Steph is out sick with the flu to end all flus so I’m picking up the slack with some posts that we’ve been putting off, starting with this beginner’s guide to food photography.

When I was first starting out shooting food, I found tons of general tips for how to take great food photos online but what I wanted most (and never found) was a guide that said: “Do you like this photo? Here’s how you make it from beginning to end” – so today that’s what I’m going to be doing with this gorgeous shot from Bon Appetit’s Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto:

beginner's guide to food photography |

Photo credit: Bon Appetit / Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

It’s important to choose a good recipe to practice with because many dishes will wilt, congeal, or otherwise look unappealing when you’re taking a long time to take photos (I’m looking at you, egg yolks). This pasta is a nice stable dish that will look as good 30 minutes later as it does right out of the pan, because it’s glossy, stable, and most of all, pretty.

I adapted the recipe fairly heavily to make life simpler on myself and it ended up being a pretty amazing 6 ingredient pasta dish that you definitely need to try. I dropped BA’s ingredient-heavy sauce in favor of emulsifying cream, parmigiano, pancetta fat, and pasta water into a sauce. It came out awesome, and is easily one of the most impressive dishes you could make in 15 minutes.

This post is going to be pretty long, so it’s split up into 3 parts. Feel free to jump around or skip:

1. Technical Stuff: Cameras, Lenses, RAW vs JPEG, and Manual Shooting,
2. How to recreate the shot: Lighting, Angles, Food Styling
3. Giveaway: How to get two free awesome Nikon lenses (they fit most mirrorless cameras too)

beginner's guide to food photography |

Part I – technical stuff you need to know for food photography


They say the best camera is the one you have with you – I say the second best camera is the one you already own. There’s no real reason to run out and get a new camera just to shoot food. If you did want to however, there are a lot of cameras on the market these days, from mirrorless, to superzooms, to full frame SLRs that all claim to be the best thing since sliced bread, and they’re probably not wrong if you have thousands of dollars. On the more reasonable end of the pricing bin, a good budget DSLR will outperform anything else in its price range both on image quality and professional features. Even if you have thousands of dollars, when you walk into any professional studio, you’ll always see an SLR as the main camera used, and there’s a good reason for that: an SLR is a system that allows you to upgrade your component parts as you outgrow them.

beginner's guide to food photography |

Taken with an iPhone 6

If you’re on a budget, you definitely don’t need an SLR to get good photos. All of the tips and tricks in this post work with any camera. Photography is about what you know, not your gear. But good gear certainly helps.

Takeaway: A DSLR is the best type of camera for food photography.
Budget pick: Nikon D3400
Splurge pick: Nikon D500
More money than sense: Nikon D850


The lens of your camera is the single most important thing on it. Most people start off using the lens that comes with their camera, then look for something with creamy bokeh or something for low light. For food photography, there is pretty much no reason to get a zoom lens. The best pick for a good food lens that won’t blow your budget is a prime normal lens. A normal lens is one that doesn’t distort the image coming in, vs a wide angle or a telephoto. If you have a crop sensor – which is to say if your SLR didn’t cost $2000 or more – this means you’re looking for a 35mm lens, and if you have a full-frame, you need a 50mm lens.

beginner's guide to food photography |

20mm f/3.5 Nikon D810 – note how flat the rim of the plate looks and how much space there is between the food and plate

beginner's guide to food photography |

50mm f/3.5 Nikon D810

Generally, lenses are priced based on construction, focus motor, build quality, coatings, and stabilization. For food photography, you don’t need build quality, coatings, or stabilization, so if the lens will never leave the kitchen, there’s very little need to buy a fully weather sealed nano-coated lens with 6 axis stabilization.

