Food Photography 101: Lights, Filters, & Post!


I don’t know if you will agree, but hear me out. One of the hardest things I have had to do whilst in the kitchen, is take a good picture of the dish in front of me. The emphasis being on “good” picture.

The internet in full of beautiful food nowadays. Hot food looks steamy as it should, cold food is frosty as you

would expect, glazed food glistens and gleams. You can almost taste the flavours and feel the textures from the other end of the screen. But what amount of effort goes into taking such a beautiful photo of that carefully plated food? I haven’t yet mastered the art of fabricating these masterpieces. I spend hours slaving over the hob and towering over the plate trying to decide - to the centimetre - where to place each component so it looks natural and effortless.

Sidenote: this goes back to how I always liken cooking to make up. It takes me an awful long time in front of the mirror to pull off the ultimate “natural makeup” look. It doesn’t make sense you know. Likewise, to make a plate look pretty, natural, and effortlessly beautiful, it takes a skilled eye and a world of precision.

To the eye, my plate will look pretty, however, when it comes to taking a picture of this beauty - I really do not know how. It never quite looks right. I take a quick scroll through my Instagram feed and I see food that pops out and hits me in the face, then I look at my own, and it’s just so flat and lifeless. Almost 2D. Help!

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So I embarked on a reading spree of articles that give pointers on how to become an overnight Picasso. I have complied a condensed list from what I found, so behold – the secrets. Provided you’ve used the freshest of ingredients and your food genuinely looks appetising to the naked eye, let us begin!

    1. This is probably a given for ANY kind of picture to be successful – NATURAL LIGHT. Put your food next to a window; take the plate outside on a sunny day and snap away!

    2. Use PLAYFUL ANGLES – apparently, the goal is not only to make the viewer envy your food, but your LIFE too! (shock, horror!) Thus, shelf the ‘birds eye view’ and attempt a different perspective.

   3.  FLASH is not your friend – do not use your own camera’s flash, but rather that of another source (i.e flashlight). This is because the light will be constantly on and will provide a natural looking light as opposed to the shock that comes with instant flash.

    4. Get to know your FILTERS – explore different apps and discover which ones give the most natural diversity in filters.

    5. Alter the focus to enable the food to ‘POP’ – when the picture has background depth, BLUR the surroundings to emphasize the food and draw the viewers’ focus!

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Now, I will adopt these 5 tips and hope to better my food photos. I wonder if I can apply these to selfies too? – Now there’s a question!