Food Photography: Behind the Scenes with Food Bloggers

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Food Photography: Behind the Scenes with Food Bloggers takes a peek into how successful food bloggers take mouthwatering food photos in their homes.
Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Food Bloggers!

This year I started writing a bit about food photography because it’s a subject I tend to get a lot of questions about from newer food bloggers. If you take a look back at my older posts you’ll cringe at those horrendous photos. I certainly do. BUT I try to focus on the fact that my food photography has improved A LOT over the years. I’ve learned so much along the way and will do anything I can to help others learn and find inspiration because I know the struggle. The struggle is real.

Food photography does not come naturally to me, sadly, so I personally LOVE seeing how others go about taking gorgeous food photos. It inspires me greatly and because blogging is such an independent and isolated job, I thought it would be wonderful for us bloggers to get a peek into each other’s work spaces. So I’ve gathered a handful of food blogger friends and asked them to share a photo of their food photography setup. What you see below is how your favorite blogs create mouthwatering food photos! Thanks for sharing guys!

There’s definitely a theme to the food photography behind the scenes setup photos below. Most are very simple, unglamorous, and inexpensive. Some are in tiny spaces, and some contain just a couple of items. I think they demonstrate how much photography depends on the person behind the camera, everything else simply builds upon your knowledge, skills, and talent. And the available light.

Be sure to check out my other helpful food photography posts. I hope you find this particular post helpful. Let me know in the comments below what your biggest struggle with food photography is! I’d love to create more posts to help.

My Setup

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Handle the HeatThis is my setup, which has changed slightly since I wrote about it in detail back in January. Since then I’ve added another Ikea tabletop and we DIY’d some casters onto it so it can be rolled around. I got the tabletop because I found myself constantly walking back and forth from my photo setup to the kitchen to grab things and set things down. The additional space makes it so much easier to focus on the task at hand. I’ve also gotten a new laptop which can better run Lightroom, making tethering my camera to my computer actually doable. I’m still getting used to tethering, but so far I’m really enjoying seeing my photos more clearly on screen! I use this cheapie tether cable from Amazon.

Taylor from Food Faith Fitness

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Food Faith Fitness
Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Food Faith Fitness
Taylor, who managed to send along these photos despite having just moved across the country, always has beautiful food photos. They seriously look like they came out of a cookbook. The above photos showcase her go-to setups (usually backlighting or sometimes side lighting). Her favorite photography tip: “Aside from the VERY obvious, practice practice practice I would say to garnish, garnish, garnish! To make a food photo mouthwatering, it really is ALL in the little details, and garnishes are just that way to make the food pop!” Love it! Sometimes it just takes a few extra minutes of effort to take a photo from average to stunning.

Christina from Dessert for Two

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Dessert for Two
Sometimes Christina will share behind-the-scenes peeks into her food photography on Instagram so I was excited she was willing to share a full setup photo for this post (I mean, look at that window). Her photos are always so gorgeous in their unadulterated simplicity. Christina says to ask yourself, “does the food on the screen look the way it does in real life? I think it’s so easy to crank up the ISO and exposure and get a ‘bright white’ shot. But, truly, the best photos are when the food looks the way it does in real life.” She also says to make sure you’re happy with the way your photos look on your camera display because, “Lightroom isn’t a miracle worker, it’s your helper.” So true!!

Rachel from Baked by Rachel

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Baked by Rachel
Rachel, who shoots on the floor, sent along this setup image which showcases every little detail of her setup. For this particular shoot she used the natural light from the window as backlight and bounced it with a poster board propped up a few feet away to the bottom right for just the perfect amount of light bounce. Rachel says the time she spends photographing a recipe can vary, “sometimes I know exactly what I want to do and it works right away, while others take a lot of tweaking. On average I probably spend 15-20 minutes on most shoots with some taking much longer.” See the Apple Pear Crisp recipe being photographed in this setup shot.

