Take Food Photos Like a Pro, Without Being Pro

June 11, 2015

So you like to snap photos of your food. But somehow, other people’s snaps look just a little bit better. You may not be a professional chef or restaurant critic, but your eats are pretty awesome, and your photos should look like it too! That’s why we spent the afternoon with professional food photographer Evi Abeler to get the tricks of the trade on snapping the best food photo in a jiffy.

You can watch the full workshop here, and we’ve pulled out Evi’s top 10 tips below. 

1. Clean your camera lens. This is a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t, and how many blurry photos can be prevented by simply using your t-shirt to clean the fingerprints and dust off your lens. 

2. Don’t use your flash in restaurants – ever. Flash makes your food look flat and makes everything else look dark. It also disturbs the blind date / anniversary dinner / birthday party next to you. If you need to photograph in a dark restaurant, get a table near the window, or sneak your plate outside. You can also ask your friend to use her flashlight to light the plate. If the light is too jarring, use a napkin to defuse the flashlight. 

3. Be aware of the 45 degree shot. It may distort your food. Shoot interesting flat food from directly overhead. Shoot anything that is stacked, e.g. cakes. tall salads, big dish of pasta with the camera perpendicular to the plate. Phone cameras have a wide angle lens, so they distort the photo if you hold them at a 45 degree angle.

4. The best foods to photograph have identifiable parts. As much as you love that stew, mac and cheese, or punjabi curry, foods that are one big unidentifiable mush simply don’t photograph well because they don’t have much dimension. Try adding a garnish or plating in simple dish or bowl.

5. Use your body.  You don’t need fancy tools. You just need your body. Use your hands to create a tripod by holding your phone-holding hand’s wrist. Cup your hand around the side of a plate to cast a necessary shadow. Position your body differently to block the shadow of your hand and phone.

6. Add a human touch. Food is inherently social and we all need to spend more time eating with friends and loved ones. When they are around, get their hands in the food – holding a fork, picking up a strawberry, or holding a dish. A human touch in a food photo always makes the photo better. 

7. Get a cheap iPhone tripod for your kitchen. A tripod like the Gorilla Pod is a great tool to use while cooking. You can hook up your phone for the perfect overhead shot above your workspace, so whenever there is a good moment, you just need to tap to snap a photo. 

8. For once, move the champagne glass. It’s always nice to add flowers, a salt shaker, a coffee mug, or other table accessories in your photo. But tall accessories, like champagne glasses ruin the photo because of their height.

9. Use small, matte plates. You can use beautifully decorated plates if you want, but make sure the food is the hero. Evi’s general rule of thumb is simple and matte. Glass plates catch reflections, which may distract focus from the food. 

10 . Pro tip on tool – here are Evi’s favorite tools. Museum wax, brushes, water spritzer, syringe for piping sauces, and a good light fixture. 

If you have any more questions, feel free to find Evi on twitter. You can also check out Foodstand for all food all the time. We’re still invite only, but you can use the code EVI. Download our iPhone app here.

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