The Healthy Everythingtarian’s Guide to Pretty Pictures

by Holly on September 23, 2009

in breakfast,dinner,lunch,seriousness

Since this blog began oh so long ago, I have definitely picked up my fair share of food photography tips.  Since I’ve receive such sweet comments now and again on my photos, I thought I would share my wealth of photographic knowledge with y’all.

I present to you…The Healthy Everythingtarian’s Guide to Pretty Pictures!

(1) Natural light is IMPERATIVE for a home run beauty shot.  See below.


(2) Don’t be afraid to zoom in close…real close.  Few things are more gorgeous in life than coconut flecks, rivers of nut butter and fresh berries all atop a bowl of overnight oats.


(3) Don’t listen to your mom – play with your food!  Food art can take any meal from simple to over-the-top fabulous!


(4) As an almost art major in college, I realize the importance of balance, symmetry and layout.  Throwing these mini hummus pizzas on a plate would be fine but arranging them in a way that is pleasing to the eye makes them even more irresistable to eat!


(5) Try to avoid using a flash at all costs (minus really dark environments, i.e. rainy days, dark lighting in restaurants, a midnight rave scene).  The pic may or may not turn out fuzzy, but regardless, the overall look will still be much better than an awkwardly shadowed photo.


Not fuzzy


Slightly fuzzy


With a flash – unnatural (also, see yesterday’s breakfast)

(6) Experiment with different settings on your digi cam.  For instance, most cameras have a text feature, which can help wording on a package (big and small) turn out much clearer.  TWSS.


(7) Like Tyra recommends on ANTM, play around with your angles!  Don’t be afraid to tilt the camera, shoot from below, angle it every which way and experiment like a kid.  Trust me, it makes for a much more interesting shot.


(8) Realize that some days, your camera will hate you.  No matter how many tips you follow and tricks you try, some days the stars ARE aligned against you.  In that case, stick in an obnoxious self-promoting shot or object in the background to distract your readers from the obvious blurriness of the food.


Shoutout to my homeboy and Thai cooking class pal Thomas!

Bottom line: HAVE FUN WITH IT!

Blogging should never be a chore – including taking photographs!  Now, there are obviously many more bloggers whose photos are much more amazing than my own, but to each his own.  Finding a style that is YOURS will make your readers want to come back for more (food that is).

What is one photography tip you swear by? Share with the class!


Brooke September 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Natural lighting + random shit in the background = deliciousness, excitement, and keeps your readers saying “wudduhfuh?”

LoVeS iT AlL

Allison (Eat Clean Live Green) September 23, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Great post!

My favorite is the Natural Light, but I love the idea of putting a picture in the background :)

Katie September 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Yay! I am so happy to read this! I was just telling the scuzzband TODAY that I wanted to learn more about good photography. My pictures have been off lately – and I’m pretty sure it is because it has been CLOUDY as heck for the last 3 days…i.e. no natural lighting. Eh…It’ll come back. :-) Thanks for all the good tips!

janetha September 23, 2009 at 9:46 pm

hahaha number 8 was my fave. i love you. i agree, angles and natural light make the photo! and YOUR FACE!

Andrea@WellnessNotes September 23, 2009 at 9:53 pm

I love your pictures! Thanks for the tips!

Hubby always tells me that I should take a photography class; yes, I’m getting the hint… For now, I try to use natural lighting and be a bit more creative with my angles… But I’m realizing that as there is less and less light when I cook/eat, my pictures are getting worse and worse…

Lizzy September 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm

lovin the tips girl! totes love it! :) when i’m taking pictures i try to just get different angles, cause i think they always look cool! I hope to learn more about photography sometime soon!

