Picture of How To Photograph Food without a Fancy Camera
As a contributing writer for a top food blog, it's no surprise I have to take quality photos of my food to go along with my blog entries. My friends often ask me what kind of camera I have when I post my food photos. You must use an expensive DSLR, right? No, not at all. In fact, I use a simple point-and-shoot* camera that I’ve owned for years! An expensive DSLR isn’t warranted if you know a few tricks of the trade, which I’m happy to share after much trial and error.

*Sometimes I end up using my iPhone's camera when I'm working on the fly and still find all of these tips applicable!
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Be prepared.

Picture of Be prepared.
Before you even make the food, have everything positioned exactly where you want it in the photo. This includes (but is not limited to) the serving dish, props, lighting equipment, and tripod. The last thing you want to do is rush during a photo shoot! And remember, you will be hungry by the time you’ve finished cooking/photographing the food, so snack on something beforehand so you’re not tempted to eat your food subject.

Step 2: Please don't use flash.

Picture of Please don't use flash.
Every food photographer and stylist out there will tell you that lighting is more important than the food itself, and boy are they right! Try avoiding using the flash on your camera (unless you’re using it as foreground fill with other side lighting). It creates harsh, uneven lighting when used alone. It’s always best to use natural light, so take your photos near a window or outdoors. The best time of day is late morning to early afternoon, and if the photo weather gods are cooperating – bright, cloudy days provide perfect lighting conditions. If you must take your photo at night, you can create a soft, natural light ambience with the food-blogger-acclaimed Lowel EGO light. I was lucky enough to receive this truly magical light as a gift, but if it isn’t within your means, there are plenty of online tutorials for creating your own light box.

For people interested, there is a site where you can buy DSLR Flashes.

kylechaffee2 years ago
Hey! Im curious what the light blue surface is? Is it just a plastic table cloth? :)
Thanks & Best Regards, Kyle.
t2172652 years ago
Thank you so much for this. I couldn't figure out what was "off" about my photos, I tried everything, and adjusting the ISO made all the difference.
bcahalan (author)  t2172652 years ago
That's great to hear! :)
KissMyFrog2 years ago
Thanks for an excellent guide! I can see me using these tips for more than just food photography. One question, though, how does one get pics of hot food without steam fogging up the camera lens?
bcahalan (author)  KissMyFrog2 years ago
Good question! Unfortunately, I don't have a solid answer. I typically back the camera out to make the steam visible, so I never have to deal with a fogging problem. Perhaps opening a window (so the steam can flow out of the shot) will do the trick?
sitearm2 years ago
@Bcahalan; Nice! Tweeted it. Site : )
bcahalan (author)  sitearm2 years ago
Thanks! :)
supamar1o2 years ago
hi, this is a great guide and i will be trying out your tips shortly... but, what i'm more interested in knowing right now is what those delicious looking pancakes are? looks to me something like baked custard with (obviously) cinnamon... could you please share the recipe with us too?
bcahalan (author)  supamar1o2 years ago
They're actually White Chocolate Filled Snickerdoodles. A must-try cookie recipe! :)
bFusion2 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
Oops, a little confusion here. It is not free, see this article. Thanks.
bcahalan (author)  rayjamesfun2 years ago
Good to know. Thanks for clarifying!
SantaB bFusion2 years ago
Sadly, it seems if you got a copy you are simply lucky. It was a fluke in Adobe's system.

The Student/Teacher versions of Adobe's software aren't bad, but you can't do commercial work with them according to Adobe's licensing (fine print). I personally like Sumo Paint. It's free and very much like Photoshop online. Pixlr is another decent one as well...
bcahalan (author)  SantaB2 years ago
Thanks for the info! I'll definitely check out Sumo Paint.
bFusion SantaB2 years ago
Apologies, thanks for clearing it up! I didn't know that the story changed (again) :)
keekah2 years ago
If you edit on your ipad or android tablet, a good free app is snapseed.
bcahalan (author)  keekah2 years ago
Thanks for the tip! I'll have to download that one.
wineimbiber2 years ago
Very useful post (especially for food bloggers like me!). I use a point and shoot for some of my articles and didn't realize that my little camera was capable of some of the things you mentioned. Thanks for pointing them out and telling us how to use them!
bcahalan (author)  wineimbiber2 years ago
Thanks! Little cameras can surprise you.
This is a great tutorial! I don't do some of these things and really should start. :)
bcahalan (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thanks! This is my first time posting an Instructables tutorial. Happy to see it was useful to you!