Whether it’s for your own food blog, as an illustration for a custom cookbook you’ve created, to share on social networks like Facebook, Twitter& Co. or simply as a souvenir photo: The high art of food photography is a tricky business. Especially if you are an amateur chef and want to eat your own creation after taking the photo, the preparation and especially the preparation of the culinary delights must be coordinated with the photo shoot. With us you get the best tips, so that you also with small and/or. Without a budget you can conjure up the best footage from your delicacies!
For a better overview, our tips are organized in the following categories:
Everything at a glance? Then check out our food photography infographic
Food models to bite into
You have many possibilities to take pictures of your food: whether you work with a professional camera or with your smartphone is up to you. With a camera, of course, the difference in quality is significant, but even with a cell phone camera you can create exciting imagery with a few tricks of composition. The proof of the pudding is in the eating! So: browse through our tips and get ideas for great food photos!
Shopping& Preparation – a prerequisite for food models to bite into
Visually appealing goods
Especially if you want to document cooking as a process or decorate the finished dish with fresh food, you should buy visually perfect goods so that your photos look especially delicious. Fruits and vegetables should not have any bruises and should be fresh and crunchy so that the viewer will want to bite into them immediately.
Kitchen equipment for more variety
One thing is clear: your food is the central object in your pictures. But the always same plate on the always same background can become very boring for your viewers over time. As a passionate cook, you tend to accumulate great kitchen gadgets and beautiful tableware over the years.
- Serving spoons
- Dip trays
- Wooden board
- Vintage porcelain
- round, square, oval plates
- Wine glasses from robust to fine
- Preserving jars
Freshness not only in ingredients
Your dish should look colorful and tasty on the photos? Then be sure to photograph it fresh. Especially in photos, food and prepared meals quickly look unattractive. Therefore, you should prepare everything as far as possible and then shoot your pictures quickly. So you can still enjoy your food warm.
The game with colors& Shapes against boring pictures
Use complementary colors
A great harmony is created, for example, by the use of complementary colors like red& green! Every tomato dish looks even more appetizing with the use of fresh green herbs! Eggplant, with its sometimes bright to vibrant purple hue, also provides a good contrast to yellow foods like polenta or other yellow corn products.
A suitable concept
As in normal photography, you can work with a fixed concept and capture your dish and the creation according to this concept in pictures. Lighting, props and ingredients can then follow suit. You can create interesting and meaningful images by, for example, following a certain color concept that is reflected in the food and decoration.
Take advantage of cross-sections: Lasagna, pies& Co. on the picture
A delicious lasagna makes your mouth water. To make the individual layers easier to see and look more appetizing, photograph such dishes from the side. Do the same with cakes, skewers or sandwiches. By the way, with a Damascus knife you can divide the dishes very well without anything sticking.
Tips for preparation
Good preparation is the key O
Once the food is cooked, it has to go fast if you want to eat your freshly conjured delicacies hot. For appealing photos you therefore need a good preparation. Mise en place also applies to food photography.
The origin story
Whether for your food blog, your very own cookbook or simply as a souvenir: Not only the final result of your creation is of interest to the viewer of your food photography, but of course the process as well! Don’t forget to also pay attention to the great ingredients in their raw state, because nothing is more exciting than a successful transformation!
Whether papardelle, spaghetti or maccharoni: the ever-popular pasta looks even more appealing when it is not simply poured onto the plate, but draped with fork and spoon into an attractive turret.So very uncharacteristically Italian: get a spoon and fork, cook the pasta extra al dente for more bounce, and wrap away. Should you have a perfect pile of spaghetti as a goal for blog, individual cookbook o.a. you have to push the spaghetti one by one between two tines of your fork. With approx. 2-3 cm they won’t slip away and you can slowly wind them up for the perfect roundness.
Vegetables with bite
That vegetables are crunchy can be seen in a picture. Bright colors such as green asparagus or broccoli look more intense in pictures and literally stimulate the appetite. Therefore, you should not only buy your dishes fresh, but also cook them gently to preserve their appearance and color. Boil potatoes undercooked and rinse them briefly under cold water, then they won’t be greasy on the outside and will look more attractive on the finished picture. Herbs should also always be used fresh. They quickly wilt once they have been plucked or chopped. Next to the herbs, a cleaver looks especially good in the photo.