BroccoliHut September 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Great tips! As you might have guessed, I LOVE playing with the presentation of my food! (BTW I really like your squiggles on your carrots!) My photography tip is more of a cooking tip–USE COLOR. Colorful food is so much more fun to look at than blah white food. Plus, it’s likely more nutritious too:)

Tay September 23, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Thanks chica!! Kath recommended using the micro feature on the cam cam, but for some reason my micro setting makes it blury. Unless I’m like a centimeter away from my object. And I can’t zoom in when it’s on micro. Frustrating.

J @Whole Body Love September 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm

The flash tip is my biggest suggestion to anyone. But, I’m still learning. I love my new camera and I wish I had more time to experiment with photography! Your overnight oat pic is deliciously-beautiful!

Alison September 24, 2009 at 4:33 am

This was great! Natural lighting and no flash were the two biggest things I’ve learned along the way. I’ve definitely had fun getting creative with food fotos. I’ve actually stopped using the flash in almost all my photos now, with the girls too. It looks so much more “real”. Of course with kids a lot of the pics look like big smudges but then again it captures what life is really like! Awesome post, thank you girly! xoxo!

Rosey Rebecca September 24, 2009 at 5:07 am

Great post! I just bought a camera so this helps a lot! :-)

Jess September 24, 2009 at 5:55 am

This is great! Thanks for all the tips :D

Susan September 24, 2009 at 5:57 am

Love the tips!! Natural lighting is definitely key. The flash on my camera is especially horrible and makes everything look aaaawful.

My tip is to take LOTS of pictures. I take at least 10 for each dish, from all sorts of angles. That way I have lots to choose from and can use multiple pics come blog time :)

glidingcalm September 24, 2009 at 6:39 am

You have such fun pics!! I love dat carrot and the kiwi andddddddddddddddddd breakfast oats seriously are always sooo purty.

Love youuuuuu

brandi September 24, 2009 at 8:19 am

great tips, Holly! I’m already missing the earlier sunrises because now I don’t have my natural light for bfast shots!

Leianna September 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

I still struggle with this, so thanks for the great tips!
I love your oatmeal, lloks really good with the coconut on top!

Faith September 24, 2009 at 9:16 am

Excellent tips! The one tip I always try to follow is natural lighting. I find that if I don’t, my pics look like a 4 year old took them. :(

Kailey (SnackFace) September 24, 2009 at 9:21 am

Oh I love this! I think the number one key to a good pic is natural lighting. Other than that, I have no clue. I just go for it!

Dawn (HealthySDLiving) September 24, 2009 at 9:25 am

Those are really great tips, thank you!
I’ve been using my flash ALL the time–I’m going to try and not use it as much and see how my pictures come out!

Low September 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

Great tips sister! You are a creative soul and I love your pics!

My main tip is to pay attention to white balance if you’re not on an automatic setting. It can make all the diff.

Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) September 24, 2009 at 10:13 am

I’ve recently started using my “macro setting” – it can make a big difference! A nice, new camera would also make a big difference, but that will have to wait until I have some $$.

p.s. your coconut, banana, raspberry oats are making me drool all over my keyboard. hehe.

Angharad (Eating for England) September 24, 2009 at 10:17 am

Sweet post dude! As you know, taking pictures of food is probably my favorite part of food blogging! Never a chore! Your overnight oats look dang good in that picture.
I agree that flash is the ENEMY and should be avoided at all costs. Hate that winter = early sunsets and dark dinners though – so not cool for the pics!
My top tip is to not necessarily feel like you have to have food be at the center of all your photos. Sometimes it’s more interesting and attractive to position food off center with interesting lines drawing the eye into your bowl/plate.
Love that you linked Lottie + Doof and eatmakeread too – love them!!

My gchat is having an epic fail today. Phone later? xxx

Cindy September 24, 2009 at 10:19 am

close ups of your toddler w sticky fingers is no good for the lens!

that’s my tip

I live by the fun angles and no flash rule too…and a good macro lens…(a food macro is helpful too) and play with the apperture…you get fun results…


but sticky fingers…no good!

April September 24, 2009 at 10:34 am

I love your pictures! Your so creative!

