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Food photography

It’s inevitable. If you’ve started a food blog at some point, sooner or later, you’ll be thinking about what to do with your food photography. “We eat with our eyes” is the saying and online, where everything is more visual than ever, this has never been more true. I’ve taken a few steps on the journey of improving my food photography and styling and, while I still consider myself a beginner, I’ve come a long way since I was shooting on a Sony Cybershot with the food setting on. Through trial and error, a few courses, lots of reading online and workshops with some awe-inspiring photographers and food stylists, I’ve enjoyed the journey that’s brought me where I am today and I look forward to what’s ahead too.  These are some resources that have helped me (plus a few ideas). Would you like to improve your food photography?  Are your pictures just OK but you are not sure how to make them extra special? You might find some inspiration here (there are a couple of affiliate links in here where I get a little amount if you buy, but they are for things I would recommend anyway):Food photography tips and links -

Food Photography and/or Styling Workshops (on and offline)


Meeta K Wolf I helped organise three wonderful workshops with Meeta in Dubai. For a flavour of what went on at the workshops read: Atlantis, The Palm Food Photography & Styling Workshop (April 2012), Miele Food Photography & Styling Workshop (October 2012) and Dubai 2013. Meeta holds workshops throughout the year and around the world from Ireland to Amsterdam to Italy; you can find the latest details or subscribe to her online tutorial here. Watch out from tweets from me for any Dubai workshop news too.

Food Blogger Connect I’ve learned from some of the leading food photographers in the world through FBC including Ellen Silverman, Béatrice Peltre, David Griffen, Penny de los Santos and food stylist Emily Jonzen. It’s a two day annual event held in London dedicated to all things blogging.

Creative Live streams online course (plus you can get a flavour of the video before you buy). Choose from food photographers like Andrew Scrivani and Penny de los Santos. Minimalist Baker sells an e-course for 19.99 USD which may be worth considering.

Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography e-course is well-renowned. Find it and other resources for food bloggers.

In Dubai:

Gulf Photo Plus An annual event dedicated to photography where international photographers fly in to take workshops. In 2014 Matt Armendariz (of Matt Bites fame) held a two day workshop which was fairly pricey but fully booked. Luckily there were some shorter free workshops with Matt on smart phone photography too. Ongoing, Gulf Photo Plus offers a range of courses throughout the year including an 8 hour workshop on digital photography aimed at introducing beginners to their DSLR (760 AED).

Photo World Dubai An annual exhibition showcasing the latest in photography plus some masterclass workshops (paid) and free seminars. In 2014 renowned food photographer Jean Cazals conducted some workshops.

I learned how to use my DSLR at Dubai Ladies Club with a fantastic teacher and talented photographer Zahra Jewanjee.

Plus keep in touch with Meeta as above for her next workshop in the Emirates as above.


Something that helped me a lot was looking at how other photographers set up their shots. Resist the urge to jump in a just shoot away. Give thought to the light, reflections, angle, composition and mood you want to achieve. Claire from things {we} make does this before she cooks and puts a dummy object where the food will be. When she’s cooked the dish she’s all ready to shoot – and freshly made food always looks best. I’ve created a Pinterest board with a collection of food photography set ups.

And this post on Desserts for Breakfast is one of the most useful I’ve seen about talking you through a variety of set-ups with the same subject matter.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.12.18 PM

Food photography and styling tips by bloggers

A short list of some I like….

Nagi of Recipe Tin Eats has the most practical e-book about how she took her own photography from beginner level and pretty awful to showcasing beautiful images on her site (which has millions of viewers). Not free but well worth it. Click here to view more details

101 Cookbooks – Heidi was an early inspiration. Here are her Food Photography Tips

Appledrane – the super talented Stu Ovenden gives 10 Food photography tips for beginners

The Bojon Gourmet – found 12 things that have helped my food photography recently and it makes a lot of sense to me

Indian SimmerFood photography – my process

Smitten Kitchen – I really like the pared down and honest look that Deb Perlman achieves and explains in Our approach to food photography

Peter from Souvlaki for the Soul explains all about his set up and shooting dark, moody images (on Gourmande in the Kitchen) and about artificial light.

Vegan Yum Yum puts a lot of useful stuff into one post here in Food photography for bloggers

VK Rees is in another league of taking delectable food pics and gives some great advice here.

What’s For Lunch Honey? – Meeta gives advice on how to find your style with food styling and props.

Wrightfood – several detailed posts on all aspects of food photography from set up to post production

…for an absolutely enormous and exhaustive list visit Jenn Cuisine

and a shorter but useful one on Sallys Baking Addiction   Plus there’s another whole round up of links here

 Smart phone photography

The great thing about having a smart phone is that it’s on you all the time so you never miss a shot. It’s much more discreet in restaurants too and it is possible to take mouth-watering pictures of food with one. Just remember to follow the same rules of photography (composition, light etc) and that the lens is equivalent to a 35 m, so wide-angle. Overhead shots for food work best on a smart phone. There are some wonderful apps too – but the best app in the world won’t make up for a very bad shot so give it a bit of thought.

Why I love taking pictures with my phone (+ some tips/tricks) – a thought for food

Mobile Phone Food Photography – David Griffen

Food Photography with an iphone – Oh my veggies

Food photography books on my shelf

Food photography – from snapshots to great shots by Nicole S Young is very practical and has some detailed instructions about editing in Photoshop too (I also follow her blog here).

Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin (of Tartelette blog fame) is a beautiful book as you’d expect with lots of inspiring images and step by step set up pics. I think it could have done with an edit as there’s a lot of preamble around the useful advice.

