My 8 food photography tips using your iPhone

My 8 food photography tips using your iPhone


When I started Sugar Free Mum 6 years ago, I had never taken a photo of anything in my life. SO I had to learn pretty quickly how to take decent snaps with my iPhone. Actually, I think I actually started with a Blackberry!

Food is fun to take pics of and share, but there are some key tips you should consider when snapping what you're having for brunch.

Here are my fave simple yet highly effective tricks for taking beautiful and tempting food photos with your iPhone, that I learnt at iPhone Photography School:

1. Shoot in natural light

The easiest way to create beautiful images, is the light. Always shoot your pictures in natural daylight rather than under artificial lighting.

The best kind of light for food photography is soft, diffused, natural daylight. Overcast days are perfect for food photography because the clouds act like a giant diffuser, creating a soft light with more subtle shadows.

When you’re shooting indoors, use the natural light from windows to illuminate your subject. Having a table positioned near a window allows you to easily set up your composition to make use of natural window light.

2. Control any shadows

Shadows are very important in photography, and they can make or break an image. Sometimes shadows enhance a photo, adding depth and visual interest, but other times they can ruin it by dominating too much of the picture.

The intensity of shadows depends on the type of light you’re shooting in. Strong directional sunlight will cast hard, dark shadows, whereas an overcast day creates a more diffused light, making the shadows much softer.

To avoid harsh shadows in your food photos, shoot on an overcast day or move your subject into a lightly shaded area.

If you’re shooting indoors and the sun is shining brightly through the window, use a semi-transparent white curtain to diffuse the light.

Alternatively, you could try moving the food further away from the window, or use a different window on the other side of the house.

3. Use a neutral background

The easiest way to ruin a beautiful shot, is having a colourful or cluttered background. Use a fairly neutral background and place the emphasis on the food in the scene. A neutral background doesn’t mean that it has to be completely plain, but it should complement the subject rather than suppress it.

There are three main types of background that work really well for food photography: light backgrounds, dark backgrounds, and wooden backgrounds.

Dark food usually looks good on a dark background, and light coloured food looks good on a light background. Wooden backgrounds, such as tables and chopping boards, tend to look great with almost any kind of food.

Tea towels and tablecloths also work well. White fabric tends to work best, but bright colours can work well with some foods. A subtle pattern, such as the vintage floral print shown below, can also look good sometimes.

Other backgrounds you could try include a black chalkboard, a carpet or rug, tiles, baking paper, a baking tray or a newspaper.

You can also use a neutral wall if you’re shooting your food from one side. Just walk around your house and see if you can find any of these objects in a subtle, neutral colour.

4. Shoot from the best angle

When taking photos of food, always think about which angle to shoot from to make the most of the subject. Shooting from above is often the best choice, especially when the food is arranged on a plate or bowl.

Shooting from above allows you to include all the details of the food and the background, and it emphasises the bold shapes of the dishes, cutlery and other objects within the scene. It’s also much easier to create a strong and balanced composition, allowing you to arrange the elements on the surface you’re shooting on.

However, if your subject is a drink in a glass or a cake that has some interesting layers, consider shooting from one side to show details of a slice of bread, cake, muffin, etc. Just make sure you shoot against a neutral background such as a wall.

The third option is to shoot diagonally. This is the best option when you want to include both the side view and the top view in order to capture the three-dimensional shape of the subject.

If you’re unsure which angle would best capture your food, try shooting from several different perspectives. It’s amazing the difference a slight change in shooting angle will make.

5. Arrange your food neatly

Composition is the key to great food photography, and the position of each element in the scene should be carefully thought out.

There’s nothing worse than a photo of a messy dinner on a plate, so always arrange your food in a neat or unique way to create visual interest and balance.

Play around with fruits and vegetables and cut them into similar shapes and create patterns on your plate or baking tray.

After creating your arrangement on the plate, make sure you haven’t spilled any food or sauce on the edge of the plate or the background.

If there are any spillages, clean them up before you take the photo. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary mess in your picture.

6. Add a human

Adding a human element to your food photos is another technique that you can use to tell more interesting and unique stories.

I often include my hand or arm in my food pictures. It helps to create a sense of presence for the viewer because it’s as if the photo has been captured from their point of view.

If you use this technique, you’ll have to hold your iPhone using just one hand. So take extra care to keep the iPhone steady when you press the shutter button.

Including a person’s hand (your own or someone else’s) using cutlery within the scene can help to create a sense of movement in an otherwise static scene.

If you have company, why not include everyone’s hand in the scene? This can tell a story of friendship and happiness brought about by the sharing of delicious food.

7. Keep it simple

If your food subject has a bold colour and shape, and you have a contrasting coloured background, a simple minimalist composition can often create the strongest impact.

For the strongest visual impact, position your subject perfectly central within the frame, and don’t use any heavy decorations.

It’s usually best to avoid using patterned or brightly coloured plates, dishes and cups. Simple white china is often the best option as it won’t compete for attention with the food.

If you’re shooting close-ups of food, you don’t tend to need any additional decorations in the scene.

8. Enhance colours with editing

Food comes in so many wonderful colours, but sometimes your iPhone doesn’t capture them quite the way you wanted.

Maybe you’d prefer the colours to be more vivid, or perhaps they’d look better if they appeared slightly more muted. This is where a filter or app comes in handy.

We love VSCO, FaceTune and Instagram for easy to use filters, airbrushing and highlighting. Check them out for free on your iPhone xx