Takeaway: Buy a prime normal lens that doesn’t break the bank.
Budget pick: 50mm 1.8D
Splurge pick: 35mm 1.8G DX
More money than sense: 50mm 1.4G


SLRs have the option to save your photos as RAW or JPEG. While JPEG has a smaller file size and is ready to go right out of the camera, you should really shoot in RAW when you can. RAW files contain the image information your camera sees and can be ‘developed’ in post on your computer. Your camera’s sensor actually sees a wider range of light than your eyes can see (even infrared if the filter is removed), so RAW files contain much more light information than JPEG, and that means you get a lot of headroom to play with. Photo too bright or too dark? White balance is off? You can fix that in post, but only if you shoot RAW. You’ll need something to develop the raw files in however, whether that is photoshop, lightroom, capture one, or something else.

beginner's guide to food photography |

deliberately underexposed RAW shot

beginner's guide to food photography |

the same shot, fixed in post

Takeaway: Shoot in RAW


You should shoot in Manual mode. There are a lot of guides on the internet about how to use the manual controls on your camera, so I’m going to skip to the important bits. The exposure of a photography is controlled by 3 elements: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. The idea behind this is that you balance these three items to get a properly exposed image – more ISO, faster shutter speed / smaller aperture, slower shutter speed, that kind of thing.

ISO is how sensitive your sensor is. Every sensor has a different min/max ISO, and generally speaking it’s always safe to use something between 100 and 800. The higher you go up, the grainier your photo will be, and that can definitely be an artistic choice. For food photography, I like 500.

beginner's guide to food photography |

ISO100 vs ISO12800

Shutter speed is how long the camera takes light in for. In food photography, you only need to care about two things when it comes to shutter speed: 1. is it so low your hand shake blurs the photograph? 2. Do you want to capture some falling action? The answer to 1 is to keep it above 100. If you have steady hands, you can go down to 60 or 30, but why risk it? The answer to 2 is to keep it above 1000.

beginner's guide to food photography |


beginner's guide to food photography |


Aperture is how wide of an opening the lens creates, and is confusingly numbered opposite to size, so f/1.4 is a huge hole and f/16 is a tiny hole. The larger the number though, the more of the image will be in focus. Aperture’s main benefit is to determine how much of your background and foreground is in focus (bokeh) and is mostly an artistic decision, but here is a quick tip: on almost all lenses, the lowest and highest number will usually produce a less sharp image than if you use one or two stops away. For instance, on the Nikon 1.8G lenses, the sharpest image comes from F/2.8, even though the lens goes down to F/1.8.

Takeaway: ISO range: 100-800, Shutter speed above 100, aperture: avoid the first and last settings.

beginner's guide to food photography |

Part II – how to take a food photo like Bon Appetit

So now that we have the technical stuff out of the way, what do you need to know to shoot this photo? Good food photos come down to lighting, angles, and food styling.


The best lighting for beginning food photography is right next to a window outside of direct sunshine, like a north facing window (or any other direction window when the sun is not shining in directly). Get as close to the window as you can. The farther away from your light source you go, the longer your shadows, and long shadows aren’t always a good thing in food photography. You should also turn off all other sources of light in the house, because conflicting light sources will wreck your white balance, cast multiple shadows, and create odd reflections.

beginner's guide to food photography |

this is what happens when you have conflicting lighting sources

Takeaway: Turn off all the lights, use natural light from a window, not direct sunlight, get as close to the window as possible.


In food photography, unless you get really creative there are only three possible angles: overhead, perspective, or side view. Most people gravitate towards overhead because that’s both easiest and you don’t have to worry about having a nice background behind the food. I prefer a more perspective view, because that’s how we see food in real life, but most people will be more impressed with an overhead shot.

beginner's guide to food photography |

beginner's guide to food photography |

beginner's guide to food photography |

If you are shooting from perspective or side, the angle your light comes from is very important. Light from in front of your food will be brightest but wash out textures. Light from the side shows texture best. Light from behind will backlight your food. Generally speaking, stick with light from the side when shooting in perspective.

beginner's guide to food photography |

light from front

beginner's guide to food photography |

light from side

beginner's guide to food photography |

light from behind

Takeaway: Shoot from overhead, with light from the top or side


Getting your food looking the way you want it to when you shoot is probably the most difficult part to learn, and whole courses could be developed on the subject. There are no hard and fast rules on getting food to look good, but here are my hard and fast rules:

  1. Food should be glossy if it’s supposed to be glossy
  2. Stick to a color palette, don’t go nuts
  3. Don’t go monochrome either
  4. Garnishes should be either sparing, or extremely generous
  5. Plate your food as a generous portion for one

If you are really serious, consider all elements before you shoot: background, plating, vertical height, side dishes and drinks, cutlery, and linens. All these play a crucial role towards the look and feel of the photo. Also important is how organic or sterile you want the feel to be. My secret trick (that I do just for me) is to eat half of the food before I shoot my hero.

