Ready to capture stunning holiday photos of all your favorite festive food? Here’s how you can take your holiday food photography from zero to hero in a few simple steps. Grab your camera and let’s dive straight in!
Holiday Food Photography Tips for Shooting like a Pro
- Pick the Right Hero
- Shoot with Natural Light
- Go Easy on the Props
- Give Your Food Photography a Gentle Holiday Feel
1. Pick the Right Hero
If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to capture dishes that are naturally photogenic. This will get you the best photos the quickest, plus you’ll be more encouraged as you’ll notice your progress quickly.
I highly recommend starting with desserts like cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, brownies or doughnuts. Big showstopper desserts like layered cakes, bakery-style muffins and braided bread buns are always a winner too.
These will be much easier to capture than everyday dishes like stews, savory pies, soups, or starters. To put it simply, the more impressive the dish, the easier it will be to get a great photo.
2. Shoot Holiday Food Photography with Natural Light
Unless you have access to good-quality studio lights with the right type of diffuser, natural light is the way to go. If you’re a beginner, I assume you don’t own fancy lighting equipment so here’s how you’re going to get the most out of natural light.
- Look for big windows – Shoot during the day near a big, bright window.
- Use distance to adjust brightness – If it’s sunny outside, the light coming onto your scene might be too strong. Move further away from the window or cover it with a sheet of parchment paper or a very light piece of curtain/linen. This will diffuse the light, giving your scenes beautiful soft shadows.
- Move around – Don’t be afraid to move around to find the right type of light. You know how you probably move around a little bit to find the best light for selfies? Same goes for food photography.
[Related Reading: 10 Pieces Of Food Photography Equipment At Any Price Level]
3. Go Easy on the Props in Your Holiday Food Photography
One of the most common mistakes beginner photographers make is overcrowding their scene with too many props.
If you’re not super familiar with food photography, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to balance out a complex scene. This can take years of practice and still remain a challenge. Instead, you’ll want to strip it down to the very basics. Here’s how:
- Let the food be the hero – Don’t use busy patterned backgrounds and vibrant coloured plates that will overpower your dish.
- Use minimal props – For example, if you’re shooting cookies, a glass of milk, some scattered chocolate chips and a piece of linen will be just enough.
- Keep it neutral – Don’t mix too many colours – pick one or two colours and stick to that. This will also make it easier to edit your image.
4. Give Your Holiday Food Photography a Gentle Holiday Feel
The festive season can sometimes feel like a celebration of all things busy & excessive. When it comes to food photography you’ll want to do the opposite – keep things simple and balanced.
I’m all about giving my photos a gentle holiday feel. This means including a few festive props without turning the scene into something that resembles an over-the-top Christmas tree.
If you study my holiday food photography, you’ll see my photos have an immediate holiday vibe without feeling too busy or intense.
Some of my favourite festive props that instantly bring about a feel-good holiday atmosphere include the following:
- Candles – From big to small, tea lights to candlesticks, neutral or colorful, they make a fantastic prop that helps set the scene.
- A string of fairy lights – Place them somewhere in the background to ensure they don’t distract from the main dish.
- Plants – think poinsettia, amaryllis, or a small Christmas tree. Keep them out of focus, somewhere in the corner.
- Gift boxes – a couple of small gift boxes will help tell your audience the story of a happy family/friends gathering.
[Related Reading: Food Photography Backdrops – Which One Is Best For Your Shoot?]
That about covers it! If you find these tips helpful or have any questions, make sure to let us know in the comments section below. Or, if you have more handy tips for holiday food photography, feel free to share them too!
About the Author
Tajda Ferko is a food photographer, recipe developer and blogger originally from Slovenia but based in Manchester, UK. She’s the founder of an award-winning blog My Vegan Minimalist and runs her photography business Bloomlight Creative, helping companies all over the world elevate their brand image with scroll-stopping photography.
All photos used with permission from Tajda Ferko.