Food Photography Basics

This post has been updated in 2015.

Tips & Tricks from

Food Photography Introduction

There are hundreds of thousands of resources for learning how to improve your food photography. 

Photos are the bread and butter of my blog. I like to think of them as the strategic “selling point” to my recipes. I can only say so much about a brownie being fudgy. I want to SHOW you how fudgy it is. And to be honest, not many readers read the text of the blog. They are there for the photos and the recipe.

Aside from posting quality content (over quantity) and being present/available to readers, I have learned that the photography is what draws in my crowd. And makes them stay. Bad food photos are a turn off. And I write this knowing I have some poor shots on my website – I cringe when I look at old photos. Heck, I even cringe looking at photos from a couple months ago. I learn and try to improve with every single photoshoot. Sometimes I reshoot old recipes for fun if I make the goodie again, but I like to leave a few old photos up to remind myself that food photography is a learning journey.

Photography Improvements

{Photo 1 taken with my iPhone 4 & basic editing in iPhoto to brighten the shot. Photo 2 taken in RAW format, shot in manual mode with my Rebel T2i, tripod, 11am in October 2012, ISO 100, f/4.5, shutter speed 1/1.3 s, Lightroom edits to exposure, sharpening, contrast, shadows, saturation, and white balance.}

After some practice, I have learned that big, bright, CRISP, make-you-want-to-reach-through-the-screen photographs create the most visual appeal for my readers.  I also like to shoot my photographs vertically.  More on that below.

We eat with our eyes, so my blog’s photography is an important aspect.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

You can certainly have a successful blog without a professional DSLR, editing software, and a pricey lens. However, for me, I didn’t notice my blog taking off until I learned how to use my DSLR. From April 2012 – March 2013, I used my Canon EOS Rebel T2i.  I am currently shooting with a Canon EOS 5D Mark iii and a 50mm f/1.4 lens. In August 2013, I bought the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0 Zoom Lens.  I currently shoot with both this zoom lens and the 50mm fixed lens.

After I began to learn how to use a DSLR. My photos started to be accepted onto photo sites like FoodGawker and Tastespotting, and pinned more on Pinterest (the source for over half of my referral traffic). I saw a spike in traffic and companies were reaching out to me because my food photography was improving. That is why I’m sharing with you a few of the things I’ve learned with my DSLR today.

When I first began blogging, I asked myself what I love most about the food blogs I read. It’s the photography. When I was a lurker, I would gaze at big, bold photos with faded backgrounds and natural style. Nothing forced. I like lots of color, bokeh (the background blur), and pleasant composition. I never took a photography class when I first picked up my DSLR, so it was time to learn.

My #1 piece of advice: practice makes perfect. Take hundreds of photos. Tons. Keep working at it.

My Current Food Photography Tools



I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii and have since April 2013. My current lenses are a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 &  a Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0 Zoom Lens.


My current lenses


Before my current camera, I shot with a Canon Rebel t2i from April 2012 to March 2013. I have used Adobe Lightroom 4 to edit my photos since April 2012. I think of my editing software as putting life back into my photos.  Lightroom is extremely user friendly – much more so than Photoshop (I had to use Photoshop in my college design class – did not “get” it).  Needless to say, Lightroom has been my saving grace and I HIGHLY recommend buying it, even if you do not own a DSLR. Use this killer Adobe Lightroom Tutorial.

I shoot in manual mode (M) and have since July 2012. I shoot all of my photos in natural light. Light is everything in food photography. In fact, lighting deserves its own post. If you’d like to read more about lighting right now, I highly suggest looking into buying Tasty Food Photography eBook by Lindsay, the author of popular food blog Pinch of Yum. It is only $19 and it pays for itself. I bought this eBook last May and learned SO much useful information. I reference back to it often when I am shooting.

