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The Ultimate Guide For Perfect Food Photography

By Rach DePaoli | Basic Photo EditingPhoto Editor Tutorials

With the holidays around the corner, everyone and their grandma will be snapping photos of all the delicious food they’re whipping up. Knowing how to photograph all of the treats and meals you make is a helpful tool to have, especially if you’re planning on sharing the photos with friends and family (or Pinterest!).  

The fact is, people love beautiful food photos. The pictures that you come across will typically elicit a specific feeling in you that goes beyond hunger. A photo of orange juice, if done correctly, will provoke thoughts about summertime or hosting a brunch with your friends on a Saturday morning. A photo of a warm, comforting looking stew will encourage memories of the winter months and make you crave cozying up in front of the fire with a loved one. This is what your goal should be when taking photos of your food.

tips for flat lay food photography

The best part is that these types of images are not that difficult to create - you most likely have the majority of the tools you need for food photography right in your home! With these helpful tips and the ease of BeFunky Photo Editor, you’ll be able to create photos that are worthy of all the likes.

Essential Tips For Nailing Your Food Photography

Creating beautiful food photography doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve broken it down for you to capture your food at it’s finest, with some simple, memorable tips for your next shoot. It all begins before you even hit the capture button:

Establish The Mood

Before you start shooting, it’s important to ask yourself what the biggest strength of your dish is. Is it the color of the dish, the texture, the shape? Whatever it is, highlight that piece.

food photography tips by BeFunky

Most recipes will dictate the mood itself. For example, s’mores scream fire and warmth and comfort, while a salad has a more energizing vibe. With the mood in mind, set the scene by finding props that evoke a similar feeling. If you have a warm, cozy dish, using a rustic, neutral palette for backgrounds and props will enhance that feeling in the photo.

Get The Lighting Just Right

You don’t need expensive lighting equipment to produce amazing food photography. In fact, some of the best food photos are shot using natural light, which is absolutely free! In your home, find a large window that lets in a lot of light or if the weather's nice, bring your food outside. Anywhere that is brightly lit will work great.

using natural light in food photography

Diffusing your light is the next step to great lighting. If you’ve ever shot a photo outside when the sun is at its highest point, you probably found that it makes shooting more difficult. Diffusing light helps to distribute an even amount of light over your entire scene. This is why photographers love a cloudy day; it evenly distributes the light and makes editing a breeze! To diffuse harsh light when it's not cloudy, you can hang a white sheet in your window, or bounce light with a white poster board to bring more light onto the darker parts of your shot.

Create Harmony With Color

Before you start tossing props into the shot, you’ll need to think about color. By shooting colors that work well and look good together, you are creating harmony and have a better chance that someone will like your photo - even if they are not conscious about it!

using complimentary colors in food photography

For instance, this photo of the persimmons uses the complementary colors of orange and blue, while the photo of the plums uses complementary colors yellow and purple, and analogous colors blue, purple, and red. Complementary and analogous colors create harmony to the eye.

Set The Scene With Props

Start noticing a lot of the props you see in food photography. You’ll find that many photographers will use linens or old, scratched up pans as their surface or backdrop. Think of the materials you have in your home and utilize those items before going out and buying all new props! You can do a lot with an old pan, a cutting board, and a sheet.

Visual differences in a photo such as height variance, object depth, and texture creates interest and intrigue and allows the eye to move freely throughout your photo. Adding other props and ingredients into your photo helps to add visual differences.

how to use props in food photography

For example, the photo of a stack of pancakes places the pancakes front and center. Notice the white background and white sheet underneath. The photographer used berries, pears, and dripping honey as a way to create height differences. This helps create movement and allows your eye to move throughout the frame. The photo of the burger gives you height variance with the beverages, while also giving texture variance with the paper underneath. These elements add interest.

