Food Photography for Beginners: Learn the path to creating beautiful food photos | Daniela Lambova | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Food Photography for Beginners: Learn the path to creating beautiful food photos

teacher avatar Daniela Lambova, Food Blogger & Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Camera and Lenses


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.

      Editing tips


    • 9.

      Shooting session example


    • 10.

      Quick edits in Lightroom Mobile


    • 11.

      Photo analyses


    • 12.

      Final Tips


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

This class has been updated recently with better audio, additional tips and 3 new video lessons!

The purpose of this class is to give you the most important general knowledge of food photography and to help you ahead in your learning journey. 

In this class I will guide you through the most important rules you need to follow in order to start creating beautiful photos. I will explain you the basics of food photography, what makes a photo eye pleasing and what mistakes to avoid. You will get general knowledge of lighting, composition and styling. You will find out in what areas you need to focus as you keep learning. Last but not least, you will understand what equipment you need for great food photography, even on a budget.


  • Beginners photographers
  • Bloggers
  • Anyone who wants to learn to take beautiful food photos

If you want to learn more about editing food photography, you may want to check also my newest class which covers this topic: How to edit Food Photography in Adobe Lightroom Desktop and Mobile

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniela Lambova

Food Blogger & Photographer


I'm Daniela, a Food Blogger, Food Photographer and Cookbook Author based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I love everything about food, especially desserts. In my blog Dani's Cookings you will find all kinds of sweets, including sugar-free, low carb and vegan. 

I've been baking since I was a child and I enjoy helping other people become confident in the kitchen. My philosophy is that everyone should be able to eat good homemade desserts, made with love and without guilt.

In 2019 I published my first cookbook about healthy desserts (it is only in Bulgarian for now but I am planning to release it in English soon!)