I do not currently use my camera flash to take food photography. I shoot in RAW format. In July 2012, I bought a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. This is a very affordable and lightweight lens for its functionality. They range between $100-$120 or even cheaper if you find a good deal. In April 2013, I bought a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens. 50mm means that this lens has a fixed focal length and does not zoom. It delivers tack-sharp images when adequately combined with 3 other very important features that I will explain below: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

I use the Sunpak PlatinumPlus 6000PG 61 Tripod for all of my photos. Sometimes I’m faced with dark and dull lighting. Because of these darker conditions, buying a tripod has been one of the best investments I have ever made besides Lightroom. I highly suggest a tripod (that shoots both vertically and horizontally) if you are having trouble with lighting or having your photos stay in focus. Also, food photography is all about the details. Because I use a tripod on a self 2 second timer, it is nice to have both of my hands to quickly move a crumb or cookie to another spot.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 3.15.42 PM

Let’s go over the three major controls you use with your DSLR.

Three Major DSLR Controls

1) Aperture. Aperture is measured in F stops (“f/2.8” is the aperture). It controls how light will hit the sensor. It is the size of the hole that the light goes through when it passes through the lens. Photos taken with a low aperture will let in more light (f/3.5 lets in more light than f/8.0).

A lower aperture will also give you a more shallow depth of field. This is when one small object (or part of an object) is in focus when the rest of the photo is blurred. A blurred background is known as bokeh. For my food photography, I like to use a low aperture. Depending on the subject, I do not go lower than f/3.5 and in most cases (practically ALL cases), I shoot at f/4.5.  

The two photos below show my Confetti Cake Batter Cookies. I shot these on a very sunny day in December at 12pm. The photo on the left has an aperture of f/3.5. I wanted just the one small cookie in the front (most of the cookie) to be in focus and the sprinkles around it to be slightly blurred. This meant that I had to lower my aperture.

The photo on the right is shot at f/7.0. For this overhead shot, I wanted most of the cookies in focus.  I probably could have increased the aperture more, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

When you take photos with a high aperture (meaning more of your photo is in focus), you need a lot of light because the “hole” that the light goes through when it passes through the lens is smaller.

Aperture Differences

Below is a photo of my Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I wanted the entire tower of cookies to be in focus (remember: higher aperture = more of the photo is in focus). This meant that I had to step back considerably from the subject and bump up my aperture to f/8.0. It was a hard shot to take and probably took me about 9 tries.

Because I set the aperture higher to get more of the cookie tower in focus, I had to slow down my shutter speed to compensate for the loss of light. More on shutter speed next.


For fun, below is a photo taken of the same cookies 1 year ago. Taken with my iPhone 4 in natural light, no editing, poor composition, too tight, and no styling. Try to step away from your subject, Sally!


2) Shutter Speed. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open. Shutter speed and aperture are buddies. When you adjust one, you (most of the time) must adjust the other to compensate. While aperture depicts the size of the hole in which the lens allows light, the camera’s shutter is for exposing the sensor to light for a specified amount of time. Shutter speed is represented by seconds or fractions of a second. For example, if your shutter speed is “1/125 s″ that means your shutter is open for one one-hundred and twenty fifths of a second. A shutter speed of “1” is one full second.

The bigger the denominator in the fraction, the faster the speed (1/500 is much faster than 1/30).

To get a decent or perfect exposure, your aperture and shutter speed must be aligned. Even when aligned, I usually still have to brighten or darken the photo in my editing software.

How do I change the aperture and the shutter speed in manual mode? Take a look at your camera’s manual. On most DSLR cameras, you may change the aperture or shutter speed by turning the dial on top of the camera. Below you’ll see this user shooting in M mode (manual), 1/400 s shutter speed, and f/5.6 aperture. Do you see that dial in the red circle, in between the two 1s? That means the shutter speed and/or aperture have been adjusted to perfectly align for a decent exposure. I say decent because, for me, I still notice my photos too bright or too dark when the dial is in the center. Sometimes I move the dial to the left or to the right to get the exposure I am looking for. Amanda explains this well here.


