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  • Writer's pictureRachel

Food Photography: Behind the Scenes

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

I’ve written a lot about food photography lately, like the importance of natural lighting and composition when capturing those yummy goods. So today I thought I’d share a behind-the-scenes look at some of the tricks I’ve been talking about and the resulting photos.


Get ready for some furry friends, weird setups, and some really *interesting* lighting…


Experimenting with lighting

So here’s a behind-the-scenes look at my first-ever picture posted to the Belly Rubs social media accounts. It’s a great example of why experimenting with the lighting around your space is really important!

I thought that this front window was certainly the best area for lighting in my home. It wasn’t bad, but as I soon learned, the sliding glass doors on the other end of the room were the winner-winner chicken dinner.


A few thoughts…

  • Open the curtains!! They may be transparent but they still block a decent amount of light. C’mon, lady!

  • Never let your body block all that beautiful natural light from shining through! Taking pics from the other side of the table would’ve been smart.

The result was still pretty great. I was very proud of my photo composition and branding in these photos. Not what I would choose today, but I was working with what I already had at the time.


This example has it all. Household items to elevate composition, natural lighting, and the interesting setup that made it all happen.


A case study on natural lighting

This was another one of my first-ever posts on social media and if I’m being honest, the final result wasn’t that shabby! But it’s a perfect example of the cardboard box and tea towel concept I’ve mentioned before.


It’s actually a two-for-one since the Belly Rub king himself was by my side for this photo shoot. This picture is completely unedited and shows the absolute ~magic~ of natural lighting.


Mere feet away you can see the stairway to the basement—dark and unwelcoming. Yet next to the sliding glass doors, we’ve got an immense amount of natural light that makes the colors of the cake POP.


Not to mention the unpleasant yellow lighting coming from the kitchen around the corner. It is truly amazing what natural lighting can do for your photography!


Poor lighting will not do you any favors

Now this one…OOF. Really took a step back in the quality department. It did make it to social media, but it’s not nearly as up to par as the previous ones. I’m not sure why this couldn’t just wait until the morning, but for whatever reason, I was desperate to get a photo that night.


So I did what every professional photographer does when they encounter poor lighting: I used the flashlight from two cell phones to light this cake in a dark room (ha!). I vividly remember my friend standing there holding the lights while I took pictures. Yes, my camera has flash, but it was creating horrible shadows that made everything look worse.


With a lot of editing, we got our final product. I suppose it could have been worse but definitely could have been better.


Enhancing natural lighting

If you’ve ever heard of a light box, you’ll understand what I was going for here. Sometimes natural lighting alone isn’t going to cut it, and on a particularly dreary day, you might have to get creative.


This was my attempt at reflecting as much light as possible onto this cake. Light reflectors are a common tool in all fields of photography since they help to redirect light onto the subject. That’s essentially what I was doing here, but with several quarter-sheet cake boards. Turns out they’re not only great for transporting cakes, but they also make for great light reflectors, too!


Don't worry about what’s lurking out of frame

Photographers use all sorts of wonderful tricks to capture the perfect shot. If you’ve ever seen a behind-the-scenes look at a professional photo shoot, you’ll know there’s a whole crew, monitors, lots of lights, and other equipment just out of frame.


When it comes to amateur food photography, most of what lurked out of frame for me was my dog. And if it wasn’t him, it was the cat. There just must be something about buttercream that lures them in. Either that or I’m blocking Mr. Belly Rub himself from going outside. Regardless, these shots may just give you a hint as to where the name Belly Rubs Bakery came from.

So no matter what it takes to get the perfect shot, the final result is all that matters! Maybe your kids are right by your side or you've got a towering stack of boxes underneath your subject. Nobody needs to know! Unless of course, you feel like sharing.


What's the weirdest setup you've used to capture your baked goods in all their glory? Send your pics to bellyrubsbakeryblog@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the blog!

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