Wendy from Around my Family Table

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Around my Family Table
Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Around my Family Table
Wendy has two photo setups, one in her son’s room and one in her garage. I’m sure her family doesn’t mind with all the delicious food she makes 😉 Her favorite props are, “white plates and bowls, vinyl backdrops, fabric quarters, and paper straws.” To get the perfect photo she goes slow and usually takes, “50 or so shots to get the one or two that I love.” I love how she makes use of her spaces!

Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Behind the Scenes with Sally's Baking Addiction
Since I am continuously inspired by Sally’s blogging skills and successes, I was so excited to sneak a peek at her food photography setup. I was shocked to see just how simple it is! Sally describes her setup as including, “Canon EOS 5D Mark iii, tripod if I am stuck with low light (I was on this day), wooden board – I have 6 colors I choose from, an extra lens if I care to switch, and my dog Jude watching every move.” How cute is Jude?! Sally’s setup is more evidence that you can produce excellent photos with just a few things.

Julie from Table for Two

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Table for Two
Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Table for Two
I can always tell a photo is one of Julie’s the second I see it, she has such a beautiful aesthetic! She has two photography setups, both directly next to big bright windows. Her favorite photography product is her wooden boards, “they’re reversible so what you see in the photos is one side and the other side is a completely different design” She orders them from Erickson Wood Works on Etsy – I think I need to place an order for myself!!

Joanne from Fifteen Spatulas

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Fifteen Spatulas
Joanne, who recently moved to a small apartment in Manhattan, makes her setup as small, moveable, and efficient as possible proving that you don’t need a lot of space to take stunning photos. In fact, her best food photography tip is to “buy a rolling cart, or some sort of shooting surface that has wheels. That way you can very easily change from backlight to sidelight, etc, while preserving the composition and setup of the food. It makes you much more likely to play with the light.” What a fantastic tip, especially if you’re experimenting with natural lighting. She’s also a video wiz, so be sure to check out her YouTube channel!

Deborah from Taste and Tell

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Taste and Tell
Deborah’s photo setup is basically identical to mine, she too has an empty formal living room in the front of her house that has the best light. She says about her photo setup up, “It’s a bit embarrassing when people stop by sometimes and my stuff is strewn over the room, but it works!! I love it, though, because I can basically shoot there all day from about 10:30 until the sun goes down.” I feel the same exact way!
Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Taste and Tell
Her favorite food photography product is her wood boards, “A local girl makes them from weathered wood, and I use them ALL the time. That, and all of my white dishes. I try to do colored dishes sometimes, but I always go back to white!” I’m the same – white simply looks good with everything. With 3 young children Deborah can only spend about 10 minutes shooting a recipe, dispelling the idea that you must dedicate a bunch of time to get a beautiful photo. Her best food photography tip: “Find the light!! Seriously – you can have the best staged photo, but if the light isn’t right, it won’t pop. I only do natural light because that is what works for me. And if the light is not working with me, my photos show it. Also, go in with a plan, but be willing to change. I’ll usually have an idea of what I want to do before I start, but most of the time, I end up just doing what works better in the spur of the moment.”
Food Photography Behind the Scenes
The finished photo for Ricotta Doughnuts (yum!) from this setup! Isn’t it magazine-worthy?!

Anetta from The Wanderlust Kitchen

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with the Wanderlust Kitchen
Anetta had me nearly in tears from laughter when she sent me her food photography setup because she revealed she uses a batman snuggie (left) to filter the light in her photography area. Beyond the snuggie, her setup is actually quite similar to mine! Left hand side window + tripod + tabletop + posterboard bounce + tethered to the computer. Anetta has only been blogging for a little over a year which I was shocked to discover. She puts my first year of food photos to shame.

Katerina from Diethood

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Diethood
If you’ve ever seen Katerina’s photos, you know how beautifully airy and dreamy they always are. I was so happily surprised by the simplicity of her setup! That huge window veiled by the sheer white curtain explains the dreamy lighting in her photos, and she proves you don’t need fancy equipment or a huge setup to capture stunning photos.

Carrian from Sweet Basil

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Oh Sweet Basil
Carrian’s photos are always so warm and inviting and I loved getting a glimpse at her food photography setup. She shoots on the ground (genius!) and loves to use a photo board made of old wood. Love it.

