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3 Quick Tips To Help Anyone Take Better Food Photos For Their Lenses

berriesPicture this if you will.  You’re intrigued by one of our fun recipe quests.  You’ve got a delicious recipe.  You cooked it up just right and now you’re ready to share your masterpiece meal with the world.  The only thing you need before you can start building your lens is a GREAT photo but you’re not a professional photographer.  What to do?

Here’s 3 quick tips to help you get a great food shot even if you’re not the world’s greatest at taking pictures.  Keep in mind, just like everything else in the world, getting scrumptious food photos takes practice but these tips should help you get some Pinterest worthy pics in no time.

1.  If you don’t already have one, invest in a nice white dish.  If you browse through food photos as much as I do, you’ll notice that a majority of them are photographed on a white dish.  That’s because everything looks good on, and goes with, white.  If you like, you can use accessories to add additional color to the background such as place mats, flowers, or napkins.  And it’s fun to experiment and change these things up for different types of food.

2.  Keep your hand steady and get a close up of the food.  Your dish will look more appealing when folks can see exactly what’s in it.

3.  Take several shots from different angles and with different lighting.  (I get my best shots outside but you’ll need to watch for shadows.)  Try taking one that’s centered, one that’s off-center, one from the top, one from the side, one from the other side and any other way you can think of.  That way you’ll have plenty of shots to choose from when you’re done and you might be surprised at how good some of the unique ones come out.

When you’re done, choose your favorite photo of the dish and start building that yummy lens.  Well, you might want to eat the food first.  No sense letting such gorgeous fare go to waste.

Here’s a link to our new format recipe lens builder for when you’re ready.

Image Credit

Robin Svedi aka rms is a Community Organizer and member of the Creative Team at Squidoo.com where her daily mission is to help lensmasters build better and more successful lenses about the things they know and love.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/CherylFay CherylFay

    Good tips! Getting the right lighting is tricky! I take several pictures. Sometimes have to tweak lighting in a photo program.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/RenaissanceWoman2010 RenaissanceWoman2010

    Excellent tips, Robin. I purchased a few white dishes this year just for my Squidoo food photos (as seen, for instance, in my croissant french toast, chicken almond ding, and savory cashew wrap lenses). Also, whenever I can, I take the photos outside in the late afternoon golden light (that’s why my recent wrap recipe intro photo has a golden glow or sheen). I have also set up a photo shoot background in my home made of white felt. This comes in handy for lens photos that must be taken indoors. The other thing is this: I constantly search food sites and blogs to get ideas for taking visually appealing food pics. I still have a long way to go, but my photos are improving because of the tips you mention. Thanks!

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Great tips about the food blogs,golden light and white felt! Thanks for adding those.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/CherylFay CherylFay

      Awesome tips. I needed to learn more.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/LoreleiCohen LoreleiCohen

      I have a white sheet that I set across the back of the couch when I need to photo shoot fruits, vegetables, or other individual items.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Lionrhod Lionrhod

      Ohhh! Thanks for the golden light afternoon shot idea!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/jennifercrafts jennifercrafts

    Nice tips :)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Merrci Merrci

    Excellent tips! One more thing I’d suggest is to make sure your shadow isn’t in the picture. I’ve had to retake a bunch because of the shading. It is surely fun though!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/adventuretravelshop adventuretravelshop

    It’s very difficult because usually my meals are ready in the evenings! I don’t ever cook lunch – except on Sundays -sometimes. So lighting is an issue. Otherwise I would take the food outside because natural light is soft and more even than angled bulbs. It’ll be easier in the summer when the days are longer. This isn’t an easy thing to do. But I think Squidoo lenses look brilliant -it’s amazing, given that many of us are not photographers. Thanks for these tips Robin.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/athomemomblog athomemomblog

      That’s one of the reasons I’ve started doing out main meal at lunch . . . better lighting! :)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/maxsneaker maxsneaker

    so great tips~I learn so many from it~thank you very much~~~^_^

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/1angelsbestkeptsecrets 1angelsbestkeptsecrets

    Very interesting. I never thought of taking the food outside, but it makes sense because I have the worst luck taking pictures in the evening, with fluorescent lighting or under my stove’s hood light. I do think it is fun taking food photos. Thanks for new suggestions.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/quiz_queen quiz_queen

    This was really interesting, thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Gloriousconfusion Gloriousconfusion

    Your food photography tips are great, Robin – I never thought of taking food outside to photograph it. Might be a bit difficult in the UK, where it rained solidly for about 3 months! But I shall certainly try that.

    One thing that bothers me, though, is that I am unable to add several photos showing the various stages and ingredients of a recipe and I wonder whether it would be a good thing for Squidoo to enable the facility for multiple photos in your new format Recipe lens builder.

    I took multiple photos for my newly published Piquant Leek and Cauliflower Cheese lens, and then found, to my consternation that I couldn’t use them. Do I go back to square one, and rebuild the lens using the old recipe format, or do I abandon all thought of lots of tempting pictures?

