Part of the fun of being a foodie is recording your adventures in both word and still life. I’ve seen many a food blogger whip our their camera (ps – do ALL food bloggers have the Canon Rebel or what?) and angle for the best possible shot of the meal they’re about to enjoy. But I know a lot of us don’t know many tricks and tools beyond the macros setting.

Jennifer Winter is joining us as a guest blogger today to give everyone some tips on taking beautiful food photographs. 

Happy eating!

–  Elizabeth and Mike

The fun of foodie photography

photo by Jennifer Winter

I am the person you see in the newest DC hotspot, subtly revealing their camera in the hopes to capture (and do justice to) each of the plates presented from the kitchen.  I am a foodie photographer.  I appreciate picturesque landscapes, candid moments and stunning sunsets, but there is nothing like capturing the creativity, the colors, textures and overall presentation of an inventive Chef. 

 However, it can be intimidating to brandish a camera in a dimly lit room where people are striving to maintain their own private spaces and then ruin it with a bright flash.  I’ve been on the receiving end of judge mental looks of fellow patrons – its just not comfortable.  The good news is there are ways to get the shots you want, without bringing too much attention to yourself and you don’t necessarily need a professional SLR to do it. 

I have two cameras that I use for food photography and to be honest, I decide which one I am going to carry based on the size of my purse (I know, I know).  The first is a basic Canon SD800 IS point and shoot and the other camera is a Canon Rebel XTi.  No matter which size camera you use, as long as you keep in mind a few technical pointers you can achieve great food images.  

 1) Make sure to set your white balance appropriately.  Most cameras have an auto function for on-the-go circumstances, but if you have time and have the functionality on your camera use the custom option.  This will ensure that you have the most accurate measurement of color temperature for the current light conditions and you will be happier with the overall results of the image. 

More tips after the jump!


 2)  ISO is your friend!  Manipulate the lighting conditions by turning off your flash and increasing the ISO. Some cameras only have “High” and “Auto” options in which case you should use the “High” setting.  For more professional grade cameras do not exceed ISO 800.  Most cameras offer an ISO range of 100 -1600 but keep in mind that the higher the ISO the more you will reduce the overall image quality.

photo by Jennifer Winter

 3)  If the opportunity arises, take the seat by the window. Any type of light helps and is better than your built-in flash (this includes candlelight), which tends to overexpose your subject especially when presented on a stark white plate.  Who knows, you may even be able to try to leverage the people on the street for a dynamic background.

 4) Think outside the box when it comes to angles and how you capture food and its multiple layers of texture.  Just because your food is served to you at a 90-degree angle doesn’t mean you have to take a photo reflecting exactly what you are seeing.  An adjustable LCD screen comes in handy for instances such as this, allowing you to see the image from multiple angles allowing you to compose the most interesting shot.

 5) Composition is the backbone of any great photograph and overall is what is going to draw a viewer’s attention to your image.  Don’t just photograph the plate as-is.  Use any lines on the table to create depth or include some silverware in the shot to add texture or perspective.

The blessing of today’s digital world is that compact flash cards are virtually endless and award us the freedom to make mistakes.  Gone are the days of 24-exposure film and now trial an error can be rewarded with the gratification of knowing you got the money shot.  I encourage you to take risks and let your creative juices flow.  It will make you a better photographer in the long run and your foodie photography that much more fun!

Jennifer Winter is a freelance photographer based in the DC metro area. Always having had a deep love and respect for the art of photography she enjoys shooting travel locations, portraiture, architecture and food. Jen has been published in Home & Design magazine and some of her work has been showcased on websites including Cupcakes Actually, Paradigm Building Group, as well as many blogs throughout the DC area. To contact Jen please email