Tips and Tricks for Better Food Photos This Holiday

by Robyn Wright on November 25, 2013

in Food,Tech

holiday food photos - tips and tricks for better pics
Food pics are very popular always it seems. Recipe blogs and sites are big this time of year for us to browse for ideas and then so many of us love sharing whatever we are eating in photos on social media like Instagram, Facebook, our blogs, or wherever. Swanson broth and stocks shared with me these fabulous tips to help all of us take better food photos that I thought were great and wanted to share with you. I have added in a few of my own tips and notes to help also.

· Capture the Cooking Process – There’s no need to wait to the meal hits the table to start capturing your holiday food photos. Start with some action shots in the kitchen, like stirring the pots on the stove or pulling the golden brown turkey or Moist & Savory Stuffing (Swanson provided link) out of the oven.

Robyn’s Notes: If your pots are steaming, have someone out of view blow the steam away right as you take your pic for a clearer photo. If you are doing oven photos as shown, think about how clean your oven is or isn’t and if that will bother you.

swanson photo tip 01 - capture the cooking process

· Choose the Right Serving Dish – Using a smaller serving bowl for stuffing or mashed potatoes makes the dish look full and plentiful, while taking up less space on the holiday table. Choosing a dish in a contrasting color helps the food pop.

Robyn’s Notes: This is true even with things like olive and veggie trays. Use smaller serving pieces and pile on the items – but you do not want them to fall off either. You can always refill as the meal progresses if you need to.

swanson photo tip 02 - choose the right serving dish

· Add a Garnish – For photo worthy dishes, add a garnish of an ingredient that is found in the dish or that complements its flavors. For example, butternut squash and sage soup (Swanson provided link) can be topped with fried sage leaves, creme fraiche, pumpkin seeds and even pomegranate seeds to add color and texture. If your dish features a signature ingredient like stuffing with cranberries, reserve a handful of berries to sprinkle over the top before it goes into the oven.

Robyn’s Notes: Stick with edible garnishes. Gone are the days of adding garnishes that are just for show and really not meant to eat. Fresh herbs are a favorite addition of mine.

swanson photo tip 03 - add garnish

· Hold Steady – For crisp food photos, make sure your smartphone doesn’t shake. Brace your elbow against the table to cut down on movement or turn on the “anti-shake” setting available on some phones.

Robyn’s Notes: Also be sure to check your smartphone cameras settings to see if you can change more options. If you are indoors with fluorescent or incandescent light only, look for options like that. Do not forget to keep the lens on your phone clean also.

swanson photo tip 04 - hold steady

· Change Your Angle – Try changing the angle to make your food photos feel fresh. Photograph the holiday table from directly above for an interesting shot or capture a finished dish from the side like with these glazed carrots (Swanson provided link).

Robyn’s Notes: Not only change the angle you hold the camera, but also turn the dish around to get the food from various sides. Take at least 5 different photos of each food item so you have choices on which is the best.

swanson photo tip 5 - change your angle

· Incorporate Color with a Tablescape – Choosing a colorful background can really make your dishes pop. Try a tablecloth in a saturated hue that works well with the different dishes you’ll be serving.

swanson photo tip 06 - incorporate color with tablescape

· Try a Filter – When capturing food, avoid over-filtering your photos; food looks most appetizing in its natural colors and doesn’t need a rainbow of effects.

Robyn’s Notes: However, if you have poor lighting your photo may be improved by the use of a filter also. In the end, just try to find filters that make food look most natural.

swanson photo tip 07 - avoid over-using filters on food photos

One final tip from me is that you can take the pictures when the food is there, but you do not have to instantly post them. Take them with your smartphone and then put your phone away and enjoy your meal with family and friends. Later on you can share them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever when you have some quiet time.

Do you have any additional tips on taking photos of food you would like to share? Any questions?


© 2013, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.


1 Anne-Marie Nichols November 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm

A trick my dad taught me when I started taking pictures with his old Minolta. Hold your breath just before you’re ready to press the button. It helps keep you steady too. However, I find myself holding my breath a little too long sometimes as I playing with focus and angles!

2 Robyn Wright November 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

LOL Anne-Marie, I can see myself passing out from holding my breath so long as I adjust things on my DSLR!

3 Robin November 26, 2013 at 6:49 am

You take really good photos. I’m sorry I don’t have any tips to share myself, but I am definitely impressed at what a difference these little tweaks can make. I’m sure those dishes taste as good as they look!

4 Robyn Wright November 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Those photos were supplied by Swanson – but yes little changes make a big difference!

5 Ravzie November 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Okay, now I’m hungry.

6 peter hamlin June 12, 2014 at 5:52 am

You are really good even in capturing food:). Photography does not REQUIRE DSLR camera, its requires Photography techniques which can be attained by practicing it online.

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