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Everything about Food Photography

Learn everything there is to know about becoming a food photographer.

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The Best Food Photography Portfolio Examples of 2022

Whether you already have a food photography website or are building one from scratch, it’s always worthwhile to look at other inspiring portfolios and get ideas for your own. As a best practice, we recommend reviewing your site at least 1-2 times each year to see what content or design might need to be refreshed. We’ve found a clean and modern food photography portfolio example that you can click through for inspiration; you’re sure to find some fresh ideas for how you can design your own.

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The Best Food Photography Ideas

Food photographers have to work hard to capture the right angles, colors, shadows, and textures when shooting.  If you’re interested in food photography and you need some creative food photography ideas to get you started on your journey, listen up. We’ve got all the best food photography ideas headed your way.

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Food levitation photography.

Also known as floating and flying food photography, don’t limit yourself to thinking that your food has to remain stagnant during your photoshoot. That’s right, taking your food off the plate, deconstructing it, and giving it some movement could be exactly what’s on today’s menu. 

This kind of food photography can be very complicated, involving a team of people assisting you, and multiple frames to capture each element of the dish that will have to be edited together into a composite image later.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you have to make an incredibly elaborate setup or even throw food across the room to achieve the flying food effect. Instead, floating food photography could simply mean sprinkling seasoning onto food, or squeezing lemon juice onto a dish and capturing that motion.

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Conceptual food photography.

Essentially, if you’re photographing food in a setting or manner in which we wouldn’t normally eat it in real life, then you’re probably playing with some form of conceptual food photography. 

Conceptual food photography is quite a broad term, which is why it can encompass so many different styles of food photography. Primarily, conceptual food photography picks some sort of idea or concept that you want to convey and then uses food items to portray it. 

For instance, photographing the ingredients of a cake rather than a fully baked cake itself. Or, we can focus on viewing food items through lenses that we wouldn’t normally have access to. For instance, a cross-section of a soup bowl that shows the soup from the side without the entire bowl containing it. 

Not too surprisingly, conceptual food photography can rely quite heavily on post-production editing.

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Negative space food photography.

Negative space food photography is all about considering the space around the food. You will have a primary dish, but you will also consider the space around the dish to make the image more interesting visually. This can be achieved by playing around with composition and lighting to make it more enticing while using the negative space to elevate what you’re communicating with that image. 

Keep in mind that balance is incredibly important when considering negative space in food photography. Too much negative space and your image could look boring and a little too minimalist, and empty. On the other end, if you add too many props and additional food items around the dish, you will likely lose the main focus entirely.

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Minimalist food photography.

It doesn’t take an expert to know what this idea entails, but it can be challenging to strike a balance to make sure the minimalist aesthetic is working to your benefit. And in case you are struggling with taking food photos that feel a little too cluttered and busy, let’s take a step back and chat about minimalist food photography. 

All about letting the food be the star of the image, minimalist food photography avoids the excessive use of props and other distracting elements. Instead, you’ll likely find that a neutral backdrop is used, as well as neutral dishware. You also might notice more natural elements worked into the photo like wood and metals.

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Food still life photography.

Still life photography generally focuses on inanimate objects or commonplace items like vases, plants, shells, clothing, and yes, food. 

Try finding inspiration from still life paintings from the masters in art history. Use food as the vehicle to create beautiful still life scenes. Think about the direction of the light, the composition, and how each of the elements in your scene are interacting with each other. You can also start incorporating still life food photography into your work by focusing on single ingredients rather than fully plated meals or constructed scenes. For instance, a bowl of fruit or a plate of cheese. 

 

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Food packaging photography.

Did you know that food photography doesn’t just have to be about plated meals and single-ingredient photos? Food photography can also encompass the photography shown on a packaged food label. Or the product photography of a packaged food product.

For instance, that granola bar that you buy every week at the grocery store, more than likely, there is an image of the granola bar on the outside of the box. Or what about that favorite canned soup that showcases the soup on the outside of the package? 

If this doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll also often find that packaged foods are shot for marketing materials. For instance, if that granola bar comes in multiple flavors, you might need to shoot an image that incorporates all 5 flavors into one image.

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Reflective food photography.

One easy way to give your food photography a more elevated edge is to add a reflective surface to the image. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a mirror, but just the addition of something reflective will help with visual interest. 

For instance, try using plexiglass when deciding on what surface to place your food items on. It helps to add a sleek and modern aesthetic to the final image. 

If you want to take it a step further and give your image an even more modern feel, try adding kitchen gadgets to the image. For instance, a sleek coffee maker or a stainless steel toaster could do the trick.

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Incorporate a splash with food photography.

Soups, stews, and especially drinks like coffee, smoothies, and cocktails could all benefit from a little splash in the image. 

That’s right, this idea might be a little messy, but it can add creativity, dimension, and movement to your image without having to get too wild. Simply put your camera into a continuous shooting mode and be sure to start capturing the image before you create the splash. 

The result will be an image that feels much more dynamic and interesting than if the image was just of a drink on a bar or a soup on a table.

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Be silly with food photography.