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Ah. That’s a choice each lensmaster has to make on their own before starting the lens. In my opinion, the new format makes it easier and faster to share your recipes and the photo looks great when shared at places like Facebook and Pinterest. What’s nice is that we have several options, recipe lens format, traditional lens or even the How To format. Many sites and cookbooks only use one photo. Others share the step-by-step photos.

      I’m sure your recipe lens will be terrific whichever way you choose to create it.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Arachnea Arachnea

      If you can “photoshop” (photo-manipulate) your photo’s at all, you might try creating one image from your pics in the form of a collage. I’ve been playing with this idea in some of my recipe lenses. You might also try using a regular lens format rather than the recipe lens module. There are some other ideas I hope to play with at a later date.

      • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Gloriousconfusion Gloriousconfusion

        Thanks rms and Arachnea – I agree that the new recipe lens format makes it easy and fast to write recipes, but once you have set up a recipe template for the old format, that is also reasonably quick. I’ll certainly experiment with forming a collage via Photoshop and see how it comes out in the lens.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/fr33flow fr33flow

    Thanks for the tips!:)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Arachnea Arachnea

    Great info. Just to piggie back a bit. Because I do pottery and because I can’t take pics outdoors, I invested in a light tent ages ago. There are some inexpensive kits on ebay. Also, I invested in an inexpensive adjustable tripod from walmart. These two things increased the quality of my pottery tremendously, they did and setting my camera to indoors also. Using the tent keeps the background visual noise out of the pictures also.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Thanks for sharing those great tips!

      • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Arachnea Arachnea

        You’re most welcome. :D

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/garylawson garylawson

    great tips robin

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/katiesnow katiesnow

    I bought a special lens for my camera to do close ups it works great!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/partybuzz partybuzz

    Thanks everyone, for these great tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/---Chazz —Chazz

    Great tips, Robin.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Spirality Spirality

    Great tips. I have the most unsteady hand when taking photos, I would definitely need a tripod.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/LiteraryMind LiteraryMind

    I have trouble with shiny dishes. They sometimes show a reflection of my two hands holding a camera.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/StephenJParkin StephenJParkin

    If you have to take shots indoors the flash will often burn out the white and some of the other colors. Try deflecting the flash off of the ceiling. You can do this by holding a sheet of white paper at an angle such as to deflect the flash and have it come in on an angle. A light blue back drop works very well for indoor flash photography too. The tips given here are excellent and should also be borne in mind.

    Renaissance Woman added some really good ideas too!

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Thank you StephenJParkin. Your tips are extremely helpful too!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/grammieo grammieo

    Great tips for sure, I need to work on that steady hand and lighting.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/tim-bader-982 tim-bader-982

    Good tips here. Time I wrote another food lens.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/tok2gman tok2gman

    Good suggestions, Robin.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/BestOfGeorge BestOfGeorge

    Very good tips on how to make food dishes look good. You almost want to go out and buy the food.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/DeniseMcGill DeniseMcGill

    Great tips. Thanks.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/mountainmistjewelry mountainmistjewelry

    Terrific ideas! I’m always fighting shadows even with a desktop light box.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/bestcaliforniaplaces2 bestcaliforniaplaces2

    Very useful information,thanks for sharing it with us.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/BrianS BrianS

    Good tips, yes it should all be about the food and not what’s in the background. That can be forgotten sometimes and it is just about keeping things simple really.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Ladymermaid Ladymermaid

    I so like to see original photos on articles and especially recipe articles. My camera is always beside me throughout the day and especially when I cook. You never know when one of those shots is going to fit perfectly on a new article.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Kylyssa Kylyssa

    I’d change tip three from take several shots to take lots of shots from all sorts of angles while trying all sorts of lighting. The more things you try, the greater your chances of getting an exceptional photo in there somewhere. That would cost a lot on a film camera but in the digital age, you can just get rid of all the junk shots and free that memory up for more photos.

    Also, when photographing brown food, make sure you’ve created a shot with plenty of contrast. Add something colorful to the shot so it doesn’t look like a brown blob on a brown plate with a brown table underneath.

    I shrink my photos down to thumbnail size when I’m editing them so I can see what they look like as a postage stamp. If they don’t look like anything or like anything I’d click on when they are tiny, I try again.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Thanks for adding a couple more helpful tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/artbyrodriguez artbyrodriguez

    Good tips…and so simple, especially the white dish.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Tracy1973 Tracy1973

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing. Getting the lighting just right can be frustrating at times but it really does matter. I usually take at least 3-4 shots of each stage of preparation and often only 1 or 2 are usable.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/athomemomblog athomemomblog

    I have a food blog, so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get the perfect shot. These are excellent tips. I take 99.9% of my food photos outdoors. Never take photos in the sun though . .. the shadows are too harsh and white bleaches out completely. I’d also suggest having someone hold a piece of plain white paper on the shadow side to bounce light on that side. It’s a simple way to make a big difference!

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Thanks for another great tip!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/teriann teriann

    learn something new everyday….never noticed using a white dish for food shots. thx for adding to my arsenal of photo tips, simple and easy

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/favored1 favored1

    Have to take a lot of mine outside as well using a placemat. I use white foam board for a backdrop in some shots. Appreciate these tips Robin.