3) ISO. ISO is an indication of how sensitive your camera is to light. 100 is low, 3200 is high. The lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain of your photo. A higher ISO setting is used in dark settings to get quicker shutter speeds – but this means a noisier/grainy photo. White on Rice Couple explains ISO in detail here.

I remember when I first began using my DSLR. I had it set to 2400 (!!!) in the afternoon to take a photo of a cupcake in my dark apartment.  This was when I was shooting with the kit lens and before I had a tripod. Kevin picked up the camera the next day, saw the 2400 ISO, and asked me if I was shooting in the dark. I had to bump up my ISO very high to get a lighter photo. I could have just adjusted my shutter speed and aperture, but I had no idea what I was doing. The resulting photo (below) is very noisy with a lot of grain in the background.

The ISO is 2400. See how grainy the background is?

brownie cookie dough cupcakes-6

Currently, I try hard not to go above ISO 100. This produces a clean, crisp photo with hardly any noise. I am able to go this low because I shoot in bright sunlight and use a tripod. However, I recently fell victim to the weather. It was snowing when I shot my Salted Triple Caramel Cupcakes 3 weeks ago. The lighting was very soft (too soft) – gray and dull and the subject was monotone light brown. My camera lens would NOT focus at 100 ISO, no matter where I put the shutter speed. I had to increase the ISO to 400. Still much less grain (if any) than the photo above.

Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes

So that briefly covers your DSLR three basic features. Here are a few more things I like to bundle up into the whole food photography package. These are things that can be implemented even without a DSLR.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 3.15.42 PM

5 Things to Keep in Mind

1. Styling and Composition. These subjects deserves their own post.  Every photographer has their own style. A wedding photographer with soft-lit, glowing photos. A food photographer with moody, crisp, sultry photos.  It really just depends what you like and are comfortable shooting.  It took me some time to find a style, but like I mentioned before, I am constantly learning and improving and my style may be different down the line.

For food styling, I suggest checking out my #1 resource on the subject: Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin. I highly recommend this book – it covers the ins and outs of everything I’m going over today.

I like my photos close up, but not too close up that you don’t even know what you’re looking at.

What is this stuff? Too tight composition!

old photography

Create movement in your photos. Make the reader’s eyes move from one corner of the photo to another. The entire frame should be interesting – avoid white, blank space. Avoid being cluttered. I’m still working on my food styling. 🙂

Take a step back from your object and style your frame aesthetically. A few sprinkles here, a few granola pieces there. Natural crumbs on the plate – nothing forced. A spoon, a patterned linen – all of these create dimension and a sense of place. Try to always use the rule of thirds.

Cake Batter Blondies

2. Formatting. The photo above of my Cake Batter Blondies – notice how they have a warm, yellow look to them? I took these photos in the summer, which is a large part to do with the warm yellowish lighting. But I also took these photos in JPEG format before I began to shoot in RAW format. These are the two main image formats cameras shoot in: JPEG and RAW. When you shoot in JPEG, your camera automatically adjusts the photo and removes some of the color data, sharpness, and resolution. This loss of information means that the photo can be saved in a smaller format on your memory card. JPEG is a lower quality photo and gives you less control in post production (editing). I switched to shooting in RAW format in November 2012 after speaking with some photographer friends.

I love shooting in RAW. RAW photos are VERY large files because they retain all of the data from plate to camera to computer. Get ready to use up a ton of space (or all) on your memory card. For me, RAW photos take a lot longer to edit but it is well worth the extra time spent because the images are clear as ever and no color data or resolution was compressed. Using Lightroom 4, I am able to upload the photos in JPEG format to use on my blog.

3. Angles. Most of my photos are taken at three-quarters view. This means they are slightly above eye level, but not overhead. I throw more of the food into the background when shooting in this view – I do not need to worry about my couch, my window, or a chair being in the background. This angle is perfect for me because sometimes I have limited space.

Ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

{Shot at three-quarters view at 2pm in October, RAW format, manual mode, tripod, ISO 100, f/4.5, shutter speed 1/1.4 s}

However, I do like to mix it up in a photoshoot to give each post a little pizazz. The photos in my posts are mostly three-quarters, with a few eye level and overhead shots thrown in.

