My Biggest Food Photography Mistakes.. and How You Can Avoid Them

My Biggest Food Photography Mistakes.. and How You Can Avoid Them | + an ebook |

Food Photography | April 19, 2017 | By

Here are a few of the biggest food photography mistakes I’ve made and how to correct them. Take my experiences and don’t do what I did. This is more of a cautionary tale.

About 3 years ago, I started a blog, it was a way to share what I was making, my love for eating, and my creative food photo taking juices. I thought I was a good photographer, not great, but good enough.

I took my first photo and learned that I wasn’t as great as I’d thought. What I saw through the viewfinder was NOT what I saw when I uploaded my photos. I had a fancy camera, what I thought was a good eye, and a desire to take beautiful photos. But, that didn’t show in my photos.

Womp womp. Seriously, I thought I had all the tools, the eye, I should be able to take pretty food photos. But I wasn’t.

It took hundreds of hours of practice, multiple books, so many random blog posts, a photography ecourse, and frustrations.

Just last fall (and a good 2+ years after my first blog), I attended Blog Brulee (and was onto my 3rd blog, ha!), Blog Brulee is a healthy food blogger conference in Vermont. Katie, pro chef and pro food photographer behind the scenes at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, taught us how she sets up her photos. A lightbulb went off and things clicked. That moment drastically changed my food photography. Katie didn’t share anything ground-breakingly different, she shared her simple and inexpensive methods to shoot better photos, yet that was the groundbreaking part.

To compound this newfound knowledge, I started checking out hundreds of food photos each day while reviewing photo submissions to Healthy Aperture. Learning how & what I liked, and what made those photos pop helped me determine my style and get my photos noticed by important people representing big food brands as well as prospective clients.

Here are 3 things I do now to make sure my food photos pop & why I do them.

No more darkly lit, messy, and ugly photos.

1. Use natural sunlight

Take a look at these photos. Unnatural (or room lights) cast harsh shadows, grubby light, and ugly onto what could be really pretty food, but you can’t see the pretty food behind the ugly light.

HOW TO FIX: set up next to a big window, or take your food & camera outside. This is stupid easy, but EVERYTHING! Turn off all the lights in your house and let the natural sunlight illuminate your photo.

Overnight Oats |


2. Don’t let multiple subjects compete for the spotlight

It’s natural to want to keep everything in focus when you’re shooting food. It’s natural to want to show detail on everything, but that desire to show all detail confuses your viewers. When there’s too much to want to focus on, we tend to close the page and move on.



HOW TO FIX: Choose one ‘hero’ subject to highlight, let the rest be blurred out and not compete for the attention.


Chunky Monkey Chia Pudding ..


3. Blurry photo

When you’ve got low lighting, you’ve got to open up that lens to let in as much light as possible…. but with that comes some shakiness if you’re holding your camera, which I always did. It seemed easier and quicker to hold the camera instead of set up a tripod. It’s true, it’s easier and you’ve got more control. But lesbehonest, this picture SUCKS for a few reasons, one of which, it’s completely out of focus. And all ease aside, if you’ve got a blurry confusing photo, it doesn’t matter.

HOW TO FIX: Invest in a tripod. End of story. A tripod will actually open up your world, you’ll be able to take photos in lower light & they’ll actually turn out pretty. You can also get steady & beautiful overhead shots with a tripod that has an extendable arm. It’s truly magic guys, magic.


Curried Coconut & Pumpkin Soup | Do you have coconut milk, curry seasoning, and pumpkin puree at home? You're just 30 minutes away from a delicious & quick winter meal |


So with all of that, do you want to take food photos that pop? Do you want to stop taking boring, confusing, unappetizing photos?

Are you ready to grab the attention of food brands and prospective clients? Stephanie McKercher, of The Grateful Grazer blog (check out her awesome post on food photography) and I have teamed together to teach you how to take beautiful food photos that pop. We have created an ecourse focused on how to take pretty photos, not just how pretty photos are taken, but how to actually take them, and in terms you understand. Click here for more info.

My Biggest Food Photography Mistakes.. and How To Not Make Them |


Together Steph and Rebecca share a great arsenal of ammo aimed to help you become a better food photographer. They are great at supporting you along your journey and really do want to see you improve and succeed. The ebook plus their support is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their food photography skills.
Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CD, CDE of

Rebecca and Stephanie really put together an awesome program! It opened my eyes to so much about food photography and I have tweaked how I take and edit my photos and I even purchased a tripod, at their suggestion, to make my photos less blurry! I can’t wait to use it and to continue to use their suggestions! – Lauren Pendergast, RDN, CDN

The ebook was easy to read with great pictures and instructions. It went step by step through the basics of food photography. They were supportive and made things sounds simple enough to try, yet they were very understanding that learning is a process and they were supportive of being creative and learning from mistakes. I would recommend it to anyone who is feeling lost about how to get started with food photography.
-Jaylynn Skidmore, RD


OR join our free Facebook group for more tips



Want to make your own food photo backgrounds? Here’s how

DIY Painted Food Photography Background

DIY Wood Photography Board


  1. Leave a Reply

    Alexandra Lenz
    April 19, 2017

    OMG. I could go on and on about all of the errors I’ve made over the years when it comes to photography. It’s laughable when I go back and look at some of my photos! These are great tips, especially the tripod!

    • Leave a Reply

      April 20, 2017

      Thanks Jessica! Yay, please let me know if you have any questions or anything!

  2. Leave a Reply

    April 21, 2017

    Oh my goodness looking back at old pictures is always the worst! Your photography has gotten SO stunning – it’s inspiring me to get back to get back to improving my photography, which I really haven’t done in the past 2 years!

    • Leave a Reply

      April 21, 2017

      Thanks Rachael! It’s been really fun focusing on photography! yay! go for it 🙂

  3. Leave a Reply

    Anne|Craving Something Healthy
    April 22, 2017

    A big YES to all of these tips! Your photographs are gorgeous! I cringe when I go back and look at my old ones, but I leave them as is because it’s a reminder of how much I’ve learned.

    • Leave a Reply

      April 24, 2017

      Thanks so much Anne! haha, me too! but it’s fun to see how far we’ve come 😉

  4. Leave a Reply

    May 19, 2017

    Very useful info yes I stopped taking photos with external light nowadays I only use natural light it makes huge difference.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Diana Johnson
    May 19, 2017

    It definitely helps to work near natural light! I even use a reflector to make sure the light ends up where I want it, and it makes a huge difference.

  6. Leave a Reply

    May 19, 2017

    Seriously, photography is SO important for a good food blog! These tips seem basic but they are such straightforward, easy fixes that make photos leap ahead!

  7. Leave a Reply

    Jacqueline Meldrum
    May 20, 2017

    We all make these mistakes early on, but it makes a huge difference once you invest some time into your photography. Happily here in Scotland we’ve got light until 10pm now, so plenty of time for photos in the evening.

    • Leave a Reply

      May 23, 2017

      it totally does! and that makes things way easier! Wish it was light that late where I live 🙂

  8. Leave a Reply

    Tasia B
    August 11, 2017

    I am on my first year of blogging and literally everything you said felt like it was pulled right out of my own mind. Thank you so much for your honesty. Seeing how far you have come and how much hard work you out into your blog is truly inspirational.

    • Leave a Reply

      August 11, 2017

      ahhh that’s so great to hear! and thanks, it takes practice and consistent learning for sure! Join our free Facebook group for more help w/ food photography 🙂 and good luck growing your blog

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