• MWP | Malta Wedding Photo

Basics of culinary photography

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Today Malta wedding photographer will try to show you the secrets of culinary photography. You don't have to be a professional photographer with a lot of equipment. Even at home with one system lamp and a reflector you can make really great culinary photographs.


We have two options, ambient light or light from a system or studio lamp. If you want to use the ambient light, the best solution would be to use a tripod, which will significantly extend the exposure time. You can always use a window with a milky-transparent curtain, it is a natural softbox. If we have already chosen the light, it is worth to brighten the dish using a reflector. If we flash from the top, we set two blends (they don't have to be big) on the opposite sides of the dish. If, on the other hand, we use the window as a softbox or we set the softbox more on the side, we should set the blends on two adjacent sides on the opposite side to the light source.

Composition of dishes

It is very important to have a proper composition of dishes on a plate, I prefer minimalism and order. Let's try to arrange the food nicely, do not fill the dish to the brim. It is also an important element of the frame. The dishes usually look great decorated with herbs, provided that the character of a certain course allows it. Remember that usually a smaller portion on a large plate looks much better than a large portion on a small plate in the picture.

Props in the middle distance

Props in this case mean cutlery, cups, napkins, plates, etc. Remember that their shape and colour should match the food. They are not our main "model", that is why you should be moderate in their quantity and colours. Too many colours and elements will definitely divert attention from the foreground and the dish.


The most common way is to take pictures vertically from the top of the dish, I also like this perspective, because it allows you to keep the frame ordered. This is my favourite perspective in culinary photography. However, do not limit yourself, test different perspectives, Taking photographs at 30-45 degrees also gives very good results.


I left the description of the equipment at the end because I do not think that you would need macro lense (you can use a traditional lens), professional reflectors (you can use any surface that gently reflects light, eg styrofoam), a softbox and a studio flash (you can take photos during the day and use the window as a natural softbox) at home for non-commercial photography, Usually you will not even need a tripod. Of course, the photos that I put into this article are made with a full range of equipment, but these are commercial photos and in this case I couldn't agree for any shortcomings.


Choosing the background depends primarily on the effect that you aim to achieve. Various colours of wooden background look always great. These are not usually professional backgrounds bought in the photo shop. The best way is to visit IKEA or similar shops and buy a few bigger boards from light brown, through red, to black. It is worth to mention that even if such a background is covered with paint, the structure of the wood should be preserved so that it can be seen in the photographs. It always gives great results. Of course, this is not the only right way, that is what I just prefer. Tablecloth backgrounds also look very good, but in this case, I prefer strong colors. White, which is very universal and colours close to black look great in combination with red dishes or citrus fruit.


As you can see, there are usually two ways. Professional, commercial with lots of equipment and a home-made one. Remember that you can afford a great culinary photoshoot also using the second method. If you liked the article, feel free to let me know, Should you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them in comments.

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