With the rise in popularity of food photography, everyone is now accustomed to shooting their food before they eat it. But what makes a truly delectable image of your dinner stand out from every other food photograph out there is the ability to tell a story. Yes, even in still life photography (i.e. your inanimate dinner), your image should tell a story and it’s your job as a food photographer to make it a compelling one.

As with any form of photography, lighting and composition play crucial roles to a great image. But when it comes to food photography, it’s also extremely important to style the food in a way that the viewer’s eyes are drawn to the subject first.


The following video by We Eat Together gives you some tips to help tell the story of your food image by avoiding these four mistakes. Remember, the main subject (or the hero) in your image is the food, and if you want your food subject to be in the “creative spotlight” of your image, don’t make these food styling mistakes.

1. Not Thinking About Where the Viewer Will look First

The first mistake is fairly obvious to avoid, and that is simply by making sure that the subject is in focus. This is the “creative standard,” but where exactly should the focus be on the subject (i.e. cupcake)? This is more of a creative decision that you need to take into account before you take the photo. Think about what the viewer will look at first and what is important to the story; It may be on the tip, or edge of the subject, or even a garnish.

2. The Subject Is Not the Brightest In the Image

The second mistake in styling food is not having the subject be the brightest item in the image. To counteract this, remove any object in the frame that is brighter than the subject and therefore a distraction. Also, consider using plates and props that have a matte finish.


3. Not Being Aware of Perspective

Perspective is a very important part of styling food for photography and so be aware of the items you place around your subject. If there is an object that is much larger than your subject in the frame, the image looks disproportionate, so make sure that the objects surrounding the subject are smaller than the main subject.

4. Using Distracting Colors Or Patterns

Any object in the frame that is brighter in color or busier in pattern than the subject distracts the viewer from it. Replace plates, tablecloths, or anything that will overpower your main subject.


The second part of the video gives some creative tips and tricks to help you style your food photography so that it not only tells a compelling story, but looks delicious as well. As for gear used, it looks like they highlight the Canon 5Ds and in the notes they mention their favorite lenses as being the Canon 50mm f/1.2 and the Canon 100mm f/2.8.

To see more from We Eat Together, check out their YouTube and website.

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