Modern food photography – from supermarket ads to Instagram posts – is awash with beautifully curated images of foodie scenes. Most of us love to eat delicious food, just as much as we love pouring over pictures of it, but taking professional shots can be more challenging than you’d think.
Successful food photographers and lifestyle bloggers know how to arrange setups and match colors to make the most enchanting scenes. They also use complementary textures and props behind their subjects to complete the mood of an image.
• Read more: 10 food photography tips (opens in new tab)
Food and props aside, if you want to instantly transform your own setups, shooting with a specialist background is a good place to start.
We’re not going to focus on how you should style a whole still life setup – as we’d need pages for that – but simply how to shoot and choose your settings and camera position to get the best results. Here’s how to get set up!
01 Choose your backdrop(opens in new tab)
The right board depends on the look and feel you want, as well as the items in your frame. We chose a 60cm board called Foundry from Photo Boards (opens in new tab), which had the effect of a rusted metal surface and suited a rustic cake.
02 Position the board(opens in new tab)
Stand your board on a work surface to act as a metal-effect background. For a realistic table and wall appearance, use two boards and ensure you can’t see any giveaway board edges in the shot.
03 Use window light(opens in new tab)
Setting up near a large window should give a more even spread of light, but avoid reflections on the board. Shoot your setup straight on (directly above for flat lay shoots), or from a 45-degree angle.
04 Don't get too close(opens in new tab)
For the best results when using printed backdrops, don’t shoot them too closely or you’ll start to see the dots of the print. When we noticed this, we swapped our macro lens for a 50mm prime.
Read more: best lenses for food photography (opens in new tab)
05 Camera settings(opens in new tab)
In Aperture Priority mode, set a low ISO and a wider aperture such as f/3.5. Handheld shooting is more freeing for composition, but mount your camera on a tripod in dim light to avoid blur.
• Best tripod (opens in new tab)
06 Fill the frame(opens in new tab)
Use Live View mode to frame your scenes, filling the entire background area with the board so that you can’t see any edges. Shoot a few test images, then introduce the props when you’re happy.
Best camera for food photography (opens in new tab)
Best light tents for photography (opens in new tab)
Best flash diffusers, softboxes and modifiers (opens in new tab) for your speedlight
Best backdrops for photography (opens in new tab): collapsible backgrounds for the home studio
Best books on food photography (opens in new tab)
Best green screen backgrounds (opens in new tab)