Add a little pizazz to your festive food photos with some movement and even an element of human touch. A little movement in a still image is easier than you think and can really bring your images to life. Here’s how to add an element of human touch and really make your festive photos sing.

Behind the scenes

Whether you are going for something a little more dramatic and dark and moody, or if you are after light and bright, lighting is important. Especially if you are trying to capture a little movement. Sure studio lights are fabulous, but unless you are shooting in the studio a little difficult to lug around. Natural light is your friend and be sometimes all you need.

Not much light? You can also add a desk lamp or LED for a bit of fill light. Don’t forget those reflectors, catch every bit of available light and bounce it back onto your subject.


When it comes to festive food photos, there is nothing quite like a sprinkling of some extra Christmas joy, through elements like icing sugar, powdered chocolate or cocoa. You can capture the powder or sugar falling in slow motion (like a waterfall) or as high impact action with individual grains.

It is all dependent on your shutter speed. Working with the exposure triangle, you need to have either a shutter speed of under 1/60s or slower to catch a waterfall-like effect or higher than 1/125s for an action shot. Obviously the slower shutter speeds you would need to place your camera on a tripod to avoid camera shake.

If you have a willing assistant, makes things so much easier, but if not a remote trigger will do the trick. Set you shot up and obtain focus on your subject. Make sure everything is set to go and then move into position to start sprinkling over your food. Taking multiple shots to achieve the desired result. Check the back of your camera to get the desired result.


I personally feel that the pouring images with just a hand in just in shot, adds a human element and movement as well to still photos. Again this can be slow or quick, but if the shutter speed is too slow you may get blurry hands. While this is a look that some people like, I prefer a sharper focus on the hand in the shot.

This can be created in the same way as the sprinkling image above, on a tripod with a remote trigger, using yourself as the hand model. Whether you are pouring the cream onto pudding or cake or pouring milk into a coffee, it’s all about an even consistency in the actual pour. If pour too fast you could miss the shot, but if you pour too slow it may be blurred. Make a few trial runs first.


There are different ways to had a glistening effect to your festive food photos. I recently wrote a post on creating bokeh and that can look amazing with your festive food as well. Using a small water spray bottle with water on fresh fruit can make it look like it is glistening too. Try adding half glycerin and half water and spray onto glasses, bottle or cans, for an icing look that can also glisten in certain light too. Reflections in shiny baubles and decorations can also make for some interesting photos too.

Tip: If you are using icing sugar, cream or milk, try using a dark background to make it stand out more. Likewise, if using powdered or melted chocolate use a lighter colored background.