Quick Tips for Better Photos: Photographing Food

Hey friends, I think it’s safe to say that most of us like to take photos, right?  But I also realize that most people don’t actually want to learn photography, what they want is a few easy tips to take better photos.  So I’m writing this monthly series to help you with that, whether you have an SLR, a point and shoot camera, or even a smart phone.

There’s a local restaurant that uses social media to advertise their specials every day.  I applaud them because it’s an excellent way to remind people that they exist, but the photos… kinda gross.  The descriptions of the meals are wonderful, but the accompanying shot?  So unappetizing.  Every picture is a bland, greenish color.  You know what I’m talking about, there’s one in your town too.

I like to photograph meals that are visually appealing, especially when traveling, to document the whole experience.  (And I should clarify that I’m talking about taking a quick shot with my phone and not actual food photography which can involve extensive lighting, stylists, and often stuff that’s not actually food but something that looks like the food but can hold up better, and of course, a whole lot of talent.)

Making Pickles

So, here are some tips to think about when you’re taking a quick snap of your food, because a few little adjustments can make a world of difference. (And if you’re trying to promote your restaurant, look at your photo. Would you eat that?)

Lighting is so, so important.  Can you adjust your position just a little bit to get natural light from outside or nice, soft light from a candle?

Baja Brewing Co

Shrimp Tacos, Baja

Christmas Cookies

Sutter Buttes Brewery

Remove all the garbage and other distractions.  A used napkin, that piece of paper your silverware was wrapped in that is now all wadded up with your gum?  No one wants to see that!  Gross!

Breakfast in La Paz

Thanksgiving Pies

Can you grab drinks or dishes from your friends to round out the photo so it looks more balanced?  I do it all the time.  My friends tolerate it because they know I take care of business quick (right guys?).

Breakfast Beers


Lunch In Petoskey, Michigan

Three Forks Collage
This is my only before/after photo. On the left, here’s Thea looking a bit surprised, there are two plates with hardly anything on them, the main attraction (the calzone with arugula) is off to the side, and what’s up with that ugly door in the background? A quick shift in position gives the calzone the attention it deserves, the background is more pleasing, and we’re showing off the restaurant and it’s cool logo. (Logos are especially good for documentation/photo albums. You want to remember where exactly you ate that amazing meal in Italy, or in this case, Nevada City, CA.)

And finally… Take the photo immediately before things get all messy.  Because things always get messy.

Dinner on the Danube

Chocolate covered strawberries

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