For a food blog, besides yummy recipes, the other important part of the post is the food photos. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true when it comes to presenting your tasty creations.
There are quite a lot of extensive posts on food photography so I won’t go into detail here, but if you’re a new food blogger, I highly recommend reading my blogger friends posts on Food Photography below:
- Gourmande in the Kitchen
- Spicie Foodie
- Family Spice
- Playful Cooking
- 6 Bittersweets
- Photography tips at Foodblogalliance.com
Since a lot of basic information about food photography is available, we will share what we wish we had known back then, along with what we know now about taking food photos.
From Point and Shoot to DSLR
When we started the blog, we knew we had to upgrade the camera gear from our low-end point and shoot camera. Not knowing anything about aperture, full vs. crop, or lens quality, Costco had what we considered a good deal for a Canon T2i plus 2 lens, so we bought it.
When We Started…
Nami started blogging in January 2011 and usually took the food photo right when she finished preparing the meal. The pictures were taken with a fairly low-end point and shoot camera under standard fluorescent bulb. Since there wasn’t much sunlight left around 5 or 6 pm, most photos were taken under the yellow fluorescent light and none of the photos were touched up. Nami submitted the very first blog photo of Unagi Chazuke to foodgawker and it was accepted (We still cannot believe this was accepted!).
Subsequently, they rejected almost every submission for quite a while, due to composition, lighting, etc. It was a humbling experience (sometimes frustrating) but a great opportunity for us to learn. In the early days, besides friends and food bloggers visiting our site, the most visits are from foodgawker and Tastespotting every time they accepted one of the food photos. It forced us to continue improving the pictures until slowly, the acceptance rate started increasing.
Understanding How to Take Good Photos
As the months went by, the pictures started to slowly improve as we understood lighting, composition, ISO, etc. We now shoot on a tripod (with this very awesome tripod head) so the pictures wouldn’t be blurry. The camera is also tethered to a laptop so we can see the image right away on a large screen. Reading photography books (see the end of post) to learn tips and best practices were also helpful.
(Photo taken from Nami’s Instagram)
Upgrading the Camera Gear
We upgraded to a Canon 7D in 2011 and now we are shooting with a Canon 5D Mark iii. Would we have saved some money on camera gear if we had started with a 5D mark ii? Most likely; however, if we didn’t go through the progression, we definitely wouldn’t appreciate the 5Diii.
We are definitely not recommending someone to go out and buy a really expensive camera for food blogging. We suggest starting with a fairly high end point and shoot that allows manual mode and taking the picture in raw format. Reading photography books (see below) to learn tips and best practices is also helpful.
If the photos you’re taking are not meeting your satisfaction because of the point and shoot camera, then upgrade to a DSLR. I recommend a refurbished Canon 7D with a 50 mm lens. As I mentioned above, pictures are critical because even if recipes are good, if the picture doesn’t make it look tasty, readers won’t be as interested unfortunately.
Helpful Photo Editing Software
Invest in a photo editing software like Lightroom. There are many books dedicated to Lightroom so I won’t go into it here, but the one function I appreciate the most is the neutral droplet. If you are having trouble with the white balance of your photos, simply buy a gray card from Amazon. Within Lightroom, move the droplet to the gray card in the photo (see the picture below) and it’ll adjust the white balance for you.
Before and after adjustment example below:
(click the picture to enlarge the image)
Helpful Photography Books
If you are completely new to DSLR, I really like the From Snapshot to Great Shot series. They are really great for beginners to understand the basic features and function of DSLRs.
Here are photography books we have bought and would highly recommend. We have purchased many of the books to read on iPad with the Kindle app to save.
- Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young. One of our favorite books and really helped with lighting and setup instructions.
- Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin
- The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby
Other Helpful Links for Food Photography:
- Tip on how to create different backgrounds/backdrops from Lemon and Anchovies.
- Links and info on Canon deals – we shoot Canon.
- Canon official refurbished site, camera and lens (sometimes Adorama also carry Canon refurbished lenses).
Our Cameras and Lens for Photo Shooting:
Our other lenses include:
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens
- Canon EF100mm f/2.8L macro lens
- Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens
- Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro