The 5 Pillars of Food Photography

Jan 4 • 2022

Want to become a wiz at food photography, but don’t know where to start? Ugh, I get it.

There’s almost too much information out there — from how to use the right camera settings to how to style your photo *just so,* to how to work with brands — that things can get a bit overwhelming.

So today I’m here today to share about the 5 main pillars of food photography in order to simplify the must-know things and help you know exactly what areas to work on.

Let’s get into it!

1. Composition

In order to master food photography, you have to be able to arrange food in a visually pleasing way. That’s where composition, or the art of arranging elements in a scene, comes in!

This is the first foundational principle we teach in Foodtography School, as it provides a literal structure for your photos. Basically, when you utilize composition you don’t have to guess what elements go where — the principles of composition give you a roadmap for what you can do to make your scene look pleasing to the eye. A few of our favorites? The Rule of Thirds, Negative Space, Balance, Implied Movement, and Perspective!

2. Light

At its core a camera is a box that lets in light, so understanding how to capture the light in front of you is critical in food photography.

Did you know that light can be direct, indirect, harsh, soft, or even tinted? All of these properties of light impact the way your food looks on camera. Learning to adapt to the type of light in front of you will not only make your photo look better, but it will save you hours of head-scratching in the process!

3. Editing

I’m always amazed at how much editing can change the way a photo looks! Like, just look at this photo below edited in two different styles:

So why is editing so powerful? Because it changes our emotional connection to a photo.

Mastering editing will help to strengthen the connection between viewer and photo, as well as make your photos more professional, memorable, and drool-worthy!

4. Branding

If you’re finding that your photos lack consistency in color, lighting, and mood, then you probably need branding in your life.

Branding, or the process of creating a unified look and feel, helps to make your work look cohesive. It also attracts specific customers/followers, makes you more memorable, and helps potential clients get a feel for the type of work you can create. Basically, branding plays a huge role in your business strategy!

5. Marketing

As a food photographer, it’s imperative that you understand how to market yourself to potential clients.

But understanding how to communicate isn’t as simple as saying “hey, work with me!” You have to learn how to communicate why you are someone worth working with, what value you bring to the table, and how you will benefit that company. Learning key concepts like content marketing and the partnership mindset is exactly what’s going to turn your hobby into a thriving business.

There you have it — the 5 pillars of food photography! We believe in these principles so much that we dedicated an entire course to them: our OG Foodtography School! And we know, from the many people who have taken it (5.9K+ and counting!), that if you spend a little time working to improve each of these areas, you’ll see incredible results not just in the improvement of your photos, but also in the improvement of your whole business.

And soon, you’ll be a total wiz at food photography. 🙂