My second big passion is the Food Photography. Since I started my first blog in 2012, I have gone... See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro : Hi everyone, my name is Daniela, and in this course I'm going to teach you the basics of food photography. And the purpose of this course is to give you the most general knowledge about food photography and to guide you in your learning journey. Because photolithography overall, is a very extensive topic. This is a course for beginners, for photographers, but also for everyone who has some experience in the field. But still feels uncertain and confused. I'm a food blogger and a self-taught photographer based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I discovered food photography when I started my blog and I became really passionate about it. And I have been taking photos for over eight years now. My photography has been featured in various magazines and websites. But at the beginning I was struggling a lot with my photos as they almost never turned out good. It took me a long time to learn the basics because I was learning by myself and I didn't know where to start. I was really confused and my photography was not improving because I was not able to understand my own mistakes. With this course, I want to help you to learn the easy way. I will guide you through the most important rules you have to follow in order to start creating beautiful photos. I will explain you the basics of food photography. What makes the photo eye pleasing and water avoid. You'll get general knowledge of writing, composition, and styling. I will give you guidance where you need to focus as you keep learning. Last but not least, you'll understand what equipment you need for great food photography. I hope you're as excited as me to enroll in this course. Let's get started! 2. Class Project: For your class project, you need to upload one of your recent photos, which in your view must be reworked. After they take this class, consider how you can remake this photo or take similar one, correcting the mistakes you've done previously. Haven't look at your image and consider the problems that it has, composition, styling, or lighting. After you make a new photo, observe how it looks compared to the first one, you can actually do these exercises maintenance you wish. You can always improving photography. Upload the new photo to the project section as well. In my project, I have applauded the photo of muffins they can several years ago. It is made in an awful artificial lighting conditions or kitchen lump. The composition is absolutely confusing, stylings or so, but the second photo is a much nicer with a clear composition and much better styling and lighting. I can't wait to see your projects. 3. Camera and Lenses: I've heard more than once the question, which camera was good for food photography? Every camera is good for food photography and expensive professional camera will not guarantee you that you're going to take beautiful photos right away. The most important elements of the food image are lighting, composition and styling. And the camera is not going to define these parameters. If you don't know how to style your image, how to light it, and how to compose your objects. Even with the most expensive camera, you're not going to be able to take good photos. You can take great photos with mobile phone or with a very basic DSLR. My first DSLR was a really simple Canon Rebel tea tree, one of the cheapest time. Several years later I bought a full-frame camera, Canon 6D, and I told of selling government first one. Well, I kept it because it had a high sentimental value for me. Believe it or not, I still take photos with it and actually use it more often than my full-frame camera because it is very light and easy to carry around. One thing I would like to clarify, it is not really the camera that makes the photo the way it looks. And the lenses in fact have more influence on the way the image will turn out. That's why when you decided it's time to buy a real camera, you should choose one that has interchangeable lenses and support role format. My advice for starting photographers is to buy a DSLR at a price that you can afford it a moment and to learn how to take photos with it. It's not worth spending too much money for an expensive camera, as you will not be using majority of its features at the beginning. Talking about lenses, most probably your first lenses would be the starter kit that comes with your camera. These are usually 18 to 55 millimeters zoom lenses. This is a quite a good focal range to practice food photography. My advice to you is to utilize the kit lens city in order to learn to take photos in different focal lengths. These lenses are really good to learn shooting from different angles. They usually don't produce the sharpest image and the clearest colors. But there are sufficient for learning of the three important elements of photography. Liking, composition and styling. When you decide to buy new lenses, the first main thing you need to consider is the focal length. It means how big is the area you are capturing the images. The smaller is the focal lens to larger area you will photograph. There are two types of lenses, prime lenses which have a fixed focal length, for example, 50 millimeters. And zoom lenses which have a range of focal length. For example, 18 to 55 millimeters. The foci land for food photography should be somewhere between 3500 millimeters. In my view, lenses between 5085 are the best option. 