  • http://thatgrrl.ca/ Laura Brown

    If you’re investing in dishes and accessories why not look into a small tripod for your camera too? Position it where you want and eliminate any camera shake, get your photos sharp and crisply in focus. Also, nice for getting yourself into the photo later. Use your camera settings to set a timer so you can take a photo of yourself (for your Squidoo profile) or be in the photo when you have all your family there.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Excellent idea!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/River_Rose River_Rose

    Great tips here! Thank you!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/shay_marie shay_marie

    It’s also important to tweek color balance in a photo editing program whenever necessary. Nothing makes a food photo more unappetizing than a alien green tint!

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      I agree!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/MaggieMoo12 MaggieMoo12

    Thanks for the tips this was really useful

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/techgadgeteer techgadgeteer

    Great tips. I love taking food photos. I try to find a good spot where there’s natural lightning. I love using white plates too.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/vegival vegival

    I hadn’t considered specifically using white dishes before — thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/kiddomcchrono kiddomcchrono

    Very good tips for taking quality food photos, I do have one tip to add though. When taking pictures of food with a camera phone, take the picture with the camera phone side ways. That way you capture the whole food item your taking a picture of. It makes for a better close up and shows a little more detail, versus taking the picture with the camera phone vertical.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Thanks for sharing that.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/britflorida britflorida

    Great tips! This is a pretty daft one but I try to include a fork in the photograph. It makes the viewer picture themselves eating it :)

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Good idea.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Anonymous831 Anonymous831

    Good tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/ruthi Ruthi aka abitosunshine

    I sure do need to practice food photos, so thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Snakesmum Snakesmum

    Checking the lighting is a great tip for any photography – I keep forgetting it. :-(

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/aaalyssadeboer aaalyssadeboer

    great tips! will definitely try

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/jsr54 jsr54

    Excellent tips, can’t wait to try them out! Thank you Robin.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/RisingTide RisingTide

    Informative. Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/SherwinG SherwinG

    Great tips. I love the idea of the white dish. Nothing works better than a white background.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Debs Debs

    I once knew a food photographer who put a lit cigarette behind freshly cooked food to make it look as if it was steaming and piping hot from the oven! The smoke looked very effective in the photo!

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rms rms

      Very interesting.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/dilipyadav dilipyadav

    Really nice tips!
    Going to keep them in mind.

  • http://basichealthybalance.wordpress.com/about Marlene McPherson

    Great tips thanks! Different angles always spice things up a bit (if you’ll excuse the pun!)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/lydia-workman lydia-workman

    Thank you for these tips. I will certainly go out and buy some white plates!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/oddobjective oddobjective

    Excellent tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/YourHandyHelper YourHandyHelper

    This is useful. I’ll experiment! Thanks.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Jaka305 Jaka305

    Great tips! Colours can really make the difference.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/DownToEarthLiving DownToEarthLiving

    Great tips for food photos. Thanks! I might have to try my hand at a recipe lens now (once I get a white dish).

  • http://www.squidoo.com/graceonline Kathryn Grace

    Hmmm. I wonder if I could manage a portable “studio” out on the fire escape. That could get me some outside light. Thank you for these tips, and thank you to other commenters who offered theirs as well.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/nancycarol nancycarol

    Terrific tips I will pass on to the person who photographs for me. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/MarcellaCarlton MarcellaCarlton

    Great tips! Thanks.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/lbmiranda lbmiranda

    I have an editing app that helps enhance my photos. There are several to choose from if you’re an iPhone user. I personally like Snapseed. I will definitely try the white plate!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/charlino charlino

    Great shared tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/gt06jh gt06jh

    I do beer reviews and and all I’ve ever done has been take a quick picture with my phone, no muss no fuss.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/energialibre energialibre

    good post

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Lionrhod Lionrhod

    Off to locate a white dish! And bowl. TY!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/0ctavias0fferings 0ctavias0fferings

    Great tips

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/theJavaGirl theJavaGirl

    I take lots of photos of my food, but never thought about doing this outside. Once I get some nice white plates, I’ll start experimenting outside. Thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/flinnie flinnie

    I like all these food photos tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.sharisphotos.webs.com/ Shari

    Great tips! When all you have is a point and shoot camera, it’s especially hard. I think these tips would work with those types of cameras quite well.

  • jmchaconne

    Thanks for more great tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/KitandCaboodle KitandCaboodle

    Great tips. Thanks. I’ll use these on my next recipe lens.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/kiwinana71 kiwinana71

    Yes it’s something I need to spend some time on to improve. Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/hjohn1024 hjohn1024

    Wow! Who could imagine that this was so simple? Thanks for the great tips. I have always admired great food photos. Now I know how to make them myself.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Marketsearch1 Marketsearch1

    Hey Robin, another fantastic lens. Its funny, I just read a lens very similar to this one but doesn’t compare to the content you share. Thanks again.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/gittaamour gittaamour

    Good tips

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