Food Photography For Beginners – FREE Crash Course!
Let’s unpack it together in this photography tutorial.
Food Photography For Beginners
Learn how to style, light & photograph incredible food photos
Food photography is it’s own art form. While it shares a lot in common with typical product photography in terms of working with smaller objects and styling a scene, there is an extra layer of complexity when it comes to taking great food photos. Taking mouth watering food photos that pop off the screen is tricky when food doesn’t stay the same for long once it is cooked.
If you’re a beginner food photographer (or have some experience but just need a refresher!) this 30 minute food photography tutorial by East Meets West Kitchen is like a free masterclass course for food photography lighting, food photography styling and food photography editing.
Get ready to get hungry 😉
Taking better photos of food comes down to many of the same basic principals of all photography
1 – Improve your lighting.
The better the lighting for your food photos, the more appetizing, vibrant and incredible that food is going to look
2 – Select a great backdrop.
You’re not simply taking a photo of a burger or plate of spaghetti – You’re telling a STORY. Make sure the elements in that story match the scene you’re trying to set.
3 – Editing to get those final details exactly right.
Inside of Lightroom you can edit food photos to add depth, contrast & clean up the little details
What do you think is the #1 tip you got from this 30 minute food photography crash course?
Leave it in the comments below!
[powerkit_collapsible title=”VIDEO TRANSCRIPT”]
Hi guys so as you can see today we are not in the kitchen but we will still be talking about food and a lot of you guys have asked me questions about how I shoot especially after seeing photos from the cookbook. Today I wanted to show you three things that I think can make the difference between someone who is just a food photographer enthusiast to something that is professional-grade that will really wow. People that don’t know where I got my start and and still a majority of what I do today is I actually style videos for companies that do you know those top-down recipe type videos and so my background really started off in video and understanding kind of how that works and how to style for that so later on eventually when I got more of an opportunity to take on clients specifically for food photography for photos. So I kind of had to reteach and and teach myself a lot of things and find ways to kind of maximize the impact of the photo but with minimal effort kind of like tips and tricks and hacks that way so today I’m gonna be talking about kind of three big things in food photography that I think you need first one being lighting um if you don’t have good lighting you guys all know this you’ve taken a photo in your kitchen before with the tungsten lights if you don’t have good lighting doesn’t matter how amazing your recipe is it doesn’t matter how you style you know like the the bowls that you’ve used it doesn’t matter if it’s bad lighting it’s not going to look professional it’s not gonna look good the second thing that we’re gonna talk about are backdrops so a lot of you guys have asked me about what are some like quality and good like affordable backdrops and I think backdrops are essential for any food photographer especially when you start doing more of it and the nice thing is once you have a really nice backdrop you can start using it again and again and again and it’ll really elevate how your food looks the third thing we’re going to talk about is editing and just some editing software’s out there editing is the secret sauce here is the one that you know people don’t talk about enough when they’re like wow that’s an amazing photo and half the time that photo is just like it’s just normal but after editing it takes it from you know that kind of like that like oh yeah like that’s a really good photo to like whoa that photo needs to be in a magazine do you want to continue with this series if you guys are interested so if you want me to go in to a little bit more about lighting if you want me to talk about color color theory how I kind of match and mix and match that composition is another kind of really big one once you get into food photography okay so yeah so let’s get started I don’t know how many people have sent me photos like gorgeous photos of recipes that they’ve made from the channel and they’re they’re super pretty they’re super delicious but because of the lighting that they’re using it is the photo is not as gorgeous as as it could have been right so I’m going to talk about three essentially three different lighting types that you can have for food photography number one natural light it is gonna be your best light it is I think natural light depicts food the best it is going to give you that true color that gorgeous color of food that is the one that I will be advocating we will talk a little bit more about that later so number two we’re gonna talk about continuous lights and I have my godox SL 60 W here I’ll put all of the links of everything that I’m using in the description box down below but the reason that I tend to use continuous lights for food photography and whatnot is because I mainly shoot YouTube videos and so for YouTube videos or for video in general you need