Tips for Photography

Okay, let me first start by saying I am no expert.  However, I have learned some tricks along the way that have some of my photos to finally get on sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting.  When I first found out about these sites, I was super excited.  I thought all I had to do was submit my photos and they would publish them.  Boy was I wrong.  I got rejection after rejection. Why is it important to get on these sites?  Because they will drive major traffic to your blog.  They also archive all the accepted photos so you will keep getting hits, even after yours have left the home page.  It is possible to take nice pictures even without a fancy camera.  The camera I shoot with is a Nikkon D5000.  I love it!  If you learn the settings on your camera, you will not need to do much editing at all.

Here is an example of my very early work.


Not so great, right?  This is actually the very first photo that went up on my blog.  Here is the first picture Foodgawker ever accepted.  I actually did a happy dance around my living room.


Tip # 1.  Use natural light.  Sites like FG and TS love natural light.  Pick a time of day where a particular room in your house gets the best lighting.  You may have to play around with different times until you discover the perfect light.  The perfect time in my house just so happens to be around noon in my girl’s playroom.  We have a huge window.  Often I am dodging toys and keeping their hands out of the photos, but it works. 🙂  Here is an example of a staged shoot.


As you can see here, I have a covered table with a white board.  This is all to help reflect the light.  That white board is a tri-fold that you can buy at any store in the craft supply section.  It’s the best money I ever spent.  It is being held up by my daughter’s high chair.  This is the photo I snapped.


Tip # 2  Take you camera off auto.  The first thing I learned to set on my camera was the ISO.  ISO setting measures the sensitivity of the image sensor.  High ISO are used in darker settings and low ISO in brighter settings.  I just keep playing around taking test shots to see which lighting I like best.  That first photo that got accepted onto FG was using natural light with the ISO about 1000.

Tip # 3 Pan back.  There is nothing FG hates more than a close up shot.  In fact, most of my photos in the past have been denied for composition too tight or low-lighting and/or under exposed.  Here is an example of one of my photos that got denied for composition too tight.


Tip # 4 Try to use white dishes.  That helps make the food the main star of the photo.

Tip # 5  Don’t waste your money on too many props.  For the different fabric is my photos, I often buy scraps out of the clearance bin at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Other props I use often are fruit, glasses of milk and jars containing nuts and other dried goods.

Tip #  6  Study photos that have been accepted to these sites.  Before I stage a shoot, I often go and look how others staged a similar food.  It really helps give me ideas.

Tip # 7  Use a tripod if possible.  This is very important especially when you start playing around with the film speed.  You would be surprised at how much your hands will shake.

So, those are the tips I can offer right now.  I am up to 45 accepted on FG and 77 rejected.  I will really love when I make the accepted photos smaller than the rejected ones.  They accept most of mine these days, but I still get a rejection here and there.  The last thing I can say, is don’t let the rejection get you down.  If you keep trying, you will improve and get on there.  If anyone else has any good tips, please add in the comment section.  I will most likely update this as I learn more.


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19 thoughts to “Tips for Photography”

  1. Thanks for the tips AND for the awesome site links! I never knew such "food candy" places existed. By the way, congrats on all the acceptances. Your tenacity and skill is paying off!
  2. Speaking as a person who is totally new to the whole Food Blogger lifestyle, I definitely appreciate these tips! I can't wait to put them into practice!! Thank you, so much!! oxox
  3. Hi Melissa, I have to say, I really enjoyed reading this. I liked that you showed examples of good shots and 'not so good' shots, and also your white boards. That is the next thing I am going to get. I haven't had any pics accepted at FG, although I have only submitted 4. Tastespotting I had more joy, and got 2 approved out of 8. That showed me it can be done, even with my 'old' camera! I would love to go on a food photography course, but for now, that's not possible. I am grateful you took the time to show us these tips in an easy way and not too technical. Thanks very much for your inspiration and encouragement. It is much appreciated indeed. Mary
    1. So glad you have found it helpful. Don't give up! I have gotten 78 photos rejected from FG and 45 accepted. You will get there.
  4. Thanks for the info; I didn't even know those sites existed. I made the mistake last time of asking my husband to get the shot while I ran after our 1 year old. Oops, It was a man's idea of a good picture of food lol.
    1. You're welcome! I never realized the value of those sites until I saw the mad amount of traffic they would bring to my blog. FYI there is a site called that will accept all photos and they will bring you traffic as well.
  5. Thanks tons!!! This couldn't have come at a better time! Just getting started and been a little intimidated by my camera settings! And I think i know the perfect spot in my house for natural light! Gonna start experimenting right when I get off work! Congrats on all your accepted admissions and thanks again for sharing the tips!
  6. Thank you, Melissa for great tips! I can see major improvement in your photos since I've been following you for a while. Although I am not a food blogger, I cook and take photos and occasionally post them on my (natural health) blog. I have a cheap camera, but will try to use your suggestions to make appealing photos for my readers.
  7. Wow I'm so glad you posted this and even more glad I read this! I'm about a month into my food blog and I've been struggling on taking pics of my food creations but this post has shed a lot of light, no pun intended. Thank you!
  8. Great tips - thanks for sharing! The biggest problem I find as a n00b food photographer/hobbyist in a new house is lighting - we're smack under a massive oak tree in between different rows of houses. Even on a day off I still can't find a good spot, and if I do then the bars on the windows/doors get in the way. Mostly, working during the day means I only get to make and shoot at night - ouch for that wonderful light and clarity I so admire in other people's snaps! Anyway, I've decided that over the holidays I'm going to make my final presentation portable and set up a table in the communal garden and see if I can't get better results there :)
    1. Thanks! I also have a very large tree out front now. It was fine in the winter, but once the leaves came back, I had to move my whole set up outside. One day I will save up for a lighting system.

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