Camera settings for food photography: Start using your camera in manual mode

Camera settings for food photography: Start using your camera in manual mode

Recently I started this brand, Fig & Fennel, as a way to professionalise (is that a word?) the freelance photography side of my business.

My food photography has improved massively over the years since I started my blog (if I do say so myself), and especially in the past months since investing in a photography course at the local college.

For a long time though, I was terrified of taking my camera off auto settings and into manual mode.

A DSLR can take great pictures in its automatic settings – cameras are very clever these days.

But without the control of manual mode, it is hit-and-miss. By switching your camera to manual you can make huge improvements to your food photography.

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Affiliate disclosure: This post uses affiliate links. If you purchase products or services via an affiliate link I’ll get a small commission (which supports the running of this site) and it won’t cost you anything extra. I’ll specifically point out each affiliate link in the post. Learn more here.

Camera settings for food photography

Lets start with the basics, shall we?

NB. While this information should apply to most DSLR cameras, it is based on my own experience and knowledge using my (affiliate link) Canon 1300D. I have tried to make the information about settings, etc. as generic as possible but if you use a different brand you may need to look up the way Canon’s settings ‘translate’ to your own camera.

Photography is all about light

There are three key settings on your camera that affect the amount of light coming in and hitting the sensor. The amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor is also referred to as the exposure. An over-exposed shot looks very pale and washed-out, and an under-exposed shot looks very dark and gloomy.

Examples of camera settings and exposure for food photography
Over exposed | Correctly exposed | Under exposed

Make the most of natural light for food photography in this bundle, with a reflector to fill shadows, a diffuser to soften sunlight, and clips to hold it all together.

Aperture

The aperture can be dilated, like the pupil of your eye, to allow more or less light into the camera. Each time you move the aperture setting up, the amount of light entering the camera doubles.

The aperture is measured in f/stop. A large aperture lets in more light and a small aperture lets in less light, however, f/stop numbers run in the opposite direction: The higher the number, the smaller the aperture (and vice versa). f/11 lets in less light, for example than f/8.

Additionally, f/stop numbers don’t double with each setting – even though the amount of light let into the camera does. f/stops can typically run from around f/1.4 at the largest aperture to around f/32 at the smallest aperture.

The aperture is set in the lens, not the camera body. My Canon 18-25mm lens though gives a range of f/4.5 to f/29, which is plenty of scope for normal food photography. The aperture ‘scale’ goes:

  • f/1.4
  • f/2.0
  • f/2.8
  • f/4.0
  • f/5.6
  • f/8.0
  • f/11.0
  • f/16.0
  • f/22.0
  • f/32.0

With each stop letting half the amount of light into the camera sensor as the one before

Though your camera may show settings in-between these, only these stops allow fully half (or double) the amount of light than the subsequent f/stop.

This article on photographylife.com gives a much more in-depth explanation of aperture and f/stops.

How to use AV aperture settings in food photography

The other thing to note about aperture is that a large aperture (ie. a low f/stop number) gives you selective or differential focus (where part of the image is in sharp focus and part of the image is in soft focus). Equally, a small aperture (ie. a high f/stop number) gives extensive depth-of-field, where everything in the image is in sharp focus.

I like to keep the aperture as large as I can when shooting food side-on or at an angle, as a sharp subject and blurred ambient background work really well for this type of shot. For overhead or flatlay images, a smaller aperture works well to keep the whole arrangement  in sharp focus.

Chaning the depth of field in food photography

Shutter speed

If the aperture is like your eye’s pupils, then the shutter speed is like your eyelid. They act as a pair of blinds that open and close extremely quickly.

The longer (or slower) the shutter speed, the more light is let in, and the shorter (or faster) the shutter speed, the less light is let in.

Shutter speed is measured much more simply than aperture – the setting is typically shown as, for example, 1/250 or 1/60, which means that the shutter is open for 1 250th of a second, or 1 60th of a second. You just have to remember that that’s what the number means. One 60th of a second is a longer length of time than one 250th of a second, so a shutter speed of 1/60 is a slower (or longer) shutter speed, and a shutter speed of 1/250 is a faster (or shorter) shutter speed. 

What shutter speed to use for food photography

Faster shutter speeds (for example 1/1000) let in less light. A fast shutter speed is great for getting a sharp image of a moving subject as they freeze action – for example in sports photography. A fast shutter speed will only work with ample lighting – in low light, a fast shutter speed will produce a very dark image.

