How to Turn Ordinary Food Photos Into Extraordinary

You style your photo carefully, you take your time to set the camera and you pay close attention to where the light is coming from – and then you trigger the camera. Everything should be perfect, right? However, once you download the photo to your computer you realize something is missing. What is missing if your straight out of camera (SOOC) photo is nice, exposure is right, white balance is correct, and composition is lovely?  You know something is missing but you cannot tell what? I had that problem too until I figured out what was missing! The mood! I realized that my photos usually missed the right mood – that real life photo mood – maybe even summery and country mood that I loved so much in other people’s photos.

Chocolate Cheesecake

So, how do you get that warm-everyday-feel?

The answer (and solution) is simple –  take your plate outside! Let the 100% natural and non-restricted light create mood and feel. Once you take your plate outdoors, shadows and natural light will do their thing and create a wonderfully sunny and warm feeling (that) you are after. Although shooting in the direct sunlight can be difficult, you can still make it work for you. Use an inexpensive reflector to fill in shadows or to filter the light. White side of the reflector will bounce the light where you need it the most or it will help you filter/ diffuse some of the harsh mid-day light. To diffuse the light, you will use the central ring that comes with the reflector. If you do not have a reflector, do yourself a favor and get one. 5-in-1 reflectors are really inexpensive and they will improve your photos immediately.


5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector ($17.07)

5-in-1 reflectors usually come with the white side  for nice soft light, gold for warming, silver for bright light and it is also the most reflective side, black to soak up too much light and the white/ transparent ring that can be used above your subject to filter/ diffuse harsh light.

Get one and turn your ordinary food photos into extraordinary by taking your set outdoors and allowing natural light to play with shadows and to create an inviting sunny look.

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Linking up to Live, Love, Travel From Val's Kitchen

Chocolate Cheesecake

What tricks you use when shooting outdoors? 


Now, we would love to see your food shots!

Please, feel welcome to link your food and beverages shots to Food Photography. The rules are simple:

1. Make your photograph about food or beverages.
2. Tell us about that photograph: share a photo tip, recipe, or a story behind it.
3. Submit the URL to your food photo post or a specific Flickr image, NOT your home page or album URL.
4. Please, include a link back to my blog in your post or Flickr image description. You can grab the button below or use a text link. Note: Linked photos without the backlink will be removed.
5. Visit bloggers on your left and your right and leave some comment love.

Food Photography Challenge


  1. says

    Oh my gosh Mira- these look amazing. I think my favorite is the 3rd one- I happen to be really fond of the tighter shots. I do use the reflector but I try to avoid shooting food outside because our sun here is always so harsh & like I learned the other day with portraits- even the filter can’t help like I need it to- even at 4 in the afternoon.

  2. says

    umm can I eat that? Please??? I love the picture on the left in the second to last row! It’s amazing how much lighting can make a difference! I love using a reflector for food shots, it’s such a help.

  3. says

    These are beautiful Mira! I really love the outdoor photo with all the beautiful green in the background. The daisies are a nice touch too!

  4. says

    Oh Mira, I’m drooling. That looks sooooo good. Your pictures are awesome too – I don’t have a reflector but have used a white piece of card on occasion, probably not the same though. Maybe I should invest in one.

  5. says

    Wow…your food photography is just mind blowing!!! Thank you for the tutorial, it was very motivating for me to take the next step and buy a reflector! Keep up the great work!!

  6. says

    Sorry I missed the linky. Great tip. When we finally get some better days I’m totally on it. I can imagine some soft dusk or gentle morning light would have some interesting effects too. I picked up a tip a few months ago to use natural light as much as possible so I often photograph on a window ledge. Generally on really sunny days I end up taking the plate further inside to avoid the harsh lights and shadows. Not sure my toddler would stand for me setting up a reflector though (I’m often taking photos of his tea!)