Give the meat the finish
The meat is appetizingly browned and has reached the perfect cooking point, but the garnishes still need draping? Then coat the meat with a little vegetable oil just before taking the picture so it doesn’t look dried out and old. A nice steak knife next to the plate can’t hurt either.
Arrangement with a sense of proportion
Clean, clean, clean
As a food photographer you are always equipped with sufficient kitchen roll, because there are sauce stains and other smudges to be removed everywhere, which should not be included in the picture. Also consider glasses, plates& Co. polish before serving, but once the dish is on the plate, this is a difficult undertaking. Professional food photographers also always carry a well-filled bottle of glass cleaner with them to remove any water stains – unfortunately, however, the culinary delicacies can then no longer be eaten.
Arm yourself with:
- Glass cleaner
- Cotton swab
- Kitchen roll
- Cloth gloves
Arrange with love
For a successful photo you have to arrange the food carefully. Make an extra effort here, because unattractively arranged food quickly looks unappetizing. Be content with small portions and dress your main component sparingly with sauces and garnishes. A suitable garnish of fresh herbs, berries or chocolate shavings adds delicious highlights and enlivens the picture. Caution is advised with crumbs or spills. While they can add unparalleled character to your image, they should be used sparingly.
So that the plate does not look cluttered on the finished photo, you should not heap it full of food. Leave enough space between each ingredient so the viewer can better see what food it is in the photo.
Ice cold drinks
In summer you make a fruity spritzer and want to take a photo of it, but you can’t because the ice cubes always turn white as soon as you put them in the glass? You can avoid this problem by using artificial ice. With indirect, natural light illuminated from behind, in a glass sprinkled with fine drops your summer refreshment looks much more thirst-quenching.
Attractive accessories next to the main actor
The right accessories in the picture
Less is more – even in food photography, so avoid unnecessary accessories. Decoration, dishes and cutlery such as kitchen knives must not only visually, but also in terms of content to match the dish. For example, chopsticks and small bowls go better with an Asian dish than a fork or spoon next to the soup plate. However, limit your arrangement to the bare essentials so that your finished picture does not look cluttered or restless.
Extras& Movement – Try something new!
Always photographing the plate with cutlery or a glass of wine quickly becomes boring. Try moving around. A real human hand holding the tartlet or a whole body in the background enlivens images and creates completely new possibilities to present food effectively. Especially if you want to photograph the process of cooking, you can get some assistance. Powdered sugar can be sprinkled on the cake very well in front of the camera and noodles can be thrown up super high for example.
Try your hand:
- a mouth smeared with sauce
- a tidbit between the front teeth
- Noodles ala Susi& Tramp between two mouths
- Different cooking levels
- z.B. a pancake – runny, half-cooked& brown
- For professionals: the flying pancake
The right tableware
To emphasize the character of your photo, it is best to use matching dishes as well. Modern dishes can be better served on plain tableware than on playful, romantic plates. Colorful dishes, on the other hand, are better for oriental delicacies. But make sure that the colors of dishes and food do not clash. A harmonious complementary contrast looks more balanced on the finished photo.
Background and background – small details with a big effect
Prepare the set-up and take test photos
Once you have found a suitable setting for your dish, recreate the entire scene with other objects. With espresso cups, decorative stones or other small items, you can recreate the arrangement on the plate and take the first test photos. You can also check that your plate is perfectly lit and that you have chosen the right framing and shooting angle. If this is the case, nothing can surprise you when photographing the real food.
The environment makes the difference
Create a homey environment for your treats! The "trappings" are also crucial for the quality of your photography. You can’t have a birthday cake without candles, and you can’t have a delicious pretzel without a measure of beer! With some decoration elements apart from the edible, you pick out certain aspects of the dish and thus underline its character.
The right background
To set the right scene for your food, the background and the background are decisive. A rustic meal looks much more appetizing on a rough-grained wooden tabletop than on grandma’s crocheted tablecloth. Asian food, on the other hand, looks more authentic on a bamboo mat or rough slates. You can quickly make the right background yourself. With cardboard, a wooden or plywood board and various colors, you can create the right background for every food photo that supports the message of your image. But you can also use wallpaper, tablecloths, cutting boards or simple clay paper as a background.
