How To Get Started In Food Photography

Getting started in food photography is really exciting, but what photography equipment do you need to get started? This post shares some food photography equipment tips to get you started.

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Getting Started in Food Photography


iPhone Camera

When I was first getting started in food photography, I started off using my iPhone and natural light from my apartment window. The cameras on iPhones are really great, so don’t be afraid to start practicing with it. I have a post that shares iPhone Photography Tips, which could be a great place to start if you want to use your iPhone.

DSLR Cameras

There are so many DLSR cameras out there and it can be really hard to know which one to get. My advice is to start with a beginner-level model. I recommend this for two reasons: 

  1. Beginner-level DSLR’s are more affordable cameras. You can also buy a used camera to save even more money. It doesn’t make sense to break the bank on a camera before you know how serious you’re really going to be about learning food photography.
  2. Beginner-level DSLR’s will teach you exactly what to look for in your next camera to make a bigger investment worth it. One of the greatest moments for me was when I started noticing the limitations of my beginner level DSLR (Nikon D3100). It was a sign that I had outgrown it and needed a more advanced camera – and it was a really good feeling for me.

Try not to overthink what brand to choose, because they’re all pretty awesome. Below are some great beginner-level DSLR cameras by Nikon and Canon to review. 

Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless cameras are also great. They are basically more compact DSLR’s which make them lightweight and much easier to carry with you (less clunky). One thing I need to note is the battery life isn’t quite as good, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. You can buy extra batteries and all cameras will come with battery chargers. I’m listing the two FujiFilm cameras that I own below:

If you want to dive in deeper on more specific features to consider when buying a camera, check out my post below.


Interested in getting started in food photography? Read my tips for what you'll need to get started.


DSLR Lenses

It’s important to note that when it comes to lenses, you need to make sure the lens is compatible with your camera. If you decide to go with a Nikon camera, for example, you’ll want to get Nikon lenses or third party lenses that are compatible with Nikon. Sigma Art is a good third party brand that has lenses compatible with several different camera brands.

Most DSLR’s will come bundled with a kit lens. These lenses are great to start out with. However, if you’re interested in using another great lens that won’t break the bank, check out the 50mm 1.8 (also known as the “nifty fifty”). It’s a lightweight, prime lens and it’s a very versatile lens for different types of food angles. It’s a steal for the price (under $200) and I still use it in my line up of lenses today.

Below are the Nikon and Canon versions of the nifty fifty.

Mirrorless Lenses

If you decide to go with a mirrorless camera, you will need to get lenses that are compatible with the brand you choose. Much like DSLR’s, sometimes they’ll bundle the camera and lens together into a package, which could ultimately save you some money.

Since I shoot with FujiFilm, I am sharing the lenses I currently have below:

You can read more details about the different lenses for food photography below, but the kit lens that comes with your camera or the nifty fifty is definitely a great place to start.


Improve Your Photography Website


Now that we’ve covered some different cameras and lenses, let’s talk about tripods! Holding the camera is totally fine when you’re just starting out. But, having a good tripod to work with is definitely going to come in handy down the road, especially for food photography.

Tripods help stabilize your camera to avoid camera shake and blurry images. When to use a tripod depends on the types of images you’re shooting, your camera settings and the light you are working with. I’m sharing two different tripods that I own and love below.


Manfrotto is a really solid brand and offers a variety of great tripods.

I have the Manfrotto 055 with Center Column & Ballhead. The legs adjust easily and lock securely. The center column adjusts horizontally for overhead shots and the ball head allows for smooth, easy adjustments to position your camera correctly.

The one drawback is that the center column isn’t very long and won’t reach very far over the table for overhead shots. I recommend getting an extension arm that is longer for overhead shots.


I also have the OBEN CT-3561. The Oben is a light weight tripod, which makes it super easy to adjust on set and take with you. The legs also flip upside down so you can shoot overhead without needing an extension arm.

The drawback to flipping the legs upside down is that you may have to shoot on the floor (depending on your setup), which makes it difficult to shoot other angles.

Books & Workshops

Photography Books

After you get your camera and lens, now you need to learn how to use them. After I got my first camera, I bought two books to help me.

One book was specific to my camera model called Plate To Pixel. This book helped me learn about aperture, shutter speed and ISO and how to adjust them for food photography.

The other book was more food-photography focused called Nikon D5500 Guide To Digital Photography. This book helped me learn the in’s and out’s of my camera model.

Some other photography books I highly recommend are: 

Photography Workshops & Tutorials

Photography workshops and online tutorials are a great way to learn food photography too. There are a ton available online and you can work through them at your own pace. I’m listing some of my favorites from CreativeLive, YouTube and a Masterclass below:

asparagus on a gray board

Editing Software & Apps

Editing is an important part of the photography process. Whether you’re shooting with a DSLR, Mirrorless camera or using your iPhone, editing brings your images to their final form. I highly recommend checking out Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One.

Computer Editing Software

Editing Apps for SmartPhones

Interested in getting started in food photography? Read my tips for what you'll need to get started.

Surfaces & Props

Selecting Surfaces & Backdrops

Surfaces and backdrops play a significant role in food photography, because they help set the mood of your images. Surfaces sit beneath your food and backdrops sit behind the food. I’m listing some surface and backdrop recos and venders below:


Selecting Props

Prop shopping can be addictive for food photographers. Props include plates, bowls, linens, glassware, silverware and other objects that can add visual interest to your food images. I’m not a prop stylist (yes, there’s a profession for that), but I do have a little collection of favorite props in my home studio that I love to use. You can use a variety of whites, blacks, grays, neutrals and colors in your props.

If you don’t have a lot of space to dedicate towards storing props, start slow and just get a few things. You can also rent props from prop shops and prop stylists when you need something extra special and want to save room at your home studio.


food photography styling tools


Natural Light

Most food photographers start shooting with natural light. One easy way to learn how light will affect your images is to buy one ingredient and place it near a window. Move the ingredient to different areas on the table and watch how the light affects it. Two common light placements are from the side and from the back. Check out my post below that shares some helpful tips for shooting with natural light.


Artificial Light

The beauty of using artificial light is that you have complete control over your lighting. You control the power of the lights, the position of the lights and have the ability to make the style of light do whatever you want. There are three popular artificial lights in food photography:

I started off with one speed light and my lighting equipment grew from there. I have a detailed post that talks about each of these lights – with behind the scenes set ups – so be sure to check it out.


Purple Wine Glass and Gels

Overall, getting started in food photography is a lot of fun. My advice is not to overthink the equipment, because you really don’t need a lot in the beginning. The main things you need are a camera, a good lens, editing software and a desire to learn and practice. As your creative vision and skills improve, you will figure out what you will really need to capture the types of images you want.

Reach out with questions anytime! 

Happy Creating!


This post contains affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I actually use and support. 

All images ©Regan Baroni 2020.

Comments +

  1. ishi nora says:

    Absolutely amazing pictures. Thank you for sharing

    • Regan says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂

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