Food Photography Setup

Food Photography Set Up

I think food photography can be quite challenging.  A few of my baking buddies have asked me about my food photography setup at my house. Then in my email this morning, I received the latest blog post  from Lilaloa and she is having a photography challenge for the month of March.  What a perfect time to share my photography setup?  My food photography setup has evolved over the past year. Slowly but surely I am starting to have my own style and way that I photograph my food. There are so many fun an innovative ways to arrange your food photography setup.  Let’s get started.

food photography setup

This is my lovely Wal-Mart garment hanging rack, that I picked up for $14.99. Some photography background stands can cost anywhere from $50.00 to $150.00.  I decided to go the cheaper route for now and it totally works for what I am taking photographs of my food.

food photography setup

Lisa, from The Bearfoot Baker brings out my inner McGuyver.  When I read her blog posts she helps me think outside of the box. I am very talented at thinking inside the box.  I will explain what these bungee cords will help with in just a second.

food photography setup

I love Ink and Elm. Their photo backdrops and floor drops make food photography set up really easy.  It helps you change the mood and setting of your pictures.  You can order their vinyls with something called a grommet.  A grommet is a ring inserted into a hole through thin material.  I was feeling very adventurous one day when I decided to order a backdrop with grommets than the normal floordrop.  When I received them I realized I did not have hooks to hang the back drop. I ran off to Wal-Mart and bought some bungee cords. The reason I chose bungee cords was so that I could lower the back drop if needed.

food photography setup

The picture above is my normal food photography setup. I am really fortunate to have floor to ceiling windows in our dinner room.  I simply put the garment rack behind my table, open the windows and choose which vinyl “table” I will be using that day.  One of the benefits of vinyl floor drops for your food photography setup is that they can be cleaned. You can wipe them down after you are finished or before the next time you decide to use them. One time I had posted a new picture and one of my dear friend Nicole asked me, “where did you get your dining room table?” Well, it was actually one of the vinyls. How fun is that?

The picture above shows you another option for a back drop. I love using fabric backdrops. I grab a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby and then search through their fabrics. For backgrounds I have learned to stay away from busy patterns. You want your food to be the center of attention, not the background.  The great thing about fabric is that you can just lay it over the bar and now you have a beautiful backdrop.

food photography setup

The shot above is the grommeted back drop from Ink and Elm. It makes such a lovely back drop against the dark natural wood of my dining room table. Now that we have talked about my food photography setup, let me share with you a few tips on props. Food blogging or taking pictures of your beautiful creations can become costly, but it does not have to be. Each item above except the flowers came from Goodwill. Those gorgeous antique dessert serving plates I got for $6 for the whole set. I have used them in quite a few shots. The fun lemon plates and vintage ball mason jar as well. It is always worth popping into to your local thrift shop to see what they have in stock.

Things to look for at Goodwill:

  • tablecloths
  • table runners
  • vintage plates
  • silverware
  • old china
  • mason jars

Here are a few of my favorite pictures using my food photography set up.

Custom Cookies

Can you see how the different backdrops change the feel of the pictures? I used the black ruffle fabric from Hobby Lobby and the Old White Wood Planks floordrop from Ink and Elm.

St. Patty's Day Donuts

“Oh Henry” floordrop from Ink and Elm. This transforms the picture from a cooler color look like the Parisian set to warm tones.  Plus, I thought, “Oh Henry and St. Patrick’s Day donuts went together perfectly.  I own 4 different floor drops which allows me to own four different tables! It helps keep my photography fun and fresh by changing the backgrounds.

Custom Cookies

If you would like my resources on food photography, here are just a few links:

Alright, now for my submission to Lilaloa’s March Challenge.  I was so bummed that I was unable to finish my cookies that went with my sketch for last months challenge.  Let me share a secret with  you. I am scared of shooting photos outside. I have become so accustomed to my indoor shooting spot that I don’t like to shoot anywhere else. I know just how to set my white balance and I know just the right aperture setting. Take me outside and I feel a little lost. But I braved the outdoors for this challenge.

food photography setup

One of the nice parts about being outside is all the natural light. Even though I get plenty of light by the dinner room table I have to shoot at a much lower f-stop than if I am outdoors.  Normally, by the window my f-stop is set between 2.8 and 3.2. While I was outside I had taken shots between 5.6 and 7.0.  That is a big difference.  One of the things I noticed about shooting outdoors is that my straight out of camera shot came out sharper. I am going to have to look into why that would happen.  Well I am off to begin investigating. What do you struggle with when shooting food? What are tips or tricks you have learned along the way? I look forward to hearing about your journey.









15 comments on “Food Photography Setup

  1. This is a great blog post. Thanks for sharing your photo setup. There is so much to learn in photography and I am continuing to learn new things everyday. 🙂

  2. It’s always so great to see how others work and I have always loved that ruffled fabric I see so often in in your photos. Thanks for sharing your resources. Great post!

    1. melissa says:

      Thank you so much, lady!

  3. Awesome post Melissa! I love everything about your pictures. My daughter is a photographer and you would think she would help out her overly challenged mom with picture set ups. Must be a secret 😉 Love that you shared your secret. Now I must go and check out Ink and Elm and try to impress my daughter.

    1. melissa says:

      I swear, did you ever think you would have to learn this much to sell cookies? Run a website, write engaging blogs, learn how to take photographs, social networking and the list goes on….

  4. Thanks for sharing this info – I need all the help I can get when it comes to photography! Love the backdrops too, would love to purchase a few! You always seem to capture great photos!

    1. melissa says:

      Thank you so much, Kim!

  5. Paula Kelly-Bourque (@VanillaBeanBake) says:

    You really do have a McGuyver gene in you! I loved reading this post and seeing your set-ups for your photography. Very, very smart and creative and wonderful pictures to boot!! 🙂

    1. melissa says:

      The only awkward part about being McGuyver is when the UPS man comes to drop off packages by that door and I am standing on a ladder in a weird position trying to get the photo right! LOL…But it always gives him a good laugh.

  6. great info! Love your set up. You are AWESOME;)

  7. Great post Melissa! When you told me about Ink and Elm & I purchased some backdrops they really have transformed my pictures. I feel like slowly but surely I’m finding my style. Now I need to look into getting a clothes rack & maybe some pretty fabrics. Thanks for the link to my post 🙂

  8. I love taking a peek into others set ups, so fun. Great tips! You’ll laugh if you see mine.

    1. melissa says:

      Thank you so much. I love getting to see how others take their pictures as well. I would never laugh. Your pictures are always so clean and beautiful. It would be cool to see your set up!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your setup! Photography is what I struggle with the most. My biggest challenge is composing or staging a shot. In the past, I used to just shoot cookies the same way every time– on a white plate from a bird’s-eye-view. I’m getting better at trying new ways to vary my pictures to keep things interesting. I love your clothes rack idea for backdrops!! And, no joke, I was going to ask about your table surface after seeing your St. Patty’s Day donuts post. Now I know! Thanks again for the behind-the-scenes glimpse.

    1. melissa says:

      Thank you so much Mike! Isn’t it funny, I have received more comments about the St. Patty’s Day backdrop than any of the others. I have to say it gets quite challenging coming up with new idea to make cookies look fresh and fun.

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