Food photography is like every other photography.  To take a good photo you should follow some rules irrespective of whether you are making a portrait photo of a beautiful model or a photo of an impressive landscape.

Similar to people some foods are photogenic, others have charisma and stand well before camera, and the photographers have to “take out” the best of the others.

You may have decided to take pictures of food because you love to cook or because you have a culinary blog, or maybe because you are a photographer working on a project, whatever the reason is allow me to debunk your first thoughts.

Myth №1 – I should have a professional camera

I never agreed to that. I deliberately pay a lot of attention to food photography with a phone here and on Instagram. Can you make good photos with your phone? Of course you can! Regardless of your device what is most important is to know it at its best and to easily work with its manual settings. Believe me or not you can take a lot worse photo with the “Auto” mode of your camera than you can take with your phone’s manual settings.

Practice a lot. This is the only way to learn what your camera can do. In the picture below you will see a comparison between two photographs. The first is taken with a camera and the second is taken with a phone. In both photos I’ve used manual settings and the result is equally good.

Food photography: using a camera/ using a phone.
Food photography: using a camera/ using a phone.

Food Photography Myth № 2 – I should take photos in the kitchen

Many people think that when it comes to food photography the photo should be taken in the kitchen. I take photos in all of the rooms of my apartment depending on where I have the best light at the particular moment. I carry the plates and everything I need for the scene but it is always worth it. 

Before you take a photo next time go through all of your rooms. Find the window without direct sunlight at the moment and arrange your scene next to it. Good light is your best weapon for a good photo!

The photograph you see below is taken in my bedroom. When I shoot from above I often make the scene there because I don’t have enough space in my kitchen.

Food Photography Myth № 3 – I should cook well enough

Oh, no! I began photographing food simply because I liked doing it. 

I like the way food looks, I like the colors, I like playing with the scene and the shadows. My culinary skills improved after a while. Somebody had to cook the food for the photographs.

In the beginning I took pictures of sandwiches, healthy breakfasts with blueberries and dishes which were easy and quick to prepare.

In fact it is not necessary at all to cook if you don’t want to. Go to your favourite confectionary shop and buy some candy or a cake to experiment with. Cakes are photogenic food and I am sure that you’ll find someone to eat it after the photographs.

Myth № 4 – I need a lot of light

I remember someone saying they don’t have a terrace at home to shoot on. You don’t even need one. For a good photograph you need a little light and good comprehension of your camera. There’s a suitable window for shooting in every home, believe me!

When we talk about light I don’t exclude artificial lights at all. Almost all of my photographs are taken in natural light but there are moments when you need to use professional artificial lighting. If you have decided to take food photography as a professional occupation you might use both types of light and see which one works better for you.

Myth № 5 – Shadows are an enemy

No, they are not! I try not to have sharp shadows in most of my photos. That’s why I use a reflector almost every time to reduce them. There are cases though when food looks better with shadows. You have to decide whether you like it or not depending on your own style.

Shadows always add dramatic effect and depth of the photograph. I like seeing more shadows when I shoot in dark backgrounds.

Myth № 6 – I have to use paid software to edit my photos

No, you don’t. There are lots of free mobile apps for photo enhancement. My favourite is Adobe Lightroom. I use it both on my computer and my phone. Go to Adobe website and download your free 7 days trial version to see how it works.

Another option is to use ready Instagram filters before you post your photo. They are not good all the time but you’ll manage to work with them after several tries.

You may read more about photo editing in this article. Don’t underestimate it! I would say editing is half of the good photograph.

At the end I would say only one word I won’t get tired of repeating – practice, practice, practice! That is the only way of getting better in food photography. I’d be happy to see your progress and discuss you photos on Instagram, so tag me there.