While snapping the perfect shot of your delicious dish may seem like a one-and-done, there are several elements that factor into a good food photograph.

First, if you’re inside of a poorly lit restaurant, refrain from using your camera’s flash. The bright light will blow out your photo, making your food look strange and somewhat unappetizing.

Instead, whenever possible, find natural light. Photograph next to a window or, if you can, have an friend on the opposite side of the light source hold up a reflector or a white object (like a piece of blank printer paper or a clean, white napkin). This will evenly distribute the light and make sure that no parts of your dish are thrown into shadow.

Photo by Camille Danielich

Food photography is also a bit like portrait photography — you’ll want to use a lens with a large aperture (f/1.4 or f/1.8). This will allow a lot of light to come in, which will properly illuminate the subject, and produce a more vibrant image. 

Don’t forget to think about perspective. Do you want your dish to be the main focus of the photograph or do you want to take a more staged photograph? If you want to zero in on a specific food object (like a cupcake), use a lower f/stop (1.4, 2.8, etc.).

This will ensure that the item remains in focus with a slightly blurred background. For overhead shots of a dish or food scene, utilize a deeper depth of field and use a higher f/stop (5.6, 8, etc.). This will create an image where many or all of the subjects are in focus. 

Photo by Camille Danielich

Use a tripod or a quick shutter speed to capture your images without blur. Using a fast shutter speed may also help you capture elements of the dish (like steam), that can add interesting visual elements to your shots.

When taking a food photo, also consider the styling. Use utensils, napkins, other dishes, and ingredients to frame a shot, letting those objects act as leading lines. Utilize the Rule of Thirds so that your image is as compelling as possible. Constructing your image with props that sit at angular lines will give a different feel than creating a scene with props that follow softer curves, so consider what type of feeling you want to evoke with your food images.

Whatever you do, always make sure your food photos look as mouth-watering as possible!

Photo by Camille Danielich


  • Use a lens with a large aperture.
  • Decide whether you want your photo to have a shallow or deep depth of field.
  • Always find the natural light.
  • Use a tripod and/or a fast shutter speed
  • Use additional items to add interest to your compositions.
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Camille Danielich
Camille is a writer, traveler, and visual storyteller from New Jersey. She has lived in the Czech Republic, Thailand and in New York. She's always looking forward to her next adventure and probably won't stop instagramming her food anytime soon. Follow along on instagram