When I was first teaching myself food photography, I decided to start a blog. I didn’t really know anything about blogging, but I wanted a place to post my images other than social media. My focus was improving my food photography and I would cook, style and shoot every week. Long story short, my food photography career started with my blog. How to photograph food for your blog starts with planning your photo shoot ahead of time. It also involves knowing how to use your camera, controlling your lighting and developing a consistent editing style for your food stories.
How To Photograph Food For Your Blog
Shooting for my blog taught me a lot about the food photography process and the amount of work that goes into producing gorgeous food images. My blog shared recipes in the beginning, which forced me to wear all the hats from the cooking, food styling, shooting, editing and writing. Learning this process inside and out really prepared me for the client work that was to come in my career.
PLAN THE CREATIVE DIRECTION
It’s important to think through the creative direction for your shoot. How do you want your images to look? Will copy be on any of the images? Are you going for a dark and moody look? Or, are you wanting a light and bright look? These questions are important because they’ll help you determine what surfaces, backdrops and props to use – which are all important elements to producing a beautiful food story.
PLAN YOUR SHOT LIST
Planning your shot list is important to be sure you are capturing all the images you want for your food story. Are you shooting from above? Are you shooting details close up? Will there be any process shots? Do you need an angled shot? Are you highlighting a product or a certain ingredient? Knowing the shot list will help you plan the order you shoot in, first to last, and will help you determine the composition for each image.
USE PROPS, SURFACES & BACKDROPS
Think layers and textures! Props, surfaces and backdrops will help you bring the creative direction to life. Sometimes these details get adjusted during the shoot. But, having a general idea of the creative direction will help make these adjustments and decisions a lot easier when you’re ready to shoot.
TEST YOUR LIGHTING BEFORE THE SHOOT
Whether you are using natural light or artificial lights, it’s important to test your lighting before the food is on set. I recommend getting your surfaces, backdrops and props roughly setup and taking some test shots to get your lighting just the way you want it. Adjust the camera settings and light accordingly so you’re ready to hit the ground running when the food is ready.
Read More About: Getting Started in Food Photography
USE A CONSISTENT EDITING STYLE
After you’ve shot your images, the editing process is the icing on the cake. A lot of photographers develop an editing style that makes their images unique for their blog. Your style will evolve as you grow, but I think it’s important to be consistent per blog post/project so all the images feel like they belong in the same story. I typically use Lightroom and Photoshop for my editing and CreativeLive offers a great workshop all about Lightroom.
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT SUGGESTIONS
I have some equipment suggestions that helped me take better food images as I was learning how to shoot food for my blog. It’s important to note that every food photographer is different with the type and amount of gear they use. The equipment listed below has made my photo shoots more efficient for both my blog and my client work. Feel free to also check out my current gear for food photography.
CAMERA AND LENSES
Using a DSLR camera and good lenses is obviously important in food photography. A lot of food bloggers use their smartphone camera, which is fine. I actually like the smartphone cameras. But, if you want to improve your food images as a photographer, getting a DSLR and a good lens is going to help tremendously. I mean, let’s be honest… I would never show up to a client shoot with my smartphone as my camera. 😉
Tripods are very important to have during your photo shoots. They stabilize the camera and give you flexibility with the camera settings you want to use. I have two tripods in my home studio – the Oben (if the Oben is unavailable, this one is similar) and the Manfrotto. I use these tripods for straight on and angled shots. For overhead shots, I use this overhead setup which has been a dream to work with. And, considering how popular overhead shots are in food photography, it has been a real game changer for me.
SURFACES & PROPS
Having a variety of surfaces and props is how you’ll create different looks for your images. Rather than using the same white plate or the same dining table surface, it’s fun to get a little creative with these. I have a variety of surfaces and backdrops from Erickson Surfaces, Best Ever Backdrops and Ink & Elm. I also have some boards that I found as scraps in garages. Keep your eye out for those types of hidden gems.
When it comes to props, food photographers tend to embrace their inner hoarder. I simply don’t have the room for a ton of props, so I keep a small closet dedicated to the props I use most often and will rent props when I need something extra special.
DIFFUSERS & REFLECTORS
I highly recommend having diffusers and reflectors to help you control your lighting. These come in handy whether you are using natural light or artificial lights, because they help you shape the light to do what you want. I have a variety of black and white foam boards and larger diffusers/reflectors.
I started off as a natural light shooter, but after realizing how much more control I had with artificial lights, I made the switch. This allowed me the flexibility to work anywhere at any time and also boosted my self confidence as a photographer. Read more about my artificial light recommendations.
In the beginning, I did not shoot tethered for my blog. I would review my images on the back of my camera and then would have a boatload of images to go through during editing. Shooting tethered allows you to see your image on your computer as you shoot. It’s so helpful, because you’ll be able to catch any issues with the composition, food styling or lighting much easier when you’re reviewing images on a larger screen. This also means less images to review and edit. Simply put, shooting tethered is a much more efficient way of shooting.
Capturing beautiful food photography images for your blog, or any type of client shoot, takes planning, knowledge of your gear and continuous practice. Whether you’re shooting on your own or with a team, the process is pretty much the same to ensure an efficient and fun photo shoot.
Read More About: My Current Gear for Food Photography
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All images ©Regan Baroni 2020.