Chungah from Damn Delicious

Behind the Scenes with Damn Delicious
If you’ve been on Pinterest even once, you’ve absolutely gawked over Chungah’s outrageously mouthwatering photos. I love her photos because they’re always so crystal clear, bright, and simple yet gorgeous. Her favorite food photography product is her marble slab, “I shoot everything on it and works well as a backdrop for all foods and plating.” She also only uses a 100mm macro lens, which I believe contributes to the success of her photos on Pinterest as people seem to love pinning up-close beauty shots of food!

Ashley from Edible Perspective

Food Photography Behind the Scenes with Edible Perspective
Ashley is a blogger and cookbook author who’s an expert in food photography. She has a simple yet efficient and functional setup that makes me want to go out and buy a step stool to add to my setup! Ashley says, “If you want perfectly crisp photos and the ability to shoot in lower light settings a tripod will help you accomplish both!”  I personally love my tripod (I believe we both use this Slik Tripod) because I’m often shooting in low light settings. Ashley also has TONS of incredibly helpful photography posts.

More Food Photography Resources:

Tasty Food PhotographyTasty Food Photography from Pinch of Yum is really helpful guide book, especially if you’re relatively new to food photography. Lindsay’s photography goes viral on Pinterest, so this is an excellent behind-the-scenes resource into some of their success. Lindsay covers everything form basic technical know-ho, to lighting, composition, props, editing, and workflow. I love that she includes photos for every teaching element so you can see what she’s talking about.

Food Photography E-courseFood Photography E-Course from Minimalist Baker which is perfect for visual learners as it includes 22 video tutorials on every lesson you need for learning how to take stellar food photos. The course also includes 14 troubleshooting guides which are super helpful! They have great success on Pinterest as well, so learning how they approach their photography is a valuable insight.

Plate to PixelPlate to Pixel written by the talented blogger and food photographer Helen Dujardin covers EVERY aspect of food photography and styling. Her photos are seriously gorgeous, sometimes I just flip through the book for inspiration. She covers the basics, camera settings, natural and artificial lighting, composition, workflow, styling, and editing. I love that she includes the f/stop, ISO, and shutter speed alongside every single photo within the book. There’s even a resource appendix which lists other useful books, supply and prop sources, and places to get inspiration. She also tells you what equipment she uses personally for everything.

Did you find this interesting?

If so, you’ll probably love the new project I’m working on called Food Blog Academy. Feel free to signup just below to receive more blogging articles, tips, tricks, and tutorials straight to your inbox. If you want to go a step further and enroll to receive exclusive training on how to transform your blog into your dream job, be sure to check it out here. Happy blogging!



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  1. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — September 21, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Totally loved this post, it’s so fun to see how others set up! Thanks for doing this and for including me girlfriend! 🙂

  2. #
    Dala @ Thyme + Tamarind — September 21, 2014 at 10:16 am

    It’s so interesting to see how people set the scene before they snap the photo! I love this post and look forward to learning from these talented food bloggers! Thanks for sharing, Tessa 🙂

    -Baby Food Blogger

  3. #
    Julie @ Lovely Little Kitchen — September 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    So fun to see all these different set-ups! I’ve tried a few different places in my house, and finally settled on the front room for the light, which we use as a playroom for my three boys. It’s a little chaotic but it works :0) Great post Tessa.

  4. #
    Deborah — September 21, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    This was such a fun post to read!! I wish I could have seen something like this when I first started blogging. I always assumed that you had to have a professional setup to have good photos. It took me a long time to learn what I know now, but I do know that simple is best! Thanks for including me as well!

  5. #
    Francesca @ Love.Bake.Read — September 21, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Love this, thank you! I’m still struggling to figure out food photography. My biggest struggle is the proper angle (instead of an awkward angle). Also, how to get the best lighting and white balance. I use a Nikon point and shoot, and I’m finding it’s certainly not very crisp.

    Thanks again!

  6. #
    Katya @ Little Broken — September 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Love this! Love getting a little bit of inside scoop on some of the bloggers I follow and how they set up! I have the set up down, just still trying to figure out the best lighter during the day! Found that days that are a bit overcast produce best lighting. Hate afternoon light! Always screws up with my white balance.

