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Food Photography Hints and Tips

Food Photography Hints and Tips

Food photography is not as easy as it looks. I myself struggle when trying to take shots of the dishes I have prepared or am eating.It seems like every shot of mine looks rather awkward and just not right. Unlike travel photos , food photography requires some tips and tricks to making the dish look delicious.i tend to use my mobile phone which is a Samsung S9 I love just how amazing my Instagram feed looks with shots taken on my phone but I do know that I will need to use/get a professional camera pretty soon.

I love using my phone for my photography for several reasons:

  • compact and light weight to carry around.
  • Not complicated to use.
  • Easy to upload images.
  • I always have a power bank on me so no need to carry charging cables.
  • Photographs are much easier to edit.

But we all need some help every now and then ,I was rather impressed with this list of hints and tips from celebrity Chef and food stylist Zola Nene. It is indeed true that we eat with our eyes and it is no wonder that the hashtag #food has 283 million posts on Instagram.We all are guilty of taking pictures of our own food and our family and friends meals and shouting out wait I NEED TO TAKE A PIC FIRST ! My poor Mum has gotten used to me doing this and often this means she has to drink a coffee gone cold or her food gone cold. Have you read about the Instagram Husband ?

Zola Nene’s Tips for taking out some pretty cool Instagram droolworthy food shots :

She says you need to remember the three most important elements in getting your shot ready: styling and plating the food and how you take your picture. Here are some of her useful tips:

Get the food ready

Plating your food: Choose your plate or platter wisely. Whatever you choose to plate your dish on should be a backdrop for the food. It shouldn’t distract or compete with what’s on the plate. Personally, I like a flat colour with a bit of texture.

Styling essentials: Styling is key to making your food look tasty. Back in the day stylists would use all manner of sometimes toxic things to make food glisten and shine. Keep it 100% natural with olive oil, a brush and a water spray bottle.

Brush any roasts and veggies with olive oil to bring out the shine and make the food look moreish. If your dish includes salad or herbs, a spritz of water will give them a look of freshness.

Garnish: Use ingredients that are included in the recipe as garnish for the dish; a sprinkle of salt or pepper or just a simple scattering of herbs. The most important thing to remember is never to garnish with something that is inedible.

Props: This is key, don’t over-prop the shot. Remember, the star of the show is the food. Using too many props in the picture will make the shot too busy. A simple napkin or utensil is great to include if it adds to the overall look but don’t go overboard.

Taking the picture

Find the light: Just like when you’re taking a selfie, you always look for the best lighting, the same goes for taking the perfect food shot. Natural light is always best, so find the nearest window and use the light. I always recommend taking a food picture during the day.

Turn off the flash: A flash is food’s worst enemy! If it’s too dark to take the picture without the flash, then it’s too dark to be taking the picture. Yes, you can use artificial lights and arrange candles and bouncing boards to create light, but unless you are a pro, rather keep it simple and wait for daylight.

The right angle: Find an angle that makes your food look its best, this means you need to snap a few pictures from different angles to see which one works best. And when in doubt, frame from the top, a top shot is generally best for amateur food pics, using this method means you simply have the food on the plate on a table which becomes your backdrop.

A little editing is ok: Every phone has a photo editing tool, use it…cautiously! Use a filter that enhances the food and make it stand out more if needed. Crop the photo so any unnecessary objects are removed from the frame. But, be careful not to over edit, you don’t want tomatoes or herbs looking psychedelic because of the filter you’ve chosen. The golden rule is that you want food to look real and not artificial.

So as I started researching more I came across these useful tips from Street Food Photographer Michael Tsang , Mike is the genius behind Mike Fresh Eats who creates such droolworthy food photos that I literally wish I had a machine to make create those food dishes from his images.London based food blogger Mike  has learned a lot about how to capture street and restaurant food in the most enticing ways.

Mike works with a Canon EOS M5, however a camera like the Canon EOS 2000D is a great and versatile alternative to a camera phone for any ambitious amateur food photographer. The EOS 2000D offers an abundance of auto functions that will make your life easy, but just like with any camera, experimenting with manual mode and adjusting aperture, shutter speed and ISO to the specific shot and conditions will with time enable you to squeeze the most out of your equipment (stick to auto-focus though).


  • Apply the basics of food styling

Fried chicken tacos at Pergola, Paddington, London

Whether you are taking pictures of the street food from above or from the side, there is much one can do to improve the styling.

Evenly distribute and fill empty spaces with plates, side dishes, glasses and cutlery in a way that frames the food you want in shot. If eating from a small table, distribute the food and drink evenly to ensure you capture everything in shot using the Canon EOS 2000D and experiment by adding a little motion to the image. Pouring sauce onto the food is another creative way of filling the frame.


  • Apply a little creativity

Yifang Fruit Tea, London

If you want your photos to stand out on Instagram it’s important to think creatively about how you showcase the items you photograph. You shouldn’t be afraid to have a little fun and try something different to encourage the viewer to ask “how did they do that?”

By setting your Canon EOS 2000D camera to a very wide aperture f/ 1.4, adjusting the ISO sensitivity to 200 and shaking the cup, you can capture drops of melting ice falling off your frozen tea!


  • Capture motion and action

Thickly sliced crispy bacon, golden yolk & cheese enveloped in a soft milk bun, Daily Provisions, NY

 Don’t just shoot static plates of food, experiment by adding an element of movement to your photos. Perfect examples could include somebody lifting noodles or pasta, a friend lifting a slice of cheesy pizza or people reaching over a table to devour some food.

Use a high shutter speed above 1/1000 second to avoid motion blur, and take the shots with natural lighting conditions.

Ask your friends to hold the food in a certain way so that you can practice and get the shot you want. And if you aren’t dining with a friend, with plenty of people eating at busy street markets just ask if they mind you taking a picture.

  • Shoot from a side angle

Duck sandwich, Pergola London Market, NY 

 The classic street food photography shot is taken from the side, with a slightly elevated angle, to show the largest side of the dish. For the best results, the focal length on the Canon EOS 2000D should be set around 28-35mm, enabling you to get closer to the food and magnify the glorious detail and aesthetics of the dish.

Whether these particular shots are taken from a seated position or standing up, you should angle the camera at around 45 degrees.

To get that famous bokeh effect, where the food is in focus and the background is blurred, use an aperture of around 1.4

  • Shoot from the side with no angle

Black Bear Burger, Hawker Union, London

 Everyday street food such as hamburgers, kebabs and sandwiches can come in different heights and layers and are better captured close-up and from the side. For this photograph consider using a 35mm lens setting with an aperture of 1.4, then position the camera at the same height and as close to the food as the focus will allow. This will result in an impressive picture that highlights the food’s intricacy and deliciousness in stunning detail.


  • Capturing a wintry dish

Finsbury Park, Grilled cheese sourdough, cheddar & chilli jam

On a cold winter’s night sometimes you just need to warm yourself up, and a hot cheese sandwich bursting with seasonal favours is a great option. The melting cheese has plenty of focus points and I recommend using a Canon lens setting of ISO 500, 1.4 aperture and1/40 sec shutter speed to showcase the sandwich layers, the bread’s texture and make the food look mouth-wateringly delicious.

Another tip to make your food look truly delicious is to show someone enjoying it – melted cheese and all. Point the camera from the side angle and show your subject taking a really big bite, simple!

All images were taken with the Canon EOS M5 using the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM. Mike Tsang also uses the Canon EOS 2000D for capturing street food photography.

Now more than ever I feel inspired to improve my food photography using both my mobile phone and getting a camera.Do you have any tips for me ?


Be Inspired !









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