100 millimeter macro could be also good for full frame cameras. Actually, I have one of these. If you want to take close-up photos, they are ideal but not really for to be on your own lenses. On the other hand, 35 to 40 millimeters are particularly good for overhead shops, but they are not ideal if you want to present May 1 object in the photon. Lenses below 35 millimeters are not really suitable for food photography is you will see too much of the surrounding is in the photo. If you're looking to buy your first lenses to use for food photos, I would recommend the 50 millimeters as they represent more or less the focal area of the human life. Many people are interested if it's possible to take beautiful photos with just a mobile phone? User is yes. But in limited angles, visual with mobile phones is that as much as some of them are advanced in terms of objects, they have very limited lenses. Their lenses are wide-angle and they're very good for landscapes, for portrayed, for outdoors activities, photos. But in terms of food photography, these wide-angle lenses are not the best. You might have noticed that if you take a close up photo with your mobile phone, the object in the image sometimes look distorted, which is one of the issues with wide-angle lenses. On the other hand, the effect of mobile sees almost non-existent in majority of them. The toy, the best angle for mobile photography is from above. Or flatly. With this angle, you might achieve some very impressive images. 4. Lighting: And I think is the key element in photography for photolithography defines how appealing to food will look. Lighting is not always easy to accomplish, even if you find the best spot in your home, the light changes during the day. So you need to be aware of these changes. Are heroic, harsh and direct light. It will just make your photos overexposed or with unpleasant light spots. Used diffuser to block any harsh light. A transparent curtain or white cloth. Don't use camera flash for food photography. Frontal light will not make the food, the food pleasing. This also means you should not shoot with a window behind you. You can take the pot or bit underexposed and edit it afterwards. And this is much better than having to fix overexposed images. If you're shooting indoors and you have a little light, you can increase it by using reflectors. If you use a tripod, you can get perfectly with photos in the lowest natural light conditions. I will explain you how in a while shadows play an important role in photography and their key elements of what photography, the best lighting that will ensure good shadows would be from the back or from the sides. For more dramatic shadows, you can use the right blockers or enlarge blackboard that can be fixed to block light. To make the shadow software, you can use reflectors or anything big in white. Alternatively, you can also use silver or gold golden reflectors to create nice highlight. If you want to learn better about lighting, start experimenting with light blockers and reflectors in different positions and lighting conditions. Only experimenting, you can master photography lighting. 5. Composition: Composition means how the photo is structured and how the objects are placed within the frame. There are many composition rules and many of them can apply all sorts of food photography. You can study an experimental work in this area. Here, I would like to show you some of my favorite composition rules which you can follow and practice in order to achieve better results. With the time you will learn how to compose your photos well without thinking and you will start even breaking the rules and still producing beautiful photos. However, in the beginning is better to follow the rules. Rule of thirds. This is probably the most basic of all composition rules. It means that if you divide your photo vertically and horizontally into three parts, you need to have your main object placed where the lines are crossing. This creates a nice symmetry, pleasing for the ice golden triangle. This composition style is similar to the one above. Some people say it is even more enjoyable for the ice. In this case, one imaginary line divides diagonally the picture from one corner to another. And then two additional lines are drawn from the other two corners, making right angles with the first-line, ideally, you will have one of your focal points on one of these right angles and another object on the other. The lines divided the frame into different areas. Framing this composition style highlights one main object, which is usually in the middle of the photo. It is framed or surrounded by props and secondary objects which complement the one domain one. The reason I like it is because it allows you to have one hero object of food, which you can highlight through its surroundings. I find the style very good for storytelling. Negative space. It is almost always a good idea to leave some empty space in the photo. This puts the accent on the main object, and at the same time, it balances the picture in a nice way and doesn't allow it to become too busy. On the other hand, the negative space doesn't need to be really empty. It can be filled by butter and some colors. The bigger is the negative space, the more contrast in brings to the photo. In my experience, the composition with more negative space is particularly nice when the colours of the photo or not to contrasted. By following the composition rules, you will learn how to balance the image and how to arrange the object in a way pleasing for DI. I advise you to learn also about other composition rules and to practice in order to achieve better results. 