Food photography challenges

Simone (aka Jungle Frog) from Simone’s Kitchen has restarted her monthly food photography challenge. She sets a theme at the start and compares results – very useful even if you don’t enter and fun if you do.

…are there any others out there specifically for food photography (I’ve searched and can’t find any)?

Fooderati Arabia

Really this should have been point number one. I’ve reached out and benefited from the generous support of the wonderful community of food bloggers here in the U.A.E. and also to friends I’ve made around the world. Special shout outs to Arva, Sukaina, Sandy, Sarah, Anja and Claire for particular advice that has helped me along the way; but continually collaborating, swapping stories and seeing the evolution of the photography of all my dear friends has been the best teacher there is. My final advice is to find some photography buddies, shoot lots, set yourself challenges, laugh a lot and learn from each other.

They’ve certainly helped with my own personal food photography journey; read more the equipment I’ve bought along the way and the things I’ve found useful in a post on things that helped improve my food photography.

How to shoot your food -

39 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2012 3:52 pm

    Hi Sally…Have sent you a message on your FB inbox..Need some advise from you.
    Thanx Shy

  2. Dima Sharif permalink
    September 26, 2012 8:23 pm

    How exciting! Really looking forward to this workshop and treating everyone to the perfect meal both visually and on the taste buds :))

  3. October 2, 2012 12:48 pm

    Wow I wish I could attend her workshop – I am dying to come to Dubai now! thanks to you and Samantha’s feedback!

  4. October 10, 2012 2:52 pm

    HI i like u r photos

  5. October 21, 2012 7:45 pm

    Looking forward to see you on Tuesday. Last years workshop Photo Atlantis was really useful and fun workshop, I enjoyed every bit of it. I am sure this will be even better, awesome.

  6. November 7, 2012 4:58 pm

    HI, can I know more about the coming courses, I am a food photographer and need more in depth about the food styling issue.

  7. Maha Al M permalink
    November 14, 2012 11:45 am

    Too bad i missed it. I always am out of town when this workshop is organised. When will the next one take place?

    • November 17, 2012 8:32 am

      We are hoping to hold another one in October 2013 Maha.

  8. March 30, 2013 3:43 pm

    October 2013. I’m so there. Just joined your mailing list. Looking forward to getting more info.

  9. Sahar permalink
    April 8, 2013 6:04 pm

    Hi! How can i sign up for this workshop?

  10. September 26, 2013 11:43 am

    Sally, I am in Jordan now but will be in Dubai at the time of the course I am aware it is fully booked BUT if someone does cancel, could i join?

  11. May 20, 2014 8:48 am

    Thanks Sally for the post – it’s really helpful for many if us. Very often, I refer back to 2 posts from another fabulous photographer/blogger – Playful Cooking (previously was Sunshine and Smiles)…1) and 2)

  12. May 20, 2014 1:11 pm

    Wow, super Cool, Thanks for sharing, I will really re shoot some of my previous photos.I think when you are relaxed nice shoot you can have, panic makes shoot trouble some, Less is more rules is applicable for food photography too.THANKS

  13. May 20, 2014 2:03 pm

    Great post Sally. A wealth of information in this one…I am off to spending my afternoon checking each one. Thanks:)

  14. May 27, 2014 8:56 pm

    I definitely need all the help I can get! Thank you!!

  15. May 29, 2014 11:40 pm

    It’s going to take me days to go through all of this – I can’t wait! Thank you so much for putting it all together – a truly fantastic resource!

    • May 30, 2014 7:38 am

      Glad it’s helpful – I’ve read so much good info on other blogs that’s helped me in the past.

  16. August 30, 2014 4:19 pm

    wow what a concise post, I have bookmarked for a good read another day!

  17. Bethica Das permalink
    September 27, 2014 12:58 pm

    Am interested in a course for beginners on Food Photography. Would like to know about the fees and location.

    • September 27, 2014 1:54 pm

      Thanks for the comment Bethica. I don’t run courses. Please see the links in this article for details of people who teach photography in Dubai. Good luck

  18. January 16, 2015 1:26 pm

    Really interesting article! Thank you. I also found the Plate to Pixel book really good.

  19. February 3, 2015 11:23 pm


    It was interesting to read! I am a food photographer in Dubai. But honestly I am not a food stylist, but I would love learn about food styling. Anyway next time,

    Anyways, please do visit my site and blog at :

    and facebookpage at :

    • pollopicu permalink
      April 28, 2015 3:50 am

      Beautiful work, simply stunning!

  20. pollopicu permalink
    April 28, 2015 3:48 am

    I found your blog through a link on the left of my reader here on WP, and I’m glad I did because I’ve been looking for some pointers oh how to improve my own food photography, especially since jumping on the smartphone bandwagon. I’m actually really disappointed with how smartphone pictures translates to PC’s. They somehow lose that pop of richness in color I’m so proud of in my food. I don’t like using filters, have tried the depth of field filter a couple time (will link you to my blog so you can see for yourself), but I’d really like to stay away from that and keep true to the natural beautiful colors of my own food. I had previously used a nikon d50 and a cool pix point and shoot that both worked fine, until one broke, and the other needs repair.

    I’m off to study this article. Thanks!

  21. October 23, 2015 11:18 am

    Thanks for posting all these resources. I’ve been trying to improve my food photography and I’m about to bang my head against the wall in frustration! I am saving this blog post to my pinterest board so I can come back and work my way through the links.

  22. February 10, 2019 8:50 am

    Really very interesting article! Thank you.

  23. May 9, 2021 12:28 pm

    its really great


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