- Wooden table top
- Large cutting boards
- crocheted tablecloth
- Bamboo mat
- different colored wood and plywood panels (black, white, wood)
- Glass plates
- Self-painted wooden boards
The golden ratio
It is not only an important factor in art, you should also take it into account in food photography for your blog or your own cookbook: the golden ratio. Before you reach for a calculator and ruler, divide your picture into three equal parts and do not place the focused object exactly in the center. This will give your finished photo a more balanced look overall. By the way, you can also use the division into thirds vertically, for example when photographing a landscape.
The right sharpness makes the difference
So that the star of the picture is also the dish, you should make the foreground and background as blurred as possible. The best way is to limit the depth of field as much as possible around the main subject. To increase the dramatic statement of your picture, you should choose a small aperture, because then the background becomes blurred. With a little practice it works here too.
The big picture
Show what you have. When you have set the table with tablecloth, wine glasses and noble silver cutlery, take some atmospheric photos of it. It’s best to take the photos here from a distance so you can get the whole table in the picture, too. But detailed shots of a single place setting or the menu card also have a very atmospheric effect. To avoid disturbing reflections on glasses or cutlery, use natural light. If you have to use artificial light, bounce it off white walls or ceilings to minimize reflections.
The shot – models to bite on in action
Avoid boredom with close-ups
Especially rice, salad, risotto or pasta can quickly look boring on a photo. Dishes like these, which are defined by one component, are best photographed as close-ups. With a few highlights like pomegranate seeds or fresh herbs, they look appetizing when snapped this way.
Depict the dish in full or only in part?
It’s up to you. But also here applies that less is often more! Especially finger food or small compact dishes can be photographed better in their entirety. However, portioned food can also be photographed only in part. Give the dish in your picture room to unfold. And test the effect in advance with a few test photos. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have any suitable decorations at hand, you can simply take a few detailed photos of the finished meal.
Landscape or portrait format?
The format you choose for your image is entirely up to you and your food. However, images in portrait format usually have a more dramatic impact.
The closer you get to the object of desire, the better the viewer will see the blemishes later on. Small blemishes do not make the Kuchlein less perfect, but photographed with a little distance they do not push themselves into the foreground.
Play with the ambience
What mood do you want to convey with your food photography?? Which style suits you best? Choose the right ambience for you! Or do you sometimes want to play with the different styles?. In our example you see the same dish in the modern as well as in Country style presents.Other styles include:
The agony of choice
To find the perfect photo for your blog, take as many photos as possible. Take pictures from different perspectives, with different accessories and vary the camera and light settings. If you have a large selection of photos, you can pick out the perfect one. So get on the stove and camera!
Not perfect pictures are perfect!
Your food photo should appear authentic and real, so create a natural scenery in which not everything is perfectly arranged. A cookie may be missing a corner or a whole bite, a few crumbs may also be on the plate. What seems to be accidental is actually well thought out. Perfect imperfect pictures are also taken by the professionals among the food photographers with purposeful intention.
Try to appeal to your readers with the pictures
You want to captivate your readers with your photos? Then try to address them directly with it. The best way to do this is to try to include the viewer in the picture. Image your dishes as you would find them at the table: Ready portioned on a plate and ready to be eaten. Take a picture from a natural angle, for example as if you were sitting at the table directly in front of the plate. The salad is already arranged on the plate, in the background the salad bowl and salad servers can be seen blurred. If there is cutlery next to the plate, your viewers get the impression that they only have to sit down to finally eat.
Guide the viewer through the image
Your pictures look more pleasant if you suggest lines with your props and thus guide your readers through the picture. This way you can also set color highlights outside the actual image gradient. You allow your viewer to perceive certain details and the overall mood of the image, as you guide them from the accessories to the main subject.
Technique& Exposure – Let your food shine in the right light
Know your camera!
