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I’ve had a lot of people ask about my photography set-up for my food photoshoots. Since so many people asked, why not write post about it?
As a self-taught food photographer, I don’t think of myself as an expert. I’ve learned things through trial and error. Which usually includes taking 100 gazillion photos and only showing you the best ones from that photoshoot. After 2 years of shooting food, I only take 1 gazillion shots instead of 100 gazillion.
Yeah, I’m exaggerating on the gazillion, but I do take a ton of shots during each photoshoot. I’d rather take too many than too little.
I don’t have a ton of space to store tools and props, but here are the items I use the most when I do my food photoshoots. As you’ll soon see, most of my tools are compact.
My Favorite Food Photography Tools
Samsung NX300: Obviously, I couldn’t take my photos without my camera. My current camera is the a small, compact mirrorless, the Samsung NX300. The brown gives it a vintage look that I love–but it comes in white and black too. The camera has wifi capabilities so I can transfer photos to my smartphone via the Samsung app. The app also turns your phone into a remote viewfinder and shutter. Fancy, right?
If you’re not ready to invest in a pricier camera, try renting one from BorrowLenses.com. It’s a good way to try a camera body or new lens before you buy.
Samsung Galaxy S6 phone: If you can’t buy a nice camera yet, give your smartphone a try. Most of my Instagram photos are taken on my smartphone. With the right lighting, it takes crisp and clear photos. Plus it fits into my jean pocket. I’d recommend any high end Samsung Galaxy phone for photography. The unedited photo above was taken on my Galaxy S6. I just cropped it.
A tripod: I use the Dolica GX600 aluminum tripod because I got it at a really good price. (It’s currently $60 on Amazon.) It’s lightweight and comes with a carrying case for easy storage. It’s my second best investment (after my light kit).
I don’t use it every time, but it comes in handy when I’m taking multiple shots in a row. I use it when I’m trying to get an action shot like the one above–because sometimes 2 hands isn’t enough when you’re taking food photos!
LimoStudio Lighting Kit has been a lifesaver for me during the winter months. I prefer to shoot in natural lighting when I can. However, this light kit keeps me from adjusting my schedule based on the cloud coverage.
I can shoot photos whenever I need to, even at night. The kit folds up in a carrying case and is easy to store. It does come with 2 giant light bulbs, which I’m thinking about swapping out with LED bulbs.
It does take up a lot of space once it’s all setup, so I usually shoot several different recipes in a 3-4 hour block. That requires a lot of prep work on my end: in-process recipe shots, bowls of ingredients, already finished product to swap out at the end. But I like how I can bang it all out in one afternoon.
Large foam core boards: If you don’t buy anything else on this list, pick up foam boards in black and white. These stand up better than poster board. The white boards are good for bouncing the light and I love the black boards for my background.
I learned this tip from Diane and Todd of White On Rice Couple in a workshop a few years ago. They’re inexpensive–I picked up mine from the dollar store. When they get dirty from food splatter and crumbs, I give the boards to my kids for crafting.
True story: my daughter told us the night before her project was due that she needed a poster board. After calming down, I gave her one of my foam core boards to complete her project. Disaster averted. And we had a firm talk about time management.
PicMonkey: I edit almost all of my photos on PicMonkey, a browser based photo editing program. It’s free, but I pay for the Royale (premium) version. It’s only $3.33 a month (on annual plan) for more fonts, filters, frames and more. Totally worth it because I use it almost everyday. Get a 7-day free trial to the Royale plan here.
Don’t feel like you have to buy everything at once. I started with my camera and the foam boards. Then added the tripod and light kit as I had the budget for them. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to take good photos.
Have any questions on the above? Leave in the comments.