Professional Food Photography Lighting Tips

Food photography is a growing area of interest among photographers, and as a result more and more information is popping up on how to go about doing it correctly. In the two part series below, David Loftus shares a few tips on lighting for food photography, including a couple low cost alternatives to expensive light modifiers. The videos are brought to us in part by renowned chef Jamie Oliver, who Loftus has done work for since Oliver first got his start in television:

In part one of the series (above), Loftus discusses using window light as a main light source and talks about different ways to reflect it.

Here are some key points from the segment:

  • Always and only use natural daylight.
  • North facing windows produce indirect sunlight, though this may vary depending on which hemisphere you live in.
  • The best method to regulate sunlight is through diffusion and reflection.

And now for part two:

In the second part of the series, viewers learn how to make their own inexpensive reflectors in addition to how and when to use different colored reflectors. Here’s the rundown:

  • Use a large sheet of Styrofoam and paint one side black and leave the other side white. 
  • Use a black reflector to create shadows and boost drama or use the white side to create a soft, diffused light.
  • Alternatively a silver reflector, such as a piece of aluminum foil, will create a cooler light, whereas a gold reflector will produce a warmer light.

natural light photography

“If I took the most beautiful dish of food and put it in direct sunglight it would look awful. The highlights would be too bright, the shadows too dark. So what we do is try to create the quietest lighting environment for that food.”

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2 responses to “Professional Food Photography Lighting Tips”

  1. ksporry says:

    Although tips on photography are always welcome, i do feel that this one may be a bit inappropriate considering the recent turn against food photography by restaurants. Although still welcome from a commercial perspective, it is likely this article will in fact increase the harassment perceived by said restaurants.

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