6. Styling: Before you start your photos, you need to ask yourself some questions. What kind of mood you want to achieve on your photo, what kind of environment you want to project, what season you want to show? Do you want to show a particular part of the day? We want to show Diener breadth-first, anything that comes to your mind. Think about it. Once you identify the style you want to project on your photo, I recommend you to look in internet for different images. Which project exactly the mood you want to achieve. You can search by moods or by type of food, or by well, I look at the images that are most impressive to you. How this smooth and how their beauty has been achieved, what kind of crops have been used. This exercise will also help you with composition and also to find the best shooting angle for this particular food. Remember, every single object on the photo, the tiniest of it, needs to have its place and purpose on this image, you cannot just draw objects on the table. Even if you want to create an apparent mass, every single crop needs to have its place. When you arrange your scene and you like it, try shooting from different angles and of course, follow the composition rules. In the next lesson, I'm going to analyze for you the styling of tree of my photos. The first photo that I am going to analyze is a photo of a cake. It's mainly with composition of framing. You see the hands around the cake, the white cloth, and the little bark of the blade that is on the bottom. All the sentiments are framing the cake. And basically the server star in the middle of its surroundings. Mod of the fault boys. Glean but slightly rustic wooden table on the bottom. There is the dark surround surroundings. The bottom part of the kickstand is black and the dress of the person behind the cake is also Blick. The wooden table is the same color. Well, Brown is the kick, the chocolate cake. So here we are. The colors are quite similar to each other and then contrasting with the white and the black. So it's basically black, white, and brown. And they're all complementing each other without making too high contrasts of different kinds of colors. It is nicely showing the cake in the middle. And it's basically highlighting the Brown of the chocolate. So it's a picture that shows a nice MOD, like somebody just made a cake, who just got it? It's very Emy. You can imagine taking the piece of the cake that is already cut and eating it. So it's showing the kickin a very pleasing way. As you can see, the lighting is from the right and there are little bits of shadow's going to the left. The second photo has also a little bit of rustic mode, even though it's also a quite colorful and vivid, if we can say so. Considering the colors of the cake decoration, the kickstand, and lover of the person behind the gate. This is me by the way. You see, wouldn't then ground? It looks quiet, worn-out, rusty distressed would end this, giving a little bit of acoustic mode. However, the color surrounds are quite noticeable. The plate, the flower, everything is in interesting colors, even though all of them are complementing each other, there is harmony between the colors. The composition here clearly is golden triangle because if you, if you make a line between the top left corner and the bottom right, and then you put one line, let's say on the top, from the top right down to make a right angle with the first line, it will go more or less where the hand is with chocolate fruit. It looks very dynamic. It gives cozy look. Also, the kitchen looks quite yummy. It's not really in the middle, it's slightly to the left. And nice shadows are falling. On top. It's decorated with nice, again, very yummy chocolate balls. These are actually fruits quoted in chocolate. The reason why the flower is there next to the plate is without it, the plate would have looked a little bit empty, kind of waiting. What is going on in the flower is giving some additional colorful. I'm feeling. The third photo is quite dynamic as well. There is a hand taking out of the desert, which is in the middle of the photo. It is framed by the coffee cup, ducks, hence the flowerpot and also the napkin or the towel in the bottom left. These dynamic picture is I said because it's like dispersal. Again, me. He's going to have a little breakfast and the ones that are looking at the fourth-order already sensing how this is going to happen. The table is again, a little bit rustic, and there is one and bought under the plate. The colors are a little bit contrasting but still complementing each other. Nothing is looking out of place actually. Towel is green, the flower leaves are green. But still we have been and blue, which are contrasting with black and white and brown, Of course, there is brownish shade in the desert and also the coffee's Brown and the board under the plate. It's all nice and kind of colorful, but at least slightly unrealistic at the same time. 7. Shooting: The way you use your camera will influence your photography results. It's okay to use automatic settings if you're just starting or you're using your phone or your roll camera. But once you have a DSLR, you need to learn the manual settings as soon as possible. Why menu shooting is important? It all starts with the exposure, triangle, aperture, ISO, shutter speed. Believe me, until you have a good understanding of these three elements, you won't be able to create photography with confidence that you will always accomplish good results. Briefly, it is called exposure triangle because there needs to be a balance of the tree element. The more you increase one of them, the more you can decrease another one in order to have a sharpened, correctly exposed photo. But what do each of them mean? Iso, sensor sensitivity to light. The moral increase it. The lighter would be the photon. But if you increase it over four hundred, five hundred, you start seeing grain, which is more obvious in cropped frame cameras. This Y, full frame cameras are so expensive actually. Aperture means how wide the lenses are opening. Therefore, how much light there letting in for the photo? The larger is the aperture, or the smaller is the number, the more light it allows to go to the sensor. Larger purchaser also creates depth of field or makes the background look blurry. That's the so-called bulky. It's very good for isolating the main elements. Shutter speed. He defines how long the shutter of the camera will stay open to allow light to come inside. Faster shutter speed means less light coming into the camera and therefore lower exposure. The longer the shutter is open, the higher is the exposure. So with a very slow shutter speed, you can practically take very well exposed images in low light conditions. The issue is that you can't apply that