continuous light the light that always comes out all the time it’s not flash right it’s just continuous lighting and so for any of you all looking to like let’s say you want to dabble in food photography but you also want to you know do a little video continuous less they’re gonna save you the most money because if you’re gonna if you’re going to be doing both video and photography I think you know at least for a beginner starter budget like you want to hit up continuously there has been a ton of reviews out on this guy people compare it to the aperture you know the big studio aperture lights the aperture lights cost like five hundred five six hundred dollars this guy costs one hundred and twenty-five dollars you get so much bang for your buck for this one now I know with the aperture ones they are better made there are a really great quality so you know if you’re bringing it around the place and it’s likely to you rough terrain then yeah surely think about investing in the aperture lights but if you’re just starting off you are working you know within a combine setting in a home studio in a studio there is nothing wrong with this one and it it’s really quiet as well I’ll show you that so usually when I have this guy on I will have also this because when when this turns on it is pretty strong but it is like kind of like one beam of light so you want to have an umbrella or some kind of diffuser there to kind of diffuse all of the lights so that there’s not harsh shadows right depends on what you’re doing but in general you’re going to want some kind of diffuser for the light so it can be something you know very simple like this I have actually the big one over there and then you can clamp it onto something so you could potentially just use this light and then get you know a cheap diffuser like this the third way of lighting and I think a lot of food photographers tend to tend to choose this one is flash so the main good part when it comes to continuous lights and food photography is you see what you get right because the light is shining continuously you will be able to see from your food okay like what kinds of shadow is it casting versus our third option I think it’s the preferred method for food photographers like people that just do food photography I think because flash is really powerful versus like if you have continuous light the ones that are super super powerful are very very expensive but if you have continuous lights sometimes they can be dimmer you might have to adjust your camera settings that way whereas flash is just like really strong probably the biggest reason that someone would use flash as opposed to continuous lights is to get rid of the ambient lighting so what I mean by that is because the flash is so powerful it does not matter if like let’s say that you’re in a restaurant and you know you get those kind of like gross like orangie lights if you use continuous lights some of that light may be able to get in and kind of corrupt your shot a bit it doesn’t change the color of your shot when you use flash because that burst of energy is so powerful that it just it takes up your camera so whatever light is from your flash is going to be the light that your camera receives in a way offers you know a bigger level of control for people like of course if you have the option you can be in a room close off all of the windows and tape everything and you have like a black dark room and then you can turn on this light or and then you can turn on the flash but that being said I’m gonna go back to why I’m gonna recommend natural light for you guys in terms of food photography anyways what a continuous light and what a flash really aims to do is it aims to mimic natural light right why because natural light really does depict kind of the true colour of how food looks it is the most flattering to food I mean of course sometimes you will want to put like a tendon to things you will want to put put a certain mood to things but for the most part like these other two guys are looking to mimic natural light so if you are anyplace if you are fortunate enough to be any place that has natural lighting and that doesn’t mean like you have a ton of light like it could be just a lot of photographers just like huddle to a window and like put everything there and stick it on like the window ledge like sometimes I know it seems like when you’re looking at food photography that like oh man like this is like grand spread that someone has it looks amazing but they have a ton of room and you’ll realize like what they’re working with is just this like you know 2 feet by 2 feet little square that if they’re huddling right by the window to get that amazing natural light so that’s probably like reason number one reason number two is that it’s it’s free especially when you’re starting off photography can get expensive real fast real real fast so anything that you can try out for free first and it’s the best light you want to be going there even though it’s it’s you know it’s just natural light you can still experiment a ton with your camera and with like different props and stuff so for me I would say that the two big props that you would need when you’re working with natural lighting and really it’s just probably one is a diffuser like this right here so I have a really big one for like I guess a bigger window but if