Photography Tips » How to Use the Best Lighting and Props for Food Photography?

How to Use the Best Lighting and Props for Food Photography?

Featured image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Food photography is one most sought after professional commercial photography specialty. However, there are surprisingly many things to consider while creating commercial images of various food items. In this article, we will cover some essential tips for professionals to arrange food photography lighting and props so your results will look delicious. In reality, it is the lighting and accessories which make or breaks a great food photo.

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Using the right props can surely take the food photos to the next level. Without using props, you will just get the one dish on the table, which doesn’t look very inviting. If you want to make it more appealing visually and offer a better texture and contrast to the photo, props are essential. Food photography professionals know the real difference props and lightings can bring to food photos.

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Typical Props List For Interesting Food Photography

Rustic, fun cutting boards:

Using a cutting board can add some depth and character to food photos. They are actually great in combination with some white backdrop or white ceramics. If you look at any perfect food photograph, you can identify how effectively these props are used.

Non-shiny vintage cutlery, knives, chopsticks, and ramekins:

These add-ons will help you to tell the story better. The cutlery can add some fun bits to the shot, and the viewers can also better imagine themselves the tools needed to make and consume the dish. However, it has to be arranged admirably and not all in a random. A chef could be your best partner in arranging these props ideally for a better shot.

Attractive backdrops:

You should experiment with the backdrops you use in your food photography as suggested by Porfyriphotography. Use an array of colors like dark, grey, or rustic like wood. If you want to post the images on Instagram, then changing the backdrop is ideal for maintaining a well-balanced look in your Instagram feed. Use your colors alternatively to make it feel good on your wall. Choose the colors effectively and use the alternative to have an aesthetically pleasing finish on your feed. Remember, people “eat” with their eyes at the first point and then try it out in reality.

Matte white plates:

In fact, there is no hard and set rule for commercial food photographers to follow, but matte plates work well on food photos. Choices like A Question of Eagles, Zamaa Ceramica, or Farm House Pottery, etc. carry some great elegance which will add-on a lot to your food photos.

The image above could have less reflections if the photographer had used a matte plate. This could have turned a good photo into a great food photo.

Linens, newspapers or anything with a texture:

You can add more mood to your photos by adding color and texture using textiles or other elements. Doing this will create a sense of time, place, and emotions to the audience. For example, using a checkered cloth will create the mood of a picnic and a slightly-used dish towel may refer to hand-made food, etc.

Choosing the Best Lighting Equipment for Food Photography

Great lighting is essential to create commercial level food photos. There are a few kinds of artificial lights you can utilize when taking photographs of foods.

Every kind of artificial lights has their points of specific use, as you’ll see underneath.

Steady Light

A consistent light remains on, covering your set-up with an unfaltering wellspring of light. The benefit is that you can see precisely how the light and shadows fall onto your subject and scene.

This is particularly helpful in case you’re shooting tethered, with your camera snared to a PC through a USB cable.

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Shooting tethered enables you to see in far greater details how your picture will look than you can on your camera’s LCD screen. You can better observe where you have to make changes to lights, the food arrangement and props without taking a shot each time you move something.

Additionally, in case you’re keen on shooting a video for your blog or Instagram profile, you will require a consistent light.

In case you’re just beginning with food or still life photography, a consistent light can be a decent decision. You can get great lighting at a generally modest value point.

Strobe Light

A strobe light is more dominant than most steady lights.

In case you’re shooting for a sustenance blog or food product style photography, you will require a light with somewhere around 300 watts of intensity. Ideally, you’ll have one with 500 watts. For promoting or item photography, you’ll need significantly more power.

Regardless of whether you’re utilizing a consistent light or a strobe light, you have similar options as far as how you set up your light. You can change the distance to the food setup or table and the size of your lighting.

It takes some testing to perceive how the shadows fall, and what attempts to give you the outcomes that you want to accomplish. Changing the light can truly change the look of a photo. You want to have as much control of it as you can.

When shooting professionally for customers, for example, PR or advertising offices, you should work with strobes. It is viewed as an increasingly proficient methodology, and they will anticipate it.

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Lighting Modifiers

Having an artificial light source isn’t always sufficient. Indeed, you have to get enough light onto your set, yet you have to shape that light to display your subject in the most ideal manner.


A softbox is the most widely recognized light modifier utilized in food and still life photography.

Studio Light Reflector Dish

Many studio photographers use is a reflector dish with a honeycomb framework. A studio light reflector dish is a standard modifier for a studio streak head. A honeycomb lattice is set on a reflector dish or outside the softbox. It modifies and limits the light that reaches your subject so it doesn’t look excessively brutal or over lit. Furthermore it focuses the light a bit and cuts away some of the falloff light that would otherwise fall on the background.


Another vital thing in your pack is a diffuser. This is a board or frame with transparent white material that you place at the edge of your table to diminish the light that hits your scene. Alternatively, you can use a lighting tent like the one commonly used in product photography to control how light hits the subject.

Strobe light is a blast of light, which gives a look with hard shadows if it’s not diffused. This isn’t normally the ideal look in food photography.

5-in-1 foldable reflector disc

You’ll additionally likely require a 5-in-1 foldable reflector disc to bounce and retain the light.
You can use the silver reflector, for instance, to light up your subject, while the gold reflector will add a bit of warmth to the scene. Most 5-in-1 reflectors also include a diffuser disc.

Alternatively, you can utilize basic dark, or white cardboard obtained modestly from an art or dollar store. White will light up your scene, while the dark cardboard can be used to limit bouncing light.

Along with these props, anything else you wish to use like bottles, mixers, pouring glasses, bowls, etc. of various sizes and colors can add value to your food photograph while done a bit creatively and meaningfully.

Checklist for Food Photography: 10 Pieces of Equipment You should use For Food Photography

  1. Camera Bodies
  2. Macro Lens
  3. Tripod with a lateral arm
  4. Reflector
  5. Bounce Card
  6. Scrim Fabric
  7. Lighting setup
  8. Tethering Cable and a laptop
  9. Spray Bottle
  10. Props for making the food look great

All there is left to do is to get your gear together and start taking amazing and appetizing food photos. Do you have any other props you use in your food photography? Let us know in the comments below.

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