One Easy Tip for Better Food Photography
Updated: Feb 10
Whether you love sharing your baking creations on social media with friends and family or you’re looking to add a professional touch to the images on your business’ website or menu, there is one extremely easy thing you can do to instantly improve your food photography. Even if you’re shooting from your iPhone, it will make a world of difference!
Maybe this seems obvious, but it may not be intuitive for everyone. Natural lighting is the one simple and free thing any home baker can do to instantly make their finished product come to life. Let that sanding sugar shine, capture that detailed piping, and get those colors you worked so hard to mix to pop!
Unless you’ve got some super fancy light bulbs in your house, most artificial lighting is going to give off some sort of yellowish hue. Even if the hue isn’t overtly yellow, most bulbs can’t compare to the amount of light and brightness that natural sunlight has to offer.
Of course, there’s plenty of artificial lighting out there meant for photography, but the whole point here is that using the sun to light your food photography doesn’t cost a thing. Especially if you’re a hobby baker or just starting a baking business, artificial lighting, light boxes, and backdrops just might not be in the budget…at least not yet! So lift up those blinds, whip open those curtains, and let some sun in!
Maybe you’re thinking, but the best lighting in my house is the window behind my kitchen sink, by the front door, in my kid’s room, etc. GO THERE! As it turns out, the best lighting in my house comes from the sliding glass doors in an awkward-shaped room we can’t decide what to call. Front hall? Breezeway? Entryway? Anyway, this is where the dogs come in and out, there’s dirt, paw prints, and fur everywhere. Needless to say, it’s not the ideal photo spot.
I would either clean, clean again, and clean some more, or when I was short on time, had to get a little creative. I can’t tell you how many times I used a cardboard box or laundry basket with a tea towel draped over it to elevate my desserts out of the danger zone. I can assure you the pictures were worth it every time.
Same cookies, same day. The picture on the left was taken in my poorly lit kitchen. The picture on the right was taken by the sliding glass door. I mean...just look at that difference!
So take a moment to find the best lighting in your house. Walk around, open doors, and move window treatments. While you’re at it, be sure to keep in mind the time of day. Sun might blaze through your living room window in the morning, but provide barely any light in the afternoon. Try to find a good balance between too much sun and none at all. You don’t want direct beams of sunshine hitting your baked goods.
Again, same cake, same day! Harsh, direct sunlight isn't going to do you any favors. Get close enough to the light source without washing your food out.
I know, I know, natural light is dependent on a few factors. Nighttime photography won’t provide you with that option at all, and sometimes we can’t control when we need to photograph our food! A cloudy day will provide you with some, but still not as much as a bright, sunny day. With that in mind, just do your best! Shoot with natural light when you can and don’t sweat it when you can’t. That’s what Instagram filters are for, right? ;)
So whether baking is your hobby or your business, with a little work and creativity, shooting in natural light can take your photography up a notch. No need for fancy camera lenses, backdrops, lighting, or even a dedicated photography spot to capture your baked goods in all their glory, which will make you and your budget happy!
Let me know if you try this out! I’d love to see your natural lighting photos of what you’re baking up. Send your pics to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the blog!