Food Photography Tips

GIN Neo Bistro Brunch

GIN Neo Bistro Brunch

I haven’t done a photography post in a long time so I thought I’d share some food photography tips with you guys. The tips I’m sharing today are great for if you’re starting out as a food blogger / Instagrammer or if you’re just looking to step up your food photography game. In my opinion, a good review sells, but a good review with good photos sells even better

To illustrate the tips below, I have some images in this post taken at Gin Neo Bistro in Amsterdam during their Sunday Brunch. The Gin Neo brunch is a concept where they serve you a series of bite-sized plates, coupled with the best drinks, expertly chosen and/or shaken from the hands of sommelier Merlijn. Not only did I have my best restaurant experience at Gin Neo Bistro last year, but the plating is always on point, which is always an added bonus for any food photographer. 

I’m not going into food styling in this post – I did dedicate a post on that in the past if you want to check it out. For some of my other food posts or photos, check out the food archive or my food photography portfolio. This post will solely focus on how to create the best food photos. 

So! Here are my food photography tips!

GIN Neo Bistro Brunch

1. Lighting This is one of the key things that is going to make or break your food photos. When I first started photographing food, I didn’t pay much attention to lighting. It often resulted in low light, grainy photos that were far from sharp. And as a relatively new food blogger, I didn’t dare taking any risks. But the first thing you’ll learn is that you need to take control of the lighting situation in order to get the best photos. There are food bloggers who will come in with external flashes or other lighting equipment. But improving your food photography can be done by something as little as coming in earlier or booking a seat by the window. Natural lighting is the best light you can get; and, you’re limiting your presence as a food blogger to a minimum, which is always a plus in my opinion.

2. Focus I guess this is kind of a no-brainer: focus on your object. But it isn’t always easy to find the best focus point, especially when a plate has lots of different components. Are you dealing with a dish that has components lined up? Take the photo from the side to create a gorgeous depth of field photo. Do you have components randomly places across the plate? I find it best to take the photo from above and focus on the whole plate. Flatlays work well when you’re dealing with big plates as well. For plates that feature components with different heights, try turning the plate to have the peak point away from you and take a photo from a 45 degree angle. This way you can have the whole plate in focus without worrying about blurry parts. 

3. Composition Playing around with composition is great when you want to do food photography because there’s tons of things you can do. On my blog / Instagram, I find that the photos that work best for me are either centered photos, or photos taken with the rule of thirds. This is a photography principle where the focus / your object is aligned on a third of the photo. This technique can sometimes create a more interesting energy than having your objects centered.

4. Editing This depends on how you want the photos to look like and your personal style. For my photos, I try to edit as little as I can and I always try to stick to the surroundings and vibe of the place the food photos were taken. If I’m in a bistro like setting, I’ll leave in the shadows to create a gorgeous clair obscure. In a more upscale restaurant, I’ll try to include as much light in my photos as I can for that ‘clean’ look. You can add clarity to bring out certain components or saturation for color. The point though is to never overdo it. No chef likes to see his dishes turned into a kitschy over-filtered affair. 

5. Equipment I get asked this most on Instagram. What kind of camera do I shoot with? What type of lens do I use? Honestly, you can take the best food photos without splurging on expensive equipment. I used to shoot with a Canon 400D and a 50mm f1.8 II and that combination brought me heaps of great photos. After a while, I upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark II and more professional lenses. The lens I use most for food photography is the Canon 24mm f2.8 (fast lens, razor sharp, good bokeh), my Canon 17-40mm f4.0 L (great for flatlays or taking interior photos) and my Canon 50mm f1.4 / Canon 50mm f1.2 L for photos where I’m looking for a beautiful depth of field. If you don’t want to carry a heavy load of equipment, the Canon 24mm f2.8 is a very decent lens that does not cost much.

I hope this helps! If you guys have more questions regarding food blogging or food photography, shoot me a message or comment below and I’ll try to answer for you as best as I can. Good luck and happy shooting!

GIN Neo Bistro Brunch

  • Oh my goodness, I cannot even tell you how helpful this post is. I like to share recipes but I always worry that the picture won’t live up to the actual taste of the food, if that makes sense. I’ll be sure to take these tips on board for my next recipe post, thank you ♥

    • That definitely makes sense. You want your food to taste good but look as good as it tastes too! I hope the tips help Trishna! Good luck!