Next to the food, the camera is one of the most important things in food photography. In order to use it to its full potential, you should familiarize yourself with it and know all of its features. If you’re unsure, take a class at a community college or read through the countless great photography blogs where you can get all sorts of important info. And again, practice makes perfect!
Work with the aperture
The wider the aperture on your camera is open, the sharper the background of your picture will be. The opposite is true, as you can see very well in our spaghetti picture. In the example, our aperture (F at 4.0) relatively open, so only one focused point is sharp.
Resolution makes the difference
If you want to take perfect pictures, you should have a good camera and a lot of memory, then you can take high-resolution photos in RAW format. Later you can edit these photos and make them smaller without reducing the quality.
A good image editing program
Even if your pictures are already (almost) perfect, you can still change a little bit for sure. And if only your logo should be on the picture. This is no problem with a good image editing program. You can also use this to change the colors later or crop the photos to fit. Familiarize yourself with such a program, then you can fix small blemishes in a jiffy.
If you regularly surprise your readers with new creations from your kitchen, try to get a trademark, the logo of your blog maybe. If you cleverly integrate it into the images, it promotes the recognition value. You can also try to make your images all match each other so that your handwriting is recognizable. Or use your photo editor to add a decorative frame to all your food photos.
The best light for food photography in your own four walls is daylight. However, if this is not enough, you can easily help yourself without a professional lighting system: Using a simple desk lamp also helps to stage your goodies.Using a layer of baking paper or sandwich paper not only reduces the expression of shadows, but also makes the radiance of the light source appear particularly soft and gentle on the images. But be careful: do not stretch the baking paper tightly in front of the lampshade, but rather stretch it in a loose curve.
Working with flash
Working with flash is difficult and requires some practice. Items flashed directly at you often look very flat and cold because of the harsh light. If you shoot with daylight or other light sources like lamps, your pictures will look much more natural. If it is already too dark for daylight, you can buy a so-called daylight lamp for a few euros in a specialist shop and use it to create natural light.
Work with a tripod
In a nutshell: with a tripod you can increase the exposure time without blurring the image. It’s best to use a remote shutter release so that no vibrations blur the image.
The shooting angle
The right angle for each picture can only be found by trial and error. Just try different angles and check that your overall image, when shot from above, doesn’t look flat or unimaginative. The right angle for your photo depends not only on what you want to show (i.e. the surroundings of the court) but also on the lighting conditions. There should be as few shadows as possible on your finished picture. There is, however, one rule that must always be observed: You should always shoot liquids such as a glass of tea straight on.
If you don’t use daylight, you must always perform a white balance before taking the photo. The white balance of your camera adjusts the color temperature of your image to the lighting conditions, for example, to avoid the yellow cast of a light bulb. In this way, you can adjust the existing color tones to human perception. Since every camera has a different white balance function, look up this step in the instruction manual and take a few test photos.
The most important thing at the end
No matter how your picture turns out, and whether you like it or not, nothing is more important than enjoying the food too. So don’t spend too much time working on the perfect image if you can’t serve your food hot afterwards.
When aesthetics count – food styling like the pros do it
For professional food photographers, the only thing that counts in the end is the media result in the form of a great picture. If you are taking photos for a personal cookbook and the aesthetics of the pictures are your focus, you can arrange your dishes like a food stylist. But keep in mind that they can’t be eaten then. Aids such as white glue can replace milk or cream, hairspray helps to give fruit more shine.
Hot only with steam
A cup of tea without hot steam is hard to imagine. To make sure that the readers of your food blog or the viewers of your photos can literally smell the cooking fumes, you can reach into the bag of tricks a bit. Professional food stylists cleverly position small fog machines or dry ice behind the food and the roast steams like it’s fresh out of the oven. If you want to help a little, you can soak a cotton ball in water and heat it carefully in the microwave. Place the hot cotton behind your cup or bowl and take a quick picture of the subject.
Crisp and fresh thanks to water pearls
Fruit and vegetables or jars look particularly fresh if you spray them with water beads. First spray the objects with acrylic spray and then apply a mixture of water and glycerine. It is important that the surface is free of grease and that you do not eat the food afterwards.
