The Definite Food Photography Gift Guide

Need to brush up on your Food Photography skills and equipment? This Food Photography Gift Guide will cover everything you need to get started if you have been bitten by the food photography bug.

It’s early December and I am already going to tell you my 2017 blog resolutions. If I don’t write it down I tend to let things slide. This way you can hold me accountable for my slacking tendencies. 2016 was a huge year for me blog wise because I rebranded my blog name completely. It was a big ordeal and then I jumped ship for the rest of the year. Bad Evelyne! Let’s get back on track, shall we? 1) I really need to change my theme to a better and quicker one. 2) I want to pick one social media platform and abuse it to the fullest positive capacity. 3) And I have been putting of my food photo skills for too long. That is where I got the idea to prepare this Food Photography Gift Guide for you just in time for the holidays!

P.S. Post has already been updated a few times with amazing suggestions from you amazing readers and social media fans. Keep sending me your ideas if you think something should be added to the list!

The Definite Food Photography Gift Guide

Now I will assume you have food in front of you and a camera to shoot it with. You can take pictures of food with any camera. How well you use your camera will have a massive impact, regardless of the type of camera you have. I am so guilty of using my smartphone because it is there and easy. My smartphone camera has almost as many megapixels as my DSLR, which is insane. But to truly improve I will need to go back to taming my Canon Rebel DSLR camera.

Ideal Essential Equipment

And the first item on my wish list is a new Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Normal Lens for Canon EF Cameras. I used to have one for my previous non DSLR camera and unfortunately that old lens is not compatible with a DSLR model. I really miss it, a lot. It is considered THE intro lens to food photography!

Food Photography Gift Guide Canon EF 50mm lense.jpg

Why would you want a specific lens just for food? Your camera came probably with a 18-55 mm zoom lens so why should you get a prime (fixed) lens within the range that you already have? Because you will take much sharper pictures! There are less parts moving. Prime lenses also have much wider apertures (the f/1.8), allowing for that out-of-focus background.

Food Photography Gift Guide CanadianStudio 1600 W Video Photo Studio lighting Softbox light kit

Lighting is a huge factor. Proper lighting and playing with shadows is key in creating atmosphere, removing shadows or too much direct light. I shoot often in the evening and if I am home during the day I have zero direct sunlight. Help! I was recommend this kit by a fellow blogger: CanadianStudio 1600 W Video Photo Studio lighting Softbox light kit with 2 light stands, 8 5500K light bulbs, 2 softboxes and carrying case. It’s a good price for a starter kit as well and I really hope to get this soon.

Food Photography Gift Guide tripod

A must in your food photography kit is a tripod. You think you have a steady hand while taking that pic and once you upload it to your laptop it is completely out of focus. A tripod would keep the camera steady. This Professional PRO 72″ Super Strong Tripod With Deluxe Soft Tripod Carrying Case is perfect as it goes up to 72 inches (over top shots on high table), it is very sturdy and the price is right at around 30$ CAD.

Props and Chops

A nice to have is a proper 18% neutral grey card to properly balance your light levels. Learn how to make your own grey card or download one here for free.

The final and thankfully cheap item you need is reflectors so you can bend the light to your will! You can buy professional reflectors but frugal photographers will simply get a bunch of White and Black boards at their local craft shop or dollar store. It can be  foam back board or a plain construction paper sheet.

OK so we are equiped and we have a cooked dish. What is next for the Food Photography Gift Guide? Props, props and props. You have to dess up that ‘shot’ you have in mind to make it more appealing. That is a whole other topic I need to explore personally in my journey but I’ll get you started on what you may need.

photography background

Plates, utensils, table cloth, napkins, cute seasonal decorations, ribbons, twine, backdrops, etc…you get the idea! Here are great places to find such things:

  • SwankyPrints on Etsy is awesome for 2×2 ft photography backdrops (see A).
  • Ikea As Is section – check out cupboard doors, they can make great backdrops for like 5$.
  • Cheep decor stores, Chinatown or discounted sections. Remember YOU ONLY NEED ONE PLATE for a shot.
  • Home renovation stores – I found a welcome map with a realistic wood background for 10$, seen here for this cinnamon buns shot (see B).
  • Flea markets and garage sales are also great for plates and props.
  • Garbage on the street! No I am serious I once found a piece of slate counter top (see C)!
  • Cristina over at I Say Nomato did a fabulous DIY post on making your own backdrops for under 30$ CAD!

food-photography-gift-guide-understanding-exposure  Food Photography Gift Guide Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling

Improving your technique

Touching it up

OK we finally took are picture, woohoo! Now you want to make them just a bit better? That is where a photo editing software comes in. There are simple free ones online that do not require whole lot of knowledge but if you are serious about your food photography I recommend you look into a good one and take the time to learn in. They do come with a learning curve. Here are a few ones…

  • GIMP, it is a free open source software, not bad
  • Photoshop, my personal fave that I use (monthly subscription)
  • Lightroom, the other one most photographers use (monthly subscription)

If you are curious, I use the following Canon EOS Rebel T5 18MP DSLR camera. It is an entry level DSLR but it does the job until I have a 4-digit budget!

