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8 tips for taking great food photos

July 31, 2013, 10:41 a.m.
food photography, natural light

Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

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Use natural light, and lots of it

The one thing you can do to make your food photos look better is to use natural light. Don't use the overhead lighting, which casts a yellow greasy-spoon look to a plated dish, and definitely don't use an on-camera flash. Set your dish near a window and turn off any artificial lights that might be on nearby. The indirect light from a window will illuminate your food just right. Try to photograph with the light at your back or to the side of a dish, so that the shadows are to the side or behind it.

If you have a window that lets in loads of direct sunlight, you can cover it with a white sheet to soften the light. You can also use a white sheet or white poster board facing the window to bounce light back on the shadowed side of the food, filling in those shadows with a little bit of extra light.

Sure, you can take the time to build a light box and set up flashes and everything. But you can have beautiful lighting for your meals by simply using sunlight, and if needed, a few household props.