beginner's guide to food photography |

I claim that eating half of the food creates “inspiration”

Takeaway: Consider backgrounds, plating, cutlery, linens, and color palette. Plate your food for one.


beginner's guide to food photography |

Photo credit: Bon Appetit / Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

SO, with all that in mind, let’s analyze the bon appetit photo again. It’s shot from directly overhead, the light seems to come from the top and to the left a little bit, everything is in focus, on marble with a stoneware plate, with fresh thyme on top. Here is my take on it, side by side:

beginner's guide to food photography |

Pretty close right? Analyzing what was different is just as important as analysing what wasn’t. In my version, I set my white balance a little more neutral (theirs is leaning towards blue). I have less sauce, fewer mushrooms, and more meat because I changed the recipe. Last but not least, I have no freshly ground black pepper on top, and used a yellower and thicker pasta.

beginner's guide to food photography |

beginner's guide to food photography |

CLOSED! Part III – the giveaway

I’ve been shooting Nikon since before they made DSLRs, my first camera was a Nikon F4 and I’ve been hooked ever since, and I’ve hooked Steph into it as well. So it was an obvious choice to partner with Nikon to help new food photographers find their feet. To do this, we’re giving away 2 lenses – the 35mm f/1.8G and an amazing 85mm f/3.5G ED VR macro lens – worth $750 if you buy them today on Amazon. Both of these lenses are perfect for any new (or veteran) food photographer and both will fit every Nikon ever made, plus with a pretty cheap converter will fit most mirrorless cameras including Fuji, Olympus, and Sony.

CLOSED! Congrats Francis Moon, keep your eyes on the lookout for an email from me!

beginner's guide to food photography |

in case you ever wanted to count the grains of pepper on your food

To enter the giveaway, just link your favorite food photo in the comments and tell me why you love it. Giveaway ends Dec 18th – I can’t promise the lenses will make it in time for Christmas but they’ll be an excellent addition if someone is getting an SLR for Christmas. Giveaway open to residents of the US. Lenses generously provided by Nikon.


6 ingredient mushroom pasta recipe |

6 ingredient mushroom pasta with chanterelles and pancetta

Serves 1
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 oz pancetta thinly sliced, about 5 slices
  • 1/2 cup cup chanterelles torn into small pieces, or other mushroom of choice
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme plus more for garnish
  • 3.5 oz pappardelle or fettucine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated


  • Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan and fry the pancetta until crispy. Remove the pancetta and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve saute pan and oil.
  • Turn the heat to high and add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, then remove and drain. Turn off the heat.
  • Cook pasta for 4 minutes. Add a cup of pasta water to the saute pan and turn heat back to medium. Whisk oil and water mixture together until emulsified (about 1 minute).
  • Using tongs, transfer pasta to saute pan, along with another cup of pasta water, cream, thyme, and parmigiano. Reserve pasta water. Cook until pasta is the desired doneness, adding pasta water as necessary.
  • Add mushrooms and pancetta back to the pasta, season with kosher salt, black pepper, and extra thyme.


You can start making the pasta about 5 minutes after the mushrooms have been started.
Very adapted from Bon Appetit


  1. Deanna says:

    I love the all the pictures in this post. I didn’t realize how stunning cabbage could be until I saw the really zoomed in picture.

    I really appreciate the guide! I’ve had my Nikon for a few years, but I’m not always great about remembering to use it, so I needed a refresher before I take it along on my Christmas vacation.

  2. Natalie says:

    Wow this post is so informative and helpful! I love seeing the photos side-by-side presenting all the differences in light and camera functions. And the pasta looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it for dinner soon ♥

  3. Joseph Wagner says:

    Thanks for a great post. It was incredibly informative! As for a food pic, I love this pic of a crown roast from Alton Brown, mostly because I’m a total sucker for a picture that uses depth of field.

  4. Cody says:

    Great pics!!

    At them moment, I don’t use anything other than my phone camera to post the annoying “omg here’s my food” (or my “omg here’s my dog”) pics. But sometimes they turn out okay!

  5. Kelsi says:

    I love that this photo shows what the dish looks like when taking out a serving!