Food Photography Gift Guide Canon EOS Rebel T5

Food Photography Gift Guide Wrap-up

So tell me about your food photography set up:

  • What kind of camera do you have?
  • Do you use lighting and boards?
  • What items in this Food Photography Gift Guide would top your list of must have?
  • What food photography level are you at: beginner, intermidiate, advanced?

Quick List for the Food Photography Gift Guide :

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22 comments to The Definite Food Photography Gift Guide

  • Great ideas. I'm an Android user and need to travel light but food photography is becoming more important. I'm investing in a good camera and should check out the book! Thanks.
  • I agree 50mm is the best for food photography, they are also cheap hence its called plastic fantastic. But if you have more money to spare upgrade it to an even more bigger aperture.
  • This is a terrific list of goodies! I need to invest in a new camera as mine got messed up a while ago, but I haven't been able to make myself spend the money just yet... maybe Santa :-)
  • Great job Eve, this is what I call a kick start to the new year :). Lovely post and informative too. I have the lighting kit you've mentioned above and let me tell you I hate it :). I like shooting better in daylight but winter always a bad season for getting food photos so sometimes I have to use my these artificial lighting. I should learn more how to use them and put them to a good use. Personally I feel the food should be the king and I should not distract the viewer's eyes with props and colored background, although I did use them sometimes. I consider myself on the far end of a beginner ready to move on to the intermediate. Thanks Eve for such a great post.
    • Thanks Amira for your great comment. I am curious if you could tell me exactly why you hate the lighting kit? For sure daylight is best if ones have it :-) Props, used sparingly I agree. I tend to stick to my plate but might add a nice towel and fork just to make it look more alive.
  • Liz
    What a useful round up of photography equipment! I've been eyeing a lens that I couldn't justify buying myself---but I did give Bill the details. We'll see if Santa brings it :) I use lightroom and it's made a huge difference (and the better camera lens). I have artificial lights but I don't like the photos I've taken after dark...winter is terrible for getting dinnertime photos!!
  • Ooh thanks for the Etsy shop link! I'm always looking for cool backgrounds! :D
  • Wow Evelyne, so fancy...I am trying to avoid all the gadgets for photography as my kitchen is small...maybe one day...I look forward to see all the improvements... Thanks for the post my dear...hope you are enjoying your week :)
  • I always have problem with studio lighting...bought a cheap set years ago, and used it once or twice, very disappointed..maybe I should get the one you mentioned above. Thanks, Evelyne, for this great post.
  • Try the Weaver theme if you are using WordPress. It's very customisable. Good luck with the food photography. I have a pocket camera which I would love to upgrade but can't justify the expense.
    • Thansk Tandy I will look int the Weaver theme. The prices keep dropping for DSLR, or get an older model for cheap. I got my first one on ebay for like 100$ at the time, a used one.
  • This is, quite simply, one of the COOLEST blog posts I have read this week. Seriously pinning this right now... it is what every food blogger needs! -
  • Great post Evelyne! Hehehe..Good luck with the New year resolutions. I'm guilty of them as well. I've never used anything but natural light to shoot and I love shadows in my photos so whether dusk or dawn, it wasn't much of a problem. Regrading backgrounds, I did paint a few when I was starting out but now I only use natural wood, vintage trays, old boxes etc. The tripod would top my list from your suggestions, I cannot do without mine. I also think that it is equally important to invest in a good photo editing software as much as the photography equipment (camera, lenses, tripod). Aaaand the surest way of success is to practice...the more photos you take, the sooner you'll know what works for you:-)
    • Thank you Sonali! You are so lucky to have natural light. I face north west so none for me. And I loev your props and pic. You are right got to practice a lot (need to find time!!!!!!!!) but it is a question of priorities. Great poitn about a photo editing software, I actually debated to put it in the post or not but I shoudl, will update it!

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