How to Take Better Food Photos in a Restaurant

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If you’re wondering how to take better food photos, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re wondering how to take said photos in a restaurant without looking like a fool, even better. As someone who has gone from taking miserable photos of beautiful food to taking beautiful photos of beautiful food and make it look even remotely appetising, I speak from experience when I say practice makes perfect!

Camera Gear Overseas

THE EQUIPMENT

There are a few key points to be made here, but let me start by saying you do not need to spend a fortune to buy the right equipment to take great photos. There are three different cameras I rely on to take my photos, each a different price bracket. First is the iPhone – great for quick photos, discreet, small and has a multi-purpose (you’ve probably brought it to the restaurant anyway). Second is my Olympus PEN E-PL7, a small, light camera that works a whole lotta magic. And finally, my Olympus OMD 5 Mark II which I mostly use for landscapes and wouldn’t generally bring to a restaurant anyway. Moral of the story: smaller might not be necessarily better, but it works just fine!

The_Ultimate_Pavlova_Recipe

LIGHT

Lets start with the simplest answer: natural light trumps all. In order to avoid that murky yellow colour from low light scenarios, it is best to photograph food during the day and better yet, outdoors. In addition, lunch is always cheaper than dinner… so you have a win-win.

However if you do wish to photograph food in the evenings, the best solution I have found that is neither invasive on other diners nor attracts too much attention, is to use my iPhone torch (and often another person’s at the table) to shine light from either side to get an even light on the subject (the food). Then I will use my Olympus PEN to take the photograph, et voila! Mission accomplished.

& what about that little thing called a flash? Don’t use it. Ever.

Alila breakfast buffet

FRAMING

Taking photographs of food can either be one of two things: fun or boring. Taking a standard point-and-shoot photo of your x1 item of food doesn’t get too many people that excited (unless you’re photographing a recipe, then by all means). Framing food should tell a story: i.e. if you’re on a tropical getaway, use some local flowers in the frame, a pair of sunglasses or some fresh fruit to showcase your location and give more to the photo than just an item of food.

Nihiwatu_breakfast

POST EDITING

Don’t be afraid to touch up your food photos, especially if you’ve taken them in dim light and they require a little nudge here and there. I keep it really simple and use iPhoto to edit my photos or within the instagram app if I’m uploading there. All I do is increase the brightness, tone down the highlights to counterbalance, increase the saturation a little, increase the sharpness and adjust the shadows if needed.

breakfast central park

LEARN FROM THE BEST

The best way to improve your food photo taking skills are to follow some of the amazing food accounts that really showcase food photography at its best. My favourites are: @breakfastcriminals @foodfeels @sliceofpai @pinchofyum @abeautifulmess.

Do you have any other great food instagram accounts to follow!? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

February 3, 2016

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19 Comments

  1. jukennedy14@gmail.com'

    Julia

    March 16, 2016

    What is that magnificent looking cake with all the berries on top?! Is it a meringue? I MUST KNOW!

  2. sirahmedsalim@gmail.com'

    Salim Ahmed

    February 10, 2016

    Really your tips is wonderful for food photography. Thanks for effective tips. I will try to utilize your tips.

  3. desmondchia01@hotmail.com'

    Desmond

    February 9, 2016

    Check out @therantingpanda!

  4. autourdekenza@gmail.com'

    Kenza

    February 6, 2016

    Haha people always say on my Instagram I’m alwaaaaaays posting food picture but you can’t deny that you can’t help it, right ?

    Thank you for sharing ! ! 🙂

    Kenza from

  5. aneil@outlook.com'

    CestLaVibe

    February 4, 2016

    Light is definitely the key. I tend to take the pic from overhead but angle slightly to one side to allow the light to fall on the food perfectly. Sometimes I clear nearby items from the table as well.

  6. kariguastella@gmail.com'

    Kari

    February 4, 2016

    These are great tips. I never end up going out for lunch. I think i need to take more advantage of that option!
    Kari

  7. rachaelgallo@hotmail.com'

    Rachael @ Catch Me if You Can

    February 4, 2016

    great tips and im really happy to hear you dont use your super fancy camera to take all your amazing food pics. there is hope for me yet! i dont really follow food posts on instagram but pioneerwoman has amazing pics of the food she cooks, other than her you are the only one!

  8. bethapps@hotmail.co.uk'

    Beth

    February 4, 2016

    This is the kind of post I need to see! I’m forever wanting to take photos of yummy food, yet can never get the right lighting! Now that I know the hints and tricks you do I’m definitely going to give it a try, if I feel confident enough, I always worry people are going to think you’re weird! I love the whole telling a story with adding flowers and sunglasses that really does add to the photo and give you a sense of where it all is!

  9. magszx33@gmail.com'

    Maggie

    February 4, 2016

    I have no shame when taking a picture in a restaurant. I stand up and over it, and last weekend the waiter even commented on if I got the “perfect angle”. I like when they understand 🙂

  10. hello@midnightblueelephant.com'

    Annika Ziehen

    February 3, 2016

    Flash?! It boggles my mind for almost any situation why people would still use flash. Even when you should people, it usually just becomes a rather horrible pictures. Get away from your automatic camera setting and as you set get some basic editing skills and your flash can go and retire…

  11. nowboardingallgroups@gmail.com'

    Heather K

    February 3, 2016

    Awesome tips! Can’t wait to employ some of these next time I go out to eat!

  12. sophie@sophiehurry.com'

    Sophie

    February 3, 2016

    Loving these tips, particularly the framing tip about telling a story. Will try and keep it in mind next time I want to take some food pics. Thanks 🙂

  13. travelerslittletreasures@gmail.com'

    Katrin Tochtermann

    February 3, 2016

    Thank you for those great tips. Can’t wait to order some delicious food and try to use them 🙂

  14. leighbradyx@gmail.com'

    Leigh

    February 3, 2016

    Thanks for the tips! I’m so bad at this and taking photos in public in general!

    – Eternalleigh.blogspot.com

  15. andaga143@hotmail.com'

    Daniela @ Grumpy Camel

    February 3, 2016

    Thanks for the tips. Your food photos always look so professional! I agree about the flash, by the way. I’d rather not take a photo than annoy others with my camera flash.

  16. darinanykl@gmail.com'

    Darina

    February 3, 2016

    Good tips! I love to capture my food in different ways.

  17. coatandcoffee@gmail.com'

    Emily

    February 3, 2016

    Great tips! I love taking photos of my food. Always trying to get the best shot, so these are handy! Thank you.

  18. abulousfashion6@gmail.com'

    Abbie E.

    February 3, 2016

    Love the tips!
    Abbie E.

  19. charactersandcarryons@gmail.com'

    Joyce

    February 3, 2016

    I love @eggcanvas, and you’re spot on about the natural lighting! I also think that it’s good to study how to lay out a table and to get the right angles and crops!

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