Prev Next

Photograph Your Food, Six Tips You Need to Do It Better

By Chris Jordan

This post is the third in a four-part content campaign for Hillshire Farm.

I am not a chef. I don’t really even like to cook. I do cook, and do it quite well if I do say so myself, mostly because I have these children who seem to think they need to eat every single day. Multiple times a day even! I know shocking, right? I should have read the fine print before I took them home from the hospital.

Over the years I have realized that there really are recipes that are easy and use simple ingredients. We have family favorites. I have spent many hours pouring over the internet trying to find new recipes that might make it into my family’s meal rotation. While I tend to get bored with eating the same meals, my children disagree. They would happily eat the same three things over and over again, forever, amen.

I have discovered that often times the deciding factor between me trying a new recipe or not has to do with the photographs. Here I admit that I sound an awful lot like my children who look at new food on their plate and tell me they know they won’t like it.

With that in mind I have 6 tips for taking better photos of your food.  We all want it to look just as good as it tastes.

1. Get in close. So close that you feel as though you could taste it right through your computer screen. I am looking at this photo and wondering why I haven’t made this black bean and corn salad in a long time.


2. Shallow depth of field. Those are fancy words to describe the area of the photograph that is in focus. A shallow depth of field means that only a very small portion of the photo is in the focus


3. Make the composition interesting.Sure you could just have a cupcake on a plate, but that’s kind of boring. Be creative.


Sometimes the food isn’t just about the food. It’s about the feelings that go along with it. How can you look a line of gingerbread men and not feel happy?


4. Pay attention to what is in the background. Usually a solid color, black or white, plate will make the food stand out. The vegetables in this photo are so vibrant because they are offset by the solid dark background. Want to know a secret? The food in this photo is right on my granite countertop. I couldn’t get a good photo on my cutting board.


But other times an interesting background works just as well. Again this is because the photograph is about more than just the food, it’s telling a story. Convincing you that you too want to make homemade icecream sandwiches for your family and serve them on a platter while wearing an awesome apron.


5. Use natural light. Most overhead lights make the photos too yellow. And I don’t know I have never been able to take flash photos without everything being completely washed out. I have been known to bring the plate of food I am photographing outside to make better use of the light.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

6. Presentation is everything. None of the other senses are available except what is seen in your photo. We can’t smell the food, nor can we smell the lingering aroma of it having cooked in the kitchen. We can’t taste the food. It has to look good.


I’m sorry. I think I was just drooling a little bit.

I am not going to be at BlogHer this year. (Insert sad face) But if you are there, Hillshire Farm is going have a workshop on food styling and food photography. Even if you are someone who only rarely blogs about food or recipes I would think that a workshop like this would be so informative and fun!

The Hillshire Farm Food Photography and Styling Workshop will give you a taste of insider knowledge straight from the food industry’s best and brightest experts, including a distinguished food photographer, notable stylist and top media editor. You will learn how to share your great-tasting meals while using perfectly-styled photos. Sign up for these sessions at the Hillshire Farm booth (#100) at BlogHer and they are happening at:

  • Friday: (2:45 pm to 4 pm)
  • Saturday: (1:30 pm to 2:45 pm)

The photography and food styling sessions will be presented by:

  • Sara Remington, renowned food photographer and contributor to The New York Times, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Food Network Magazine, among others
  • William Smith, renowned food stylist and contributor to Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Ladies’ Home Journal, among others
  • Helen Rosner, online editor for Saveur Magazine
  • Jill Houk, Hillshire Farm Chef


If you are at BlogHer, go and pick up some more tips and then share your new knowledge with the rest of us, will you please?

P.S.  If you would prefer to eat rather than style and photograph your food (who would blame you), grab a seat at Hillshire Farm’s  So Good Bistro at BlogHer and order off their menu.  It’s the only eatery at BlogHer. The booth is open August 4th (6-8pm), August 5th (8am-6pm), and August 6th (8am-6pm).

HillshireFarm_SoGood_logoThis post was sponsored by Hillshire Farm.

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, s...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is almost 6.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.

icon icon
chat bubble icon