Food Photography FAQ - Skillful Cook
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Food Photography FAQ

Update (3.28.12): Tasty Food Photography is now available!
Check it out here:

I have something that I'm really excited to share with you guys.


Since I started blogging, I've learned a lot about food photography.  I've also learned that stunning food photos can breathe life into your food blog.

I often get questions from other food bloggers asking for tips on how to take better food photographs.  This is a great question to ask because getting published on photo-based sites like Tastespotting, Foodgawker, and Pinterest can bring significant traffic to your blog.

So what I'm super excited to tell you is that I've compiled a collection of the most important things I've learned about food photography and put them into a food photography eBook!

Woman styling food to take photos.

The book is almost done and ready to be unveiled to the internet world.  Eee!

But before I finish it, I would love to hear from you.   I want to know what you want to know about food photography.   Like, questions.

  • If you bought a food photography book, what would you hope to learn?
  • What things are the most challenging for you when photographing your food?
  • What type of camera do you use and what do you use to edit your photos?

If you leave your questions in the comments section, I'll use them to help me make the final decisions about what content to include in the book.  Your questions will ultimately help to shape the book into a photography resource that's perfect for food bloggers.

Woman holding a camera.

Thank you in advance for being a part of this process and helping me make this book into the most useful tool possible!

It's been a lot of work, but I have had SO much fun writing this book.  I can't wait to share it with you guys!

Filed Under: Food Photography

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Awesome idea about the ebook! I have a photography section on my site where I talk about some of the food photography trips, workshops, classes, retreats, etc. I’ve done and while I am on those events or at them, I always blog from them sharing what I’ve learned from the instructors and people thank me and I’m sure your ebook will be a hit!

    I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II with a L-series 24-70 mm f/2.8 for 99% of my photos. I have a 35mm, 50mm, and 85 mm lenses that I don’t put on my camera b/c I just keep my 24-70mm on. I edit in LR. I have PS but don’t know how to use it 🙂

    Here’s a question for you…how do you shoot dinnertime food at 730pm or later in a kitchen with 0% natural light at that point, without setting up a whole lighting scene, with a hungry family waiting for you (therefore the shots are rushed and not staged well)…the reason I never blog savory food is b/c of all of the above. Making dinner at 1:30pm and pre-shooting it isn’t a reality for me nor is setting up full-on lighting with a husband and 4 year old waiting for me. I have never grasped how people shoot pretty dinnertime food. I have been trying to figure this out for 3+ years now… 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I have the exact same question about the savory food photography after sunset 🙂 So excited to see what you share with us, you’re so talented and your pics always make me so hungry!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    What a great idea! I can’t wait to read the book, your photos are always so good!

    I think the thing I struggle with most is making the food look nice. I pretty much know what I need the camera to do in terms of settings but it’s finding the right light and styling the food to its best advantage especially with stuff that’s brown!

    And your photos just look so professional compared to mine – I’m not sure what it is that makes them so but they just do! Maybe it’s magic?!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    So exciting! I can’t wait to hear more.

    I don’t know if this applies to the angle you’re taking, but I am always interested in the food photography writing that gives a shout-out to the underequipped–those of us who can’t afford the reeeeeally nice DSLR cameras and are trying to make do with our point-and-shoots. Obviously the former is your intended audience, but it’d be great to read any tips or tricks for how to take pretty-ish pictures of food while I’m saving up money for my dream camera. 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    oh so fun! can’t wait to read your ebook…. but i do hope you price it reasonably/offer sales or something. grad student here! 🙂

    i have a nikon p100… i.e. not dslr, but not cheap point & shoot either. so perhaps you can focus somewhat on how to take good photos without using manual settings so it’s more relevant for both groups?

    i love the “shooting dinner food at 7:30” question as well, because my only solution is to make those meals on the weekends when i can make dinner early (so it’s not always practical). something else i’d ask would be how much do you spend on food props/how do you use excess that you purchase for a shoot? also, what are your tips for setting up an affordable lighting stage indoors? thanks! 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    i can’t wait for the book! i just got a nice camera and am trying to hard to improve my food photography.

    i would love to know more about photo editing (i have l.r. 3 and am so lost with how to best edit my photos). also, staging. every time i see beautiful food photography, i marvel at the staging. i guess it just takes practice, but i can never seem to create beautiful settings for my food…

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    GREAT idea! My husband writes ebooks for other topics and they are so useful! My biggest issue is lighting, how to take photos in small, urban apartments after sunset, etc.? I use an external flash sometimes, which is helpful, but nothing beats a big, sunny window like you have! Also, what kinds of lenses are best for food photography – should we splurge on a macro lens or is something better? I have a Canon Rebel and often use Picnik for easy edits. Looking forward to the book!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looking forward to checking your book out.