when you photograph moving objects, slow shutter speed creates blurry images in case of movement, chance for sport or wedding photography, the shutter speed is normally very fast. The good news is that in food photography we have still object. Hence, we can use slow shutter speed. Here comes the importance of a tripod. The minimum shutter speed for camera hand is around 1200. For lower shutter speed, you need a tripod to avoid any camera shake. Otherwise you will have blurry photos. You can find them not too expensive tripod, which will allow you to get perfectly exposed and sharp photos taken indoors, even in a gloomy day or shortly before dark, who would slow shutter speed? You can keep the ISR law and change aperture accordingly to accomplish the desired depth of field. Each camera has automatic mode in which ISO, shutter speed and aperture are set automatically according to the lighting conditions. As you can imagine, this is not always good because if you want to create a photo according to your plans in the relevant lighting conditions, you need to balance the tree elements to create the desired results. Let's say you want to take a photo with minimum depth of field and high-quality or no grain. That would mean you need to increase your aperture as much as possible and decrease ISO to 100 or 200. In this situation, depending on the light conditions, shutter speed should be adjusted accordingly so that the image is properly exposed. How do you understand if the image is exposed? The camera has a building meter which shows you if the arrow is in the middle, supposedly the image is well exposed. However, this is the cameras opinion. So in certain condition or for certain photography results, you might want to have your photo slightly under exposed. If you shoot in row and you must. It is very easy to fix slightly under exposed images in the post-processing if they're overexposed, fixing is not that easy. 8. Editing tips: Editing is a very extensive topic on itself. So I'm not going to go here into details. I will give you advice as to follow and will recommend you on what to focus when it comes to editing your food photography. Take photos in raw format. I want to stress again on that point because only in this format you can do a lot of editing without compromising the photo quality. Edit all your photos. There is no such thing as a perfect image taken straight from the camera. Even only adjusting the contrast will mean the image pop. Lightroom is probably the best for photo editing. But if you can't afford the monthly subscription, there are many other software products that can give you good results. I have used several affordable options like pictorial, pixel mater in Affinity Photo, but there are more. There is also the Free Application gym, which I find a bit complicated to master, but it is a great, well-know open source software. There are a number of good phone applications as well. And they can give you good results. Do not overrated because the image will look toward official. Don't go crazy with clarity, sharpness, and especially with situations. Use them in moderation. 9. Shooting session example: Here I have gathered a few props and objects in order to shoot my photo session. Let's say that my main objects are the cookies. Even though you see the cookies have corn shape and we use as a prop. So, so some apples, which might not be the best combination, but let's imagine that the cookies are made of a pulse. So if you're shooting for full block, don't use four probes, anything that is not related in any way to the main object to shoot into the main dish. In this case, we're imagining some things just because I honestly didn't prepare anything before during this session. But in general, you should consider the prompts that you will be using before starting to shoot. So I'm trying to style the shooting session. I use also some flowers because I like using flowers. There is a cup of coffee as well. You see that my background has a nice texture and also the cloth that I'm using has a nice texture. Textures are great for food photography. They're actually very helpful for storytelling, for making the image more Qazi. So make sure that you're using lot of textures and layering. So you see that I am putting the plate with the cookies on top of the cloth, which creates kind of a cozy feeling. And by having more layers, you practically improved the mod of the photo and make it special rather than having just toss them objects arranged on this photo, I'm trying to create some lines in the image so that they lead the eye around. It's nice to have some curves, especially when you are shooting from above. Flatly, curves are helping a lot the i to find the way through this photon. So I'm trying some different ways of styling. I am also trying one shot and from more or less 45 degree angle just to show you how exactly it will look and why is it not recommended to use mobile phones for these type of angles? 10. Quick edits in Lightroom Mobile: Let's say that some of the photos that we already took, These are all the flatlands that I've created and also the ones that are taken from more or less 45 degrees. Let's edit for the last photo. So as you can see, it needs some cropping. But more importantly, you can see that the front apple that is on the right is very big decision because of the type of lenses that the phone has. Normally, the wide-angle lenses make the front objects, very billion objects on the back too small, which again is not ideal for food photography. So I'm going to edit some of the settings. Contrast highlights, shadows wise, this is on the light cap. Usually I decrease the highlights and increase the shadows, the whites and the exposure and the contrast. Then you'd go to color. And let's change the white balance because the white bound doesn't seem to be right here on this photo is two, yellowish and maybe a little bit greenish. So we need to work on the white balance. I worked a little bit on it and