Lock in Your Premium Membership Discount!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
News & Insight

Better Food Photography On a Budget

By Wendell Weithers on August 18th 2017

The entry into photography can present an expensive and intimidating choice for anyone looking to take up the craft. However, if you approach this choice with the certainty about a specific genre you’d wish to pursue, additional expenses can easily find their way onto your gear wish list.

Aside from your camera gear and usable fingers, food photography requires an understanding of how light works. More importantly, knowing how to control and shape light in a meticulous and precise manner is key. There are tools to help with this but, they can bloat a bottom line that will easily squash a lightweight budget. So, here are some tips, written and video below by Sean Tucker, who we have featured on numerous occasions, to help you avoid that initial financial burden and get better images.

Lighting

Find a soft light source that hits your subject indirectly from the side or from behind. A light that hits your subject directly will cause a flat and uninteresting image while diffusing your light will give you softer shadows.

You will also want to ensure that the light you use for your subject is the only light in the room. The light in your environment will most likely be a different color temperature than the sunlight coming from your window and mixing the two will cause unflattering results.

[REWIND: HOW WE TURNED OUR BREAKFAST NOOK INTO A FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO]

Modifying Your light

  • If you don’t happen to have frosted windows, which is most of us don’t, you can use sheer fabric, sheer blinds, or as the video shows, baking paper to soften your light.
  • You can use some white cardstock to bounce light back into the shadows, black cardstock to block light or absorb it to deepen the shadows, and you can use foil paper to reflect a harsher, more specular light onto your subject.

Here is how these tips look when applied 

[REWIND: FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY IMAGE STACKING TUTORIAL]

I’d wager you don’t have a spacious studio with the accessories need to shoot mesmerizing food shots from the top-down. Fortunately, you there is a way to still make your foodie photo dreams come true.A tripod such as the Manfrotto Vanguard has a built-in lateral arm that will help you create those lovely overhead shots.

The first setup used a telephoto 100mm lens that allowed for some distance between the camera and the cake. That longer focal length also compressed the image. However, for a shot like this, a wider focal length, such as a 50mm lens is needed. It strikes the right balance capturing your setup without introducing the distortion of a wide focal length.

There is always a more affordable alternative to the pricey accessories that come with any genre of photography.  With some creativity and the occasional tip from us at the lounge, you’ll make stunning food photography.

Gear mentioned in this video:

Bodies*

Canon 5D Mk II – (Discontinued)

Alternative – Canon 6D – $1,269

Canon 550D a.k.a Canon T2i – (Discontinued)

Alternative – Canon T5i – $649

Lenses*

Canon 100mm Macro 2.8 Non IS – $599

Canon 90mm Tilt Shift – $1,399

Canon 85mm 1.8 – $369

Canon 50mm 1.8 – $125

Sigma 50mm 1,4 ART – $949

*You can find used older cameras and lenses for significantly less. With careful research, you can find a gem of a deal.

You can find more from Sean Tucker on his YouTube Channel.

 

Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Marry Anderson

    After these photos i started thinking that food photos is like a special kind of art. Very nice!

    | |
  2. Yuriys Photo

    Wow .. Lovely.. Thanks for sharing .. http://yuriysphotography.com

    | |