  • alicia

    Thanks for the tips! Love the idea 🙂

    It’s unusual but I just posted a recipe on the blog for some yummy muffins.. check it out let me know what you think 😉

    • Thanks Alicia!
      Sure, I’ll check it out later! Thanks for stopping by Alicia!

  • Kathi

    Looks so yummie! Perfect food photographs!
    And your tips are just everything! Thanks!
    xx Kathi

  • your photography is so nice, who doesn’t love a good food photo? thanks for the tips!

  • Wow your photography is dead on gorgeous! Really enjoying your blog!

    xo, Alice || a l i c e / T Y P E N U

  • Thanks a lot for these great tips, Igrien! I have never done a serious attempt to photograph food, it feels more intimidating than anything else. Also, I don’t have the patience, especially if I don’t want a yummy dish to cool down 😉 . Which brings me to the following question: are you a fast shooter or have certain meals cooled down significantly by the time you get to eat it? I reckon it doesn’t matter in the case of salads or desserts (unless ice cream is involved!). Do you get weird looks from others in the restaurant and does this make you nervous? Just wondering. At any rate, it’s definitely worth it ’cause your pics are stunning!

    • Thanks Izzy 🙂 I I am definitely a fast shooter, for the exact reason you mentioned. I want to enjoy my food in the best way possible so there’s always a limited time frame for me to get that good shot. Downside is, I don’t chase after perfect photos as much as I should. But I know food bloggers who do take their time to take the best photos and who will even go as far as standing on chairs or having waiters walk back and forth for a shot, and they’ll take stunning photos I’m always envious of!

  • Your shots are amazing! Love the balance between light and shadows and how you choose to add angle variety!

  • Thank you for the tips Igrien! As an amateur, I definitely need to step up in the photography game. Can’t wait for more photography tips. Perhaps “Travel Photography Tips” next? x

    Happy Thursday dear!

    Real Life Nerd //

    • Happy Thursday Viviene!
      Great, I’ll try to do a travel photography post soon!
      I hope the weather is good over there – we’re finally enjoying a bit of sun today! <3

  • rae

    This was such a fantastic post and full of really good information and tips! I am a photographer myself, but I come mainly from documentary and lifestyle, so shooting food as something new for me. These tips were definitely good ones and things I will keep in mind next time I am shooting food. Really glad to have come across your blog today, it’s absolutely lovely.

    Rae | Love from Berlin

    • Hi Rae, thank you for stopping by :)! I’m glad I could be of help with these tips! I’m also still figuring things out but then, everything is a learning process, isn’t it?!
      Have a great weekend ahead Rae! <3

  • Birdie Liau

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing tips, I will take note of that so that my next food photos will come out in better quality. x

    • Thank you Birdie! I hope these tips will help you take your food photos!
      Have a great weekend ahead dear!

  • minaali

    I love this post! Your food photography is amazing and I just ventured into the area of food photography, so these tips will come in handy for sure.

    The Snap Narrative

    • Thanks Minaali (what a beautiful name by the way!). I hope these tips will help you on your next food shoot!
      Have a great weekend dear! <3

  • Fantastic tips, Igrien! Totally with you on light – it’s everything!! Love your gorgeous photography, great job!! Happy weekend, Igrien!


  • Amazing post!!

    Have a lovely weekend Adela Acanski

  • Pingback: January 2016 | THE AVANTGUARDIAN()

  • Thanks for share how I wish I found these tips when I had food photography assignments hahah!

    • Thank you Hafizah – hope they help with future assignments haha!
      Enjoy your week dear! <3

  • Lighting, composition, focus, editing all are the important tips that play the vital role in taking a good shot. I guess you have missed to mention the background against which the shot need to be taken. Anyway thank you indeed.

    • Thank you Cooper! Background is important as well, absolutely! Have a great weekend!

  • hello Adela Acanski,
    This is great post you have made.

  • Your capturing hand is god gifted all are so attractive.

  • I am food expert. I like to eat food, Like to shoot food images and also working with a company for food photo editing.

  • Very Nice Post, Please put all Dish names, i like to make food myself. Waiting for your new post.

  • This is a most important blog and it’s a very helpful for us . Thanks for sharing .

  • Your post is full of really good information and tips! I am also a photographer myself. Hope to read more post from your blog which is more effective. Wish you all the best.

  • Food Photography is a creative jobs & your tips will help to the beginner . Thanks for your excellent post.

  • capturing hand of you are so much Amazing.I hope you have great week ahead