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15 Creative Food Photography Ideas You Should Try at Home!

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Thanks to food-centric blogs and websites, food photography has become very popular. It has high demand, and you can even do it in your home.

But coming up with creative food photography ideas can be tricky. Luckily, we have some for you!

Creative food photography close up of a pink frosted donut with sprinkles
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

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15. Use Reflections for Stylish Commercial Shoots

Creating a photo to sell a product is challenging. Nothing can remain unchecked. Lights, depth of field, colours, style, and mood, all must work together perfectly to make the product interesting, appealing and desirable.

Adding a reflection is a creative way of adding interest to the image. A highly polished reflection can look slick and stylish. I like using Plexiglas as a reflective surface for creative photography.

Squares of chocolate on a cake stand with a lavender bag next to it
Lavender Chocolate from a local “chocolaterie” in Brussels.
You can also shoot electronic goods that are used in the food industry. This is typically seen with coffeemakers.

Since many of these machines are quite slick, I went for a low key image, with moody light. I popped my brand new Nespresso machine on a reflective surface.

A commercial style photo of a Nespresso coffee machine beside a small plate of chocolates

Be aware that if you want to upload these kinds of images to microstock agencies, all visible brands must be removed.

You can hide them with a careful arrangement of the items in the scene. Or you can use Photoshop to get rid of them in post-processing.

creative commercial style coffee machine photo
The Nespresso logo has been removed from the coffee machine to make it suitable for stock photography

14. Create Conceptual Food Photography

Conceptual photography is quite challenging, but this is what I like best. The challenge is to come up with a simple concept. And then craft an image to convey it in a photographically appealing and interesting way.

A simple, yet powerful, way to create a conceptual photograph with food is to adopt a minimalist style. This keeps the scene simple. And you should use single ingredients rather than complete dishes.

Look at your favourite food and drinks to get new ideas. I’m a coffeeholic so much of my food photography involves coffee.

Creative flat lay of coffee beans in the shape of a heart

Often, tea and coffee are seen the way black and white are – opposites. But coffee and tea can definitely coexist in photographic harmony. Yin and Yang is the perfect symbol to convey the concept.

Creative flat lay of coffee and tea yin yang symbol

13. Play With Food Characteristics

We all know some foods are associated with emotions or feelings. Coffee makes you nervous and sleepless, and pepper makes you sneeze.

And red peppers are hot. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new associations!

Creative food photo of a red pepper thats so hot it's on fire

12. Capture Food Acrobatics

Organising food in a gravity-defying orientation is always a good way to capture the viewer’s attention.

Obviously, this can be challenging. You’ll need a frame or wiring support to keep the food in equilibrium. And then you’ll have to shoot the scene without food, but with same lighting setup.

That way, you can use the second image to remove the frame and supports from the final image.

If you go low or high key, make sure the background is pure black or pure white. This will make it easier to delete those supporting structures.

A creative standing lemon slice photo

11. Add Splashes for a Dynamic Image

Photograph splashes are an excellent way to give your photo more dynamics. To capture splashes, keep cleanup in mind first. Have a towel handy and mind your gear.

To ensure you freeze the splash, you have to use fast shutter speed. It is easier to use a flash.

A minimalist food photo of a splashing cup of tea beside chocolates

To capture the splash, put your camera in continuous shooting mode and start capturing the photo an instant before you drop the item that will create the splash. You can use sugar cubes, fruits, vegetables or the beverage itself.

A coffee beans heart beside a clear coffee cup

10. Use Props to Create Funny Food Photography

Sometimes you can use props to get creative with food photography. Have a look around for weird, interesting or funny items when visiting kitchen stores and markets.

I had quite a lot of fun photographing an egg cup. A small piece of cauliflower stained with cinnamon powder made a perfect brain for my prop.

A creative still life food photo using an alessi egg cup, cauliflower and salt

Don’t be afraid to reinterpret images of other photographers. The photo below is quite a common concept.

To make it different, I took a small chick toy my son has. I placed it way back and out of focus to give the idea of the chicken leaving its egg prison for good.

A creative eggshell and chicken prison photograph

9. Reinvent the Food Preparation

Think of alternative ways to prepare or consume food.

You should push yourself to think out of the box for this to find interesting food photography ideas.

I had a lime squeezer for cocktails which I never used. It came in handy to tell the story of a different way to make a fresh cup of coffee using capsules.

Commercial photo of coffee making equipment on black background

If you don’t show the action, but the aftermath of the process, you have to pay attention to add details that will let the viewer understand your photo. I did this with the squeezer stained with coffee, the broken and slightly squashed capsules.

Since the process would be quite messy, I made sure the Plexiglas was dirty near the capsules.