you’re just doing something small on the side you just need this and maybe some clamps to hold it up if you do have light but that light happens to be you know really harsh which most places are except London because we have that natural gloominess of cloud all the time but your food will just look better if it’s not like a very you know direct very harsh light um the second thing is just something it’s very DIY that I made myself but a reflector board and I took a piece of foam board and I just cut them and then I if I had packing tape I would have that but I just duct-taped two of these and the reason that you tape it is so that it just it is able to stand up all by itself and so you have the light coming from this way and of course if it comes from this way you have some shadow on this side you take this guy you do that and suddenly you lose the shadows you’re able to take some of that good sunlight and then bounce it off of something white it’s sort of the third reason that I would recommend that beginners just stick with natural light is when you start playing around with continuous lights and flash you have to start understanding your camera a lot more so you know understanding how to do things on the manual setting how to adjust your aperture your ISO your shutter speed and some of you guys may already kind of know that and want to play around with that but especially for someone that is just starting off or you want to see you know where this takes you that would be like my third reason is you do have to really play around a lot more with settings when you are dealing with different kinds of artificial lights [Music] already so let’s talk about number two on the list and that is backdrops you guys have asked me actually a lot of questions on how to find quality backdrops how to find affordable backdrops backdrops are something that I think is worth investing in especially if you want to do if you want to be doing a lot of food photography because the the setting it really sets the ambiance once you have the right backdrop I mean you guys have seen my wooden backdrop before once you have a really good one that goes with like 90 percent of your food you’re gonna be using that backdrop time and time again to create you know the look that you want to create feel like really the feel that you want so the first ones that I’m going to talk about our DIY are things that you can make yourself that costs you know 10 20 bucks if you are lucky enough to live on a farm somewhere in the middle of England or in the middle of America you get this gorgeous you know like farm table like good on you guys but if you are in London like me and you want a farm table those things run upwards of like 800 a thousand dollars and well that is not something that you know that I can do so what I recommend are if you go to the hardware store as I did many moons ago and I had to take a bus and it was really heavy but plywood plywood is inexpensive it is light I think this like this was one whole board and I think it might have cost like fifteen fifteen to twenty dollars and I had them just cut it in half so that I had two pieces like this and why I like two pieces is because I usually use one for the kind of like the foundational bottom and then I will put one like kind of like this so that you have a background if you want to change from like wait background to dark background you can easily do that in a snap you can kind of like pile these up on the side of a wall it does not take too much room it is not a table and you just you know you just put it on I don’t know if any of you are on Instagram as much as I have but if you want that kind of like ethereal background backdrop it’s usually white white foreground white background one of the biggest tips that I recommend if you want to start building your profile fast and have it seem like it’s professional and everything is coordinated is to start with deserts like so many Instagram accounts start like that and I think it’s because deserts naturally kind of group themselves into a particular color group right like you always have kind of like the light oranges from the cake and from the muffins everything’s kind of like neutral tone you have like some chocolate you have some milk everything goes together really well already so it makes it look like your photography is very like Co he’s cohesive and that you have a style I mean if you look at a lot of instagramers which which I do what they basically do is they have something very simple like this where they have like a white foreground they have a white background and then they just start you know taking photos from that other options on that stupid C stands for like five times now other options I really love an industrial look and this is kind of tip number two of DIY is I bought a sheet of steel steel a steel sheet and in general I like to keep my backdrops most of them 2 feet by 3 feet I think that that is the perfect size for this one I almost think I should have gotten aluminum and that is what I want to tell you guys a stainless steel it’s really hard to like rough up and to create this pattern but if you get aluminum I think people say it ages immediately and what I ended up doing was some people will recommend bleach different kinds of acids but this one what I did was I think I did toilet bowl clean light I sanded it first