What is food photography?

Food photography is a type of commercial photography, which involves taking still life images of food and drink to be used in advertisements, cook books and magazines.

A food photographer will work with art directors and food stylists, to ensure the products are styled appropriately.

The best food photographers use their strong technical skills to capture the best of the food’s colour and texture, to make sure it looks delicious in print as well as in real life.

David Griffen 4
Rick Foulsham - IMG_8076r2
Joan Ransley images for Peli-15

Food Packaging Photography

Packaging is the most technical area of food photography. The items need to be captured clearly, in detail and with plenty of light. Your shots will usually be briefed to you, which leaves little opportunity to use your creativity compared to other areas of food photography.

Food Photography for Advertising

Food photography for advertising purposes can be used in a wide range of scenarios, including menus, brochures or in print. The quality of these photographs need to be very high, which can require specialist cameras, the use of food props and plenty of imagination.

Editorial Food Photography

Editorial food images are used in magazines and its this area of food photography that gives you the best chance to express your creativity and come up with beautiful shots. These food photography campaigns may also require you to capture the process of making the food, giving you another interesting aspect to capture.

Food photography pioneers

If you’re looking for words of wisdom from professional food photographers who have enjoyed years of success in the field, make sure to check out our interviews with the three quality food photographers below.

A history of food photography

Food photography began in the 1940s, when brands began to produce pamphlets containing recipes and images highlighting their products.

As colour advertising began to emerge over the next few decades, food photography shifted to a more vibrant and colourful form, which often left food looking lurid or fake.

From the 1990s onward, a more natural approach began to emerge, capturing food and drink in a way that highlighted its provenance and natural beauty.

This can now been seen on social media sites such as Instagram, where food photography is booming in popularity, and will continue to do so in the years to come.

The future of food photography

Research has shown that food photography trends are changing and it pays to be ahead of the curve. These are just a few of the aspects of food photography you can expect to see more of in the future:

  • Imperfect images, which showcase the natural blemishes of the food, or slips and spills of food
  • Close up images of ingredients to capture the raw texture of food
  • Food production process
  • Behind the scenes and candid images

The best camera equipment for Food Photography

There generally aren’t any particular pieces of kit specifically recommended for food photography. However, it’s always wise to have the best DSLR camera you can afford and a range of lenses, such as fisheye and macro lenses.

Food photography typically requires more accessories than other forms of photography. This includes tripods, ladders and stools to capture food from different angles, anti fog filters if you’re working with hot food.

Complete your food photography kit with extra high capacity memory cards. To keep these safe and secure at all times, it’s investing in a protective micro case. This way you’ll know where all of your memory cards are at any one time.

Keeping all of your equipment safe from grease and splashes can be tricky. Storing everything in a secure and weatherproof Peli case could go some way to protect the most delicate of equipment ant.

Discover some of the best protective cases for food photographers, available from the Peli range.

Practise shooting your own food

When practising your food photography, it doesn’t have to be reserved for Michelin star meals. By testing out your skills on your everyday food and meals, you can build your technical ability and work on your image composition. After all, if you can make beans on toast look delicious, you’ll be able to make any food look good!

Invest in props to make your food photography pop!

Invest in the likes of rustic slabs and minimalistic tableware, all before throwing in some floral additions and alternative accessories. These additions will help to set the scene as well as adding a playful and energetic aspect to each of your shots.

Set up an Instagram profile, just for your food photography

Instagram is full of food photography, both from the experts and up and coming talent. By looking at their work and uploading your own, you will build your skills and can network with others in the industry. Over time, your food photography will begin to get noticed by the right people and who knows where you could end up.

Do some research

If you’re new to food photography, researching iconic images and photographers can be a great way to learn about the best food photography tips and techniques. Keep an eye out for the use of colour and texture, image composition and food styling.

Build on your skills with a professional food photography course

There are a number of food photography courses available which can help you brush up on your technique and the theory aspect. If you can’t afford a full course, take a look at the free resources on websites such as YouTube or Skillshare.