Basic Food Photography Tips for Food Bloggers

Food Photos by Melo Villareal

Lots of people love food and more and more foodies are now starting their own food blogs because they think “Hey, I love food… I know something about it and I want to share my recipes.” And yet, when you look around – how many food blogs do you see that are really, really good! Not a lot, right?

Strawberry Crepe from Sagada
Strawberry Crepe from Sagada

In my opinion the reason for that is that even if people know great food and have great things to write about food, most start up food bloggers have no idea just how important food photography is and even if they do understand the importance, they may not have the techniques or skills to make their blog posts look delicious. Keep in mind that Food photography really is the key.

Adobong Puti @ Zubuchon
Adobong Puti @ Zubuchon

To get good food photos, you need more than just a camera. The truth is that you need multiple people with multiple skills. An amazing chef comes first but after that you actually need a food stylist to set up the food for the shots. Marketing a great dish or product isn’t as easy as cooking and snapping – there is an art to it.

French Macarons from Radisson Blu Cebu
French Macarons from Radisson Blu Cebu

How important is it? Well – it’s been proven that restaurants that use quality photos in their menus sell more food. That alone should convince you…but, you don’t want to hire a food stylist, right? Here are a few tips to turn you into your own food stylist.

Pechay in Oister Sauce
Pechay in Oister Sauce

First of all – preparation. Use only the most beautiful ingredients. Make sure the steak is shaped well, pick the lushest tomatoes, and if you need crisper lettuce – soak it in glycerine.

Sweet Mango and Puto Maya from Bohol
Sweet Mango and Puto Maya from Bohol

If that sounds like cheating – well, come to think of it, it might be – but that’s why the food on the fast food menu always looks more delicious than what you are served. Those perfect steak grill marks? They’re burned on with a blowtorch and a piece of wire!

Chocolate Filled Macarons
Chocolate Filled Macarons

Don’t be afraid to make several portions. One is bound to look better than the others. And while you are at it, make sure you use props.

Shrimp Tempura in Golden Curry Sauce
Shrimp Tempura in Golden Curry Sauce

Those colorful herbs to the side or that fresh fish on the counter make your photo more interesting. A plate of cherries behind your bowl of yogurt adds a wonderful and delicious looking contrast. Look at the details of your composition. Make it exciting… Seductive… Flavorgasmic!!

Takla in Coconut Cream @ Amorita Resort
Takla in Coconut Cream

Probably the biggest mistake in food photography is bad lighting. Most of the photos you will see in this post only used available light, in fact I took most of it outdoor or in a table right next to the restaurants window. Light creates mood and even when you are taking a picture of food make sure your white balance, depth, and shadows are working to your advantage. Use substitutes to set up the lighting before the food is ready so that you can take a picture of it when it comes out of the kitchen.

Strawberries from Heaven Dessert
Strawberries from Heaven Dessert

Finally, make sure that you are ready for the shoot when the food appears. If you are doing a restaurant review ensure that you are sitting in a place with great lighting and make sure your equipment is ready to go when the food appears.

One final thing – don’t forget to take a picture before you dive into that delicious meal!

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