It looks so easy, but photographing food is quite a challenge. Here are some of the things professional photographers claim are important when it comes to capturing food with a camera.

1. Use natural light

As you may have realized, a harsh flash or direct sunlight is not exactly food photography’s friend. When it comes to modern-day Insta-friendly compositions, it’s better to try and find natural sunlight – preferably from the side so that the object gains a sense of dynamic, 3-dimensional lustre. Also keep in mind that most professionals use a reflector screen to enhance natural light upon the object. A pretty wise investment that begins around £10.

food photography

2. Experiment with composition and distance

One reason your photos usually don’t fly is probably because of a conventional position when it comes to angle and distance. Try shooting from above to create an artistic touch, or get down and move really close to expose some detail and structure. And who says the food must be in the middle of the photo? Perhaps a full spoon or a cracked egg would be more appealing.

3. Add colour

It’s rather easy to spice up a setting fundamentally with easy measures. There’s a reason restaurants add a slice of red onion, a leaf of basil or the good old lemon wedge. You can obviously think of other additions from your kitchen that can bring color to the food. If nothing works, add colour from other sources instead.

4. Background check

Browse through food magazines and cook books. You will soon see that the background plays an instrumental role in the colour and composition of a beautiful image. Experiment with colour, structure and fabrics – a cheap, colourful napkin, your aunt’s old scarf or a discarded wooden board can lift an otherwise bland and grey photo.

5. Don’t aim for perfection

Exciting images are rarely perfect. If you’re in the business of portraying and selling authentic food, you shouldn’t be afraid of mess. Instead, embrace the dripping sauce, crushed peppercorn or burnt edges. You may even want to include used utensils or take a bite of the burger to add life to the image.

Good luck!

Do today: take your best dish, drink or coffee and try shooting it from different heights and angles, with shifting backgrounds and accessories.

Next week we’re picking the brain of a professional food stylist, and revealing her best secrets on how to style food. Stay tuned!