  6. Thomas says:

    hey! nice work here. although, the picture and original title at the top look like prosciutto, but the ingredients say pancetta. hmm

    1. Mike says:

      Hey Thomas, you’re right that BA’s version is prosciutto and mine is pancetta. It’s not a mistake – I wanted more fat so I went with pancetta instead for my version. Good eyes though, thanks!

  7. Tim Walker says:

    Excellent post and very informative! lens giveaway entry:

    I love this photo because in my mind, I can smell and taste this wonderful dish when I see it. I just sent my dad some for Christmas!

  8. Kelcy says:

    This was a lovely read, i’m so impressed you took the time to break down everything for beginners (like myself). I really appreciate it and i’m so glad I saved this article; keep up the good work – there are randos out here who need dedicated professionals like you to interpret cameras + food for us!

  9. Stephanie says:

    I love all the pictures in this post from Ladyandpups for two reasons:

    1) I’m sentimental and grew up with this food
    2) There’s a lot of great pictures in this post that detail the steps from various angles, lighting, and moods. But that last picture really speaks to me – the composition is amazing, the colors are bright and feel alive and I feel like Taiwanese food especially feels alive and bright to me, and it’s the view. It encompasses everything about eating hot pot and it generates a feeling of hunger and also family and nostalgia.

    i am a food blog and lady and pups are my favorite food blogs – i love the recipes, i love the story-telling and I always feel like I’m right there with you. All authentic, nothing sterile.

  10. Erin Bilbo says:

    Thanks so much for this post!×1240.jpg

    I think almost every photo in the State Bird Provisions cook book is one of my faves, but I especially love the vibrant colors and contrast in this one.

  11. ying says:

    Amazing post!

    I love this picture from LadyandPups, love the lighting and it captures two of my favorite foods, beef and uni!

  12. Frances Moon says:

    Excellent post, Mike! I lurk around here quite often and make a lot of Steph’s fabulous recipes! Hope she feels better soon! *hugs*

    I have an old Nikon DSLR that I need to break out and use again. I’ve been slacking on the photography and I miss it! One of my favorite food photos I saw recently is this: I love the lighting from the side. I love the striking cool colors. I love the subject represented… :) It just screams winter and sugary comfort.

  13. Ioana Pupazan says:
    This guys mastery of light is wonderful. Also, he has the rare ability of finding new perspectives in simple subjects, without it feeling forced.

  14. Meggie says:

    HELLO! This is my favorite food photo to date! Every element of the dish shines on its own, but is brilliant as a whole. When you see the photo you want to EAT IT NOW. It has that wow factor that makes my eyes widen and my mouth drool. This photo has popping layers, textures, and colors to boot. MY SPICY FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH PHOTO IS A WINNER!

  15. david Tam says:

    As the kids say nowadays, the bokeh on this image is “everything”. It makes these tasty-looking delights pop out like I put on a pair of 3D glasses. The sharpness of the image doesn’t hurt either. The photographer must have took this shot with a very good lens. Possibly one of the lens that is in your giveaway!

  16. Anon says:

    Have to say, my favorite food photos come from Luxirare. My favorite still has to be her consommé progress shot:

    Alternatively, her soft boiled egg:

    I love how she makes everything look expensive and sterile.

  17. Michelle Flook says:

    I am obsessed with this guy’s instagram feed, all of his photos look so perfectly plated! Colorful and pleasing to the eye design-wise! Oh and everything looks delicious!

  18. B. Burt says:

    This is my favorite picture of one of my favorite treats from Macrina Bakery in Seattle: the Hazelnut Orange Pinwheel.

    I like the photo because I now live far away from there, but looking at the photo, I can almost taste its buttery, sugary, orange-y goodness.

  19. Love this guide, thanks so much! I’m really enjoying ‘getting to know’ my Nikon.

    I’m such a fan of Half Baked Harvest’s photography! Her setups are so elaborate.

  20. Julienne says:

    This post is seriously so helpful. How-to photography posts tend to be either overly simplistic or way too technical.

    My husband uses Nikon and would love a new lens. Crossing my fingers!

    My jaw dropped when I first saw this pic of a breakfast board:

    I love it because it’s straightforward and just looks super fresh.

