I first started this food blog nearly a year ago… probably more like 9-10 months ago. I’m not gonna lie to you, I had no idea what the freak I was doing, and in a lot of ways, I still don’t.
I always loved cooking and probably cooked more than the average 26-year-old. And it turns out I was pretty decent at coming up with healthy alternatives that were sugar-free- which also includes being grain-free and dairy-free. I never thought in a million years that I would be writing cookbooks, writing blogs, and posting lots of personal stuff for others to see.
Over the last year, it feels like I’ve done and tried a lot of things. At first, I thought taking photos with my iPhone and using filters was good enough for my photos – they looked professional to me!
However, I learned after dozens of recipes were created that the food photos and the quality of the images are by far the most important things you can put on your blog.
It may sound simple but turns out getting those photos involves more than just a good filter.
- Use your phone for Insta/Facebook only: iPhones are for texting/calling/social media/whateveryouwantittobe but not what you should be using to take professional photos for your blog. If money is tight, I totally understand if starting out this is what you need to do, but I highly recommend investing in a legitimate camera. I went to my local Walmart to check out the selection and found a Cannon Rebel T5i camera… which I swore the cashier must have run up wrong since it was such a bargain! This was a good starter camera for me without breaking the bank. Just taking photos on the food setting without making any other adjustments makes a HUGE difference. Also, never use flash on your food photos!
- Let there be light: Another thing that I tried after I upgraded my photo taking from phone to real camera was making my box lighting to get pictures to be nice and bright. While it was cheap, DIY, and made improvements to my photos, the pictures were pretty blown out with white light. I recently learned a TON from the website Food Blogger Pro – these guys have a great food blog called Pinch of Yum, and they have some great videos of taking better food photos. One of the best tips I learned from them is how to use natural lighting, which can be pretty tricky… and then artificial lighting. It turns out; not all lighting is created equal. One item I just purchased because of watching their videos is the Lowel EGO Digital Light. It’s a little pricey, but after watching and learning from Food Blogger Pro, I seriously learned a ton about white balance and the importance of having the right color and balance of light. The remarkable thing about this light is that it is the only light you’ll need with minimum setup, and less camera setting adjustment.
- Get to know your camera and setup: There’s a lot to learn about your camera’s ISO and white balance, shutter speed, and a couple of other settings on your camera that once you learn it, will make a huge difference in your photos. Be patient with it and test out a whole bunch of those settings when taking pictures. That super bright white with lots of light looks I was going for when I first started? Turns out that’s not how it’s supposed to look! Check out Food Blogger Pro for more of those videos and tips – they’ve also taught me about how easy reflectors and diffusers can be (especially once you have that Lowel light!)
- Size matters: This one made me feel SUPER dumb when I first learned about it, and it’s pretty critical for food bloggers. Photos for food should be taken VERTICALLY! I cannot even tell you how many hundreds of photos I’ve taken horizontally. I mean, I feel stupid talking about it because it’s just such a simple tweak to your food blogging success. Why vertical? Well, when you view the photos on a personal device like your phone, the vertical photo fills the whole page and looks incredibly better. Moreover, it’s critical for social media posts. Re-size ALL of your pictures to 600 x 900 so that you can have the perfect Pinterest-sized photos.
- Props aren’t just for costume parties: Set the mood with your food with a scene. Use more than plain white plates and clear bowls on your wooden table – get a reversible board with white stain and dark stained wood on either side so you can be more versatile! Pick up these things for a DIY project at Home Depot – add in a slate board, a chalkboard, and fresh herbs, and you’re making strides in your photo taking. Maybe splurge on one set of silverware that’s gold, rose gold, or copper, some charger plates and linens – you don’t need a ton! You may want to get all eight matching plaid napkins for your holiday table, but if you just need one or two for the photo, start there! These are props that you can store efficiently and keep your photos looking fresh.
These are my top 5 tips for making your food photos POP. The pictures are critical here, so don’t skimp on making them perfect!