Slower shutter speeds (for example, 1/15) let in more light. Slow shutter speeds can be useful for creating image movement blur (for example, when pouring a liquid) or when shooting in lower light. Be aware though that the longer the shutter speed, the more likely you are to create a blurry image by shaking the camera – for shutter speeds below 1/60 or so, use a tripod to keep your camera completely still.

Generally, I keep my shutter speed as fast as I can, depending on the level of light. As I prefer to shoot handheld than on a tripod, this allows me to be flexible and experiment with angles more easily. My go-to shutter speed is 1/250, though I may go down to 1/200 or 1/125 before I resign myself to being tied to a tripod for the whole shoot.

Photographing pouring liquids
A slower shutter speed (3.2 seconds) causes ‘motion blur’ with the moving liquid | A faster shutter speed (1 500th of a second) captures a ‘freeze action’ shot of the moving liquid

ISO

ISO is the measure of how light-sensitive your camera’s sensor is.

A lower ISO indicates that your camera is less sensitive to light (so the picture will look darker) and a higher ISO indicates that your camera is more sensitive to light (so the picture will look paler). As with aperture, as the ISO setting doubles, the amount of light hitting your camera’s sensor doubles too. You can learn more about ISO at ShutterMuse.com.

Set your ISO depending on the availability of light. Generally speaking, the lower you can set your ISO (and still get a good image), the better, as a high ISO can result in ‘noise’ or grain in an image. As a (very) rough guide:

  • 100-200 for outdoors or in daylight
  • 400-800 indoors or in the evening
  • 1600 at night
Which ISO to use for food photography

Anything over 1600 will result in a very grainy image, so avoid higher ISOs, even if your camera offers them. If your ISO is set to 1600 and your images are still coming out very dark, adjust the aperture or shutter speed to get more light to your camer’s sensor.

What is the best ISO setting for food photography

Manual camera settings

On most DSLR cameras there are 3 ways to use manual settings:

TV

TV stands for Time Value, and is sometimes called Shutter Priority. Some brands of camera label this ‘S’.

For this setting, you set the shutter speed and the ISO, and allow your camera to set the aperture automatically.

In TV, start by setting the shutter speed to 1/250 and the ISO to 100 or 200, depending on the available lighting. Now, have a look at your images and adjust your settings as needed:

  • Are they coming out very dark?
    • Raise the ISO to 400 or 800
    • Or increase the shutter speed to 1/200, 1/160 or 1/125
  • Still too dark?
    • Increase the shutter speed even further (and use a tripod and external trigger to remove any shake from the camera)
    • Or switch to full manual mode and make the aperture larger (using a smaller f/stop)
  • Are they coming out very pale?
    • Lower the ISO to 100, if it isn’t there already
  • Still too pale?
    • Reduce the shutter speed (but watch out for ‘shutter shock’ – when the shutter moves so quickly that it is captured at the edge of the image)
    • Or switch to full manual mode and make the aperture smaller (using a larger f/stop)

AV (Aperture Value)

In Aperture Value, or Aperture Priority, you set the aperture and the ISO yourself, leaving your camera to set the shutter speed automatically.

Using aperture priority allows you to set the f/stop, which can be useful for controlling the depth-of-field.

  • For a limited or selective depth of field:
    • Eg. a stack of pancakes shot side-on in crisp focus, with the rest of the room out of focus, or blurred
    • Use a large aperture by setting a low f/stop like f/2.8 or f/4
    • Set the ISO as low as you can (100 or 200 is best), to make up for the large amount of light let in by the wide aperture.
  • For an extensive depth of field:
    • Eg. an overhead shot of lots of different dishes on bowls and plates at various heights, where you want everything to be in sharp focus
    • Use a small aperture by setting a high f/stop like f/16 or f/22
    • While a lower ISO is generally better, you may need to change the ISO up to 800 or 1600, to make up for the smaller amount of light let in by the small aperture.

M (Manual)

M stands for Manual. In this setting, you control the aperture, shutter speed and ISO all at once.

What are the best camera settings for food photography?

Not to take the cheat’s way out but the best settings do, of course, vary depending on the situation.

As a rule-of-thumb I generally prefer to use AV, so I can set the f/stop and ISO to suit the available light and the required depth-of-field, but I can trust my camera to adjust the shutter speed dynamically, which gives me one less thing to worry about.

Food photography normally involves a static subject – not a moving one – so I don’t generally need to consider shutter speed effects like freezing action or creating motion blur.

