Aug. 14. 2015
How-to
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder

Interested in starting a food blog, blogging in general, or just want to learn how to take great food pictures for your Instagram? I share my tips I’ve learned since I started the NS Blog here!

To get the basics, hop over to this post for my Top 5 Tips for Starting a Food Blog — I’m so happy that it helped you, I got a flood of emails and kind comments about how it was a simple and straightforward advice post for starting your blog. Many of you followed up and were asking about food photography, especially after I shared my “before and after”; so today I’m sharing with you all Food Photography Tips for Food Bloggers:

Make, shoot, eat.

1. PRACTICE

I know this isn’t something many of you want to hear because it takes a lot of time, hard work, and effort to practice photography, but I promise you this is the only way you’ll hone in on your own style, craft, and skills. Use this time to also experiment, play around with lighting, colors, backgrounds, food styling, and anything else that calls to you as a style you enjoy.

2. EQUIPMENT

You don’t have to get over-ambitious and order tons of expensive equipment but be mindful of what pieces of equipment are going to be the most fruitful for your work. For example, when I first starting blogging I was using an iPhone 4 with phone editing software and uploading it into the blog, it looked like a mess and the start but this was the natural progression of practicing. My first major piece of equipment was my Canon Rebel DSLR with a 100mm lens. I’ve evolved greatly in my photography but also my editorial needs, therefore, my equipment had a massive upgrade. Here are my favorites:

CAMERA(s)

  1. My first camera was the Canon DSLR Rebel. I used this for the first 3 years of blogging, it’s easy to use and a great first camera.
  2. My second camera is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. This is the king of cameras, it’s insanely efficient, the quality is the best I’ve ever seen, video capabilities, wi-fi connection to my laptop and iPhone for quick edits, and so much more. This is definitely an investment but so worth it – I love it and see myself using this for the next 5+ years.
  3. My on-the-go camera and video Vlogging camera is the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera 

LENS

  1. With the Canon DSLR Rebel, I shot primarily with a 50mm or 100mm. Other options are the Canon macro 60mm lens to get really great up close and detailed shots or and Canon 24-70mm Zoom lens
  2. With the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, I use a couple: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens  and my baby Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens. This one is an investment lens, but it has produced the best shots I’ve ever taken so much so that it’s cut my post-editing time down by half.

TRIPODS

For the longest time I was a bit stubborn or maybe it was too resourceful and would do all overhead shots handheld. If you’ve ever tried that, it can be so hard to keep the shot steady. You need stability for crisp shots! So, I invested and use these tripods to make my life so much easier:

  1. Mini tripod for handheld camera use (like when I Vlog), the JOBY gorilla 
  2. Tripod for overhead and in general if I’m filming myself on the Mark IV, the manfrotto. This was is awesome because it’s easy for me to put together by myself and it has an overhead pole!

MUST-HAVE ACCESSORIES 

  1. Memory card! This is a must-have, you need storage and the worst thing to happen is when you’re in the flow of a shoot and you’ve run out of memory. SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card and the 16GB is what I use.
  2. Hard drive: it’s imperative that you back up your work, I have about 5 hard drives running on my iMac at all times to back up my backups! I like this G drive for portable use (when I’m on the go), and this G drive is my big guy that’s attached to my desktop all the time backing up on Time Machine.
  3. Batteries to stay charged up. I use Watson LP-E6N Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 1900mAh) for my Mark IV

EDITING

I use a lot to edit. From loading images to my computer, to editing the actual photo, to drawing on top of it. I use the following:

  1. Lightroom for primary editing with filters. I like the VSCO filters for LR
  2. Photoshop for adding text to images, massive editing, collages, etc.
  3. Drawing tablet. This isn’t for everyone, but having an art background I like to draw right on top of my images and in the computer, I use this Wacom Intuos Draw CTL490DW Digital Drawing and Graphics Tablet

3. LIGHTING

Find the best light you like to work with. For me, I only use natural lighting partially because it yields the most beautiful images in my opinion, but it’s also because I’m lazy and don’t want to fuss with artificial lighting. Here’s my tip, take a day to just play around with your camera and a bowl of fruit- take that bowl of fruit around your house or studio during different times of days and shot at different angles, make note of the time of day that produces the best quality shot in your opinion. Because let’s face it, it’s YOUR work, your photography and it doesn’t matter what you “think” it should look like. It’s art and it’s personal so have fun with it.

4. PROPS

Experiment with different food props like utensils, plates, bowls, cutting boards, backdrops, etc.; and use what fits your unique style. The more that you find your own style and own it, the more your readers will enjoy reading your blog and be able to identify your work from a group of images. This cycles back to my whole philosophy of “be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. A couple of my favorite resources for food props West Elm, Sur La Table, craft stores, flea markets, your own home!

5. STYLING

You’re writing a food blog, guess what, you kind of have to make the food look “extra” special and styled. As much as I have fun with styling food, when it comes to actually eating these recipes that I make and remake again, I don’t style them. We eat with our eyes and if you’re encouraging your reader to enjoy the recipe you’ve made, you’ll need to play around with food styling to make it look it’s best!

Resources to help you with food styling:

More blogging posts…

I hope that helps get you started! Comment below with any other questions you have about food photography and I’ll make a part II if needed!

xx McKel

*this blog post has been updated, 10/2017