When I first started blogging I didn’t know how to use the focus feature on my camera! So all my pictures were blurry. Haha I crack myself up!

Christina September 24, 2009 at 10:41 am

thanks for the tip!! alison (mamaweeds) told me to use the setting with the little flower thing. works awesome! i also have a food setting on my camera. and no flash is definitely key!!

Food Makes Fun Fuel September 24, 2009 at 10:45 am

Great tips! I admit, I should use my real camera more and phone cam less. When I do need flash, I’ve learned to back up and zoom in

Katharina September 24, 2009 at 11:56 am

Thanks for the sharing, Holly!! Close ups = food porn! That’s a time to go crazy with it mwahaha. By the way, what’s that sandwich at the very end consist of? It looks yuuummmaaay

insideiamdancing September 24, 2009 at 12:51 pm

LOVE this. I only just got out the manual for my camera yesterday- never read it. I have no IDEA how to figure out settings on my camera (don’t like autoflash!) I definitely have bad camera days like I have bad hair days…sometimes my camera just won’t play nice. My only tip is natural lighting. That is about as far as my photographic experiences have taken me. The rest is just…hope for the best! Ha. I set up a new blog with *just* photos a few days ago to play around and try things out. I think I am going to take a class…

Sophia September 24, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Great post and tips, Holly! your pictures are always amazing and I’m glad to have a mini tutorial by you!

I just swear by natural light. And steady hands! Don’t just point and click in a second, take the time to compose and reflect!

Morgan (lifeafterbagels) September 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm

I always try to clear the background of clutter if I can. That way the photograph is focused properly on the subject.

Allison R. September 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Are you going to the Michael Pollan speech tonight at the Kohl?!

Erica September 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm

GREAT tips. I need a new camera so bad. I swear by natural light! I get sad when I get home real late and have to use fake lighting!

Karena September 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

LOVE the tips AND the kiwi shot! I love how my pictures look in natural light, but never get around to cooking when it’s light out :( Definitely no flash and I use the macro setting on my camera for close up shots. *sigh* thinking about food photography makes me want a Canon Rebel even more!!

Pam (Highway to Health) September 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for the tips! I feel like my pictures look good went I take them but when I upload them to the blog they don’t look as good! I will try these tips to see if they help.

Lara (Thinspired) September 24, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I love this post! These are super useful tips. I love the one about a self-promoting pic ;) Hehe. Been there, done that. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Meredith (Pursuing Balance) September 24, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the tips! This is very helpful :)

Matt September 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm

My food never looks good, but it tastes good. Thats what counts :)

Heather September 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm

That is the prettiest bowl of oats EVER. Bananas+raspberries+coconut+nut butter = does it get any better?! No way. This was fun to read :)

Michelle September 25, 2009 at 11:29 am

Holly this is such a great post! I love learning about how to take better pictures of my food because i constantly feel like the pictures don’t do the food justice! :P

The kiwi pictures is like…art at a gallery! I love taking pictures of food in weird angles. That’s the funnest!

Jenny September 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm

you are a photography staaaaaaaah. (thats star in a boston accent, FYI)

love you a whole whole whole freakaleakin lot!

jessica September 25, 2009 at 7:13 pm

“Don’t be afraid to zoom in” is my favorite tip. I love getting a close-up shot of some beautiful yogurt mess or wrap that’s just stuffed SILLY!

I also love using the “vibrant” color tint when taking foodie shots! Makes ’em all pop! :)

Hope you’re having a fab friday! After seeing all this gorg food, it’s now time for ME to eat!!

Michal September 27, 2009 at 7:15 pm

What a nifty post! I was looking for some tips actually because my old camera just isnt cutting it anymore. (Thank gosh christmas is coming soon!) I hope enjoyed your weekend!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Just linked here from your interview with Alison. I wish I had these tips when I first started my blog. They are all so true and bear repeating, most of all the no flash action!

sorry your comment form and me arent getting along :)

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: