Food Photographer Tips and Tricks: Lighting and Silverware

Food styling and food photographer tips on lighting and placing silverware. From

A few of you have asked for food styling and food photographer tips and tricks, so I thought NaBoPloMo is the perfect time to start sharing some of the tricks of the food photography trade.

As far as credentials go, I’m far from the best, but I do get paid good money for what I do, and I’m always learning. I’ve been fortunate to learn from great photographers and stylists like Matt, Adam, Todd and Diane, Penny, and more, so I’m excited to be able to pass on things they’ve taught me as well as what I’ve picked up as I go.

These are cell phone photos, so forgive the low quality, but I only have one camera right now!

Food styling and food photographer tips on lighting and placing silverware. From

First of all, let’s look at the lighting in my How to Make Banana Pancakes post from yesterday. The main light source is our patio window with sheer curtains that I got from IKEA. I have one foam core board to the right of my food to fill in the shadows. The light is slightly to the left, so the foam core board being on the right and slightly in front keeps the shadows from being too harsh.

A second foam core board is on top of the first one, just adding more reflected light.

On the left of the camera is a placemat from IKEA that has a very reflective back, like a mirror. You could also use aluminum foil on a piece of cardboard. The light it reflects is highlighting the fruit on the front pancake, which is what is in sharp focus. The placemat is being held by a place card holder.

Food styling and food photographer tips on lighting and placing silverware. From

Here’s the same set up from a different angle so you can see what I was seeing on my camera. I like to use a tripod to start and get my set up and lighting. Then I will often handhold. I also tend to use my digital display and zoom in on that to check my focus.

Food styling and food photographer tips on lighting and placing silverware. From

For the fork on the plate, I used a tiny piece of double stick tape to hold it in place, otherwise it would keep sliding off of where I wanted it.

Also, it wasn’t an issue in this shoot, but sometimes silverware reflects too much light, or shows your reflection. In that case, I use Krylon dulling spray to get rid of the reflection. Just make sure to wash it very well after as the dulling spray is NOT safe to eat!

How to make banana pancakes, gluten free, grain free, just eggs cinnamon and bananas. Step by step photos of my toddler making them! From

And here’s the final photo! Let me know if you have any questions about it or the tips I showed you. And be sure to check out the recipe, these banana pancakes are gluten free, dairy free, paleo, and just 3 ingredients!


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