You don’t need a fancy studio and all the gear to capture great food photos. I personally use a converted garage. Sure, I have loads of gear and lights I can use. It’s a great space and natural light I love. And to be honest, that’s all you really need — a little bit of space and some great natural light.
Use the light you have
In the below images I have placed some off-cut vinyl floor tiles on an ottoman and placed it directly next to a large window for side and backlighting. At the top of the image is another window covered with a scrim, used to defuse the morning light.
Learn to love the available light you have. In the first image, my scene is set up just inside the shadow line, as it gives a much nicer, more even light. Direct sunlight can be harsh and difficult to work with. Soft light and soft shadows are often best for food. Good quality light means sharp focus and great images.
Use the gear you have
I picked up the vinyl tiles cheap and the plate is one from my own dinner set. Fruit from the fridge and the Panna Cotta was leftover from a dinner party with friends.
I frequently make items just for shoots, but when you are starting out there is no reason you can’t keep things simple. I shoot with a Sony a7R III and a 50mm macro lens, but that does not mean you need super fancy gear. This could have been shot on my Samsung S9 smartphone. It’s the light, the styling and the composition that is important.
Use the K.I.S.S. principle
There is nothing wrong in Keeping It Stupidly Simple (K.I.S.S.), even for pros. No shiny cutlery or fabric that won’t sit nicely — just a simple white plate and non-obtrusive background that allows the food to shine through. Even when it comes to editing, still keep things simple.
Let the food shine
Use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, but don’t copy. Think outside the box, but don’t live there. Don’t get overwhelmed in going over the top with creative.
True, there are some food photographers who capture the most amazing images full of movement and special effects, but most food photography is simple. It is kept simple for a reason, too. Let the food shine!