How To Take Food Photos Without A Professional Camera

Food photography has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of Instagram. If you search #foodphotography or #onthetable, you’ll see an eclectic mix of styled food shots that could easily belong in your favourite cookbook. Many of my Toronto friends are food stylists, food bloggers/writers and professional food photographers, however, unbeknownst to most – many of their photos are taken with a humble iPhone.

The key to taking good food photos isn’t the quality of your lens, it’s all about positioning and lighting. Here are my super straightforward tips to getting a top notch photo  without much fuss!


Dine during the daytime
Is your reservation at 9PM in the middle of winter? Don’t expect to get a great food photo without natural light. That brings me to my next point…

Sit near the window
When I make restaurant bookings, I always request to be seated near a window. You’ll want natural light streaming in, but be wary of weird shadows on super sunny days! If you find yourself seated in the back corner, don’t bother. And never use flash!

Wait until everything comes out
I find this increasingly hard in Christchurch where I only know a handful of food Instagrammers and typically eat out with friends and Nick. If you look back to some of my Toronto shots – you’ll see that we’ve waited patiently until everyone’s meal has been served before whipping out our phones. Also, the more meals, the better. You want to showcase the best of what the restaurant has to offer.

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Be confident
Sure, you might get a few stares or weird looks, but my friend, Isabelle (food stylist extraordinaire) says it best: “I just stare right back. The people who look at me funny for styling and photographing my food are the same people who are liking and marvelling at my content on Instagram,” which is definitely true in her case!

Don’t be afraid to move things around…
The best food photos, in my opinion, are carefully styled. Just like a chef artfully arranges the food on the plate, urging you to first eat with your eyes, so should the plates. Experiment with moving plates around, adding or removing cutlery and glasses, and add a hand to humanise the photo.

Showcase unique elements of the restaurant
While many of my food photos showcase just that, the food, I also try to tie in interesting elements of the café or restaurant I’m shooting. Whether it’s a tiled floor or a beautiful bar, capture café interiors are often as beautiful as the food itself!

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If you need some inspiration, I suggest following these accounts:

Are you into food photography? Tell me, what are your tips?

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