I prefer taking vertical shots opposed to horizontal shots. Practice both ways and see which you are most comfortable with. I like vertical shots for a couple of reasons:

  • Vertical photos are larger on my website – again, I like big and bold photos.
  • Vertical photos are larger on Pinterest, which grabs the attention of users.
  • Vertical photos are much easier to crop down if needed – sometimes my shots aren’t perfectly framed or appear lopsided when I upload them to my computer. I swear, my floors are crooked. Cropping down a vertical shot is much easier than horizontal because you have more photo to work with.
  • Vertical photos allow you to create movement easily in your frame, which works better for my favorite way of shooting – three-quarters view.

Easy Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream-7

{Shot overhead, looking down on the subject at 2pm in December, RAW format, manual mode, tripod, ISO 100, f/4.5, shutter speed 1/1.4 s}

4. Action shots. Actions shots are fun and well, only possible if you have a friend to help you or a tripod. It kind of makes the reader feel like he/she is right there with you. It makes for a very interesting photo.

Sally's Baking Addiction Maple Donuts

{Shot at three-quarters view at 10am in September, RAW format, manual mode, tripod, ISO 100, f/5.6, shutter speed 1/1.4 s}

5. Props! Also making for an interesting shot are your props and accessories. The fun little extras make food styling so much fun. Pretty dishes, colorful textiles, or vintage silverware. Distressed wood pieces, white plates and bowls, or granite counter tops. I have an extensive and growing collection of unique dishware that I find at Goodwill (or fancy stuff I splurge on at Anthropologie!).

Food can also be a prop in your photo. What is in your recipe? Chocolate chips? Herbs? Lemon? Peanut Butter? Add some extras to your frame for very little cost by using relevant food. But make sure that the finished product is always the star.

You can even use your hands. To me, the photo below is more interesting than simply a cookie on a plate.

Soft-Baked Peanut Butter M&M Cookies with sprinkles

There are so many other topics to touch on in terms of food photography. I could go on and on, but my fingers are about to fall off and I’m sure I’ve lost you by this point. I hope this leaves you with a few extra pieces of knowledge in the food photography world. Food photography can be a lot more fun and a lot less scary if you just keep practicing. I still have so much to learn and improve; it’s a journey.

I’m going to direct you to a few resources that are extremely helpful.  Also, a list of products that I use.

Highly Recommended:

Be sure to check out my other blogging pages.


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  1. Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen on December 28, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I read this post when you first posted it months and months ago and I’ve been studying it on and off ever since- my P&S had some functions of a DSLR (M, AV, and TV modes) and so it helped a little with my photography. I bought a DSLR a few days ago and I cannot say how helpful this post is! I feel like I understand my camera (Canon rebel EOS t3) so much already because of this. Thanks!

    • Sally on December 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      It took me so long to learn the ins and outs of my DSLR – heck, I’m still learning! So glad this is helpful for you Faith 🙂

  2. Mademoiselle C. on December 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Such a good post Sally – thank you! I have just started blogging (lifestyle including recipes) and am already having serious fun with the food photography side of things. I have just ordered the Tasty Food Photography book and can’t wait to start reading it. I love seeing how you’re photos have improved because it means there is hope for all of us 🙂
    Love your blog!
    Mlle C.

  3. Radhika on December 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I have genuinely learned something ! Honestly! You have basically covered all my problems, small house, low light, crooked floors even! Haha.. Like you in the beginning, I use my iphone for my ‘baby’ food blog’s pictures (my blog is tiny, a start up, 1 week old). The pictures suck but I have to make do until I buy a new camera! After reading how you started getting traffic after posting better pictures, I’m thinking of buying one asap. It’s true that we eat with our eyes and your pictures make us want to come back.. Thanks for the tips! This was a fun post!

    • Sally on December 31, 2013 at 10:45 am

      So happy to be a help to you Radhika!