If I’m shooting in a busy kitchen or onsite at an event though, I’ll use TV and as fast a shutter speed as I can get away with, to capture the action in sharp detail. This can also be useful for creating freeze-action shots of a liquid being poured.

Sometimes – particularly indoors and in winter – natural light can be scarce. If I don’t have access to lights (which I usually don’t when I’m shooting onsite), I’ll either:

  • Continue to use AV, so I can control the depth-of-field, but use my tripod and external trigger to avoid any shake when the shutter speed decreases
  • Switch to full manual mode, so that I can set the shutter speed high enough to shoot without a tripod, and balance the ISO and aperture to avoid any grain and get sharp, properly-exposed shots

The most important thing though is to do what works best for you. Practice, at every opportunity and try taking a number of shots for every setup, using different settings.

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Camera settings for food photography: Start using your camera in manual mode

Why is photography so important to food businesses?

Why is photography so important to food businesses?

This blog post originally appeared on EatsLeeds.co.uk & ZoePickburn.com and has now been republished & redirected here to my freelance food photography site Fig & Fennel. 

Affiliate disclosure: This post uses affiliate links. If you purchase products or services via an affiliate link I’ll get a small commission (which supports the running of this site) and it won’t cost you anything extra. I’ll specifically point out each affiliate link in the post. Learn more here.


Digital & online should be an essential part of the marketing strategy for any food business

If your business deals exclusively online – in eCommerce – you already know this. Hell, even if your business isn’t exclusively online, you probably already know this.

All kinds of food businesses rely on online platforms in some way:

  • For restaurants, foot traffic and random walk-ins are a rare occurrence these days. When deciding where to eat, the first port of call is typically Google (‘Korean restaurant in London’) or even voice search (‘Siri, where can I get vegan food in Edinburgh?’), followed closely by review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp.
  • Speaking of TripAdvisor, restaurants live and die by their online reviews.  From TripAdvisor and Yelp to bloggers and local directories, online reviews all have an influence on where people choose to eat. Clearly, you can’t control everything said about your business online, but by having on online presence you’re able to counter unfair claims and give potential customers to opportunity to see a more rounded picture of your business.
  • And that’s not to mention social media recommendations. Couple search and reviews with ‘I heard about this new Barbecue place on Instagram’ and your online presence can reach far and wide.
  • If you sell online (whether that’s your artisan bread, the latest gluten-free energy bar, the next sous-vide style food prep craze, or even just allowing customers to make reservations) an online presence is even more important.

Now, all of these things could magically come to you (fingers crossed, eh?) but a focussed digital marketing strategy (or at least a home online – your own website and social media channels) is a much better bet.

So, where does photography come into this?

The prevalence of online & digital makes it even more important for Food businesses to use high-quality, original food photography.

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3 reasons why good food photography is important for food businesses

1. Draw people in

Online, the adage that an image speaks a thousand words is doubly true.

People like the easy option – if you can get all the information you need by looking at a picture, why would you read the article?

All this to say, pictures stand out – in social media feeds and on your website.

Great food photography can draw people into your business’ online home (and even into your bricks-and-mortar store). The hunger that you want people to feel when they see photos of your food has an emotional pull. Use it.

2. Stand out from the crowd

I’m afraid a stock photo just won’t cut it if you’re selling something like food, which relies so heavily on experience.

For example, we all know, roughly, what a burger looks like, and we can all spot a stock image of one from a mile off.

What does your burger look like? What does the specific burger that someone will sit down and eat in your restaurant, receive in your delivery bag or tip out of your box and onto the grill, actually look like?

And more importantly, and how do you want people to feel when they see it?

3. Highlight your best stuff

This goes hand-in-hand with standing out from the crowd as a good reason to use original food photography for your business.

Your food photos should be an extension of your brand voice and style, and you should use them to show off your most impressive dishes and products.

Free app like photoshop to edit food photography

Great, original food photography doesn’t have to cost the earth.

But bad quality photography (or generic-looking stock photography) can damage your brand. It can make you look cheap, and make your food look gross.

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Why is photography so important to food businesses?

How to batch shoot food photography (like a food blogger)

How to batch shoot food photography (like a food blogger)

This blog post originally appeared on EatsLeeds.co.uk & ZoePickburn.com and has now been republished & redirected here to my freelance food photography site Fig & Fennel. 