You can experiment with the same concept in multiple ways. Don’t stop right after the first setup.

Creative photo of coffee making equipment on black background

8. Get Inspired by Other Artists

You can take advantage of the ideas you see in commercial campaigns. In 1986, when I was a child, there was a commercial about fruit juices on TV.

It had a small kid climbing a huge pear, and stabbing it with a straw to drink the fresh juice. Here is how I have reused the concept.

You could even build landscapes using food items. Check out the work of Carl Warner. He is photographing food landscapes built from various ingredients. My favourites are the ones with pizza and pasta.

Shadowy commercial-style photo with a straw stabbed into a pear

7. Keep it Simple

Find a simple way to represent a dish. I am Italian, and pasta is one of our best-known foods.

This is how I represented it in the most simple and minimalistic way I could think of. In Italy, pasta dishes are never overcomplicated.

This photo is the perfect representation of what pasta stands for in Italian cuisine. Fresh and simple local ingredients that make Italian food so delicious.

minimalist food photo close up of one piece of pasta rigatoni, one plum tomato, and a basil leaf

6. Slice the Food Up for a Cool Deconstructed Shot

A common technique in food photography is food destructuration.

For this kind of food photography, you have to consider building some supports and find a clever way to remove them in editing.

A common idea is to slice fruit or vegetable and have it floating mid-air.

floating pepper slices against black background

5. Create a Fresh Perspective With a Food Pile

Sweets can be piled up in many ways, like this chocolate tower.

stacked chocolate

A less obvious pile is this one, where the colourful macarons rest on the coffee forming an arch.

A stack of rainbow macarons beside a coffee cup

Slabs of white chocolate with hazelnuts can be arranged in such a way that they resemble a white mountain.

I like to do that on reflective Plexiglas and in a low key style.

stacked white chocolate chunks

4. Write or Draw With Food

You can use food to draw and write. Here I wrote the word TEA and sketched a cup of hot tea using tea leaves.

The word tea written in tea leaves and a cup drawn with tea leaves

As with a lot of the pictures in this article, it’s important that your backdrop is white.

I had a sheet of transparent Plexiglas suspended with two chairs. I arranged the food to create images, symbols and words on this sheet.

To ensure the background came out white, I lit the Plexiglas from below with a flash fitted with a small, foldable, Lastolite Ezybox softbox.

3. Experiment With Colourful Food

Coloured food is fun to work with. You can create colourful carousels using macarons or other colourful sweets.

Smarties are a must-have item if you want to try new food photography ideas. They are small and brightly coloured. You can arrange them in various shapes and forms or toss them around.

creative food picture using smarties in a glass

2. Let it Rot

This is quite a weird idea, but rotten food can be beautiful to photograph. This is due to its colours and texture, like the rotten and dried up orange in the image below.

creative picture of a rotten orange

Mould can also create interesting effects on vegetables. And don’t forget rotten cheese when you are looking for unique ideas!

A rotten cucumber on black background

1. Create an Atmosphere to Suit the Food

Try to create an atmosphere to immerse your food in. You can think of the food’s origins or where it is usually consumed. A friend of mine is Finnish, and she gifted me a bottle of liquor.

While not 100% correct, when I think Finnish, I think Vikings.  So I borrowed her drinking horn, threw some smoke around using a tea boiler and lit the scene with a couple of flashes to create a moody and mysterious atmosphere.

A happy accident improved the image in a dramatic way. To light the bottle from behind and hide the flash, I turned my speed light upside down, but I forgot to remove the foot.

The result is that the shape of the flash foot cast a shadow on the background resembling a horned Viking helmet. As if there were a Viking’s soul inside the bottle.

Atmospheric photo of a bottle of Finnish liquor beside a viking horn

Bonus Tip: The Infinity Canvas

As you noticed, most of my images are low key or high key and very minimal. I don’t usually clutter the scene with many items.

I love this style, but it is also practical. You have fewer things to take care of. And you can shoot anywhere you can place a couple of 50x50cm boards of Plexiglas for the floor and backdrop of the scene. These make it easy to remove structures supporting the food and gives you an infinite canvas to play with.

To create an infinity canvas, get your background and floor to be pure white or pure black. This way, you can use the crop tool in Photoshop to enlarge the image and alter your original composition. See in the examples below.

An infinity canvas will allow you to make room for text. This is useful if you decide to sell or submit your images to a microstock agency for advertising.

Diptych of macaroons and coffee using a white background in creative food photography

Conclusion

I hope this article will inspire you to experiment with creative food photography. All you need is some space, food photography props, a couple of flashguns, some food and a crazy idea.

For all the best food photography tips, check out our eBook – Edible Images!

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