How to Improve Food Photos Without Buying Any New Photography Gear

Photo GearThere is a tiny bit of shopaholic in all of us. We spend hours in store window shopping and browsing through online stores… oh and if you are interested in photography, the quest to the best camera, the best lens and the that awesome lighting equipment is unending… and here I am, claiming that no matter what your skills are, you can improve your food photography without buying a single photography gear.

How to Improve Food Photos Without Buying Any New Photography Gear

If you like to take photos, you are bound to be tempted to buying that camera or that lens.  More often than not, people assume that buying a new gear, specially a new camera will change their photograph skills. I strongly believe that buying a new camera is not going to make you a great photographer. To become a better food photographer you don’t need new gear. You don’t have to buy anything at all. You can improve your photography skills without buying a single gear.

Here are some ways that will make you a better photographer without spending any money: 

Know Your Superpowers

Have you read the camera manual cover to cover of your existing camera? How many times? Majority of us never use full potential of our equipment. This is because we do not read the manual as camera manual and equipment handbook  are too boring. The result is that many of us are unaware of all the functions in our camera. As a result the power of our equipments is never fully realized and we don’t know what our superpowers are. For example, I am sure some of us will be surprise to hear that we can immensely the potential of point and shoot and use it very close to a DSLR with unchangeable lens.

Study Composition

Before you decide that you want to spend on photo gear, learn about composing a photograph and elements of art. Composing a photograph is the most critical aspect of photography. Whether you have a $200 point and shoot or a $5000 DSLR, if you can’t compose your shot well, nothing is going to save you. There is a lot that can be written and said about composing food photographs and photography in general. We will cover that in future posts.

Worship Natural Light

Can’t stress enough that photography is only about one thing – playing with light. This whole art revolves around light. Learn to see and “handle” light and you are much better photographer now. How much light? where to put light? what kind of light? It all about light. And the best light for food photography is the natural light. Rather than trying to buy a lighting equipment, use natural light. Natural light brings the true color in a photograph and capturing objects in it is much simpler. You don’t have to worry about white balance and post processing to get the true color in your photos. Matt from Wrightfood is a big fan of natural light and many of his food photos are taken in natural light.

Meditate on Background

A great background strengthens a subject and creates a stunning photograph. On the other hand, cluttered background distracts the viewer and stirs undeniable chaos. Background of a photograph is most important element that can be improved without spending money on new gear. For food photography, this is specially important. The background should support the food and not overtake your subject. Meeta from What’s for Lunch Honey uses background in food photography very creatively. But then there are days when you just can’t get rid of that clutter from background and that when you need shallow depth of field.

Say No to Direct Flash

One final thing – don’t use direct flash. What is direct flash? Direct flash is when you use flash from your camera (or an attachment for that matter) directly on your subject, without diffusing it. Direct flash flattens the image and messes up the color and tone in most cases. Now, at times, direct flash can be adjusted, but that depends on your camera and its functions, which takes us back to point #1 – know your superpowers. My recommendation while photographing food is avoid using direct flash at all times.

Next time you think about buying a photography gear, think about this post and improve on these before buying a new camera or a lens.

One Request:

Friends, I need your help. I am always eager to find out whether the posts are helping you or not and the only way to find that out is when you tell me. So, please comment below, tweet this or share it on facebook or your favorite site. This will help me plan for future posts. Thank you for your help in advance.

Photo Courtesy: Budget SLR Gear by Claudio Matsuoka

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  1. Thanks for posting this! It was great to read that someone on a budget, like I am, doesn’t have to feel less significant about my skills because of my lack of equipment. Also, it’s nice to hear that pro-photographers prefer to use natural light! The article came at the right time since I’m going to be photographing some food this weekend for a contest entry!

  2. I very much appreciate your posts. This is my year of improving my camera skills. I’m experimenting with all aspects of digital photography. This week I’m delving into turning photos into art via effects. I’d love to see a post on that. Thanks.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Barbara. The idea of converting photos into art is an interesting one. Let me think through this and figure out how food photos can be created into art pieces using effects.

  3. I really appreciate this blog, and most of your posts are very helpful to me, especially this one. I have a rather humble camera, and I realize that I can’t blame all of my very mediocre food photographer on the camera. I especially liked the tips about actually reading the manual and changing up the background.

    • Thank you for your comment. Glad that you liked the tips. Background makes a great impact on a photograph and you may have realized this too. I will have more on background in near future. Thanks again.

  4. Your posts (especially related to food photos) are always very helpful to me! I’m still trying to figure out how people take food photos with NOTHING in the background – it looks while, but not like white from a wall or countertop. Is that photoshop? Thanks for all the great tips!

    • Thank you for your comment. I believe you are talking about the bright white background. This is usually done by controlling the exposure and “metering” for the food. This may sound little confusing to those who have only used Point and shoot. I think this demands a separate post in itself.

      Thank you giving me a wonderful idea for a new post.

  5. I appreciate your posts very much, they are well written and really helpful. Like Barbara I would like a post on food photos transformed into art – I’m experimenting with that too….Thanks a lot.

    • Thank you for your comments Neeta. Glad that you found this helpful. What exactly do you mean by food photos transformed into arts? Little more information will help.

  6. I recently found your blog, and love it! I went back and read a bunch of articles. I’m trying to improve the composition of my food photographs. I especially like how analyze a photograph. I’m trying to look at pictures from a more artistic point of view.

  7. Good post, its easy to forget sometimes that the equipment you have generally has very little to do with photography.

  8. Hello there, first time to yr blog, thanks for sharing the tips. It’s not the camera, but the photographer. A lot of people do not understand this and thinks that having big expensive camera is the way. But i know many people who owns very good cameras taking very ordinary photos :p

  9. I’m glad found this website. I’m beginner so this is really helpfull. Thanks a lot!

  10. HI!
    My Name is Ariella and I’m from Israel and i have a cooking blog.
    Just recently I started to really pay attention to the subject of food fotography and styling so I went to study photography, but I`m in the very beginning and to be honest I can not say that there is any progress in my blog :-)
    I have no idea how I got here, to your blog, but I congratulate you and bless your blog, it`s wonderful.
    Sorry if my English is not perfect, but I’ll try to leave you feedbacks as much as i can I can and i hope you will understand my meanining…

    in the next days I’ll read all your posts and try to learn as much as possible what you teach here. I send you big hug and wish you all the best!!!


  11. Maybe you could edit the page name How to Improve Food Photos Without Buying Any New Photography Gear | Learn Food Photography & Styling Blog to more generic for your subject you make. I liked the the writing even sononetheless.

  12. Keep up the great work! Writing as much good content as you do is work! So thank you. I appreciate it!

  13. I’m new to all of this, but these postings have helped me tremendously. I have to admit to being intimidated by some of the pros who people this site. Nevertheless, I press on and hope to learn and DO.


  14. This article is very helpful. I am trying to get more knowledge on how to shoot beautiful food. I love cooking but my photos tend to turn out blah, blah, blah! My food deserves better photo than what I churned out! Ha your website is really useful to me. Love it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us here.

  15. I have a point-and-shoot and, with a full-time day job, I used to always shoot inside at night (so I’d have to use my flash–the photos are not very good). But I recently started getting up early to shoot outside in the morning before work and trying to take my recipe photos at at lunchtime on the weekends, and it’s made a lot of difference. I really want to improve my food photography this year, so I’m going to sign up for your blog’s RSS feed.

  16. This post is very helpful – Thanks for sharing this with the world!

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