    I would definitely love to hear some tips about taking the best possible pictures when you are on a tight budget, so you can’t afford the highest quality camera and expensive editing software.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is seriously the best idea, Lindsay because you have so much to offer!! Every time I read your blog I’m stunned by your pictures…I can’t wait to learn more and I agree with Averie…how do you take good pics when there’s not any good natural light?!!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! I’m so excited about this! I can’t wait to see what’s in that little gem. I agree with the others that are saying it would be great to hear how you take great photos without the fancy camera. I love my little camera, and a fancy one is on the wish list right now, not the “I can have it right now” list. I use a Canon PowerShot SX150IS. I would love to hear if you have any great tips about how to handle situations without natural light too, unfortunately, I’m guessing there’s no big secret – it just doesn’t work without a special light. . . . right? I edit with Flickr, and I’d really like to know how to make ugly food look pretty(potato corn bake, anyone??), and how to make soup look interesting, and how to crack the FoodGawker code!! 🙂 how’s that for feedback? So excited about this -for you, and for me!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wonderful idea! I know that I would purchase the book. The thing(s) that I like to do, is see other food photographers workflow (such as how they set -up the shot) and composition.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great idea! I always like learning more in this area. I shoot with a Nikon D80 using primarily my 50mm 1.8. Lighting is always an issue of course, especially this time of year in Minnesota. My biggest frustration right now though is clarity. My photos are almost never as sharp as I want them to be. My camera doesn’t perform terribly well at a high ISO (or even mid-range really). I’m thinking of upgrading but I’d like to make sure it isn’t just me first;-)
    Anyway, can’t wait to check out your e-book!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I like your haircut? (didn’t you say we had to ask a question?) but i really do. it looks nice. ok.. here is a question.. How long do you make bjork wait to eat on average.. and what dish was the longest wait because you are taking pictures????

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Good question. I usually don’t make him (us) wait anymore, actually… but in the earlier days, I’m sure there were wait times of up to 30 mins. Thanks for the question and haircut compliment. 🙂

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    That is so exciting, I can’t wait to read your book! I am always looking for new photography tips. I feel like I learn something new every time I read someone else’s thoughts.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    That’s such a great idea, your food always look so scrumptious!

    I think that if I was going to buy an ebook, I’d want it to be written in more “accessible” language. Sometimes you read tutorials destined to people that are starting, like me, but the author takes basic things for granted and you get lost easily.

    xx, Ana

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the idea of an e-book! I shoot with a Canon Rebel xTi and a 50mm 1.8 lens. I edit mostly with iphoto {just to tweak} but when I need to bring in the big guns, I use Photoshop elements.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looking forward to your eBook. I use a Nikon D5000 with the stock 18-50mm lens. I’m looking to invest in a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I recently started using Lightroom to edit photos, but am still fumbling around a lot in the program. My questions are around the how to use the ISO, aperture and F stop in conjuction with another. I’ve only started using the aperture function manually and I let my camera adjust the other 2. It seems like a complicated math equation to figure out what settings to use in what light, etc.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just began my blog in December and am still learning about all of it. But I’m in Tara @ Chip Chip Hoorays camp. I’m starting out shooting with just my very humble Canon Sure Shot. I’ve submitted several posts to Tastespotting (rather foolishly on my part) only to have them rejected because of lighting or not a crisp enough image. I dream of having beautiful blog photos one day, but a new camara is not in our family budget right now. I look forward to your ebook! Thanks.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for your feedback, Jill! It can be hard to take amazing photos with an average camera, but I think that there are still a few things that can help – and I’ll be sure to think about that when I’m finishing up the book! I also want to encourage you to keep trying for the Tastespotting thing. I have had many submissions denied along the way… now it almost seems like a rite of passage. 🙂 Congrats on your new blog and best of luck to you!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is such a great idea! I love that your doing this especially since your photos are so beautiful! I think one of the biggest questions I always have for all people with beautiful pictures is lighting. I’m a medical student and thus work a pretty hectic schedule and have a hard time photographing in natural light. I’d love to be able to take evening pictures, but they always end up looking kinda flat or sub par. If you have any tips on that that would be spectacular!

    Also, lesnses (standard or buy a new one?) and camera setting have also been a question of mine. Settings such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. Do you typically use an auto setting or do you prefer to manually do everything?

    Thanks so much for thinking about this!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    VERY exciting, Lindsay! We got a DSLR before our vacation this summer and I’m still learning so much about it. I’m sure you have all kinds of tidbits to share and that your writing will be enjoyable!! 🙂