The Art Of Food Photography

First Impressions Count….

The saying goes that a picture paints a thousand words and in today’s fast paced society where we’re inundated with information, images and suggestions it’s more important than ever to ensure your images give the right impression. Being able to produce high quality photographs of your products is vital for your marketing, be it on your website, appearing on your social media channels or on flyers and adverts, but do you know the basics of how to take a good food photo?

To help you out we asked our team of designers, the talent behind our own photos, to give us their tips…

Light in the darkness

Branded burger wraps

Where to start? Natural light is usually best but try to avoid direct sunlight – sunbeams might sound nice but in truth, on camera, they’ll take the attention away from your amazing culinary creations. Try taking your photos near a well-lit window or one that faces north – not too bright and not too dark.

If you’re taking photos in the evening, ensure your light source (light bulb) doesn’t add colour to your image. For best results try placing the light source behind, to the side or above your subject and to avoid flat looking images and never place your light source on the same angle or direction as the camera.

Consider using white or black boards (painted pieces of card will do) and even mirrors to bounce the light around and improve shadows. Oh, and never use your flash…it’ll white out everything and leave you with a flat looking image.

Which is my best side?

Branded greaseproof with pancakes

Some food naturally looks good when photographed from above – think pizza, pancakes and doughnuts. However, if you’re trying to tempt people with your baked cakes or burgers for instance, then a side on shot is going to leave them marvelling the height of your produce and hopefully have their mouths watering too. Choose an angle that highlights the best qualities of your food and if in doubt try a few and see what works.

Clear as day…

We recommend you use a tripod to ensure beautiful overhead images with no blurred edges but if you don’t have access to a tripod, try resting your arms on a steady surface when taking a photo. If that’s not an option a good trick to try is tucking your elbows in to hold the camera as stable as possible to prevent the dreaded blur.


Custom printed food wrap

Before you even contemplate taking a photo you need to consider what food you’re using and how you show it at its very best. Does it look amazing straight out of the oven? If so, run some test photos using a stand in product and bring the food out from the oven once you’re ready to take the shot.

Did you know the photographic industry employs tricks to improve how food looks on camera? Try adding a little oil to veggies or spray water on salad and fruit to make them look appetising and fresh. The professionals also use engine oil to represent syrup on pancakes and glue as a milk substitute to prevent soggy cereal…but you don’t have to go that far!

We do however recommend that any plates etc. you use are perfectly clean and chip free (although you might want to think outside the box and photograph the food cooking in a pot/pan), arrange food neatly and clean up any spillages. 

Location, location, location…

Our designers started talking about composition and the use of thirds, the magic triangle and whilst we’re sure it’s amazing advice…it’s also very technical. Then they mentioned creating a story and we were back in the room. Think about what leads your eye into a photograph, what’s in the foreground, midground and background…are they relevant to the photo, do they say anything about your brand?

 Maybe create a simple scene that the viewer can step into and enjoy – a book, a coffee and hands in the scene…? For an easy start, try placing your main item off centre in the scene and add items to draw the eye to the area you want to focus on. If the image lacks interest, try experimenting with heights and textures rather than filling it with items – having empty space is pleasing on the eye so don’t feel the need to fill the shot with content.

Supporting cast...

Food grade branded greaseproof

Going hand in hand with your composition are the props you use to dress the image. Whilst the last thing you want to do is detract attention from your amazing food, you do need to add a little something to make the image zing! Including ingredients used in the dish coveys the message that your food is freshly prepared and home-made and adds to that story you’re trying to create. Maybe you’re taking the image for a holiday promotion so consider seasonal items that fit with the story you’re telling.

Last point - do check your choice of prop colours doesn’t distract the viewer from what you want them to be looking at, your food is the feature! 

Where am I?

The background of your photos might feel like the least of your worries but in reality…it says a lot about your brand. Both the background and the props you use set the expectations of the viewer so consider what mood you’re trying to evoke. Are you an indie food van or an established restaurant? Sophisticated dining, focusing on healthy living or featuring fun desserts? Each situation will need to portray a different mood that’s unique to their offering. What we do advise is be consistent across your images and keep the backgrounds similar, so people recognise your work. It goes without saying that displaying your food on custom branded greaseproof reinforces your brand name and recognition amongst viewers… 

We really hope you found the tips useful and would love to see some of your food image creations – don’t forget to tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and we’ll be sure to repost our favourites.