  7. #
    Audrey @ Audrey's Apron — September 21, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    This was so helpful and interesting! I never thought about shooting on the floor but it’s a genius idea! I know I’ll be referencing this post again soon. Pinned!

  8. #
    Anetta @ The Wanderlust Kitchen — September 21, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m dying from the shame of my picture right now! HA! I totally did not think you’d use it, it’s so embarrassing 🙂

    To clarify, I was having a TERRIBLE light day (and also spent 3 hours failing at mole sauce) so I was beyond frustrated and pretty much over the whole food photography thing that day. I was desperate to get it done and had to block some of the light coming from my back door – the batman snuggie was the nearest thing to grab!

    I love seeing all these photos, and am completely flattered to be included in this post!

    **Bonus points if you notice that my boards are propped up with liquor bottles. Nothing but class in my house!

  9. #
    Vijay @ NoshOnIt — September 22, 2014 at 6:15 am

    This is actually really helpful! I’ve been struggling with finding the best place in my new apartment to shoot consistently since we have huge floor to ceiling windows along one wall. I’ve tried shooting by a smaller window for more concentrated light but it’s just not working that well. Maybe I need to move to one of the bigger windows like a lot of people here do!

  10. #
    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking and More — September 22, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Tessa,
    thanks for such a wonderful post! It’s great to see the different set-ups, what works for each person and know their behind the scenes secrets, so to speak.
    I’ve been resistant to a tripod, but after seeing how many are using it, am now seriously considering it.
    There’s SO much information in this that I can’t wait to implement!

  11. #
    Gerry @ Foodness Gracious — September 22, 2014 at 8:22 am

    This is so cool to see everyone else’s set ups!!

  12. #
    Ginny — September 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Hi Tessa- Such a great post.
    We loved working with Julie from Table For Two and Taylor from Food Faith Fit and feel so honored by their kind words. Love seeing our boards with all the mouth watering food on them!

    • #
      Tessa — September 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks Ginny! Your boards photograph beautifully!

  13. #
    Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog — September 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I absolutely LOVE seeing how different food bloggers have their set up done, love this post (like all your other awesome posts 🙂 )

  14. #
    Jessica — September 23, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I love that most of these setups aren’t too intricate! It’s great to see how others are setting up their photos and making them look so beautiful. Thanks so much for a really informative post!

  15. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — September 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Tessa, thank you so much for including me in this round-up. I was so afraid I would be the only one with such a simple set-up – feeling like I do it all wrong. But it’s wonderful to see all these talented food bloggers also using a simplistic approach and working with what they’ve got. I have to order a marble slab like Chung-Ah. It’s gorgeous! 🙂 Thank you again!

  16. #
    Jazmin @ Frugality Gal — September 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Loved this post! It’s super helpful to see other blogger’s setups.

  17. #
    Sarah @ Sarah's Bake Studio — September 24, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Thank you for this post. I love seeing how over bloggers set up. Hands down I struggle with the photography aspect of blogging. In all honesty it’s my least favorite part and yet probably the most important. I struggle with lighting. My condo has TERRIBLE natural lighting. I have either direction sunlight for about 1 hour, or pretty much none at all. :/

    • #
      Tessa — September 26, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Ugh natural lighting is so frustrating. Do you use a tripod? I can shoot during sunset if I use a tripod with a very low shutter speed and crank the ISO a little.

  18. #
    Vanessa — September 29, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Was just researching into the best way to shoot food thanks for the hints and tips! Happy Blogging from http://www.hungrycaterpillar.co

  19. #
    Kate @ Diethood — October 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    This is so awesome!! I LOVE a sneak peak into everyone’s make-believe studios! 😀 Thank you for sharing mine, boo! Miss you! xoxo

  20. #
    yify — March 9, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Very helpful advice in this particular post! It’s the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  21. #
    Nirali — August 4, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Super helpful! I think seeing different setups helps me and then I just go by trial and error (a lot of it!) until I can begin to grasp some fundamentals! Thanks!

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