Affiliate disclosure: This post uses affiliate links. If you purchase products or services via an affiliate link I’ll get a small commission (which supports the running of this site) and it won’t cost you anything extra. I’ll specifically point out each affiliate link in the post. Learn more here.


Find out how To batch Shoot Your Food Photography Like a Food Blogger

Now I’m expanding on one of the tips and tricks I’ve shared before: batch shooting your food photography.

My food photography style has evolved since I first started my blog at the start of 2016.

I’ve learned a lot about food photography and developed my own style. I favour light and airy photos with colourful pops of food over dark and moody or bright and perky styles.

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Food photography batch shooting process

What is batch shooting?

Batch shooting has really helped me to build a polished and cohesive style across my Instagram and other social feeds, and here on the blog.

Whether you’re shooting your food photography for a blog and ‘gram, or as a food business bootstrapping tasty shots of your products or menu, batching your food photography makes the whole process easier.

Task batching is a common productivity hack. Bloggers, ‘solopreneurs’ and other one-woman-bands use task batching to get things done more efficiently.

Without task batching, you might approach blogging by writing a single blog post. You’d then shoot the photos for that post, edit those photos, and write and schedule social media promotion for that blog post, before going back to square one to start writing a second blog post.

Batching lets you group similar tasks together, so you’re not task-switching. In this example, you’d plan out your next 4-6 blog posts, write a quick draft of each of them in one session, then plan and shoot photos for all of them in a single session, then edit all those photos in one session, etc.

Doing all your similar tasks together in one batch essentially makes you more productive. Read more about the psychology of task batching/task switching here.

Here’s the strategy I use to batch-shoot my food photography and shoot 2-4 weeks worth of food photos for my blog and social media in just a few hours:

Shooting a batch of food photos

How to batch shoot your food photography like a food blogger

1. Set aside a time to shoot

Set aside half a day to a full day to batch shoot your food photography. This should give you plenty of time to get all the shots you need (and then some) without panicking. Its best to pick a time during the day, so you can work in the natural light.

2. Decide what to shoot

Do a little research and plan exactly what you want to shoot in your batch shooting session. I usually aim for 4-5 dishes, plus a couple of extras (like groups of ingredients or setup shots).

3. Ensure you have everything you need

Make a list and gather together everything you’ll need for the shoot. This should include ingredients, props and backdrops, as well as ensuring you have fully charged camera batteries (oh, the pain of setting up an entire shoot only to realise you’re out of battery with no spares).

4. Prioritise

Decide what are the most urgent or important shots to capture, and get them done first. If you have a rew recipe coming out next week, or a new menu item launching this weekend, get that shot before you move on to the ‘nice-to-have’s.

5. Don’t try to do everything at once

It’s easy to think ‘well, everything is essential’ and get started on #AllOfTheThings. You’ll probably end up outfacing yourself. Take it one at a time and stick to the plan (that’s not to say that you can’t start a dish, then shoot a different one, then come back and shoot the first, or or take a moment to capture that pretty corner of a baking tray. Just stop yourself before you get completely sidetracked).

6. Pre-cook, where you can

Things like baked goods can usually be made the day before shooting, so where you’ve got the opportunity to make your day easier, do it! Even simple prep like chopping veggies can be a lifesaver when you’re on a tight schedule.

7. Set up your first shoot

If it’s something that requires further prep or cooking, set the shoot up first and check your layout, lighting, etc. before you light the stove. At this stage, a few shots of the set-up or the key ingredients can be done quickly, and add a little interest to your social feeds.

8. Don’t mess with the images until the end of the day

Obviously take a look at them to make sure you’re generally happy, but then leave any editing until you’ve snapped everything. You can edit after the daylight has gone, but it’s much harder to shoot by lamplight.

9. Shoot in natural light where you can

I know I bang on about this, but that’s because it’s important. Plan your batching session for a day, not an evening. I tend to schedule a batch shooting session into my calendar one Saturday each month or so.

10. Don’t just shoot the key dishes

I know I just warned you not to get distracted, but a few shots of ingredients or prep, along with some other relevant photos (try a few shots of recipe books or notes, artfully laid out utensils, coffee & stationery in use, or vignettes of pretty spots around the house or venue) can keep your Insta feed interesting

11. Play with angles & combinations

Don’t set up a shoot and then only get a couple of pictures. Play with flatlays, side-on shots and 45-degree angles, move or swap-out your props, backdrops and dishes to get a couple of different setups, and try longer shots with everything in the frame, as well as close-ups of a corner of a dish, or the fold of a cloth.