just to get rid of that kind of like protective coating on top of the metal then I then I put toilet bowl cleaner on it to kind of really mess it up and be very astringent and then what I did was I think I I sprayed on vinegar just like normal white vinegar and then I sprinkled it with salt and for stainless steel it was it was very hard to make a reaction happen and this really somehow happened a little bit over time and there’s still spots where it hasn’t but I think if you were to use kind of like a weaker metal sheet like like tin or aluminum I think you can get that effect really quickly so backdrops I’m doing this video in collaboration with a place called black velvet styling you guys asked me about affordable backdrops and quality backdrops and honestly I have I have bought from a lot of places like places that do you know those vinyl rollout backdrops I have bought it from cheaper online sites when I received these III actually had asked her to see if she could send a couple to me and when I received these I was floored at how good the quality was so she does a varied amount of of backdrops and I will show you guys actually her website put it down below as well but what she has is it comes in a really nice protected box like this so none of your backdrops are going to get bent or anything a big box like this I usually keep this here for DIY projects so now that box is mine and I think it a bird is somewhere around let’s say 20 pounds for each backdrop when you’re judging backdrops sometimes the the pixel the quality of the backdrops are not good so when when you blow up a photo to kind of this this aspect like 2 feet by 3 feet upon closer inspection some of the details can be blurry and sometimes you won’t know that until you buy it because a lot of the companies like you know they build they’ll make backdrops but you you can’t really see it up close they are just really really good so this is not vinyl so the person behind black velvet styling did not want to be making her backdrops out of plastic if you’re looking for kind of an affordable option get the 18 pounds backdrop go to your hardware store get some plywood like this you know spend ten bucks on a plywood and you’re gonna have to find some glue that works for paper but just stick this on to this and now you can actually have a backdrop where you can you know take it back and forth with you very resilient you can put it on top you can you know flip it over it you can store it just like the actual plywood like black velvet styling offers as well and this is an option that I definitely recommend after kind of playing around with these things is they have a service where utley have a piece of plywood I’d say like maybe like a half an inch so it’s a good size it has some good weight to it and you can pick one or two backdrops of your choice and they will professionally you know use the special glue believe that they have like a special coating on top of it now to to make it kind of extra waterproof and water-resistant so sometimes why I wouldn’t necessarily want to glue it onto a board first and I would want to keep it in kind of this flexible form is you can create something called an infinity loop in photography so these are some clamps that I actually I just got online I will put the links down below but they are super super useful because what you do is you can clamp it on to table of your choice clamp it on to the edge of the table so the clamps are actually super super useful because if you wanted to you can clamp one end to like a tripod or season and it can hold up other equipment like your diffusers as well now this sheet becomes its own foreground and its backdrop so that you don’t need you know two boards or two sheets to make that okay so number three we’re gonna talk about editing so I have my computer right here I thought I would do a photograph with you guys but I think you know lighting absolutely necessary you need proper lighting to get the photo that you want but once you have that once you’re like okay like I put all of the right elements into place why doesn’t my photo look like it does it on Instagram or in the magazines and that has everything to do with editing I would say like as integral like lighting is integral is is the first thing that you need but editing is is what is going to transform your image from something that looks like you know obviously look really nice by now but is what transforms it from just you know normalcy to magazine and just to know that like everything on Instagram or everything that you see in a magazine has layers and layers and layers and layers of editing a ton has been done to it like nothing looks pretty or gorgeous by itself like that that’s that’s things that people are lying to you in right like all of the food styling all these photos like they’ve been touched a million times and that is why they look as good as they do but there’s three kind of photo editing programs that I wanted to mention to you guys when it’s gonna be Photoshop then Lightroom then something called affinity I’m recommending affinity because it is a software that you can buy with a one-time fee nowadays like Adobe in order to get Photoshop in order to get Lightroom everything is subscription-based so that means you don’t own the software you have to pay Adobe every month to be able to use this software which