  4. Ashley on January 2, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Happy new year, Sally! I’ve had a chance to read your Blogging Tips posts, which have been oh-so-helpful. I have learned a lot, and I think it’s so great you’re helping others with this post.

    My question for you is–and I didn’t see this covered in this post or others, so if I missed it, let me know–how do you organize all of your photos once you remove them from the memory card? I’m thinking in terms of archiving and saving space on the computer. Do you have a system/program that you like? I’m finding this isn’t a topic that’s covered a lot (at all, really) in the food blogging world, but it’s an important one. I would appreciate any insight you have or maybe a post on the matter! 🙂

    • Sally on January 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Hey Ashley! I actually store all of my photos on a separate hard drive. I shoot in RAW, so they are extremely large files. Once DLed onto my computer, I edit them, upload them to my blog, and transfer them to my external hard drive. They are organized by month and year. This is what I have:

      • Ashley on January 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm

        Thanks, Sally! A couple years ago, I had taken an Intro to Photoshop class (my mind is still spinning from it!), and the instructor briefly touched upon Adobe Bridge. But I haven’t heard much about it since, so I wondered how great it is. At the time, it seemed like a powerful tool if used correctly. I’m sure there are some other programs like Bridge, but I find that sorting manually by month and year, just like you, works great. Storing on a separate hard drive is a good idea. I can only imagine how large RAW files are. Thanks again!

  5. Leigha @ Minougirl on January 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH, Sally! This is perfect! I really want to make my blog more known for recipes and photography. I’m really thinking about making the splurge and getting a good camera – right now I use my iPhone 4 for my recipe pics! Thanks again! 🙂

  6. Mandy on January 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Sally, thank you so much for this! I am currently only using my iPhone for photos for my blog, but I know that I need to upgrade if I really want my blog to take off. This post has helped me see where I need to start and doesn’t make it seem so scary.

  7. Amanda - Subscription Maven on January 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Sally, I lust over your recipes and photos all the time. I don’t know how I only just discovered this post. I have a completely different type of log, but it includes recipes and I am in the process of starting a good blog. One of my biggest issues is styling my photo and composition. I have a difficult time thinking about what would look good in a shot and tell a story, especially since I don’t feel as though I have a lot of props. This wasn’t an issue before, but now that I am starting a food blog, I need to be more mindful. I think your styling is really amazing and I love looking at your pictures for motivation and inspiration.

    I used to be quite good at photography but had my DSLR stolen about 5 years ago and only just bought a new one. I feel so rusty using one again. I’ve always been a Nikon kinda gal, but so many good bloggers seem to prefer the Canon, what are your thoughts on this? (By the way, my upcoming food blog is – be on the lookout for when I can finally get to launch it!)

    • Sally on January 16, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Hey Amanda! What a sweet comment. I’m so excited that you love my blog. The food styling is so hard for me. I struggle with it with every single photo. Sometimes I feel creatively stuck. It happens a lot! I just try to take a TON of pictures for each recipe, all different, and then I can have them sort of tell a story in my posts. So just take 100s of different photos. A few are bound to be perfect!

      I wish I had an opinion on Nikon vs Canon, but I have only ever shot with Canon.

  8. Noel on January 25, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Long time reader here … I’ve been following your work for some time and have always admired it. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to make everything look so easy!

    This post is particularly helpful to me, because one of my 2014 goals is to improve my food photography on ApronFreeCooking. I’ll admit that aperture and manual intimidate me but I’m going to push myself through that feeling.

    I’ve bookmarked and pinned this post so I’ll have it to reference when I need to study more. (It’s still early today and I’m running on a tea imbalance…need more caffeine!)

    Thanks for the tips, positive attitude and enthusiasm!

    • Sally on January 26, 2014 at 7:28 am

      Hey Noel – thanks so much for saying hi. I’m glad you found this photography post helpful. And what a wonderful goal to have for the new year!

  9. Jenna on February 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I really enjoyed your post. I’m curious, how far do you stand away from your food photos with your 50 mm lens when you take your pictures? I use my macro lens a lot and sometimes I think that the pictures are too close up for getting on foodgawker.