  21. Kate Ziegler says:

    I’m a sucker for all of the photographs on, especially the ones that catch her in action frosting cakes, cupcakes, or cookies… like this one!

  22. River Navarre says:

    I’ve been on a quest since age 20 to learn to be comfortable and have fun in the kitchen. After 40ish cooking classes and a lot of practice, trial, and error (maybe heavier on the “error”), I’m getting there. My current (and ongoing) struggle is with timing.

    Separately, I’ve taken up photography as a hobby. I was drawn to this article because of the pasta recipe, but the tips in here explaining the various settings and showing tangible examples are invaluable. I’ve read and reread it, played with my dinky little camera, and saved it to reference later. A wealth of info here, and I can’t thank you enough for posting it.

    I’ve used this pic as the folder image for my “sweet recipes” for years now. I am drawn to the amazing textures.. the masonry-like frosting, the floofy cake, and the gooey caramel all play off eachother in a way my photo brain loves. Having read through your article, I think I see how the photographer deftly used lighting and angles to maximize that. I hope one day to make a cake this pretty, and to also be able to photograph it so nicely!

    Thank you again for the tutorial. I’m gonna go play some more with my camera and test out a lot of this!

  23. Jennifer says:

    I love the cheese pull in one of the middle photos in this post: !!!

  24. Vy Ho says:

    I love this photo on your blog (and all your photos, to be honest), because it shows off the food in a way that makes me want to just claw through the screen to get a bite!

  25. Brianna says:

    I love this photo because it makes charred vegetables look sexy. I want it as a piece of art hanging in the kitchen. It’s different in a fun way, and you can clearly see textures and small details like the scattered parm and fennel. The light and dark contrast is lovely as well.

  26. Allison says:

    This is probably one of the most helpful blog posts I’ve seen on food photography! However, my problem is – how do you take photos of food without natural light (when it’s dark outside)? That’s usually when I’m eating my most presentable food.
    I love how the broth looks in this photo! There’s so much contrast and shine.

  27. Liza says:

    Currently my favorite thing to eat. I love how this image captures the delicious carmelization on the brussel sprouts.

  28. Vicky says:
    The light, the colors, the composition—it strikes the balance of looking both staged & completely natural. And it’s crazy beautiful.

  29. Kristen says:

    Thank you for breaking it down the way you did! The lighting from the side I had never even thought of! As for my favorite food photo, this is definitely one of them! I LOVE that the background is so bold and unique! I love how the food still stands out on such a bold background. And love that I feel like I can experience the texture of each bite just by looking at the photo! I want to inhale everything in this picture!

  30. Denise says:

    I love the diagram of the perfect cheese platter in Alana’s post:
    It’s typography and photography all mixed in one with good composition and colors.

  31. Lexi says:
    I love the photos of this dip from Half Baked Harvest because it is so difficult to make a dip look appetizing in a photo and she totally pulled it off with her details, textures, and small pops of color!

  32. Angela says:

    Love to follow blogs with such mouthwatering photos. I also follow userealbutter for the fantastic scenery and food shots.
    Love how the red just glistens.

  33. Lily says:

    Too hard to pick a single favorite, but I do like these decorated cookies a lot: Edible folk art!

  34. Trysha says:

    Photos are so important! I love these photos because it creates a scene. I don’t feel like it’s too contrived, I enjoy process photos. I like messy and sometimes even darker, moody photos.

  35. Nicole De Stefano says:

    I love the second to last photo here:

    The pop of the warm gold and red against the black and white background is really great, and I really like the geometric crosses on the napkins as a foil to the overall rounded, more organic shapes of the ice cream, peaches, and bowls. Every time I see this, I want to eat it – and I don’t even like sesame!

  36. Erin Zieske says:

    My jaw DROPPED the first time I saw the photo of parm broth on Bon App. It’s absolutely perfect blend of light, tones and textures. I screen grabbed it and used it as my iPhone wallpaper for a long-ass time.

  37. Mike!! This post is incredible! Thank you so much for doing such a deep dive into the technical elements of the photographic process. Super valuable! Will be sharing this. Also! I just upgraded to a full-frame Nikon (I bought Alana’s lightly used D750 and am SO EXCITED to start shooting with it) and just bought my first full-frame lens (the 50mm 1.8). So this couldn’t come at a better time. I’ve been Nikon since the beginning, and would shout the Nikon gospel to the rooftops if I won.