Play With Composition

Composition is such an important aspect of photography and is more of a sum of techniques. Think of composition as figuring out where to place the subject in the frame so that your eye focuses on that first. You can use framing (using smaller elements in a photo to frame the main subject), the rule of thirds (place your main subject where the lines intersect), balance (making sure there are equal weights on either side of the subject), and simplicity (using neutral backgrounds as not to distract from the subject). All of these help to bring out the main subject in your frame.

composition in food photography

Check out these churros. The first photo is crisp and beautiful, but the second photo adds other elements into the shot, all while keeping the pack of churros the main subject. The use of framing as well as the rule of thirds was used. This creates a lot more visual stimulation for the viewer. And notice that the photographer didn't blow away the messiness of powdered sugar for the shot. These details help the image feel lived-in, rather than staged.

Practice these techniques while you’re shooting to create unbelievable photos. Continually look at good food photography for inspiration. Study images and recreate them with the items you own. Practice, practice, practice!

How To Edit Your Food Photos To Perfection

After you’ve finished your photo shoot and have the photos you like, it’s time to make them look even more delectable with photo editing! To start, head to BeFunky’s Photo Editor and upload one of your favorite photos from the shoot. We’ll start by editing the Exposure, which can be found in the Edit panel on the left.

how to edit food photography in BeFunky

When you click on the Exposure tool, you’ll be able to adjust Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, and Fill Light. Sliding each scale will alter the light in your photo, and a good rule of thumb is to adjust the exposure based on the brightest part of your photo. You want to make sure that the lightest part doesn’t look over-exposed or blown out.

photo editing tips food photography

Aim to increase the Exposure to match the mood you are trying to create. We want these cookies to look like classic chocolate chip cookies. In our edit, we are going to use muted, neutral tones and dusty light so that it looks like it came straight out of your grandmother’s recipe box.

To take your exposure a step beyond, head back to the Edit panel and select the Levels tool. Levels adjust shadows, midtones, and highlights a little more in depth than exposure. You can also limit the selection to the reds, greens, or blues of the image and adjust each colors’ shadows, midtones, and highlights. Play around with this tool, as it is a way to meticulously edit your photos to get it exactly where you want it to be.

Levels tool for food photography in BeFunky

Next, we’ll make the color more cohesive with the Tint tool. You’ll find this by navigating back to the Edit panel and scrolling down the menu to the Miscellaneous section. Tints are a great way to place a color overlay across your whole image (kindof like a custom filter!), which can really change the mood of your photo. In this photo, we put a dark blue-green tint over the entire image to blend together the color of the whole photo and give it more of a classic feel. Make sure to use the Amount slider sparingly, as you want to keep things natural.

how to make a photo filter in BeFunky

Now we’ll want to highlight the focal point of the shot with the Funky Focus tool. In the Edit panel, you’ll find Funky Focus under the category called Blur & Smooth. It’s is a great way to add depth of field in post processing. If you want to have your audience focus on one main part of your image, you can achieve this easier by blurring out the parts of your photo you don’t want people focused on first.

funky focus tool in BeFunky

Move the Funky Focus target over the part of the photo you want to remain in focus, and feel free to use the white circles and squares to resize the target. Sliding the Blur Amount scale to the right will increase the amount of blur in the portion of the photo that’s not inside the target.

Lastly, using the Vignette tool helps to direct light to the focal point of your photo by slightly darkening the edges. You’ll find this in the Edit panel under the Essentials category. If you want the focus to be on the cookies but the milk is too bright in comparison, putting a vignette on the image helps direct more light to the cookies.

vignette tool for photo editing in BeFunky

When you select the Vignette tool, you’ll be able to click and drag the target over where you want the light to be most focused. Everything outside of the target will darken as you slide the Amount scale.

Final Results

And there you have it. With just five simple tools from BeFunky’s Photo Editor, you can create more intriguing (and mouth-watering!) food photography in minutes! Take a look at the before and after:

how to edit food photos in BeFunky

Lighting: Shot on the kitchen table next to a large open window just after sunset.

Color: Used complementary colors red and green.

Props: Old cookie sheet as background and a cutting board as the platform. Also used milk, chocolate chips, and a measuring cup.

Composition: Used height variance and the rule of thirds.

Try these new techniques on your next meal or treat-making sesh! Don’t just snap a photo, utilize your lighting, color, props, and composition to your advantage. With these tips in your back pocket and the ease of BeFunky Photo Editor, all of your food photography will reach delectable status! Your friends and followers will thank you as they drool looking at your feed.

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified