So 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 photos. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter how amazing your recipes may be, no one will try them unless they can SEE how amazing the food is. But no blurry, bland, poorly lit photo will do. It has to be so good people will stare at their screen as their stomachs growl.
The most important thing in food photography is lighting. Ask any photographer and they will agree with me on that. You can’t get a professional looking photo without the proper lighting. Last week we were outside as the photos gave away, that is because what you need is natural light.
What do I mean by natural light? I mean the light from the sun. Turn off all your kitchen lights because they will only hurt your photos. So yes, you have to take your photos during the day. It can sometimes be a little tricky depending on your schedule, but there’s no way around it. I’ve used the snazzy lights and it just doesn’t compare to the light that comes free.
But don’t fret! You don’t need to actually go outside (I just sometimes enjoy it since I have no AC and temperatures are slowly creeping into the 90’s). Just set up camp near a window! If you have a corner of a room with a few windows around, that is always best. I love this little nook in my kitchen because of the window off to the right that ends up being in my background with all the greenery.
But pay attention, the light coming in from the window is not the “harsh” direct sunlight. You don’t want that. You want the glow from the “soft” light. That’s why when I’m outside, I always go for the shade, because it’s that indirect light that makes for the beautiful photos (even when shooting people).
Depending on what sort of look you want, you can use a reflector board, but no need to find a “real” one, you can just go out and get a nice piece of white poster board (the ones with the shiny finish are best) and fold it to make one of your own! The reflector board bounces light from the window back onto your food. So you get a more even light from right to left. (Here is a post I did with no reflector board, notice the strong shadows to the left)
There are two common problems.
1. Back lighting. The brightest light should never be coming from behind the food. The window in the photo below that’s behind the cookies…the light from that window is not as bright as the light from the window on the right. If the brightest light were to come from the back window, your cookies/cupcakes/whatever would look dark. (Snazy photographers play around with this effect and make cool things happen, BUT I’m trying to explain the easiest way to get the best photos, so let’s just not back light 🙂 )
2. Don’t get in the way. Don’t put your brightest light directly in front of your food either. Because guess what happens… your own shadow can get in the way. So just put your brightest light somewhere to the right or left of the food and you will be swell!
Aren’t they beautiful? They will be in my new cookbook coming out in March 2014. But you can get the recipe for these Homemade Oreos here! ( It’s also fun to compare my photos from the 2010 post to the current ones)
What to remember:
1. Use natural light…. only.
2. Take photos near a window or in the shade outside.
3. Use a reflector board to get even light.
4. Keep your brightest light source to the right or left of the food.