My Food Photography Batch Shooting Setup

Here’s how I actually set up a physical batch shoot.

My setup generally goes something like this:

My food photography setup from in front of the camera
My food photography setup from in front of the camera

My food photography setup from behind the camera
My food photography setup from behind the camera
  • Natural light (from the window)
  • 5-in-1 reflector to diffuse shadows
  • A low coffee table as a surface to shoot on. Low enough that I can easily get a full flat lay without doing any acrobatics, and takes up relatively little space when not in use.
  • I use a few different backgrounds in each shoot, to keep things interesting. I use a few foam boards covered with sticky vinyl marble or wood effect contact paper, as well as scarves and fabric that double as backdrops and props.

Make your own marble & wood photography backdrops with the Food Photography Backdrops kit in the Fig & Fennel shop

  • Keep other props handy – bowls and plates, pretty utensils, and key ingredients or garnishes always work well in food shots.
  • I tend to set up using a prop in place of the actual dish, to get a good idea of how the shoot will look before I set the food out.
  • I use a compact 3-way tripod with an overhead arm to shoot flat lays, and a combination of handheld shooting and a flexible minipod to shoot from other angles

This post has shown you how to batch shoot your food photography.

Batch shooting your food photography is a great way to shoot a cohesive set of styled images for your food blog, website and social feeds.

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How to batch shoot food photography (like a food blogger)

Which are the best food photography books?

Which are the best books for food photography

This blog post originally appeared on EatsLeeds.co.uk & ZoePickburn.com and has now been republished & redirected here to my freelance food photography site Fig & Fennel. 

Affiliate disclosure: This post uses affiliate links. If you purchase products or services via an affiliate link I’ll get a small commission (which supports the running of this site) and it won’t cost you anything extra. I’ll specifically point out each affiliate link in the post. Learn more here.


Find out which food photography books you should invest in to take better food pictures for your blog, website or social media

Food photography, and especially food photography for Instagram, has become a big part of my life since I started blogging.

Most food bloggers start out with a vague idea that photography is somewhat important, before realizing the learning curve that comes with shooting mouth-watering, Pinterest-worthy food photography.

And it can be a steep learning curve.

There are courses in photography (and even specifically in food photography) available but, like many other photographers and food bloggers before me, I’ve approached food photography as a self-teaching challenge.

I bought a bunch of food photography books, eventually invested in a decent camera (my beloved [affiliate link] Canon EOS 1300D) and practice, practice, practiced.

Like any other skill, practice and experimentation are essential. Yes, you need the basics of photography, styling and camera use, but really and truly, trial-and-error is your friend.

I don’t claim to be a food photography expert – as mentioned, I’m totally self-taught. So I’ve gathered the very best food photography books from the experts, to help you on your food photography journey.

You can get all of these food photography books on Amazon, except [affiliate link] The Food Photography Book by Nagi Maehashi, which isn’t available on Amazon, and to be honest, is the one I’d really recommend if you can only invest in one book)

Food Photography Books Worth Investing In

The Food Photography Book


Nagi Maehashi

This food photography book is an absolute game-changer. Nagi is the food photography expert, covering not just the technical aspects of photography and styling, but also practical how-tos and thorough tips on everything from setting up a shoot to final editing. If you only invest in one food photography book, this is the one!

Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Nicole, S. Young, 2015

From professional photographer Nicole S. Young, this is commonly recognised as the food photography bible. One of the best food photography books available on Amazon, Nicole covers aspects from the basics of digital photography and lighting, through to styling a shoot.

Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera

Dolores, Custer, 2010

This one really is an investment, but worth every penny. From a professional food styler, this book is less about the technical ins and outs of photography, and more about styling food to create that perfect shot.

Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

Helene Dujardin, 2011.

Another real investment book, this tome takes a deep dive into every aspect of food photography, from the technicalities of digital camera use and editing, to food styling and beyond.

Food Photography: A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Appetizing Images

Corinna Gissemann, 2016

Great as another more affordable option for beginners, this book goes into detail about the roles of equipment, exposure, lighting, composition and styling in food photography

Focus on Food Photography for Bloggers: Focus on the Fundamentals

Matt Armendariz, 2012

This book has a particular focus on food photography for bloggers, and is especially useful as a guide to food bloggers ready to step up their food photography game.

Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer’s Guide to Creating Irresistible Images

Teri Campbell, 2012

This book approaches food photography from an entirely different angle: that of a commercial photographer. With a focus on lighting, equipment and studio set-up, Teri shows us the professional side to food photography.

