a caterer I definitely want my customers to feel the same way as I do now. Hungry.
    Thanks for sharing these tips, I’ll be sure to apply them next time I take photos for my menu!

  3. Nancy Thompson July 29, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Hi Noel, I clicked through from a twitter post and really enjoyed this post. I love taking photos of food and food environments as we travel and even adventure around town, but what looks so interesting to my eye never seems to come through the lens of my camera. I am still a novice photographer using an iphone (occasionally) and a Nikon point and shoot so there isn’t a lot of depth of field play but I know I can do better even with what I have. Your tips were really helpful. I’m trying to develop my photographer’s eye before I rush out to buy an expensive camera. I do believe that it’s not the camera that takes the photo, it’s the person. You take stunning photos that always tell an interesting story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Carole Terwilliger Meyers July 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    What lovely images! especially that first one! I love taking pictures of food, and I will try some of your suggestions. I just photographed a really yummy and beautiful meal in Solvang, CA, that I will share here with you,

  5. Michele Peterson July 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Lots of great suggestions here! Especially the ones about shooting ingredients and using natural light. It’s tough when dining in restaurants but so worthwhile as otherwise its a complete waste of time.

  6. Suzanne Stavert July 15, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Wonderful post! I loved the chocolatiers! I have been taking photos of my food for many years. I am always disappointed when the food is amazing, but the room is too dark. I don’t even bother. Getting a table near the window is always a plus! I do however really enjoy the colors of fruits and vegetable at the market. It like nature’s Crayola box!

  7. Brianna May 13, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    Great tips Noel, my food pictures are always some of my most popular. A big pet peeve of mine is when restaurants or cafes keep their lighting so low I can’t get a good shot. Candlelight works great with drinks and wine but not so much with food.

  8. Lisa @ 50 Things to Know Travel March 31, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    These are all great tips! I did not think of the one around the table.

  9. Suzanne Fluhr March 31, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Nice, Noel. My food photos are usually taken with my smart phone camera. I have my husband trained to wait to dig in until I’ve decided whether or not I need a photo of his plate.

  10. Bonnie Morgan March 29, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    Thank you for the tips. Your photography is great. I have a LONG way to go but I keep trying.

  11. Life Images by Jill March 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    great tips – thanks Noel

  12. Heather March 25, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Thanks for sharing these excellent tips! I love the shot looking down on the tower of cupcakes, it’s a totally unexpected angle and really works!

  13. Greg March 25, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Great tips. As I get to know my new home of Costa Rica and venture out with my camera, I am invariably drawn to take pictures of food, with all the wonderful colors and textures. Thanks for the tips.

  14. Marisol@TravelingSolemates March 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Hi Noel, great tips! All your food shots are delectable. The last shot is superb but my fave is the 4th!

  15. Marcia March 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    Definitely some great tips, Noel. Since I’m always taking food photos, these are especially timely. I agree, never use flash and take photos from different angles. Solid tips. Great photos, as usual.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  16. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} March 21, 2014 at 4:42 am #

    Thank you so much for these tips. Food photography is an area where I need a lot of help.I keep taking blah photos and can’t quite figure out what I’m doing wrong. I should probably sit down in my kitchen and practice with camera settings instead of at a restaurant. I especially like your tip about how to shoot food like a brown stew.

  17. budget jan March 20, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Thanks for the tips. Love the mini fritata shot. Great color.

  18. Johanna March 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Love love love your shots, Noel and thank you for some brilliant tips. I shall definitely be thinking more about food photography in my travel posts and your advice is something to heed as I snap away on our forthcoming trip. Thank you!

  19. jenny@atasteoftravel March 20, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    Some great tips Noel. The dishes often look so delicious that at times,I forget to take a photo! I’ll be trying some of these next time I’m not so hungry!

  20. muzachan March 19, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Yummy! 🙂

  21. wandering educators March 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    LOVE this. thank you!

  22. Chris Boothman March 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    High quality tips here Noel on taking food shots! I honestly never thought about it in too much detail prior to reading your post, probably because Heather is the primary photographer between us. But I think having your camera ready any any given moment to capture that perfect shot is certainly applicable to any photography genre. I think with the development of point and click cameras and particularly smartphones, we are all in a much better position to take pictures at any given opportunity!

  23. Kathryn March 19, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    I do love photographing food, whether still growing, in the market, being prepared or on the plate and often use these images in my articles. Food is such a fascinating part of any culture. You’ve got me thinking though… I rarely, if ever, photograph people actually eating…. seems a bit intrusive but if I find a willing vicitm, or rather subject, next time I’m out I’ll give that ago too!

  24. Suzanne (Travelbunny) March 19, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Great tips which I definitely put into practice next time I’m shooting food. Thank you

  25. Corinne March 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    All good tips from you and Paul above! Love the shot of the chefs!

  26. Sonia March 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Everyone on Instagram should definitely read this! I’m always a little embarrassed when I’m taking pics of my food so I try to do it quickly, but I think if I take my time and follow your lead =) I can get some good shots!

  27. Paul (@luxury__travel) March 18, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    If photographing a dish, it seems to me that a tight crop and shallow DOF usually does the trick. But there are some other tips here that look really useful that I’ll also take away with me. Thanks, Noel… insightful as ever 🙂


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I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add

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