then I'll come back to it because sometimes it's not easy in immediately to understand what is wrong. And I'll increase a little bit of Vibrance and Saturation. Let's work also on the separate color because I'm not convinced how they look here. I will basically increase saturation or decreased saturation and change the hue in each particular cower separately. Because some seem to be too much like the orange and some seem to be less like, for example, the unquote plate on the bottom. I go back to the white balance and bring it to the blue or the cold bar. Additionally, because it's still not great this photo. And I will decrease Additionally the highlights and increase the whites and also decrease the shadows. There is also another way to fix the white balance, and it's by clicking on the eyedropper tool. I don't always use this method because it's not always accurate. But basically, you try to find a neutral area, like wide or very great. In some cases it works with another case citizen. Well here, obviously it works. So the photo looks much better at the moment. Let's compare it here. Definitely, the white balance is better. So let's say that now we'd like the photo. I will just copy the adjustments on top right. Copy settings and settings are Copy to Clipboard. Now we can pass the settings to another photo from the same photo session because I assume that the light and the white balance would be nearly the same. We might need to do some adjustments, but, and not necessarily too big. So let's now select another photo from the, from the session. Unlike these flatly that just basically settings. It's not really great, but we can do some adjustment in order to improve by decreasing shadows, decreasing highlight additionally, and improving slightly the colors. And of course, we can also crop it. I would like you to notice the apple on the bottom right. It looks quite distorted. Unfortunately, this, again, he's someone effect from the lenses of the mobile phone. I use iPhone eight, which supposedly is a good mobile that takes good photos, but disk type of distortion is kind of unavoidable. 11. Photo analyses: So let's make a comparison between these two photos, which we do cut more or less the same degree. I want you to notice what is the difference. Let's ignore the fact that left one still has a little bit of a yellowish white balance. And the one thing that is really into my eyes and I don't like it is the fact that the apple in the front is very big and the one with the cookies are very small and also the flowers are very big. You see this distortion that I was talking about of the wide-angle lenses. And actually, as you can see below, I copied the settings from my Lightroom application with which I took directly the photo. The lenses are 3.99 millimeters. This is really wide-angle because compared to the right photo, the lenses are 40 millimeters, which is still considered slightly wider angle is 50 millimeters are more or less what the human eye sees. I purposely took the photo without changing any settings because I wanted to show you also what does it mean automatic settings, the application of the phone automatically decided to decrease the ISO as much as possible for our sois. Twenty-five, which is very low, it's great. We see no noise around. And the photo is pretty light, but also decreasing the i saw. It also decreased the shutter speed. Therefore, the image is not sharp at all, as you can see, it's 130 seconds. This is a low shutter speed for handheld camera. The baritone is pretty low, which is still good. So I would say that in this case, if I was to adjust the settings, I would have increased the ISO 200 or 200 and that would have increased the shutter speed. But regardless, even if we made these adjustments, we wouldn't change the fact that we are seeing the distortion of the wide-angle lenses. On the right side you can see our image that was shot with my camera. The camera is very simple. It's a very old camera. And this camera is already breaking in my hands, but is to shoot very well. So I really like this picture. I think it's pretty nice. The picture on the left is not that bad either. But if you compare both of them, I believe that you will vote for the picture on the right, a 100% 12. Final Tips: We have come to the end of this course and I want to give you a few final advices. When you want to make good photos, Take your time. Don't rush it. Even experienced photographers need to feel inspired before getting great results. You cannot just take five minutes, draw a few props on the table and get beautiful photos. The goose photography requires preparation, patience, and persistence when you practice, Find the time of a day when nobody will bother you. And photo shooting with hungry family around, waiting for the disk to be finally served guarantees disappointing results. Try shooting in various places in your home and the different times of the day. In fact, the light changes also during the different seasons. So the light in your kitchen at 10:00 AM in April will not be the same as at 10:00 AM in August. When you find the place which you like the most, play with white and black cards to achieve different styles and moods. Thank you for taking this class. I hope it was useful for you and you learned a lot of new things. Most important is if you understood the path that you need to follow in order to achieve beautiful photos. For photography is an extensive topic and it requires a lot of practice and a lot of reading, a lot of experimenting. Also, if you want to get into details of some of the elements of the food photography, you can take also some of my other classes. I keep adding new classes about photography. I will be very happy to receive your feedback and suggestions. Also you're raping, you'll be very appreciated. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have regarding the content of the course. Thank you once again for taking this course and good luck with your photography journey.