There’s my guide to the best books to improve your food photography. If you’re only able to invest in one, I would truly recommend Nagi Maehashi’s The Food Photography Book^ as the best first-time investment.

Which are the best books for food photography

How to take food photos without natural light

How to take food photos without natural light

This blog post originally appeared on EatsLeeds.co.uk & ZoePickburn.com and has now been republished & redirected here to my freelance food photography site Fig & Fennel. 

Affiliate disclosure: This post uses affiliate links. If you purchase products or services via an affiliate link I’ll get a small commission (which supports the running of this site) and it won’t cost you anything extra. I’ll specifically point out each affiliate link in the post. Learn more here.


Learn how I take great food photos, even in the low light of winter

 I love Insta. I don’t see it as a tool to bring traffic to my blog (at the tyime of writing, less than 10% of the traffic to my blog actually comes from Instagram), which means that I get to use it for what it is meant for:

Beautiful pictures (mostly of food).

BUT winter makes it way harder to take beautiful #Foodstagrams. My number one tip for improving your foodie instagram pictures is to take them in natural light. So how do you take good food photos when you don’t have much natural light available? Here’s my method:

How to take great food photos when there's no daylight

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How to take great food photos when there’s no daylight:

Take pictures in the daytime

I’ve literally just mentioned this above, but it is super important to reiterate this in winter when there is very little daylight. It’s no coincidence that most of my insta feed is taken up with breakfast – I eat it at my desk around 09:30, which means that there is daylight outside and I goddamn make use of it

Batch shoot

When I’m shooting pictures for recipes on the blog, I always take a few with Instagram’s square format in mind (I know you can use different sizes, but I like the aesthetic of squares). Batch-shooting doesn’t have to mean taking out an entire day though: I post once a day, so sometimes I might take a picture of my breakfast in the morning, then if I’m eating a pretty lunch I’ll photograph that too, but save it for a day when I’m living like a hermit and won’t be taking any pretty foodie pictures for Instagram. In winter, daylight is precious, so make use of it when it’s there. You can learn more about my batch shooting process here.

Set up a light reflector

This goes hand-in-hand with the above point about batch-shooting your food photographs for Insta. If you get chance to take a few hours during the day to shoot a few food photos ahead of time, you can maximise the watery winter light by setting up a reflector like the ones I sell in the Fig & Fennel shop. You can see my set up below, with a reflector leant up around a low table, and the sunlight coming in through my window:

My food photography setup from in front of the camera
My food photography setup from in front of the camera

Invest in a decent camera…

I’ve written before about taking beautiful food photos on your phone and editing photos with an app. If you’re a casual Instagrammer, that makes total sense but, as the nights draw in, I find I’m shooting for Insta on my DSLR more and more often. If you’re taking food photos for business (and here’s why you should, if you have a foodie business), I’d recommend investing in a decent camera (I’m totally in love with my [affiliate link] Canon EOS 1300D). It is definitely an investment, but so worth it for the quality of pictures, ease of use, and wifi connectivity, which means that I can take a professional-quality food photo and send it straight to my phone to upload to Insta in moments.

… Or at least in some decent lighting

Obviously, nothing can replace natural light for taking gorgeous food photos, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Whether or not you have a DSLR, a couple of these softbox lighting kits are an absolute lifesaver when you can see the sun creeping below the horizon and your dish just isn’t quite picture perfect yet.

Learn to use editing software

Now, the most important thing is to take great food photos – that’s why I’d recommend investing in some kit, and shooting during daylight hours where you can, to help make the original photographs as great as they can be. But editing your photos can just give them that extra oomph: Think enhancing, not correcting.

Nowadays, you don’t need to spend loads of money to access powerful software: for phone photography, try a free app like VSCO (and check out my guide to editing food photos on your phone using VSCO). For a Mac or PC try the browser-based free photo editor Pixlr (and check out my guide to using Pixlr for food photography) – or Adobe LightRoom CC, for the best photo editing experience.

Have Fun

Every one of my food photography guides has iterated this point: remember that it is only for Instagram or social media.

I know its an important marketing tool for many foodie businesses and bloggers, but don’t let it stress you out. The nature of Instagram, like other social media channels, is transient: today’s slightly ‘off’ shot will be buried in a matter of hours.

Curate the most drool-worthy feed you can, and don’t panic about the rest.

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How to take food photos without natural light