Food photography

How to convey the aroma of freshly brewed coffee with the help of photography? The sweetness of ice cream melting on your lips? The cozy atmosphere of the New Year holidays or inspiration from the upcoming trip to the sea?

Food photos are the basis of the content of social networks of HoReCa market players. Cafes, pastry shops, burger shops, bakeries, food delivery services, food manufacturers, even sauces and spices, cannot do without pictures.

The main task of a food photo is to awaken the appetite and desire to try the dish. But for this it is not enough for him to look delicious. People need emotions – they will buy something that “catches”, surprises and delights. According to a Nielsen study, ads that evoke strong emotions increase sales by 23%.

But how do you take cool food photos? Now I’ll tell you.

“Kitchen”: how to organize the shooting process

TK for filming
Preparation for shooting begins with studying the brand and brand book, because food photography is part of the company’s identity. Therefore, pictures should be taken in the style of the brand: they should convey its philosophy, mood and atmosphere of the establishment.

To understand that the customer and you see the concept of future photos in the same way, references will help — photos of dishes and interiors of third-party establishments that are similar to what the client wants to see in the end. Sample images will be the starting point in the preparation of the TOR. And moodboards will help to capture the mood and determine the style of the photo shoot before shooting.

Deadlines and timing

Food photography can take anywhere from a few hours to a week. Terms depend on the specifics of the dishes and their quantity. For example, sweets do not spoil for a long time, they can be taken with you in the package and shot in the studio. But shredded tomato turns into “porridge” in a few minutes.

The more time passes from the moment of preparation, the less appetizing the dish becomes: vegetables and fruits wither, the greens wither, and the soup cools down. Shooting such dishes should be scheduled literally every minute. To do this, you need to agree in advance with the chef which dishes, in what order and by what time will be ready. After all, there can be hundreds of items on the menu.

In order to avoid surprises during the shooting, it is worth discussing in detail with the chef the presentation of dishes and ingredients: how the tomato is chopped, what the noodles look like.

project team

Not only the photographer works on food photography, as customers sometimes mistakenly believe.

The producer is in charge of coordinating the processes. He is responsible for the studio, props, choice of photographer, timing and overall successful shooting.

The marketer is thinking about how photos can be “attached” to promotional mechanics, how to illustrate brand offers with them.

The content manager decides how to integrate photo content into the feed: link the pictures to each other in terms of meaning so that they look logical in the news feed, create appropriate text content.

The food stylist thinks over the plot of the frame, looks for the winning sides of products and dishes, in a word, develops visual positioning.

Props and location

You can shoot both in a restaurant, at a production site, and in a studio. Many food photographers even set up their own studios in their homes.

A necessary element of food photography is props, from plates and spoons to exotic accessories designed to create the right atmosphere.

What props to use in the frame depends on the mood of the photo shoot, the style of future shots and the overall message of the brand. A food shoot for a gourmet establishment will require beautiful wine glasses, content for an American diner will make you look for a classic white coffee cup, and even a waffle towel and a metal enameled mug will look harmonious in shots for a Russian home cooking restaurant.

You can rent anything – from forged chairs to spoons, salt shakers and ashtrays. Something stylish can be found in the IKEA catalog, while an authentic souvenir and vintage kitchen utensils can be found at the flea market. The photographer himself may have suitable accessories, especially in his home studio.


In addition to the cost of the photographer’s services, the estimate reflects the services of the producer and other members of the project team, the cost of renting a studio and buying or renting props. If the shooting takes place in a restaurant, the cost of props is usually reduced – the institution has enough of its own dishes, cutlery, vases, candles and other things.

The photographer is paid either for frames or for hours. By the way, each frame needs to be checked “on the spot” and preferably immediately displayed on the computer screen. A new frame is a new composition and props, and most importantly, a new dish. And changes can only be made while you are on site.

Six Ingredients of the Perfect Still Life


Inexperienced photographers like to pile as much as possible into the frame: here is a cup of cappuccino, and a keyboard, and a cat, and a sakura branch as a cherry on the cake.

But competent composition allows the viewer to concentrate on exactly what you want to show him. In order not to distract attention and not create a “mess” of objects in the photo, line up the frame correctly.

The photograph must have an “entrance” – a point for which the gaze of the beholder first of all “clings”, then slides over objects and smoothly completes its path through the still life. As a rule, people look “in a spiral” or follow the path of geometric shapes with their eyes. Do not forget about the rules of the golden ratio.