Wow… its food photography…!


Food a most essential thing for all is something we see and taste on every day basis. We also see a lot of food pictures in advertisements, menu cards, websites, indoor displays etc.  But how many of us have really visualized as how the food is shot for commercial purposes?  Well, what is so special about shooting food as a table top set-up? It’s about showing food appetising and fresh in the photo.


Is that simple? It is not that simple as we think. We need to understand every single food with respect to its colour, texture, form, shape and arrange them aesthetically beautiful so that it catches the eyes. Well, can we shoot the food that is served to eat? Many times the answer is ‘No’. You cannot shoot the food that you eat and cannot eat the food that you shoot.


Interestingly, many food set-ups contain uncooked or half cooked food or ingredients and dummies to make them look fresh and retain the colour, texture, form and shape. Most of food contents degenerate or undergo a lot amount of physical and chemical changes when cooked.


We all know that food has a strong cultural value and background. The presentation of food in front of the camera needs to carry the cultural feel. Well, you need to use the appropriate table top, background and the plates, cutlery, accomplishments, properties, garnishing, and arrangements to match the cultural value or background of the food. For example, while shooting a Chinese dish, we can include a pair of chopsticks…!


Choose to work with a competent food stylist and culinary artist. This will add a lot of value for food photography. In the recent Food Photography workshop conducted by me, I had got a perfect assistance from the Chef Uma Sankar, an Olympics bronze medallist in culinary art, assisted by Bindhu Hepzibah an artist. Uma Sankar’s contribution as a chef and culinary artist went a long way in making the food fresh and appetizing.


A professional high resolution digital camera with optically perfect lenses and studio lights could make the food photography complete. Choose to shoot food in the studio for a better control or create a setup near the kitchen of the restaurant. A lot of training on lighting and composition is required to get the shot right. Use of multiple, small, pointed light sources apart form an overall lighting from a soft box is needed to get the highlights in the desired portion of the food.


Love food.., in the sense of feel and visual aspects. This is a most important eligibility to become a food photographer.

Focus Stacking

Focus stacking is a technique to get an extended depth of field in photographs where the maximum depth of field* is not possible using the popular photography techniques.

* ‘Depth of field’ is the acceptable range of effective sharpness of the subject on the axis of the lens.

We know that the maximum depth of the field is possible,

  • By using smaller aperture diameters (higher f numbers like f32/f22/f16
  • By using smaller focal length lenses
  • By shooting from a longer distance
  • By using cameras with smaller sensor size

Despite of using the above techniques, some times we cannot show the subject sharp all through.

Particularly when shooting from a closer distance, to get the maximum sharpness spreading all through the subject area, ‘focus-stacking technique’ is used.

This technique is useful for shooting small objects using macro lenses / product shots / jewelry shots / food shots where the subject demands total sharpness.

This is nothing but shooting a sequence of images focusing at various planes and then merging them carefully in the post production process using an image processing software. In the image shown here, the milk and cookies at different planes are focused individually.

Focus stacking

The three individual images where the points of focus are different give a different range of depth of field. Composting all the three images into one by erasing the less sharper areas of the individual images using layer masking technique to retain only the sharp areas gives complete sharpness all through the image. This gives a feel of extended depth of field, which is not otherwise achievable.

focus stacking

Note: The camera needs to be on a tripod and the subject must be stationary to take control of composition.

If you found this article useful, please check our Advanced Diploma in Professional Photography course , where we explore all the professional aspects of Commercial photography in detail. It is an intensive 12 months fulltime course 

Plate and pixels

hey are ideal photo models. They come in endless varieties, stay put through the shoots, throw no tantrums, and are happy to pose on tables. Sure, they suffer meltdowns in the heat and excitement, and sometimes wilt. That’s okay, say their photographers. There is nothing we can’t fix with a little make-up. Too far gone? Replace them! We “prepare our subjects well,” says K.L. Raja Ponsing, founder-director, Ambitions4 Photography Academy. “We make them look good on brochures, cookbooks, restaurant boards, hoardings, menu cards and newspapers.”

Food photography (FP) is huge business now. Raja’s Academy has FP in its curriculum. Well-known photographers boast of expertise in FP. Our new-found love for international cuisine has launched a tribe of specialists in food photography.