what equipment should i have for food photography?
Updated: Feb 23, 2020
When photographing food and drink, it is best to have a couple of staple items in your photography tool kit in order to get the best from your photography.
Here I have outlined the equipment that I use within photo shoots when shooting with natural light. Not all of the following equipment is compulsory but I do believe that every item on this list will help you to improve your food photography.
1. High Quality Camera
If you have the ability to get your hands on a DSLR camera I can not rave enough about how important this is when it comes to being creatively in control of your photography. Having an DSLR camera allows you to experiment with different lenses and different settings, allowing you to completely design how you want your photography to look by using different camera settings and functions. A high quality image not only looks great but is necessary if your image is designed for print and not just online. I personally use a Canon 5d Mk iv. 2. A High Quality Lens
A great lens is very important, no matter how amazing your camera is. If you are going to have one lens I’d personally recommend a high quality zoom lens that allows you to experiment with different focal lengths. I recommend a 24-70mm lens as it covers a wide range of options. I would also recommend a 50mm fixed lens as its a great lens which is not too pricey and I personally love it for food photography. Another lens which is great as it allows you to get in close and capture all the detail with the highest quality is a 80mm fixed lens. A high quality lens will make all the difference to make sure your images are pinsharp and to allow you to get close enough to the food or far away enough to showcase the food to the best ability. I will be going into the different types of lenses in a blog post coming up soon so stay tuned if you would like more information on this topic!
Although not 100% necessary in order to take a great photograph, having a tripod allows you so much more control within your food photo shoot. Placing your camera on a tripod allows you the ability to create consistency within your photographs, enabling you to play around with the composition to your hearts content. This gives you the chance to get the composition spot on. A tripod also gives you more creative control by allowing you to use slow shutter speeds, letting more light into the image and capturing controlled movement. The tripod reduces camera shake and allows you to ensure every photograph is sharp and in focus.
4. Backgrounds To add a more tailored aspect to your food photography, try experimenting with different surfaces and backgrounds to see what works best with the food you are photographing. There are many different surfaces you can use and they do not need to be costly. Each one will give a different look and feel to the photograph. I have a couple of favourite backgrounds I use to shoot my food photography on: A dark wood table, a slab of white marble and a large grey tile. I also like to use coloured card to bring in colour to the shot. You can make backgrounds by painting wood, sticking vinyl to wooden boards or just utilise the different surfaces and walls you already have in your home. I will be releasing a blog post to help inspire you to make cost effective backgrounds soon so subscribe to stay notified of useful food photography hints and tips.
5.Props If you want your food photography to speak for itself and portray a certain mood, situation or story, you can use props to add context and interest within the image. Some key props I think every food photographer should have are: - A wooden chopping board - A selection of cutlery including a chopping knife (vintage works beautifully) - Linens and Tea towels (plain or natural colours) - Plain basic crockery that photographs well - plates, bowls and mugs
6. A Reflector A reflector is such an amazing piece of kit, it does not cost much but can make all the difference when it comes to photographing food and drink. By using a reflector you can bounce light into areas that need it and also block light from bouncing back into the shot by using the black side.This enables you to create contrast and drama or even out lighting. I recommend getting a reflector that has different sides including a black, a white, a silver and a gold.
7. A laptop and a tether cable Although slightly pricey, this will improve your photography tenfold. Shooting tethered means connecting your camera to a computer using a tethering software like Capture One so that you will see the image on the screen before you take the shot. It means that you can compose your image 100% to exactly how you want it to look before you even need to press the shutter button. This not only reduces unnecessary photos and therefore disk space, but also creates a neater workflow after the photoshoot as you can select your favourite shots as you go and apply a basic edit, then you only have the final edit to do after the shoot and you are good to go.
8. A wireless remote Again not 100% necessary but I find it does help with the photographic process. The remote reduces camera shake as pressing the shutter button can sometimes cause the camera to move if you are using a slow shutter speed. It also means you can work away from the camera directly composing the shots. If you are shooting tethered however, you can control the camera from the computer so it might be less necessary. But the remote also means you can get your hands involved in the shot without needed to be able to reach the laptop or camera to take the photo. This allows more creative control as you can hold reflectors, drizzle sauces, hold the food and much more! 9. Basic Food Styling Kit A couple of basic but incredibly useful styling tools will make the world of difference to your photographic shoot experience. - A sharp knife: For cutting into the food, showing the interior to the viewer. - A damp cloth: For cleaning hands and plates. This is something I always make sure I have on hand when photographing food as out of place drips, smears and having sticky fingers will ruin any photoshoot and probably your equipment! - A pipette: This allows you to move liquids and sauces around the food shoot with accuracy and precision. - A brush: Compose crumbs and sweep away dust and out of place bits of food.
10. Editing Software
A good editing workflow can save time and allow you to edit the photographs professionally. I use Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop or Capture One and Photoshop if I'm shooting tethered. However many people love to use Adobe Lightroom to catalog and edit photos, with just finishing touches in Photoshop. It's up to you but quality software will allow you so much more creative control over your images.
I hope these tips help you to improve your own photography, remember to subscribe to keep up to date with new blog posts for hints and tips for Food, Drink and Interior Photography.