When you think of food photography, you probably don’t think of comedy, but here’s the thing about photography: You can have fun and get silly with almost any style. 

With food, you will likely be adding props and weird/interesting items into the image to convey that silly factor. For instance, look at items around your house that have nothing to do with food and see if you can think of quirky ways to add them to the image.

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Try out the traditional flat lay.

While we strongly encourage you to push boundaries when it comes to your food photography, in some cases, going back to your roots and staying on a more traditional path might benefit you. In particular, we love a good food flat lay for this.  

Simple in nature, you can incorporate this style when you really want to let the food shine. Arrange the food in an appealing way, place your dish close to window light, or another diffused light source, and shoot from above. Food photography is all about making the food look as appealing as possible. This might mean styling your bird’s-eye-view scene by adding extra details around the dish, like fresh herbs to entrees and icing to desserts. Including extra styling elements could make all the difference in your imagery.

Website Templates for Food Photographers

Our easy-to-use templates can be personalized into thousands of different design iterations uniquely suited for your business.

Our new District template features bold fonts and a neutral palette designed to perfectly complement your photos. This template provides an ideal background for any photographer.

A unique carousel with character to showcase your work in minimalist frames that perfectly present your session types and specialized genres.

A striking gallery designed for universal, modern, well-arranged photography images.

After you perfectly capture life in the camera, show its many angles in this grid view design.

Let your images make a big statement in the space of a gorgeous single page site design.

Romantically tell the story of engagements, weddings, and maternity.

A striking template to capture powerful food photography.

A soft color palette and elegant script font are the perfect way to display romantic engagement and wedding photos.

Southwest

The black canvas background sets the stage for high contrast photos while evoking a moody style.

Check Out Website Templates for Food Photographers

Make A Living

Professional Food Photography

Professional food photos fill the pages of high-quality cookbooks, illustrate restaurant menus, and bring social media accounts and food blogs to life. Food photography can also tell cultural stories or provide commentary on the food industry.

Since most food photographs are used to market products and/or services, food photography often falls under the larger category of commercial photography, although editorial styles of food photography do exist.

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Learn It All

Food Photography Tips

Food photography falls under the still life photography category and is all about finding aesthetic and creative ways to showcase food. Food photography is also a type of commercial photography as it is used in advertising, menus and cookbooks, and magazines, and is relied on heavily for social media promotions. For anyone who is a foodie, or someone who loves to be involved with the local restaurants in their community, there is space for you as a food photographer. To help you set yourself up for success in the world of food photography we’ve compiled these top tips and tricks.

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Use fresh ingredients.

Styling your food photography with fresh ingredients in the backdrop is a quick and easy way to make your food look instantly fresh. Cut halves of a fruit to have in the shot or use other fresh ingredients from the dish placed strategically as props.

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Use small plates.

Styling the food on a small plate is a good tip for any beginner photographer. When you have a small plate, you’ll have to be selective and intentional about what food you have on the plate and how it is styled – it’s much easier to photograph than having big mounds of food.

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Water droplets.

Strategically using water droplets on some of your objects can make for a really fresh look and it can also add texture to your pictures. These work well on things like fresh fruit or vegetables, or when working with drinks that you want to look cold and refreshing. Invest in a spray bottle from the dollar store to curate this style. If you need the droplets to last for a long time you can also u

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Home-grown garnishes.

Having fresh garnishes to use to style your next food photography session is always a great way to add to the freshness of the pictures. If you are planning to grow your business as a food photographer, try growing some garnishes at the same time – things like berries, basil, rosemary, mint, etc.

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Take a bite.

Try having your food styled with a bite strategically taken out of it. This is a fun way of food styling that will humanize the food a bit more and adds a unique element to your photoshoot. You are going to want to have the bite taken in the most strategic way where the food still looks delicious but also real.

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Be creative with the cutlery.

Being creative with the cutlery is another easy way to add unique styles to your food photography photoshoots. The fun part about cutlery is it can really change the style – whether you are using your grandmother’s antique cutlery, wooden pieces that make for a rustic look, or going modern and chic. The sky is the limit.

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Stay away from busy patterns.

The focus of your food photography has to be, none other than… the food. To make sure that the food is always the central point in the photograph, you are going to want to make sure that you aren’t using any patterns that are too busy or any colors that are too bold.

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 Less is more.

As a rule of thumb, when it comes to styling your food photography always remember that less is more. Sometimes as you are photographing and trying new things you might find something is missing and try adding in props, but sometimes what the photo needs is to take things out. Try it next time.

9/10

 Choose under ripe fruit.

Okay so you aren’t eating the fruit right? So it’s okay to choose fruit that is not quite ripe yet, it’s actually better for your food photography shoot. It helps to have apples without bruises or avocado that is still hard and won’t look mushy in your photographs.

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Cut your food.

Another different styling technique in food photography is to cut your food in different ways. For example, if you are cutting different fruits to have as props in the photograph you may have some in halves and some in wedges. It’s the simple ways of styling that will go a long way in your shoots.

