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Food Photography Ideas for Mouthwatering Photographs

8 min read

This may be hard to swallow, but when it comes to food photography the beautiful images you see in front of you don’t always taste as good as they look.

The dishes may look mouthwatering as we’ve all seen juicy red steaks sitting side by side with golden corn and dark green beans. However, there’s usually a bit more prep-work needed to creating these wonderful photos than meets the eye.

In this post, we’re going to share with you some food photography ideas and tricks to capturing mouthwatering photographs.


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Food can be a little difficult to photograph because of the various properties certain items possess. For example, frozen dishes melt, steaming hot foods quickly cool down, fruit turns color, and juicy moist dishes tend to dry out etc.

This means your window of opportunity to take photographs of great looking food could be quite limited because it’s not going to look too appealing a couple of hours down the road.

To solve this, many food photographers have a little bag of tricks that they pull out to keep the dishes looking as fresh as possible.

It may be a little hard to believe, but photographers sometimes use things such as shoe polish, spray deodorant, and even motor oil to make the food look presentable. But since the food is there to photograph and not eat, these ideas for photographing food can certainly come in handy.

In fact, some photographers resort to using what is known as imitation food.

It really depends on what the photos are being used for. If the images are going to be featured in an advertising campaign then the real thing is required. But some food shots may consist of things such as fake ice cube and plastic fruit etc.


Dessert Food Photo

Photo by Aaron Roberts


As well as using imitation food, some photographers have a wide variety of items to help create colorful shots.

For example, you can use a blow torch to brown the edges of things such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken. Misting bottles are often used to spray salads, fruits, seafood and vegetables with ice-cold water. This makes them look fresh and appetizing to the viewer.

Another nifty idea for food photography is that cotton balls can be soaked in water and placed in a microwave oven to produce steam and deodorant may be sprayed on fruits to make them appear frosty. The illusion of steam can also be created with incense sticks and smoke pellets.

In addition, hair spray will moisten up a dried out piece of pie or cake. Spray fabric protector will do the trick if you don’t want the maple syrup soaking into your golden brown waffles or pancakes. Some photographers even use brown shoe polish if they have a piece of raw meat that needs to look like it has just come out of the roasting pan.


Photo of a Steak


If you’d like to take shots of chocolate syrup covered ice cream you’ll find that the liquid sticks well if you place a piece of paper towel in the ice cream. And the ice cream itself may actually be created with shortening and powdered sugar and are you sure the syrup isn’t actually motor oil?

There are many ways to create the illusion of tasty food dishes and these photography ideas and tricks of the trade are the ones often used.

Your eyes are trained to recognize the dishes as being one thing, but in reality they’re actually something else.

If you’re interested in coming up with some exceptional food images, feel free to get creative and see what you can come up with. However, you might not want to digest your creations.

What’s Next?

We hope you enjoyed these food photography tricks. Now that you’re finished reading, leave a comment below telling us which tip was your favorite and share any experiences you’ve had taking these types of photos.

Then, check out our related posts to learn even more ways to improve your photography.

One Comment

  1. Kenny Paisley

    November 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

    That steak looks delicious, I’m going to have to pop out and grab a couple now and surprise my girlfriend later when she gets back from work. 🙂

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