    • Sally on February 9, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Hi Jenna! How far I stand from the subject depends on which lens I am using and/or what I am shooting. I use a tripod, so my lens is anywhere from 6-12″ from the subject. Then, you can always crop in during post processing. I would suggest standing away a little bit if you’d like a wider shot.

  10. Sarah @ SnixyKitchen on February 16, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Hi Sally! Thanks for such a detailed post! I’ve just made the switchover from JPEG to RAW with my canon 5d, but I’m having a really hard time editing/processing them. When I pull them into Lightroom, the raw images feel much more flat. Do you have any advice on standard import presets or other processing info for RAW images? I’m trying not to get discouraged and frustrated 🙂

  11. Lindsay Garza on February 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Sally I absolutely love this post and your site! I am just starting out and new to the blogging world. I have realized already that I need to get a big girl camera! But realize that there will be even more frustrations that will come out of that too! I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this post quite frequently!

    • Sally on February 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      I’m happy this post is helpful for you, Lindsay!

  12. Crystal Pantoja on March 1, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Thank you so much Sally. All this information that you supplied us with is extremely helpful and will be put to good use. I’m a small business owner and this will change the way I take/look at my photographs.

  13. Francesca on March 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    “Aperture and shutter speed are buddies”…this made me giggle!!

    Just as I was worried about not keeping up with the technical terms, you pulled me right back in Sally! Thanks for being so normal 🙂 x

    • Sally on March 26, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Haha! I’m so corny. Technical terms scare me, so these teams are much more my language. 😉

  14. Jeannette on March 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I have been studying this post for weeks now and i understand completely! Thank You so much sally for sharing this. 🙂

  15. Rachel Brady on April 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Great great great! Thanks so much for this article. I have that book by Helen Dujardin, which is brilliant. I have also just bought that eBook you recommended – bit of bedtime reading for me. It’s a HUGE learning curve, this food photography malarkey eh? I’m loving it though. My biggest challenge (other than light (given that I live in dull dull England!!) is that my food is normally my family’s dinner, so my children are screaming for their bellies to be filled whilst I am trying to get a half decent photo!! Any tips for that problem?!? Only joking. Keep up the good work Sally! X

    • Sally on April 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Rachel, I love TastyFood Photography and Plate to Pixel – two amazing sources. Since I don’t usually post dinners, I don’t run into the whole “dinner getting cold” problem. But I can imagine that being annoying with natural light being its best early in the day. So sorry I’m not much help there!

  16. Wedding Photographer on April 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

    This is such a great post – so much helpful information in here. I’m curious why you chose the 24-70mm instead of the 24-105mm since they are both f/4.0 — Macro. In any event, great tips – my wife and I are just getting started in culinary photography so pages like this are very helpful.

    • Sally on April 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Simply because that’s what my photographer friends influenced me to purchase for my own food photography. Glad this was helpful!

  17. Jessica @ Stuck on Sweet on April 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I seriously love you Sally – this information is incredible and so easy to follow. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  18. Jamie on May 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Thank you so much for all of the information! My husband and I have a joint food blog. I mentioned that we needed a better camera in order to get better pictures of our food but he was a little hesitant because we have a couple of decent camera but they’re not good for food photography. My husband happened to run across this post and it opened his eyes. I follow you on Google+ but he doesn’t keep up with that part of our blog. I do all of the blog following. 🙂 I’m not sure how he came across your blog post on food photography but I’m so glad he did. We’re now trying to decide which camera and camera lenses we’re going to purchase…all thanks to you! 🙂

  19. Jennifer on May 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Sally! Great tips! I just discovered your blog, and I love all the info on it. I was wondering how you get your copyright onto your photos. Do you use a specific program?

    • Sally on May 29, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Jennifer! I am able to add the watermark in Lightroom, my editing software.

