The Essentials of Shooting Mouthwatering Food Photography – by Lauren Margolis, PhotoShelter

Lauren Margolis of PhotoShelter goes over the essentials of shooting great food photography with food photographer Jonathan Gayman.


Photo by Jonathan Gayman/Slow roasted chicken cacciatore braised in San Marzano tomatoes and white wine with potatoes and carrots.

The difference between good and bad food photography is as clear as night and day: a photo of drooping, overly sauced enchiladas at your local Mexican restaurant are unappealing and make you want to run in the other direction; a photo of roasted chicken drumsticks alongside fresh vegetables and herbs are enough to make you start to salivate. So what can a photographer do to achieve the latter?

“I learned food photography by cooking the food for my blog, Shoot to Cook, and doing the styling myself,” says food photographer Jonathan Gayman. Jonathan has actually been working as a fulltime professional photographer since 2006, doing mainly corporate portraits for marketing materials, corporate magazines, and annual reports. Then in 2010, a food magazine “discovered” his food blog, and hired him for his first major food photography assignment. Those first few clients led to a continuous steam of incoming assignments, and now Jonathan is able to dedicate himself fulltime to commercial, editorial, and food photography.

How did Jonathan successfully incorporate food photography into his business? Simply put, his images make you want to jump into the photo and sink your teeth into whatever’s there. If you’re looking to evoke a similar feeling, here are his essentials to shooting mouthwatering food photography.

Learn to love food styling.

Half the battle – and fun – in shooting food is styling it to get the perfect composition and aesthetic, in order to really tell the story behind the food.

“You could shoot the same dish in a bunch of different ways to tell several different stories,” says Jonathan. “Sometimes you want to really focus on the visual, graphic quality of the food, in which case a white background makes sense. If the restaurant is really sleek and modern, with every tiny piece of food placed just-so on the plate, then you need to style in a clean, precise way using crisp white table linens, flawless glassware, etc.”


Photo by Jonathan Gayman

Continue reading and see more photos on the PhotoShelter blog.

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