you know I know they spend a lot of money developing this but I think that that’s really ridiculous and and and it gets quite costly you if you work for you know a company that uses you know and design and B Adobe products you can have your company pay for that but for kind of your average independent creator I think sometimes like that’sthat’s crazy and that doesn’t make sense right it is similar to photoshop but it is something where you have to relearn some of the things I’m gonna put the link down below and how much it costs but it’s a one-time fee you own the software afterwards that means that you can use it as much as you want you can use it in other computers and you don’t have to pay anybody anything so between kind of adieu to big heavy hitters Photoshop or Lightroom you guys we’re gonna ask I’m gonna say this you can do virtually anything on Photoshop Photoshop is absolutely amazing you can you can even like edit video on Photoshop you can make things disappear reappear scratch this out scratch that out Photoshop is amazing it can do everything that Lightroom can do now now why would you get Lightroom man so I think Lightroom is like I was a sake Photoshop for babies because I started off with Photoshop and then I and I went into Lightroom and I very much enjoy Lightroom like a lot I actually use it more than a Photoshop now but Lightroom is a lot easier to use like if you’re somebody that is has played around with Photoshop before you know how many little mechanisms and things that you can do on Photoshop you go on over to Lightroom and you’re like oh like oh oh that’s it like oh that’s like really easy and I want to say beginners anyways I think food photographers actually prefer a Lightroom but for specifically for beginners or somebody just just entering this I think that Lightroom is a lot easier to use it’s a lot more like intuitive it’s easy there’s like sliders to make things brighter lighter stuff like that now with Photoshop so if you’re somebody that likes to like a really tinker with things like make things disappear reappear you’re really doing you know kind of big shots where you’re putting in the turkey or taking out the turkey you want to work with layers and layers and layers and you choose Photoshop if you are somebody that I know a lot of people are really into the poor photography nowadays we’re like the you know you have the syrup or the chocolate that’s pouring sometimes you want to start off by taking a photo of let’s say the pancake with no syrup on it and then you slowly pour and you take a couple photos and then now you have the pancake with a syrup on it and if you layer those you get to have a cleaner shot because then you can just like selectively say okay like this is where I want like the drizzle to be like right here and then everything else can stay the same but in general for most food photographers if you’re just working with kind of like one shot you’ve already made it look as good as possible you’re not really going to take away anything too much like most of everything is there but you just want to improve on what is there Lightroom is going to be easier for you to get the results that you want compared to Photoshop just everything is a lot more intuitive so I’m gonna show you guys okay so this is the big photo that I’m sure you guys have seen before it kind of starts off like I took a pretty good picture i styled it pretty well you know have the jam to the side and the crackers and and all of my figs but if you guys can see it was middle of winter it was December the figs were certainly out of season and perhaps that’s how figs look but I really wanted to really amp up that photo so something that I wanted to show you guys from Lightroom is just really this side panel so you can kind of collapse it if you want but the basics the tone curve the HSL curve there’s not too much on the side panel really like when you compare it to photoshop it’s it’s it’s so much less and all you really do is you go down and you see how each of these work like of course there are tutorials on how to make you know like different buttons to make this whole process quicker you know how to slide it quicker how to how to like pick your colors there are little tips and tricks to that but essentially to Lightroom all you want to do all you want to do really is to learn everything on this sidebar and play around with it like move the slider around see how it changes your photo because eventually that is just how you learn how to use Lightroom there’s not much to it I mean there’s a ton of tutorials online in terms of how you do it but that’s all most people like learn Photoshop but photoshop is a lot more intense. anyways I hope you guys have enjoyed this video and that um it did offer some help to your food photography game if you want to see more rest if you want to see more videos like this and you want to learn more about food photography with me definitely give this video a thumbs up write it in the comments below because I do know that it is something new but it is something that’s very interesting to me most of what I do for you guys on YouTube 30% cooking but the other 70% is really filming is really taking photographs of the food for thumbnails etc etc so yes I hope you guys like this and I will see you guys again next time
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