    As for my favorite food photo, I’ve really been loving Shelly Westerhausen’s work this month—photos like these, that make me reconsider how I use natural light: &

    Finally, STEPHANIE FEEL BETTER!! Sending big hugs up north to you both!

  38. Michelle says:

    Everything on is gorgeous, especially this birthday cake:

  39. Anne says:

    One of my new year projects is to finally learn how to do this sort of thing so the timing couldn’t be better!

  40. Kasey Goins says:

    This post was so helpful as a beginner guide! The pics to accompany everything were very helpful to show the differences in lenses, etc!

  41. Picking my favorite food photo is a very hard task – all of your photos look good enough to eat! I will chose this one:
    My reasons are thus: egg cups bring back memories of my childhood, so what I love about this picture is 1) the color of the egg cups 2) the egg cups themselves! 3) the messiness and crumbs! 4) soft boiled eggs – nuf said.
    p.s. I used to love it when Steph wrote the name of the food on the picture in her calligraphy <3

  42. Deb Ellis says:

    It’s difficult to choose just one from all of her beautiful shots, but this Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with its gentle side light and soft bokeh that perfectly accentuates the sugar spun hazelnut garnish on Zoë Francois’ Instagram makes my heart sing.

  43. Michelle Wise says:
    I love this photo because it is one of my amateur-beginner shots that showcases my first ever contest-winning recipes. And the tacos remind me of home!

  44. Nora B says:

    I love the photos here because they captures a unique recipe in a fun way:

  45. Pam says:

    This was really helpful to read! I got really into food photography basically because of iamafoodblog. Your pictures make me salivate so much, haha. Too bad I’m not as good of a cook as you are. Through this blog, I’ve found a bunch of others that also have amazing food photography (some focusing a little less on the cooking/recipes). Definitely will try these tips for next time I’m taking pics of my food.

    Speaking of the half eaten photo, I love this post because the spoonful that sits on the plate adds so much movement to the dessert that you feel like you can taste the creaminess.

  46. William G. says:

    I just bought a Nikon D3300 and have been wanting to learn how to take gorgeous food pics for some time now. It us so hard to pic just one favorite photo. I am tree decorating tonight and chicken wings are on the menu so this pic caught my eye.

  47. Will Milne says:

    I’ve always loved this photo of tacos from Trompo in Dallas that was published in Bon Appetite. The colors really pop and the composition is close without being too crowded. Man, now I really want tacos…

  48. Melissa says:

    I really enjoy the food-tography on The Kitchen McCabe’s blog. It’s always so moody and dreamlike with a just a hint of spotlight. Thanks for the chance to win the Nikon lenses. So much fun!

  49. Lynda Elkind says:

    Mike, I don’t need a camera or lens, but please give Steph my best and hope for a quick recovery from the flu. I make many of her recipes for my family and look forward to her and now your posts eagerly. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you both.

  50. Lauren says:

    When really thinking about what pulls me towards a certain food photo, what sticks out to me is the mood of the photo, what it evokes and the feeling or memory it gives me. Food is love, it can be messy, it’s not always perfectly composed and every recipe is unique in different hands. This photo says it all.

  51. Danielle C says:

    Luxirare takes some of my favorite food pictures, she’s such an interesting blend of over the top minimalism. Over the top in her food choices and minimalistic in her photography. Bonus being her food is out of this world to me

  52. Rudra says:

    Always love the photos from

    Especially this latest one that truly sums up my favorite addition to a holiday hot coco:

    Such a simple pretty shape and marbling.


  53. Kapila Patel says:×1024.jpg
    Penny De Los Santos is one of my favorite food photographers. This photo not only beautifully captures the different textures and colors of the process of making tacos, but the perspective gives the sense that the viewer is a part of the community.

  54. Molly Devlin says:

    I love all of Molly Yeh’s photos. She always looks so happy and her food does too!

  55. Erica C. Barnett says:

    This is one of my favorite recent food photos, because it elevates the subject matter—basically, a bean stew—to a work of visual art as well as something you want to make. right. now.

  56. Gladys says:

    Your pictures are stunning and always make me want to try the food! One of my faves is because of the texture and color that comes through.

