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Tips & Tricks

5 Tips For Getting Started in Food Photography

By Jamie Davis Smith on March 2nd 2016

There is one subject that is always available to photograph no matter where you are, even if you don’t leave the house: food. It’s no surprise there is such a strong interest in food photography given that we all need to eat. Being able to take a good photograph of food is not just a good way to document the way you break bread with your friends and family, but is also a great way to learn a new photography skill by honing your lighting skills, compositional techniques, and post-processing methods.

Andrew Scrivani is a food photographer and stylist and CreativeLive instructor whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Eating Well Magazine and many other publications and ad campaigns. His website and Instagram accounts are drool-worthy, and here, Andrew shares five tips with us on getting started in food photography.


Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

1. Know Your Gear

Learn the camera you have. If you really want to shoot food or anything else, you need to understand your tools. If you can master whatever camera you have and learn how to get the results you want out of that camera, then you’ll always have the skills that translate to any camera. Teach a man to fish…

[RELATED PRODUCT: Photography 101 – Capture great images with basic gear]

2. Know How To Find Good Natural Light

Master the use of daylight techniques for food photography. Most food photography in the marketplace right now is either using or mimicking daylight. The general principle is to use or create a very large light source (i.e. the sun) then soften and shape that light to flatter your subject.

3. Know Food

If you are interested in food photography, learn about food. One of the great benefits that I have had in my career is an intimate knowledge of my subject matter.


APPETITE Canning, Pear Apple Butter, made and styled by Andrew Scrivani NYTCREDIT: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times NYTCREDIT:

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

4. Know Food Styling…or a Food Stylist

Partner with a stylist. It is really hard to cook, style and photograph food on your own. If you have someone to share in the creative process with you, both will progress much faster.

5. Know How to Edit

Either learn how to use Photoshop or partner with someone who does. You will need to shoot RAW images, and you will need post-production expertise to make those RAW files into usable images. This is an essential skill for photographers.

Check out the SLR Lounge Lightroom Workshop for a comprehensive resource to teach you how to use Lightroom.


Learning food photography is a great skill to add to your arsenal.  It’s an easy thing to practice while you are eating one of your three square meals a day. Once you gain some confidence, you may be able to start photographing food for blogs, restaurants, and cookbooks. It can open up many new opportunities.

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CREDITS: Photographs by Andrew Scrivani are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Jamie Davis Smith is a contributor for the Huffington Post , Shutterfly, and The Washington Post, among other publications. She lives in Washington D.C. and loves to explore the greater D.C. area with her four young children and documents everything with her ever-present camera.


Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rob Kirkland

    Great photos

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  2. Steven Pellegrino

    When I decided to go “pro” several years ago food photography was one of the first genres I turned to. It was a good way to improve my technique, learn my gear and build a portfolio. The problem was a very limited market. I live in St. Louis and while it’s not a small city, it’s not a big city either. There are limited publications who already have several photographers either on staff or on call and this is quickly falling into the realm of “I can do that myself” for restaurant owners.

    There’s a lot of great food photography from amateurs out there and I have to admit that it would be difficult to justify hiring a pro and a stylist for a restaurant. Maybe there’s more to it, but if there’s a bigger market for this, I’d like to hear about it.

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    • Bill Bentley

      Steven, unfortunately your experience can be echoed in several photographic genres I think. Product, sports and real estate come to mind. Low end wedding and portraiture too.

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