Smart phone food photography 101

Smart phone food photography 101

Food photographer Honey Atkinson shares her pro tips on how to ace food photography with your smart phone.

What is the key to a good food shot?

Natural light, a simple scene (less is more) and good composition (follow the rule of thirds).

Are there any tricks to getting a good shot with your smart phone?

Light – Find a position to shoot that has good natural light, not direct or harsh. You want soft and diffused. Good light is number one.

Exposure and focus – Hold finger on screen when taking a photo to lock the focus point, this function also allows the option to lighten or darken a photo by sliding your finder up and down.

Framing and rule of thirds – Switch on the ‘grid’ setting in your camera. Use grid lines to help compose your photo better. Try placing your key subject/scene on where the lines intersect. This can help to create balance, space and offer a more visually pleasing photo [Note: iPhone ‘grid’ can be found: Settings>Camera>Grid (switch on)].

Perspective – Try shooting different angles of the one shot. Shooting from above can make it easier to get an interesting shot when using your phone.

What are some common mistakes people make when they try to shoot food?

Shooting at night in a restaurant with a fluoro light.

Filter or no filter?

Definitely no filter. If you shoot a good, well-exposed image, you shouldn’t have to use a heavy-handed filter to make it look good. Stick to using basic editing choices like increasing the contrast, brightness and clarity. Small adjustments can make a big, but subtle difference.

Who should we follow on Instagram if we want to see some good examples of food shots?

Petrina Tinsley – @petrinatinsley

Sneh Roy – @cookrepublic

Is it worth downloading editing apps for your smart phone?

Instagram’s app has some great editing features so you can get away with just using this. My other choices for editing are ‘Photoshop’ (free) and Lightroom ($4.99). I like to use these apps because I’m used to using Adobe programs on my desktop.

And what about special lenses that you attach? Is it worth it?

You can buy ‘clip on’ lenses but a decent one is $100+, so no, I don’t think it’s worth it. The newer iPhone has a camera setting called ‘portrait’ mode which allows you to focus on the subject and background goes blurry (adds fake depth of field), so it’s kind of like having a lens.

Flash or no flash?

Never use a flash when you’re shooting food. Leave the flash for taking late-night selfies.

How do you normally shoot food?

I shoot food on my phone the same as I do on my DSLR. Natural light coming through a single window/door that isn’t direct/hard light. I like to use natural scenes that catch my eye, but if I do set something up, I change between a few of my favourites: the wooden table in my kitchen because it’s a part of ‘my story’, a piece of rough linen or a piece of board from the hardware shop that I painted white.

What is your favourite thing about shooting food?

I enjoy each part of the process. I like prepping/cooking the food, arranging the food so the light hits the most interesting shapes/textures of the food and, of course, eating really is the best part.

For more information on Food Photographer Honey Atkinson, visit or follow @honeyatkinson .

By Emma Castle

This article first appeared in Spice (May 2018)

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