5 Food Styling & Photography Tips

Hey guys! 

It’s a good thing you all liked the Chunky Monkey Granola Bars I posted on Tuesday because well…you’re gonna be seeing a LOT more of them today! As promised, I managed to wrangle up a “few” pictures from my snap-happy weekend photo session for a little photography post today. While I am in EVERY way still an amateur photographer, I  thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned in the last few years that have helped me  improve the quality of my shots.

5 Food Styling & Photography Tips from www.kissmybroccoliblog.com So here’s hoping you all can take away a few things from this post BESIDES a puddle of drool on your keyboard and an intense craving for chocolate chips! 😉

Food Styling Photography Tips - Get Inspired

Google is not just your emergency medical contact, but also your friend in photography. Most of the time, before I’m even done MAKING a recipe that I plan to photograph, I’m looking up images to see what sort of direction I want to go in. It’s great to get an idea for what angles to use or how to arrange props! And who knows, you might even spy a certain Treat with a Twist that you end up pinning later! 😉

Food Styling Photography Tips - Tell a Story

You wouldn’t just buy a car without knowing a little bit about it, right? Same thing goes whenever you’re trying to “sell” someone on a recipe. If it’s possible, you want to convey as much as you can about a particular food in one picture. From the shot above, I was able to tell you that these granola bars are baked, they are made with bananas and chocolate chips, and that they’re pretty darn tasty with a cool glass of milk!

I usually try to gather my “storytelling” ingredients before I set up the food…that way I have everything at hand and I can assemble/disassemble as I go because what’s a story without a little PLAYTIME?

Food Styling Photography Tips - Play with Props

This is the FUN part!

I’d love to say every time I get ready to shoot a recipe, I have this clearcut vision in my head that gets executed within minutes, but well, that’s just not how it goes when you’re a wannabe food photographer. But who says learning can’t be half the fun? With these bars, I first started with the cutting boards. Then I moved on to the place mat which later became the place mat AND the napkin! Different camera angles… different arrangements…and I won’t even tell you how many different positions those bananas ended up in! Meghan would be so proud!

Please note that long periods of playtime are only suggested if you are not in a state of hanger. 😉

Food Styling Photography Tips - Let the Food Shine!

I find it’s best to stick with solid-colored plates and I try not to have more than one pattern in a shot. You want to have fun (and by all means utilize that massive collection of props you’ve accumulated over the years) but you don’t want to forget what the main focus is…the FOOD!

Food Styling Photography Tips - Clean Up When You're Done

Hands down, the BEST part of having an edible subject! 😉

And just because I was shaking my fist at the sun the other day (please God forgive me for I know not what I do…in the DEAD of winter!)…

Food Styling Photography Tips - Don't Shoot in Direct Sunlight

Whether you’re shooting indoors or out, please AVOID direct sunlight! It can create a harsh look and distort colors in your photos as well as casting strong shadows that are very distracting.

And since we haven’t yet managed to find a way to control the weather just yet, here’s your bonus BONUS tip: A couple of panels of sheer curtains (that I keep meaning to pick up) are great to diffuse light. Also, it pays to experiment with different rooms in your house until you find the right window at the right time of day where the light is just right! Because with three rights, how could you be wrong…RIGHT?! 😉

Now go, pick up those cameras and have some fun!
If you need me, I’ll be over here with my mouth full of granola bars.

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55 Responses to 5 Food Styling & Photography Tips

  1. These are great tips Heather! I’m trying to get better with my food photography, so these tips are definitely going to come in handy.

  2. Yay great tips :) I always look for photo inspirations before I shoot! I like to pin pictures that inspire me cause I like to believe if I look at enough of them I’ll actually improve!

    And yes to no direct sunlight, or worse, no sunlight at all eeeek

  3. Lena says:

    Very helpful tips! Thank you so much for sharing, Heather!
    P.S. You photos look great and are a great inspiration to me!

  4. Thanks for these tips! I don’t have a cool camera yet and try as best I can to work with an iPhone, but I know very little about how to get a good shot. I didn’t realize you weren’t supposed to shoot in direct sunlight! But it makes total sense now that I think about it!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      So glad you liked the post, Ang! You know, you’d be surprised the shots you can get with an iPhone…and hey, Instagram filters make just about anything look better! 😉

  5. These are SO helpful! I’ve tried to do “actual” food photography a few times now and basically put granola bars on a plate and wondered why they looked so terrible. I will definitely be trying out all of these things, so thank you a TON! :)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad you liked it! Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them! :)

  6. Thanks so much for doing this lady! Definitely going to keep these in mind for my next photo op.

  7. Wonderful tips! Now I just need to figure out how to use the manual setting on my camera.

    Will you please come over and read my Plate to Pixel book to me? Please?

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Omg, ME TOOOOOOOOOOO!! And I still haven’t made it but like four pages into ONE of the books I checked out from the library three weeks ago…can’t they just make some sort of photography coloring book or something? I need cartoon illustrations! 😉

  8. Hey! That’s me! 😉
    Yes! The direct sunlight is a no no! I’ve found in my apartment, that the space just beyond the windows (or between two windows) works best because its not sunny, but its naturally bright.
    The story telling is the best part…because that’s what keeps me going bankrupt on props! haha

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      I just need more windows in my house…you know, since I can’t just pick the whole thing up and turn it about 30 degrees! Note to self: when buying next house, pay attention to which side the sun sets on! Gah!

  9. Le sigh. I wish I could magically crinkle my nose and conjure the creativity and patience to take pics like you.

  10. Thank you for the tips girly! I’m a newbie with the camera and these are simple ideas that I can use for any photo shoot. I need some props in my life..most of everything in my kitchen is black or white!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      You’re welcome, Diana! The main thing is just to have fun…and shopping for props is just the half of it! Ha! Just FYI, you can actually find some pretty cute stuff at the Dollar Store! 😉

  11. I need to bookmark this. My blog isn’t a food blog, but I do sometimes post pics of my food. They are horrendous. And if they’re decent, it’s by accident! Now, pictures of my cats, I have THAT mastered. :) Seriously, your food pics look awesome.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Aww, thanks Megan! I might could learn a thing from you…Tiger always seems to move just as I get ready to take a pic! *grumble*

  12. Love those tips, thank you so much!! I got a little better with my photographing, but there’s still SO MUCH to improve! Especially the different modi on my camera and options. I have no friggin’ IDEA!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      You and me both, girl! You and me BOTH!! I’ve had those photography books that I checked out from the library for almost three weeks now and I’ve only made it like four pages into one of them! Haha!

  13. lindsay says:

    can i come eat your props when you are done? i mean the chocolate? 😉

  14. Great tips Heather! Your photos always look so great so I’ll definitely be pinning these for later. Now if I can just get my hubby to build me that lightbox….

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Aww, thanks Giselle! And it sounds to me, you need to take this lightbox matter into your own hands! You’ve been on the hubby for months! I promise it really is easy!

  15. These are awesome tips! Thank you :) I need to improve mine, idk what happened! I’ve been too hasty with my pic snapping :(

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      You’re welcome, Sabrina! It can be hard to find the time to slow down and concentrate on pictures, but if you take a day here and a day there just to play around, those days do add up!

  16. Thanks for sharing more great photo tips! Sometimes I really try to take good pictures but others I just realize my iPhone and nonexistent winter light just doesn’t promote good pictures.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      And THAT is where Instagram comes in! Just slap a filter on it and tell everyone you’re going for the “moody” look! 😉

  17. Awesome tips here girl! I definitely do #1 – I tend to spend a lot of time browsing Tastespotting/Pinterest for ideas before taking pictures! I need more work with #3 though… but to do that I need to go buy more props. Excuse for a shopping spree? I think so!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Heck yeah!! Can I confess that I’ve actually been inspired to make something BECAUSE of a prop I bought? Haha!

  18. Sara @ fitcupcaker says:

    thanks for the tips!

  19. Great tips lady! Of course my philosophy as I’ve said is – just make sure kids picking their noses aren’t in my shots. Mwahaha.

    Oh if I only had time and a PLACE to take better photos. And I agree, cleaning up is SO the best part.

  20. Love these tips! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  21. Great tips, girlie!! I need to be better about setting up photos…I usually snap and eat, I’m too hungry to make it look nice. LOL

  22. I love that a lot of these tips are more about the food than the (big, scary, intimidating) camera. And now I want granola bars. And bananas. And chocolate. Sigh.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      THAT was my main objective…especially since I don’t even understand half of the buttons on MY camera! Ha! I was hoping that I could show people that you don’t have to have a fancy schmancy camera (or know how to work one) to get good shots!

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  24. Love all these tips they are awesome! I need to implement some more of them. I’ve bought some props but love the idea of using Pinterest for similar recipes for inspiration on seeing how something can be photographed really well.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad I was able to give you a few ideas! Did you ever try submitting those brown rice bites of yours to FG?

  25. Thanks heaps for these tips buddy! As someone who is blessed with sunlight at the moment, I stupidly thought it’s best to photograph in direct sunlight…then I wonder why it looks like fluro crapola when editing… 😉

    The other day I bought cheese to use as a prop but ate it before the shoot. My bad.

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  27. AWESOME tips! Yesterday I spent at LEAST an hour taking pictures of black bean burgers I made… you just lose track of time!

  28. I think you should come visit… give me a personal lesson… and meet baby delight! 😉

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  30. All the banana action in this post makes my black little heart skip a beat with delight.

    I love the idea of googling images for the recipe first. I need to start trying this stat. Dammit, where the heck were you when I was photographing my Veggie Pot Pie and Baked Brie Bites earlier today? No matter, this is great advice, and I plan to put it into practice stat.

    By the way, you are way more than an amateur photographer by now. Stop protesting and just say thank you because you know I’m right. That’s right; I’m always right (okay not so much, but definitely on this subject).

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      But uhhh….dammit…ok, THANK YOU! 😉 Wait a minute, did you say? Veggie pot PIE?!?! And I already saw (and drooled over) those brie bites…looks like you’re spot on with that photography to me! 😀

      Also, I just have to say that reading “all this banana action” after seeing your last comment referring to taking care of some “business” is making me tear up from laughing so hard! Yes, good ab workout! Lol

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