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Food Photography

These days, with digital cameras wide-spread, everyone wants to be a photographer.  Folks often ask how to make their photos look good.  Many think that if they buy a DSLR camera they will magically become good photographers.  Well, it takes a lot more effort than that.  To demonstrate, we’re providing two photos of the same food for comparison below.

Here’s the photo of the Aloo Gobi we made and posted to our blog.  It took us about 15 minutes to set up the shot, 5 minutes to take the shot (we took 8 different pictures with various adjustments) and another 15 minutes of software post-processing.  It was taken with:

  • a Sony NEX-6 mirrorless camera and a Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 macro lens
  • tripod stabilization with a 2 second shutter delay to ensure crisp detail
  • camera at 45 degree angle from the table
  • close-up to increase focus in on the food
  • aperture almost wide open to create shallow depth of field
  • natural window backlighting manipulated with foam core to block the harsh light, and a reflector to provide gentle side lighting
  • cardboard covered with wood-like paper to simulate a wood table
  • bowl and background size and color carefully selected to balance the color and brightness
  • carefully selected and placed food and garnishes to improve appearance
  • in-camera JPG image processing
  • cropping and exposure in Lightroom (software)
  • glamor glow, vingetting, levels and curves, and tonal contract adjustments made in Color Efex Pro (software)

20141004-12 Aloo Gobi 5574-Edit

By contrast, here is a photo of the same food taken 30 minutes later in a plastic food storage container ready for refrigeration.  We did not spend any time to set up the shot.  It was taken with:

  • a camera phone (Nexus 4)
  • natural window side lighting
  • camera directly above the food
  • no garnishes
  • no software post-processing


Hard to believe this is the same food, huh?  It really is.  Honest, the second shot is not puke of the original food.  And we did not go out of our way to make the picture look bad.

Hope that these photos and explanation help to show the effort that goes into photography (and food styling).  Good photography needs a good camera, yes.  But more importantly, it also needs careful thought and effort to go into:

  • subject composition
  • prop color, size and location
  • lighting and exposure
  • camera location
  • depth of field (aperture)
  • software post-processing

Happy shooting!