Food Photography Guide - How I take my photos

Hey guys,

I’ve received some questions on how I shoot my food photography. This post is dedicated to how I take my photos.

The equipment:

Canon EOS 7D
I shoot with my trusty Canon Eos 7D. You can use any camera to take good food photos but a DSLR gives you more possibilities to shoot under difficult conditions.

Lenses
My main lenses are the 17-40mm L and the 50mm 1.8 from Canon. When it’s a close up I use the Canon 100mm 2.8.

Extras:

Wacom tablet
When I edit my photos I use a Wacom tablet. It really speeds up the process of retouching dirty plates or working with techniques such as dodging and burning.

Tether-cable
Im always shooting tethered so I can see the photos on a bigger screen. It helps me judge whether or not everything is in focus and if the composition works. I find it nearly impossible to check photos on the small screen of my camera.

Tripod Vanguard Alta Pro
If there were anything I wouldn’t want to be without, it would be my tripod! My tripod allows me to take photos that are properly exposed, even in low light conditions. It’s also an advantage to have the camera in a fixed position allowing me to arrange the food or a composition.

My tripod is an essential item i use for the stop motion videos i create. I take a picture, plate the next layer of ingredients and take another photo. If i didn't use a tripod the movie would appear unsteady.

The Light:

Natural light
I try to work with natural light when ever I can. In my opinion, food looks best in soft, natural light. If it gets too late in the day or the natural light isn’t soft enough, I use my Speedlights. 

Canon Speedlight 430ex II
I have two Speedlight's from Canon which work absolutely fine for food photography. To modify the light I use reflective umbrellas and a diffusor. 

When ever I shoot with artificial light I try to simulate natural light. Essentially, I use a large white reflector umbrella and place it as close to the food as possible in order to achieve a beautiful soft light.

Reflectors
I use white cardboard and styrofoam boards to reflect light to certain areas of my subject in order to light up shadows. Mirrors are also a great way to bring light into dark areas.

Light Setup
These are the basic light setups I use.

The first one is natural light only.

Ideally, you would use a north facing window in order to avoid harsh direct sunlight. Unfortunately, I only have east facing windows, so I only have a limited amount of time to shoot my food before the sun is shining directly through the window. In my experience, cloudy days provide the best light. On sunnier days, when the light is too harsh, I use a DIY diffuser panel to soften the light.

Diffusor panel to soften natural light.

Diffusor panel to soften natural light.

I keep my light source (both natural or artificial light) between 9 o'clock and 3 o’clock.

For my close ups or shots which aren’t top view, I position my lights sideways. This adds more depth to the image and helps with the appearance of texture. 

The Software:

EOS Utility
To shoot tethered I use Canon’s eos utility software that came with the camera. I have the program setup so that it exports my photos to a special folder where Lightroom can import them automatically.

Lightroom CC
I use Lightroom in combination with EOS Utility to shoot tethered. I take a picture with my camera and it opens straight away in Lightroom where I can view it.

I also process every photo in Lightroom. I do basic adjustments like exposer, white balance and sometimes some curve adjustments.

Photoshop CC
Photoshop is not going to save you if your photo is crap. I try to get everything right when I take the photo. Things like dirty plates are a pain to fix after you’ve taken the photo. I probably process about 20%-30% of my photos with Photoshop.

If you’ve got questions feel free to ask!

Cheers,
Simon