Food Photography: Finding the Pretty and Delicious

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by Guest Contributor Leigh Anne

I am not a professional photographer. I am a cook and I am a blogger thus I take pictures of food. I have taken a photography class and learning to shoot in manual has been the best thing I ever did for my improving my photography skills. But most of what I have learned has been through trial and error and reading great blogs like Rock the Shot!

The first question I am always asked is what kind of camera do I use. I shoot with a Nikon D90 and use either my 50mm1.8 or my 17-55mm 2.8.

When people ask me about my food photography and how I get such pretty pictures my number one tip is use natural light.

My kitchen has a nice little area with some beautiful northern light. This is where I do most of my picture taking – right on top of my table. I have a real professional set up.

My backdrop is a white foam core board from the Dollar store and that is an old cupboard door I found at the dump! Sometimes I use another piece of foam core board on the table instead of the cupboard door. I also use another piece of foam core board as a reflector. Like I said, I am not a professional! But it works.

This is my basic backdrop which I can then change up with different colors and materials. I have a collection of different color poster boards that I use a chip clip to attach to the board.

Here’s what the actual photo looked like.

You’d never know it was taken on top of my kitchen table!  I also have a collection of wrapping paper that makes a great backdrop too.

I like variety so I have accrued quite a collection of fabrics, papers and serving pieces that I use for my photos.

I am also lucky enough to have a small office off my family room with a closet and counter where I can store all the stuff. There is a lot of stuff! Fabric napkins make a great photo prop and are just the right size. I also like to vary texture so old wooden cutting boards, burlap, bamboo all work great too.

Sorry for the bad photo… I have a slight addiction to cake stands.

Using natural light can sometimes be a challenge for a food blogger, especially in the Northwest where I live. In the Fall and Winter and sometimes in the Spring and Summer natural light can be limited. We have lots of cloud covered, rainy, gray days here in Oregon! I blog about the food my family actually eats, what we are having for dinner. So a lot of my photos are taken at dinner time. In the winter when the days are short and it’s dark outside by 4:00 p.m. it’s hard to take a good photo!

Fortunately I discovered the Lowel EGO light which helps on those dark and dreary days. It is certainly not as good as natural light but it’s better than my regular kitchen lighting!

Here’s a photo taken with the light. Not bad but natural is better!

The other tool that is helpful in low light situations of course is a tripod. I am a little slow to the game and just recently started using one and it has helped tremendously when I have to use a lower shutter speed because of the lack of light. My pictures are much crisper.

Thanks to Rock the Shot for letting me share today! If you are interested in any of the recipes for the food you just saw I’d love for you to come over and visit me at Your Homebased Mom! The taquito recipe is here. The chocolates were a gift, sorry no recipe and the cookie recipe is here.

This year I’m focusing on Being Grateful and sharing a photo each day on my Facebook Page of something I’m grateful for – I’d love for you to follow along.


Hi! I’m Leigh Anne, mom of four, recent empty nester and wife who loves family, food, entertaining and fun. I love sharing my journey of finding the pretty and delicious in life at Your Homebased Mom and taking pictures of all those pretty and delicious things.  I have learned that the pretty and delicious is always there – sometimes we just have to look a bit harder for it than other times.

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Vera - January 13, 2012 - 11:08 am

I want to be a good food photographer someday, if only for my blog and my own collection! Thanks for these tips :)

Tamara - January 13, 2012 - 12:40 pm

THANKS Leigh Anne for all the wonderful tips and letting us in on your “behind the scenes.”

Angela Benavides - January 13, 2012 - 12:49 pm

Awesome article. Thank you. And love all of your cake plates!

sunni - January 13, 2012 - 8:00 pm

Ahhh…something close to my heart! I also am a food photography/stylist fanatic. It’s my favorite subject to shoot and I have built up an arsenal of beautiful & delicious photos the past few years. I love preparing delicious, beautiful food and playing w/props and “setting up the shots!” I thought I was an oddball. But now I know I have a passion for something that others do as well. Loved the behind-the-scenes look. Thanks for sharing w/us!!

Kim P - January 13, 2012 - 8:21 pm

I love the tips you shared and I, too, have a growing collection of fabrics, place mats, serving pieces (including many cake stands!), and flatware. I love mixing up textures. One of my favorite places to look for new props is the clearance section at Pottery Barn. Sometimes there are odd pieces that were used for display that are deeply discounted or single place settings perfect for photography. Glad you shared your story and tips – thanks! :)

alicia - January 13, 2012 - 9:46 pm

great article. but i would love to read something about how people become professional food photographers. how to people break into that business?

Dawn Howeth - January 14, 2012 - 5:30 am

I have a client that is interested in learning food photography!! Thank you for the AWESOME post.

Melissa @ Served Up With Love - January 14, 2012 - 10:01 am

Dawn Howeth forwarded me this article. Thank you so much for sharing, Im fairly new to blogging(less than a year) and I would love to take my food photos to the next level. I will be taking your tips and running with them. You have no idea how much you have helped me! Thanks so much.

kristen duke photography - January 17, 2012 - 10:42 am

Leigh Anne, Great tips! I am too lazy to do a set up, but this gives great ideas…I keep thinking I need to step up my game with product photography, I usually just throw it together without much thought. I LOVE the wrapping paper idea, and I have a big stash of fabric already…will get crackin’.

Don Killough - January 17, 2012 - 8:42 pm

Thanks for the fantastic tips for food pics! I too, enjoy taking pictures of things I have cooked on the grill or the smoker. Some of your ideas will help me a lot! I like taking natural light pictures in the late afternoon when the sun gives off that golden light…really does something for the color and makes the food look even more wonderful and attractive! Thanks again and I will also check out you website!

Laurie - January 18, 2012 - 9:53 am

Member of forum

Claire Leong - January 27, 2012 - 8:57 pm

Another tip for low light – use the timer on your camera. This helps with the slight shake you get when your finger pushes the shutter. Only works with tripod and still subjects – which is perfect for your food!

Neil Mackenzie - January 28, 2012 - 3:01 am

Love the info. Many Thanks Neil MAckenzie photographer

Betsy of - April 6, 2012 - 6:15 pm

Love seeing this behind-the-scenes look from one of my favorite bloggers! Lots of great tips with the foam board and EGO light! I feel inspired, and also feel a bit more normal about the way I store my props. Thanks, Leigh Anne & Rock the Shot!

Rock the Shot Guest Post - January 15, 2012 - 12:36 am

[…] how I take the photos for my blog.  If you’d like to see how I do it please visit me over at Rock the Shot where I am guest […]

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