  57. Caitlin says:

    I love the Candid Appetite’s image style and for recipes they provide a lot of detail. I love this one: Plus I’m craving cake like crazy at 7am…

  58. carol clark says: i love this so perfect its from your site

  59. Amy Daniels says:

    Love your blog and here is a favorite food photo:
    I love the simplicity, the balance of colors, the use of texture in the background, the beautiful bowl, the focus on the food detail with the blurring of the background. Would love to be able to take food pics like this!!

  60. latanya says:

    I like the PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BARS: TOTORO EDITION because they are so adorable and creative.

  61. Hillary says:

    This photo is simple, but interesting.

  62. Lamisa says:

    I just love the composition of the first shot in this (although all the pictures are beautiful)

  63. Zoë says:

    I love lady and pups photography. The dark backgrounds are always so striking, especially when most sites tend to go for light, marbled, pastel options.

  64. manda says:

    Nothing like a simple bread recipe and photo.

  65. Yoojin says:

    Oh man… I love food photos and can’t pick one! But one of them would have to be this one!
    I love it because it is one of my favorite dishes and has all the colorful components :)

  66. Greta says:

    I love this! I’ve been really thinking about upping my photography game, so this feels karmic. My favorite photos of food are any photos posted by my two best amigas. We grew up together–they are now on opposite coasts, while I live in the middle part of the country. But they both work in food media! So I feel like I get to share in a little part of their day through their photos–whether it’s just lunch from leftovers or an impressive, over the top creation. I chose this one from a trip when we were all together because it brings me memories of many cheese plates shared (and stomach rumblings of more to come)…

  67. vy says:

    Love seeing your writing on the blog Mike!

    I think the best food photos make you want to jump into the picture and start chowing down. Lady and pups’ tatare with the urchin on top *drooool*… and of course a lot of photos on here (but it seemed to suck-up-y to say that they’re my fave ;)

  68. Mark says:×920.jpg

    This and basically most photos of a bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen that I see usually is my favorite food photo at any given time, but this is a photo of the one served at Ramen Tatsuya in Austin, TX, which is my favorite at the moment.

    This article was very informative and interesting.

  69. Anne Weber-Falk says:

    Let me just say that being able to count all the grains of pepper in my food is really something. I am impressed. Currently my favorite food photo is from howsweeteats recipe for white hot chocolate. Something about all the different whites and the sparkle of the sugar and the layers and bubbles in the whipped cream…made me want to jump into it all. Wish I could touch it.

  70. Ana says:

    Such a helpful post! totally agree with the above posts its detailed and professional without dumbing it down or being overly complicated – thanks for this!
    My favoritefood photo:
    Because….Totoro. Need I saw more?

  71. Eve says:

    I don’t know if this is my favorite food photo (usually related to what I am currently craving), but it’s a photo of something I’d like to eat right now.

  72. So (one of) my favorite food photos is here: I really love it looks ready to be dug into – it makes me hungry every time! I also like that you can see a lot of lovely contrasting textures, and the drip effect is always welcome.

  73. Meg S says:

    These lenses are awesome! And love the food photography here –

  74. Nicole says:

    One of my favorite food photos is this one ( that I took. Maybe it’s not the most technically perfect food photo, but for me it tells an entire story — how I woke early that day to forage a Northern California beach with family and friends, how I watched my cousin dive and surface, dive and surface, bringing back treasures of ling cod, abalone, and sea urchin, and how we retreated to our rented cabin to prepare a meal that the sea had given us.

  75. Genie says:

    My favorite food photo is from A Cup of Jo:

    It’s not fancy or artsy – just homey and delicious, and it always makes me hungry :) I have been making cacio e pepe ever since I saw this post.

  76. Lois Kim says:

    loved this post! been thinking about getting a dslr :)
    this photo of risen dough is one of my all-time favs because I LOVEE bread and the dough looks so incredibly fluffy and soft here!

  77. Mollj says:

    I adore the lead image in this post of the bread against the white background with the bright red of the jam – so much contrast, yet so simple – I love it!

  78. Agnes says:

    I love this recent photo:
    It’s so cute and just makes me want to drink hot chocolate all the time. I pretty much love all things cute on the blog (the totoro and corgi shaped goodies!).