Photographing ice without ice
If you want ice or frozen objects on the picture, you have to do it very quickly. To be on the safe side, food stylists do without real ice and artificially recreate it. You can imitate frozen surfaces with syrup, which you then sprinkle with powdered sugar. And you can form an appetizing scoop of ice cream with an ice cream scoop made of margarine dyed with food coloring. Not very tasty, but visually appealing.
You want to serve a crispy chicken, but you don’t quite like the color? Then help with brown food coloring and a brush to the perfect fried chicken.
The perfect coffee or tea
A nice cup of coffee looks better in photos if you stretch it with red wine. And tea looks more like tea when you mix it from coffee and water. Both look very good on the photos, but will not pass the taste test afterwards. Drinks are generally always diluted with water in professional food photography to make them look more pearly and allow the light to shine through better.
Perfect foam thanks to shaving cream
What would a beer be without a perfect bubble or a cappuccino without a fine head of foam?? Right, it would look stale and not very appetizing. Therefore, the food stylists help here also strongly, by using shaving foam as a substitute or the foam with soap bubbles extra to prettify.
More volume in the bowl
For food stylists, appearance counts more than taste, so sauces and dressings for salad are arranged separately, otherwise the salad would collapse and look wrinkly. Since it’s all about the look anyway, the whole dish is draped attractively. Lettuce in particular is very delicate and is arranged in a bowl on top of mashed potatoes to make it look voluminous. The individual leaves are then plucked into shape to perfection with tweezers.
Pros, bloggers& Co. – Your tips for better photos
Martin from experience90.eu gives us insider tips on RAW format:
The photos should not only be taken in RAW format because of the resolution. In fact, the RAW format has nothing to do with a higher resolution, it is more or less the digital negative of an image. This can be used especially in Lightroom and other image editing programs to influence the dynamics of an image afterwards. This can lighten dark areas of an image and darken areas of an image that are too light. The white balance can also be neglected for the time being, since it can be changed afterwards by means of the RAW format arbitrarily and lossless regarding the quality.
Rebecca by fraeuleinchen.de relies on daylight for lighting her food photography:
The most important thing is to really pay attention to very diffuse daylight. This automatically makes the dish look very appealing. I also find it interesting to take photos from both light directions. Sometimes photos look more intense when they are shot backlit.
Cock from fotopraxis.net is a specialist in food photography with the smartphone and also has great videos on the subject on offer. Here is an example on the subject of food photos on your own stove:
Michael From Immer wieder sonntags encourages us for great food photography to always keep our eyes open:
Look gaaaaay much on the internet, in magazines and in books. If you like something… notice it… analyze it… maybe try to recreate it.
Ina by inaisst.blogspot.de is for the "Keep cool" variant!":
As a tip I would like to give you, when taking pictures, don’t get too attached to the perfect picture. Even a snapshot can look really good if the food was prepared with love and you take a brief moment of rest to photograph it. Often I feel rushed to take a good picture quickly, because I want to enjoy my food still hot afterwards. So: better to collect and think for a short time than to snap wildly away.
Tina from leckerundco.blogspot.de has a besodnere approach to frequently change the Untegrund:
I have many different wallpapers from ca. 50 cm length I can easily roll up at home. I don’t glue the wallpaper pieces to a cardboard, but clamp them to a plywood board with clothespins – because that way I only need to accommodate one board. It is much more space saving. Also, tea towels with pretty patterns are also great to liven up a picture. these are usually much cheaper than tablecloths, they come in all imaginable shapes, patterns and colors and they also take up much less space than tablecloths.
Jasmin by kuechendeern.de relies on floral companions for your food photos:
What I always find very effective are flowers as well as shrubs etc. on the picture. The image looks fuller and directly more vivid. However, make sure that the food is still in the foreground and the plants behind it are out of focus. In addition, I find the manual mode on cameras advantageous, instead of autofocus – which is rarely 100% sharp.
We are still missing one tip in the collection? You have implemented one of our suggestions on your blog? Let us know!
If you still need professional equipment when cooking your creations, you can discover a lot in our knife store. For example, Japanese knives, such as Santoku knives, Kai Shun knives or even professional European chef’s knives such as Zwilling knives, Windmuhlenmesser, Dick knives, Gude knives or Global knives.
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