1. Shoot by a window.
Anyone who loves taking food shots’ best friend is natural light. My best advice is to shoot by a window. (The bigger, the better, TBH). There is so much you can do with window light. You can go from super bright for that easy-like-Sunday-morning feel or go moody, like a chill late afternoon sipping on coffee and listening to records.
2. Get on top of a chair if you have to.
Everyone loves taking top shots but composition is key to getting a great photograph. Play around with it. Put the food at the top, off center and leave some negative space. We all like that natural look where everything looks incidental. Don’t think about it too much. Take a shot, look at it, and move things around if you feel like it’ll look better. I like keeping the center empty. I play around with putting the food on the side and cropping out some parts of it. Take your time with top shots. Go on top of a chair if you have to. Who cares what anyone thinks, at least you’ve got a great shot!
3. Or, stay in your seat - but move things around!
As much as I love top shots, I also love shooting things at an angle. The most important aspect of taking shots like these is creating some sort of depth between your food items. Lining them all up will make it look flat. Move things forward and backward. Put your key items in front and work around that. Remember, your main subject doesn’t always have to be in the center. Another thing with shooting at an angle, it is best to have a clean background. Your focus is on the food, not on the couple in the back that you manually blurred out with some sort of app. Haha! (Delete that app asap!)
4. Make it pretty: Use some plants and flowers!
I love adding a flower twig here, some eucalyptus there, and a flower stem here. I could go on, really. Adding a flower or anything green adds some sort of life to the photo. You don’t need to buy the most expensive flowers out there. I love the cheap white ones actually, the kind used to fill up a flower bouquet. They last long too and come in different colors. Don’t use them all up for one shot. Set a bunch aside and dry them. Now, you have a new prop in a few weeks.
Tip: I get flowers from Market! Market! It’s cheap and the selection is pretty good. Sometimes, they’ll even give you some leaves for free!
5. Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best way to go.
A little off-center, some natural light, and click. I forget sometimes that it’s okay to keep it simple. The props are great but it’s also so refreshing to just shoot on white and focus on the food. This works great for juice, fruits, the healthy stuff, a stack of cookies or well basically, anything.
A few more tips for the foodgrammer:
- Pay attention to detail. Take a step back and check out your shot. You might have missed something
- For those who want to get their prop & food styling on, get illustration boards and kitchen towels.
- Lastly, take your time but don’t take too long. You might have a great shot but the food might be cold by now, or worse, hot coffee gone cold. Remember to enjoy your meal and have fun with your food shots.
Gabby Cantero is a professional food photographer. Visit her amazing Tumblr here.
All shots are found on her Instagram.
Most of these were taken with an iPhone 5 and a Fuji XT-1.