  20. Lynn on June 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Sally, I have got to tell you… I look at this post often. I am learning the ins and outs of food photography and this has helped me so much! I even got a photo accepted onto foodgawker (after 6 rejections), and I have to say, you are one of my biggest inspirations. Even if I’m not particularly interested in the recipe you post (ok, that sounded bad, I hope you know what I mean), I always, always, always study your pictures! And the funniest part is, when I know I’m getting too close to my food, I step back and say, usually outloud, “step away from your subject, Sally!” Really, just thank you for being who you are and always giving me a reason to look forward to that “ping” of a new recipe in my inbox. You’re the best!

    • Sally on June 3, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Congrats on the FG submission, Lynn! That’s so exciting. Happy to hear that this is helpful for you. I appreciate you letting me know. I am still learning as well – it’s a never-ending learning process for sure.

  21. Essence on June 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks so much for this breakdown. I cannot wait to get home and start fiddling with my camera so I can prepare for the next shoot.

  22. Emily on June 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    GREAT post! I am getting more into photography and definitely learned a lot. One thing I need to invest in is a tripod. I have a Canon Rebel SL1

  23. Chicago Wedding Photographer on July 16, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I love reading your blog, but it makes me SO FREAKING hungry! Those colorful cookies I want to reach up like willy wonka, grab them from the screen, and eat them.

  24. Tammy P. on July 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    So glad I found your blog. i have a Canon T3 and have been trying to glean from everyone before launching my own site. I do take the hundreds of photos..ha! However, your post here has been the most informative of all I’ve read and contains the details I like…and need! Thanks so much!

  25. GC on July 20, 2014 at 10:19 am

    This series has been so very helpful. Thank you for using vocabulary that everyone can understand! I have a DSLR which I have no idea how to use, but I’m going to give it a shot this afternoon after reading this blog post. Thank you! 😀

  26. amy on July 24, 2014 at 9:11 am


    Great great website. I have come to the right place. I’ve always struggle with my camera and finally found a helpful article…Thank you!!! your website inspires me!! I’ve been putting off of food blogging for so long but I’ll start today 🙂

  27. Steve @thisguy_cooks on July 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Hi there.
    I just wanted to say a massive thank you for all of your fantastic tips. I released my first ever recipe post this evening on and the photos were taken with your tips in mind. Although I am a photographer by trade, food has always eluded me but the shot I took this evening makes me want to eat what’s in the image which is of course, the end goal for every shot!

    Once again, thanks so much!!!

    Steve @thisguy_cooks

  28. [email protected] on July 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I am so thankful for your helpfulness. I really feel like I hit the jackpot by finding your website. I’ve only started my food blogging journey two short months ago and am learning so much thanks to websites like yours and also Tasty Food Photography by Lyndsay from Pinch of Yum. Your pictures are not only beautiful but what you do is an inspiration to others that they too can make their passion their profession.

    A Million Thanks!

    • Sally on July 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Thank you Dorcas. And good luck to you! Lindsay’s book is incredible and will continue to be a helpful resource for you!

  29. Diana on August 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I love u blog, I made my fist ever successful chocolate cookie after I accidentally found your blog, so helpful. I have been trying for years not getting the result I wanted, but now, I finally found out that how to make the soft one and it also round (chill and make the ball shape). My sister in law gave me the recipe but left that part out and my cookies were always flat and hard, and it couldn’t ask her because I didn’t” know that was the problem and she wasn’t as open as you are when comes out about Sharing. Thanks a lot.

  30. Christine on September 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

    This post was BEYOND helpful. Thank you so much for having taken the time to share! I just recently started my blog and I’m noticing the huge difference that photography makes. It’s admittedly been a source of frustration, because of course I want everything to be perfect right this second. Luckily I just got a new camera, but am still very much learning how to use it. It was so comforting to hear that you experienced the same thing! And I absolutely love seeing your “before and after”s and how your photography has evolved. Blogging and photography are DEFINITELY a journey, so it’s great to see how far you’ve come. Just trying to remind myself that we all have to start somewhere 🙂 Thank you again! I adore your blog.



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