The Complete Guide to Food Photography for Home-Based Chefs

Have you ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and immediately stopped at the sight of a mouth-watering image of food? Well, that’s exactly how you want people to feel when they see photos of your food on your HomeMade app menu! Good food photography speaks a thousand words, and in order to guarantee success for your home-based cooking business, you need to capture the attention of foodies with eye-catching imagery that makes them ready to select ‘add to cart’. Whether you’re a novice with an iphone or an expert with professional photography equipment, follow this complete guide to learn how to capture beautiful food selfies that’ll keep your HomeMade app customers coming back for more!

 

CheckPrepare Your Plate

How to professionally plate food for photography
Source: Serious Eats

 

When you’re selling food as a home-based chef, your food doesn’t only have to taste good; it has to look good too! Before you pull out your iPhone or professional camera, it’s a MUST that you neatly plate your food. Trust us; there’s no editing your way around this important step! 

 

Although your food will likely be served to customers in to-go containers, it’s never a bad idea to style your plate on nicer plateware for their big photo debut. Pull out your favorite dishware or pick up something special from a local store to create a stylish base for your tasty meal. 

 

WARNING: Every dish will photograph very differently. Dishes that naturally have plenty of color and texture give you a lot to work with, but dishes with minimal or duller colors don’t look as appetizing on camera. Spruce your dish up a bit by adding colorful herbs or garnishes such as cheese, parsley, or extra fruit that add some dimension and flare to your dish. 

 

Pro Tip: Don’t false advertise! Make sure that the serving sizes used in your photos are accurate to how much food people will actually receive in their order.

 

CheckCollect Food Photography Props 

Use Props to professionally style plate for food photography
Source: @FoodbyMaria/Instagram

 

Your food is looking good! Now it’s time to really up your game by getting creative with food photography props. Think about the vibe that you want to set for each dish: would you like a rustic, vintage aesthetic? Or maybe you prefer visuals that are clean and crisp? Regardless of your preference, you can find great affordable props at consignment stores or even bargain marts. If you really want to create a #repost worthy lifestyle shot, incorporate natural elements such as some of the fresh vegetables you used to prepare your dish, or add in some cooking equipment such a cutting board and knives to show that you really mean business.

 

You can even create a full table setting that really helps your future customers envision themselves chowing down on your food, or create a signature look for your brand with a fun backdrop that you can use in all of your future food photography for your profile.

 

Pro Trip: Be careful not to include too much color with your food photography props. If the colors are too distracting, they’ll take away for your dish rather than complimenting it.

 

CheckWork Your Angles

Finding the perfect angle for food photography
Source: Digital Photography

 

What are the best qualities of your camera-ready dish? Is it a sky high burger with plenty of tasty toppings, or a plate of paella filled with delicious varieties of seafood? It is served in a small dish or on a huge platter? These answers will help you figure out what parts of your dish you want to highlight, and what angle you’ll want to shoot from to get the best view. Once you’ve figured these details out,  position your camera accordingly.

 

For sandwiches and burgers, it’s typically better to shoot them from a side angle so that people can see its size and all of the tasty toppings inside. Soups and salads are commonly shot from directly above so that hungry customers can savor all of the flavors with a bird’s eye view. If you really want to make HomeMade app users hungry, close up shots of dishes are always a huge winner!

 

Pro Tip: If your dish contains a tasty filling, cut it open and let the filling ooze out to make your food look even more irresistible!

 

CheckFind Your Frames

Framing and composition for food photography
Source: A Sweet Pea Chef

 

Your dish is almost ready for it’s big on-camera debut! But before you press the shutter button on your smartphone or your professional camera, you have to give your photo some visual interest by making sure that the frame it just right. Framing is one of the most important lessons in food photography because it determines what elements of the photo naturally attract the eye. While your excellent plating and cool props compliment your dish, your framing will ensure that your food remains the star of the show.

 

The easiest way to figure out how to frame your shot is by using the ‘rule of thirds’: a photography technique that applies to the overall composition of a photograph and where the main subject lies within the shot. To follow the rule of thirds, simply imagine that a grid is placed over your photo. Your dish should be placed along these lines or at their intersections to guarantee that it’ll catch your customers’ eye. 

 

Pro Tip: Avoid posting photos that are too justified to the right or the left on your HomeMade profile to ensure that no important parts of your dish are cut out in your thumbnails.

 

CheckChase the Light

Professional lighting tips for food photography
Source: Two Loves Studio

 

Lighting equipment is useful, but nothing beats natural lighting if you have access to it. Shoot close to a window or even outside if possible to take advantage of incredible and free lighting that will showcase every flavor of your dish in HD. 

 

If you’re shooting indoors, grab some baking paper from your cabinet to diffuse the light by taping it to the glass. This will prevent the light from being too harsh and overexposing details in your photo. Play around with your angles to find just the right spot for your dish to catch the light! If you prefer to shoot outdoors, golden hour is the best hour. Invest in a reflector or create a makeshift bounce card out of white cardboard so that you can control where the light hits to capture your perfect shot. 

 

Pro Tip: Set up your dish and your props on a movable surface that allows you to move around until you find the right lighting.

 

CheckTake Your Photo

Camera Settings to use for food photography

 

It’s the big moment — time to take your photo! But you need a few tips first to make sure all of your hard work up to this point won’t be in vain. If you have a tripod, now’s the time to use it to ensure the camera doesn’t move around so your photos come out crisp and blur-free. If you don’t have a tripod, adjust the aperture settings on your professional camera to aperture priority (Av) mode to help  avoid blurry shots , or keep things simple by using a smart phone with automatic settings.

 

CheckEdit Your Photo to Perfection

how to edit photos of food
Source: Shopify

 

Yay! You’ve taken some great photos of dishes for your HomeMade app menu. But there’s always room for improvement! Edit your photos with Photoshop, Lightroom, or even Preview to take them from good to great. Here are some common problem areas for photos that can be fixed with editing. 

 

White Balance
This helps to balance the colors in your photos and get rid of blue or yellow hues from unattractive lighting. Using the white balance tool on your preferred editing software, click on a spot in your image that should be a neutral white or gray and adjust until they are the right color. You can also manually adjust the color balance using the temperature and hue sliders.

 

Contrast, Brightness, and Saturation
These settings are the key to really bringing out the very best out of your food photography. Slightly adjust these settings to restore dull colors or low contrast in your photo, but avoid over editing that can lead to blurriness or unflattering colors. 

If you’re not ready to manually edit your images, photo filters are your friend! Download VSCO or similar photo editing apps on your smartphone with preset filters that can add a subtle pop to your photos.

 

With these food photography techniques and some practice, you’ll be a food photography pro in no time! Please feel free to reach out to the HomeMade team if have any questions about food photography for beginners or useful resources to help you improve your skills. Drop us a line by clicking here.