I am extremely new to food photography and blogging. I am trying to get on foodgawker.com to drive more traffic to my site, but they rejected this photo due to the composition being too tight. If you go here you'll see that there is another picture that was also rejected due to composition. The more zoomed out photo is not very appealing to look at in my opinion. So how can I take a picture of that might show a plate of food with a fork on top of a napkin next to it and a glass of tea for example, but make it look sort of close up while getting everything in the shot? If that makes any sense... I obviously have a long way to go, and this is the hardest thing I've EVER done in my life. I have much more respect for good photography now!!

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Also, the camera I use is a Canon EOS Rebel T1i 15.1 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD and EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (whatever that means) :)

I'd appreciate ANY help or advice. I recently discovered how helpful a white board has been in reducing shadows.. so I'm feeling much better about that, and would like to focus on composition next.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've done a bit in many different types of photography and good food photography ranks up there as one of the hardest to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Mar 31, 2012 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Rachael! Have you seen the questions and answers under food-photography? There's some really good information in several of the answers there. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 31, 2012 at 19:53
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not a food photography specialist but I wanted to share 2 links of photographers that I really like. First one is more oriented toward a great technicality. The second one is an amazing photographer. Carl Kleiner works on table compositions. Lights are so smooth there. All is sleek. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9923
    May 25, 2012 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


Both the shots linked to show the classic mistake of the food photography beginner: taking the shot from directly above the food. It's tempting to do this because it eliminates background issues, but it also means you lose any benefit of depth of field (where things out of the plane of focus blur).

High-angle shots can work in certain situations, for example when you have regular patterns (think cookies lined up on a baking sheet), but generally you will get a better shot of plated food from a lower angle: nearly level with the plate itself. In your examples I would have done precisely the opposite to you, and taken the shot of the peppers lined up from directly above, and the plated curry (looks good btw) from a lower angle.

Take a look at smittenkitchen.com - the front page shows good examples of both low and high angle shots, but note that the vast majority are low-angle.

One thing you have to take into account when taking lower angle shots is the background, which will obviously be more visible. Careful 'set dressing' is important, and shooting with your aperture wide open (f5.6 or thereabouts on your lens) will help to blur the background out and give your shots a more 'professional' touch.

On a slight tangent, you might also consider investing in a 'Nifty Fifty' lens - a 50mm lens with a maximum aperture of f1.8 that not only gives great, shallow depth of field, but also gives you much better quality shots than your kit lens. They are relatively cheap and excellent value.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you get a 50mm, the Canon 50 f1.4 would be better because of the aperture blades on the f1.8 version make for unnatural bokeh. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2012 at 7:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 1.4 is more than 3 times the price, however. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2012 at 9:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ True. Price is not much of a deterrent for me, especially if I can avoid my background being filled with pentagons: photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50 \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2012 at 9:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you are in a lucky minority in that case. I'd love to not have polygonal bokeh, but I need to eat and heat my house :) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2012 at 10:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a sad tug of war, when I was younger I had much more time and hardly any money and now it's the opposite. In the end, as long as the OP knows what they're getting and they're OK with it, then I've done my bit to help. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2012 at 10:32

The thing about food photography is that it's about food. Just like fashion photography puts emphasis on cloths, you need to put the emphasis and focus on the food. And make it look awesome.

If you start thinking about preparing that plate of food to look its best then everything else will fall into place. Of course with little experimentation and patience.

I'm also trying to make you think creatively here. Just because it's food doesn't mean you have to shoot it on the table. How about if you have person hold the plate? Plate in focus person out of focus (using wide aperture)? Don't photograph food from above unless you have some funky light that adds some 3d feel to it? Some definition to the edges. Try it at 45 degree angle. See this example for inspiration and some more here. (NOTE: Please note that first example is busy, not something you want in food photography, but it should give you an idea; composition wise).

Also keep in mind when photographing fruits and veggies, spray them with water then take a picture. Think about the person viewing the photo. To them water on the fruit might reinforce that: fruit is clean and fresh.

And you have it easy. Stationary object and a lot of room to experiment.

I kind of just rambled from point to point. But I hope above gets you going and experimenting. See this blog for some inspiration http://www.studiobaisa.com/ (go to galleries >> Culinaria).


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