In a perfect photography world I would have an awesome camera with the fancy lenses and I would take pictures like the folks at Pastry Affair or some of the other food blogs I read, but I do not.  I really enjoy taking food photos because I like showcasing a recipe I made.  I am not much about styling.  I like my photos simple and unfuzzy.  I do not like too many props and I have no idea of how to create a "moody artsy" quality on a photo.  So I stick with what I know.  Keeping it simple.  

I do not claim to be a food photographer expert.  I AM NOT.  But I have a few tips that have helped me to go from the type of food photos I used to shoot like when I had my food blog a long time ago, like this:

To what I shoot now, which I think is a much better finished product, like this:

I big part was deciding on the aesthetics I wanted my photos to have.  And for me it is light.  I love photos that have a light quality with that tonality that reminds me of the light you see in Paris photos.  The light colors are muted while the colored details still show but with a delicate quality.  Photos like this require one main thing: light.  There are many home studio that you can buy with all the professional accoutrements and lights but since I am not a food blog, I do not want to spend that kind of money.  Instead I make my own.   

One of the key components of a clear and light photo is daylight.  You can fake it indoors with photography lamps but I like the real think whenever possible.  I am pretty fortunate that I have fantastic light in my house and unless it is cloudy in that way that Kansas can get, I can shoot with natural light.  If you have daylight, then all you need are some inexpensive materials and you will have what you need to take a really good food photography.  Here are my essentials.


No. 1 // White and brown banner paper

This is my favorite background item.  I just roll/tape the end to any surface and roll out enough to place whatever dish I am trying to photograph.  The great thing is that if the paper gets stained with the dish you can just cut out the piece of paper and roll out some more. 

I like the brown one if I want to photograph ingredients and I want to write the names.  I place the items and then using a marker I write the names by each ingredient.  Once I am done, I throw out that piece of paper. 


No. 2 - No. 3 // Aluminum tray or aluminum foil

One of the things about light is that when there is light there are also shadows, and aluminum foil is awesome for getting rid of shadows.  In the photo below you see how I place my foil board (which is nothing more than a piece of cardboard covered in foil.  Try different angles until you find the ones that get rid of the shadows.  Inexpesive but so key to lighten up a photo.

No. 4 // Black Project Board

I use this when I want a dark background like this.  It creates instant moodiness and depth.  There are certain food that show better in a black background than a light one.  It is all a matter of playing with the background and seeing what works better. 

No. 5 // Solid color bowls

This is where styling preference comes into play.  I personally prefer to use solid color plates and bowls because I think they show the food better.  But again, this is a matter of preference.  Some people like ornate table settings and props.  Me?  I like simple.

No. 6 // iPhone

Let's talk camera.  I do not have a fancy high speed camera.  I take all my photos with my iPhone.  I do and I love it.  I have had the iPhone 4s and now the 5s, and I tell you: that is one powerful little camera.  Why do I shoot with my iPhone?  For one it is convenient and second for photo editing.  I can get a photo to look pretty great and still sometimes it needs something.  I HATE photoshop with a passion and there is so much I can do with PicMokey.  In contrast I find that smart phones have a myriad of compatible editing apps that are really good.  Which brings me to the next two items: photo editing apps.


I love this app so much because it has many effects options to give your photos an artsy quality instead of a comic book harsh type effect (not what you want with food photos).  I usually use this app if I want to keep a photo light but give it more "feeling".  It truly is my favorite photo editing app.


No. 8 // Pic Tap Go App

This app is also a favorite of mine and has a lot of effects, but the main reason I love it because of one of the filters called Lights On.  This is the filter I first use on a photo because it lights up a photo making it brighter and getting rid of that grayish tone white background can get.  Below is a before and after, and you can how the photo on the right is much lighter after applying the filter. 

And there you have-- my favorite little tips for making my food photos better.  It does not take a lot of expensive equipment, I think.  Just getting creative and imaginative.  Hope these tips help you in taking your own food photos. 
Do you have any inexpensive food photography tips?


  1. Great post! I am not expert and don't even consider myself a food blogger but am certainly working on improving my photos of my meals. I too shoot with my iphone and just discovered the lifechanging impact of VSCO Cam. Thank you so much for the tips :)

    1. I'm glad you fidn the usuful and yes! I love VSCOCAM. Once I discovered everything it can do I was hooked.