Cupcake Photography Lesson #1

Okay, so you have a blog or are thinking about starting a food blog but you are lost when it comes to taking the photos?

Well you have come to the right place.

2 1/2 years ago, I knew just about nothing.  Even now, I don’t know all the tricky photo lingo or photoshop stuff or anything.  But I have taught myself (successfully might I boast) how to take good cupcake photos.

My camera is a Cannon T3i (which is basically the same as a T2i) and I use a 50 mm lens (which is about $100.) But if you have an iphone, you can get away with that for a while.  The only problem is that is distorts the image a bit, so small things like cupcake look a tad stretched.

Today we are talking about about “Setting the Scene.”

Here is my set-up from the recipe I posted yesterday, Blueberry Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes.

Cupcake Photos How To

Cupcake Photography How To

Notice what I have:

A table: From Ikea… it’s light and easy to move around and something to PUT my things on.

A chair: To sit in, or else I get really grumpy.

A cutting board: I didn’t want to texture of the table, I wanted the dark wood of the board to be my base.

A handkerchief: It adds a pop of color

Cereal and blueberries right by the front cupcake: It adds some flair and shows what the cake is all about. (And yes I hand picked each blueberry and cereal piece to get the perfect ones.)

Cupcakes: I always put the prettiest cupcake up front and push the “uglier” ones to the back.

A bowl of blueberries: This adds texture to the background

Cupcake tins: This also adds some color and texture to the background

Cereal box:  Again, more color and texture to the back as well and get’s a bit of the brand name in there.

My phone:  For instagram but more importantly is BLARES Pandora radio to keep the birds from attacking me.

Okay, so a LOT of stuff, but it all has a purpose for being there.

Blueberry Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Common Questions:

Can you use too many props? 

YES and YES. But if you push a lot of the props to the back… they blur-out and become part of the scenery and not props.

How do you know what props to use?

I like to ask myself this question, “What could reasonably be on my table while making these cupcakes?” I answer that question and then I have a list of prop ideas.


Well, what did you think?  Good lesson, bad lesson?  Good post, bad post?

Because if you liked it… I have more to come


40 thoughts on “Cupcake Photography Lesson #1

  1. 1
    Robin says:

    I like it!

    I always wondered how to go about “setting the scene”.

    Great information!

  2. 2
    Rachel says:

    LOVED it!! This is exactly the kind of stuff I need to learn. You’ve got the camera I’ve been eying for the last year and a half. But for now, I’m using my iPhone and it gets tricky 🙁

  3. 3
    Gina says:

    It’s always nice to see the pull backs isn’t it??!! I think we all have a similar set up & most people are shocked to see where the images are actually taken when the final image looks the way it does. 🙂 Beautiful work as always.

  4. 4
    Kim R says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I was wondering what camera you use and what settings do you switch to for these photos? Do you photograph indoors, or always outdoors (and how do those settings change?)

    Love the post – would love to see more! 🙂

    • 4.1

      I always use natural light, (there will be a post on lighting) and as for settings… all that really matters to me is that I get a shallow depth of field. Most “real” photographers all use Manual mode, but that scares me.

  5. 5
    Sig says:

    I found it very educational , step 1, check!
    Onto lesson 2 please; )

  6. 6
    Susan says:

    Wonderful info,thank you so much!!!!! Now I just have to learn to decorate my cupcakes to look as good as yours,or even half as good.

    • 6.1

      There are a bunch of tricks for covering up “mistakes” when piping.

      • Susan says:

        Thank you Lizzy,I get so excited every time I open a new email from you with new recipies and new ideas,you are just fantastic!!!!! Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas with us x x x

  7. 7
    Gina says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. Now i’m craving these cupacekes.

  8. 8
    Kathy T. says:

    Great lesson……can’t wait for more! Thank you!

  9. 9

    Great post! I know my pics are more of the step-by-step process of how a recipe/craft/etc. is done, but I’d still like them to look nice. Right now I’m happy when the lens is not all steamed up from getting a “pot shot”. I’m always worried about getting the dishes in the sink in the photo, too (because when you cook, there are always dishes that end up in the sink). I haven’t figured out how to get the close up and blur the background. Looking forward to the next post!

    • 9.1
      Roxana says:

      Hi Anne, that “blurred” effect comes from the aperture setting… The lower the F-stop the blurrier the background will be. If you have a camera that allows you to change the aperture then you can play with it. 🙂

  10. 10
    Ana Vanessa says:

    Thanks For sharing this! I will practice this technique today, I can’t wait to receive more tips! regards from Mexico

  11. 11
    Stefanie says:

    Good tips on photography!

  12. 12
    Amber C says:

    Ienjoyed this, please do more!

  13. 13
    Beth says:

    Great! Thanks for posting and please do post more photo lessons 🙂

  14. 14
    Queen Hotchibobo says:

    Neat lesson, but the biggest disaster in any photography I might try would be the ugly cupcakes. I’m a million years from getting mine as cute as yours.

    At least they taste good. 🙂

  15. 15

    Great post! Loved it so please keep them coming 🙂

  16. 16
    Liz says:

    Good post! Next time it would also be helpful if you could let us know the settings you used on your camera (aperture mode, I’m assuming), but what F-stop,brightness, and setting. Thanks!

  17. 17
    Bailey says:

    yes i like it a lot!! i take terrible pix of my cupcakes so this helped me sooo much! thank you! ps-how much did your actual camera cost?

  18. 18

    Thanks for the lesson! Some things to keep in mind. 🙂

  19. 19

    Good lesson, thanks for the advice! So do you edit your photos at all or is it just point and shoot?

  20. 20
    Rachel J says:

    Great post Lizzy! I can’t wait to read more. Can you iphone blur out the background? I love that effect!

  21. 21
    Roxana says:

    Awesome post Lizzy! I love natural light best when taking pics. Yours always look great! 🙂

  22. 22
    Marisha says:

    Excellent! I always need help with my pictures – which is why I haven’t been blogging lately. Now I have inspiration!

  23. 23
    Kelly says:

    Great post!! Great ideas 🙂

  24. 24
    Kim says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information. You do such a great job with your photos and these are just the hints I need. Looking forward to the next lesson!

  25. 25
    Rous says:

    Brillant! Very usefull tips! btw, i love your cupcakes

  26. 26
    Lucy says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’m looking forward to more!

  27. 27

    […] we learned all about “Setting the Scene” last week in my 1st Cupcake Photography Lesson but that was only the beginning.  Because lets face it, a food blog is only as good as it’s […]

  28. 28
    Terri Colgrove says:

    Thank you! Looking forward to more lessons.

  29. 29
    Kisha says:

    Wonderful! THANK YOU for this – it’s nice to have some simple pointers to start with and where to go 🙂 Thank you!

  30. 30
    Cupcake ME says:

    thanks for the fantastic tips

  31. 31
    Wendy Burks says:

    Thanks for sharing! I don’t have a blog, but am a home baker and amateur photographer. It is always fun to hear what others are doing, and what you are doing is beautiful AND delicious! 🙂 Keep up the great work!

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