8 Photo Tips For a Successful Food Shoot

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Is it your dream to become a top photographer?

The photo industry itself is massive – lots of opportunities and lots of competition. It’s important to think about what kind of photography you want to specialize in.

To get you thinking, I’ll be putting together some basic tips for shooting different genres of photography.

Today’s list:  8 Tips for a Successful Food Shoot

8 Photo Tips For a Successful Food Shoot

1.  Shoot from all angles.

The most obvious and most photogenic angle may not be the best or most creative shot.  When you look at your food, which point of view makes it look most appealing, interesting and tasty?  It may feel unnatural at first, but try shooting at a lower angle than normal,  or standing on a chair or ladder to shoot down.  How about across the table with a straight line of sight?  As with any non traditional approach, this may take a bit of time to see, but stretch a little bit and see what happens.  Avoid boring.

2.  Watch for depth of field.

Experiment with where to stand in relationship to your food.  Close up, far away – lens choice can also play a role in the kind of shot you will end up getting.  Know that the closer you get the more out of focus everything else will be.  Is your food item a stand alone story, or a part of a bigger one?  Do you need the color of the table or decorations, or simply the edge of the plate?  Digital images make reviewing your shots in the moment so easy, so try a few lenses and settings and see what happens.

3.  Keep it simple, and don’t rush it.

Food is the subject.  Make sure its the star.  Don’t clutter the table with unnecessary non food things or too many color patterns – that could get in the way of really seeing the food.  Unlike crying babies or a vanishing sunsets, unless you are working with ice cream some other melting item, you can take your time setting up the shot you want.

4.  Use the ‘Rule of 3rds’.

With any subject this is a great ‘photography rule’ to remember.  Something should be going on in each third of your image.  Product placement in food photography is critical, maybe more than in any genre of photography.  Take an image and practice putting the subject in the far left, middle and far right of the frame.  What do you notice?  How does it change your perspective or feeling about what you see?

5.  Consider water and oil.

It’s an old advertising industry trick and it still works.  After a while, food will look old, stale, cold or just plain icky sitting there on the table.  Try spritzing the food with a little water and oil.  It will brighten the colors and create a bit of texture, and get you through the rest of the shoot.

6.  Use natural light whenever possible.

Sometimes its not possible, but when you can use natural light.  Food in natural light always looks photographically better, and more appealing to the reader.  Off camera flash lighting is an entirely different strategy, depending on the mood and the goal of the shoot itself.  (In a future post, we will talk about creative lighting in all genres, and how to get the best result with the equipment you already have).

7.  Bring (and use) the tripod

I’m guilty of not following this tip enough, because I assume setting up and using a tripod is more of a hassle and takes too much time, or that I will not be able to get the angle I want.  I’m always wrong.  We are here to shoot food.  Its not going any where.  We can take our time, benefit from the steadiness, and even create some different angles not possible with a hand held approach.  You can also use a wireless shutter release, which can be a huge help if you are on your own.

8. Know when to stop.

This is a good tip in any genre.  I learned quickly in 8 Tips for a Successful Baby Shoot that sometimes the little one won’t smile no matter how hard you try.  Same with food.  Even with the most creative idea in your mind, it may not translate well to image – and you will figure out that the shot is just not there no matter what you try to do.  Know when to let it go, regroup and take a different approach.

These tips are just my eight, I know there are many more.

What photo tips do you have to make a food shoot successful?

Until next photo,


  • OOPS before someone corrects me I guess it’s called PPI now see DPI and PPI Explained

    Anyway, when I am in my photo editor I just make sure the dpi (which is what they still call it in photo editing software) is below 90 and above 76.

    Love the idea of interviews!! What a great way to meet and chat with photographers and the like!!


  • I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser which has spell check as you go. But hey, we’re human ;-)

    There are actually two galleries loaded in this theme, but I think you can go ahead and post as many images as you want into your posts Remy. I know Katie has done 8 – 10 without issue, it depends on the DPI you use when you save it for upload. You want the save the image between 76 – 90 DPI. If you leave images at the typical 300 DPI then yes, the page will crawl.

    Are you leaning towards food photography? I do like this shot!


    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      Thanks for the update on the image sizes that makes sense. I like food, pets, sports and nature. But I thought I would do a series of how – to’s including interviews. I’m working on it as we speak….lots of fun!

  • Ken

    A powerful share, but you have spelled opportunities as “opportunites”. Dont is missing the ‘ in Don’t. I thought steady-ness is spelled steadiness, but maybe photographers refer to it that way? I would have enjoyed more examples of good and bad food photography to get what you mean with your list. An example of food without water or oil sprayed and then with it sprayed on. An example of natural light against fake lighting side by side. Examples of good uses of the 3rds. Then I would have shared this with all my friends.

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      Ken, thanks for the feedback on the spelling. Funny that the mis spellings didn’t show on the spell check. Ah, live and learn. I’ll talk with our Editor Catherine to see if we can add in an additional gallery vs individual photos (which really hamper load times) Great idea! Remy