Professional Food Photography Guide

Many photographers start their careers in the food photography niche because it’s such a vast genre of still photography that covers many different industries. Food photography might be advertised in food magazines, social media platforms, products and packaging, and even documentaries. That’s why food photography is also a specialization of commercial photography.

Keep reading to learn more about food photography and how it can help you in your photography business, or even as a hobby!

 

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Food Photography FAQ’s

Is it hard to become a food photographer?

Becoming an in-demand professional food photographer in a saturated market can be challenging. However, by constantly honing your skills, developing a unique personal style, maintaining a competent portfolio, and exploring related income streams making a living as a food photographer would not be difficult for the passionate and hardworking.

What type of education do food photographers need?

Studying the works of the best food photographers of the day (and in the past) provides a foundation for learning the ins and outs of this niche. While a degree from a university isn’t necessary to make a mark in this field, an apprenticeship with a professional photography studio may be the best and most cost-effective way to gain valuable real-life experience in food photography before striking out on your own. There are also endless online resources to educate yourself on best practices in food photography.

Is food photography a good career?

If you find yourself snapping pictures of each delicious meal you’re enjoying, it may be a sign that food photography is a great career choice for you. As a career, food photography offers unique and creative challenges, interesting and delicious subjects, and a behind-the-scenes look into the food industry. If you like sharing good food with others through beautiful pictures, why not give this career a shot?

Is there a demand for food photographers?

Food photography is a saturated market and freelancing food photographers may find it difficult to compete with industry powerhouses, but don’t let that discourage you. There is plenty of space in the market for photographers to make a name for themselves and have successful, lucrative businesses. By specializing in sub niches within food photography and developing a confident, personal style, photographers can stand out from the crowd and offer clients a level of artistic touch and quality that may be hard to find in stock images.

How do I sell food photos?

Food photography falls under the larger categories of both commercial and editorial photography. In the commercial realm, food companies hire food photographers (or purchase food photos) for product packaging and advertisements. Editorial outlets that require food images include recipes/cookbooks, lifestyle magazines, and food blogs. If you’re ready, consider reaching out to food companies or cookbook publishers with your portfolio and services.

How do I start a food photography business?

The five main steps are easy and straightforward. First, study food photography. Learn what works and what doesn’t within the industry, and find the style you’re most comfortable with. Then, begin practicing and building your food photography portfolio. When you’re ready, it’s time to invest in high-quality equipment and begin building a client base through outreach, professional work, and memorable customer service.

How do I become a freelance food photographer?

Getting your first few clients can be difficult; that’s why building a killer portfolio and practicing your personal, unique style and creative touch in food photography is so important. Once you have a fully developed food photography website, begin reaching out to food production companies, local restaurants, food magazines, and cuisine blogs and offer them a free or discounted service to build experience and gain a strong client base.

How can I find food photography jobs?

Food photographers may work directly for food companies, ad agencies, lifestyle magazines, cookbook and recipe publishers, restaurants, or private kitchens. Career options for food photographers go beyond simply taking pictures of food, however. If you have a passion for exploring food photography, consider becoming a food stylist, bringing your style and artistic touch to each image as you work with other food photographers.

What should I charge for food photography?

When deciding how much to charge a client for your food photography services, the final number would depend on the number of hours spent on the project (from conception to delivery, including editing), the value of your equipment, and any licensing the client may request. Take the budget of your client as well as your own skill level into account as you finalize the total charge.

What do you need to take food photography?

To take food photography, of course you will need delectable items of food and ingredients, often times these are curated by a the chef or the owner of a restaurant/food establishment or an artistic director. You’ll also need a camera and lens that is compatible with macro photography, as well as a good editing software.

What lighting setup is best for food photography?

Just like many other types of photography, the best kind of lighting is natural light. This will often make the food look the most appealing. That being said, natural lighting can be challenging to rely on so for any studio shoots you should also be comfortable using studio lighting. When it comes to food photography, one light source may be enough, sometimes in combination with reflectors.

What is the best shutter speed for food photography?

Your shutter speed will change slightly depending on whether you are holding your camera by hand or whether you are using a tripod as when it is by hand you are going to be dealing with a bit of a natural shake. As a base, you are going to want to go with at least 1/80 where you can; you should typically not go below 1/60 without a tripod.

What skills do you need to be a food photographer?

As a food photographer, you are going to need to be skilled in a number of different areas, starting with your communication and networking abilities to be able to attract clients. You are also going to need to have lots of creativity and a good eye for style. Software editing skills is another component that you’ll need to have in your tool kit.

What kind of props should be used for food photography?

The props that you use in your food photoshoot should match your style as a photographer or the style you are creating for your shoot – is it rustic, modern, chic, airy? Classic props for food photography include kitchen-related items like ingredients used, fabric napkins, platters, serving utensils, and cooking supplies, such as measuring cups, pinch bowls, wood boards, etc.

How can I practice food photography?

You can practice food photography anywhere with food! You can practice doing so in your own home, playing with props and different garnishes. You can also do it inside of restaurants with your own food that you’ve ordered or try going to a cute cafe where you can play with different backdrops.

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