Food photography is a genre of photography that focuses on taking photos of food, normally in a restaurant or prepared setting. It is a sub-genre of commercial photography. The focus of food photography is typically the create appealing images for restaurant menus, for use in magazines, or for grocery store advertising. A food photographer is someone who specializes in taking photos of food.
Food Photography Tips
Food photography requires skills with both your camera and identifying and shaping light, both natural and artificial.
- Prepare – Know the type of food you’re going to be photographing and what the location will look like. Are there large windows you can use with natural light? If not, you’ll need to plan to bring lighting equipment such as speedlights or strobes, light stands, softboxes etc.
- Find the right location – You’ll want to find the ideal surface to shoot the food on, or you may need to bring a surface if the location where you’re shooting doesn’t have one. A large wood block or black reflective surface works well. You’ll also want to ensure that you find the spot with the best natural light (if that’s what you’re using). Finally, you’ll need to turn off any other lights in the room to ensure you don’t end up with different tones of light on the food.
- Be ready – Are you photographing freshly prepared food? Be ready to photograph each item immediately as it comes out. As food sits, it becomes lifeless. So makes sure everything is ready to go right when the food arrives. You don’t want to be adjusting your settings or moving light stands while the food dies on the table. If you’re shooting fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll have more time.
- Shoot the angles – If you’re photographing a burger or sandwich, you’ll want to get low and shoot it to show it’s layers. If you’re photographing soup or pasta, you’ll want to get up above the food. Each kind of food looks better at different angles. Make sure you practice and educate yourself before your shoot. If you’ve never shot one of the items you’re going to be shooting before, try to practice it before you show up so you’re prepared.
Best Camera for Food Photography
While there is no “best” camera for food photography, there are many options out there that are very good right now. The Canon EOS R is a relatively affordable mirrorless camera for a professional looking to get into food photography. From Sony, the A7R II is a reliable and solid option. And from Nikon, I recommend the Nikon Z6.
Best Lenses for Food Photography
While there are many different lens options when it comes to food photography, I’ve found that mid to wide lenses work best. You want a lens that will minimize distortion but one that is wide enough to capture the full scene. If you can afford it, a 24-70 f/2.8 is ideal. It allows you to get close for those tight shots of a single item like a cupcake but wide enough for a hero shot of multiple items. If you would prefer to stick to a “prime” lens, then a good 35mm f/1.4-1.8 is perfect.
Educational Resources for Food Photography
While cameras and lenses are a necessary part of getting started in food photography, education is even more important. When getting started in food photography, the most important thing is learning how to set the scene, prepare the food, control light etc. In order to learn more about getting started in food photography, check out some of these resources below: