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26th January 2022

Foundations Series Part 1: What you Need to Get Started in Food Photography

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Welcome to 2022! We’re going to start the year with a little foundations series, to make sure we’ve got the basics covered before we move onto some more exciting topics later on.


In this video:

1. A Space

The first major consideration when putting together a home food photography studio isn’t even a photographic one: ask yourself, is there an area of your home that’s free from disturbances where you can give yourself the best chance of being able to focus and work without distractions? Your photography space doesn’t have to be your kitchen, or even near your kitchen, so think about where you have a good window and a quiet space in your home.

2. A Camera

You might be surprised to hear that your camera is not actually the most important thing for your food photography, but spending some time choosing it now will help you get something that will last you a long time, and will grow with you. I often get asked if using a phone can be a substitute for a DSLR, and while the cameras on smartphones these days are more advanced than they have ever been in terms of resolution and image quality, you just don’t get the same control over your shooting settings or lenses. So while a phone is a great way to start to get you used to other principles like lighting and composition, ultimately, if you want to take your food photography to a professional level, you’re going to need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera at some point.

3. A Lens (or Lenses)

Choosing your lenses is a really important step as this is what will affect the look of your photos the most. I made a more detailed video here, about the best lenses for food photography, and I’ll be creating a new updated version of that video very soon. Most cameras have the option to purchase with a kit lens, but this isn’t often the best way to go. You’re better off figuring out first what lens would be the best for you to start with then purchasing this with the camera body, rather than the standard kit lens.

4. Backdrops

If you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful table with a relatively matte surface to use as a backdrop to start with, great! But most household tables aren’t ideal photography backdrops. And while you certainly don’t need to invest in backdrops immediately, having a few options of different colours on hand will help you create variety in your images, and also get confident working in different colour combinations.

5. Props

Whenever I’m looking at a new prop, I ask myself these three questions:

  1. Can I think of at least three situations for which I would use this prop?
  2. Can I pair this with items I already have?
  3. Will it add something new to my collection, or is it too similar to something I already own?

Plan for what you need, especially if you feel there are gaps in your collection. If you know you shoot a lot of drinks, make a list of the glassware that would give you lots of options. If you shoot a lot of savoury food, make sure you have a variety of neutral plates and bowls in various sizes. When I’m buying items like plates and bowls, I like to buy them in threes, to make sure I have enough to create a full scene.

Most Importantly – Time, Practice and Investment!

There’s a lot to learn as you get started, and taking it one step at a time and having patience with yourself is important. If you are interested in taking your food photography education to the next level, then this might be the year for you to check out a membership to Food Photography Academy, which is the online platform I created for food photographers, where you get access to all my online courses, resources, and monthly live member Zoom calls where you can get live feedback on your images too. It’s a party in there, we have a great time and I love our community.

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