  79. Tara says:

    Here’s one of my favorite photos from The Woks of Life.

    It reminds me of home when my mom makes cheung fun and adds a bunch of things to it.

  80. Camille Premont says:

    I just stumbled upon this through Instagram and found it so helpful! Thank you for all of the instruction. I just got a dslr this year and need to be more adventurous with it. I think this will help a ton! The linked pic below is one of my only food pictures i have shared and I love it because it is the first time I was intentional about creating depth of field! Would LOVE to win the lenses.

  81. Laurice Pantig says:

    This is my favorite food photo. I love it because i’m the one that took it with my phone. It turned out great which shows the tiny details of the coconut and chocolate. By the way, the chocolate butternut was really good!!!

  82. This post has provided me with much-needed information! This is a photo of my Gumbo.

  83. Michelle says:

    Thanks for a lovely post! Enjoyed reading it, it’s like having a chat with a friend who loves food photography as muh as I do. Cheers!

  84. kaman says:

    Noodles is life and so comforting on cold winter days

  85. Cathy says:
    I’ve always been a fan of her photos. She always beautifully garnishes her porridges and smoothie bowls. Usually, she rarely includes pictures of human hands but in this picture she does and of course, it is again beautifully garnished and everything is homemade.

  86. Dana Renée says:

    It’s reassuring to know that I’m not “boring” for taking mostly overhead shots! You’re definitely right about the background—finding the right one makes me nervous. I find the overhead shots to be very clean. Thanks for thus guide!!

  87. Jennifer Verde says:

    I love all of her food photography because of the simple white/grey backgrounds and vibrantly colored food

  88. Rebecca says:

    I really loved this post. Super informative, and i loved all of the photos for demonstration.

    My favourite food photo I’ve ever taken is actually for coffee! I work at a restaurant group and we do all the ‘stuff’ ourselves, including most photography. This was for an Iced Coffee set-up over the summer, taken on a good iphone (really!) & using very nice espresso:

  89. Preston S says:
    Just like Chef John says – there are some colors that you will only capture if you cook – referring to grating the cucumber for tzatziki sauce. He’s right.

  90. Randi Cook says:

    I love taking pictures of food and posting. My favorite of all mine is:

  91. Kristine says:

    I love this pic of these lemon lavender muffins! I love the simplicity, symmetry, and the soft, natural lighting! And they also just look delicious. :)

  92. Elliot says:

    Thanks for the great post and primer! One photo I come back to again and again is this shot of warm oil hitting pepper flakes. (Great blog, also) : Just love the focus and the color contrast.

  93. AC says:

    Thanks for sharing tips on food photography, and the great recipe. I really like this particular photo due to the soft contrast in textures and tones:

  94. Brenda says:

    I’m loving all the photos on this IG account!

  95. jan n. says:

    So informative….the pasta looks amazing.

  96. Toro says:

    This recipe looks amazing!!! I love all things pasta, I don’t usually go for blogs, i’m more of a slideshare kind of guy, like these:
    However this was very enjoyable to read! thanks for this!

  97. Ram P Mony says:

    I have a D3300 (I always shoot in manual) and was looking for a step-by-step approach to food photography, which I found here. Very methodical, very clear, and what’s more there are do’s and dont’s too! I particularly liked the shots showing the difference between front, side and back lighting. Indeed, in the side light shot, one can clearly discern the shadow areas on the opposite side – very instructive!

    I wonder though, whether a natural light source could be replaced by a soft box/ strip box. Being on a stand, it too could be swivelled in any direction and set at almost any angle. And the studio light/ strobe/ monobloc attached to it could vary the intensity of light too. I have a couple of 60 x 60 soft boxes.

  98. Ndukwe Michael Kalu says:

    Wow!!!! This is so amazing!!! Thank you so much for these great tips. All the photos are so DOPE!! Its difficult to choose a favorite??. I really don’t mind getting one of the lenses?

  99. Michelle Bui says:

    thanks for sharing this post; it was so very informative, and i am excited to try this recipe. :)

  100. Kanchan Saha says:

    5 stars
    Your blog is so informative and you have covered all details. I am a beginner photographer and I love Food Photography, it’s real learning for beginners who wanted to learn food photography.

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike