Food Photography tips from the Judges of DMBLGIT ( Does My Blog look Good in This)

I am very often left speechless by the beauty of pictures taken by so many talented and inspirational bloggers out there. Hosting the prestigious food photography event DMBLGIT (Does My Blog Look Good In This) I thought would be a good way to have some of their talent rub off on me :) One can hope right? 

I am so grateful to have some of those bloggers who inspire me the most with their gorgeous pictures as much as their awesome collection of recipes, and wonderful warm personalities, agree to be the judges as I host this month. I also requested them to share their insights into what makes a picture look good enough to eat and here it is, in their own words! 

Zoe Francois is an extraordinary pastry chef and cookbook author of  the revolutionary Bread in 5 series which helped thousands ( including me) around the world to get over our intimidation of yeast and bake bread at home, with about 5 mins of active effort! Her new cook book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is very eagerly expected soon and is already available for pre-order.
 She blogs at Zoe Bakes and also writes for  Cooking Channel’s blog, where she creates unique recipes and photographs them for their readers.

Zoe's Photo Courtesy Susan Powers 

Here are Zoe's favourite food photography tips:
"One of the keys to great photography is lighting. I shoot all of my photos in natural light. This means I bring all of my food to a bank of windows in my kitchen, to be sure there is sufficient light to shoot.

I almost always take my pictures with the light source (the sunshine) behind the food I am working with, because it creates more interesting shadows and contrast. This, however, requires that I use "fill cards" to bounce light back onto the food, if the shadows are too strong.I just use white foam core board, nothing fancy.

I usually move my camera around the table until I have found the lighting I like best. This will change as the sun moves. If the sun is particularly strong and shining directly on my food, I hang sheer curtains over the windows to diffuse the light. If it is too contrasty, the food will be very difficult to shoot."

She also shares some wonderful resources to read on food photography:

Shaheen Peerbhai is the smiling face and super talented young woman behind The Purple Foodie, which is one of India's most popular food blogs  and has been featured constantly in the media as well. She recently returned from a food and wine training program for selected food writers organised by the European Union and the Italian Government as part of the European Art of Taste (EAT) Program
Shaheen chooses to describe herself as "just another girl madly in love with exploring food. :)"
She has used a point and shoot Canon A570IS Powershot in the past and currently uses a Canon Rebel T1i / 500D

Here are her top tips:
"The most important thing for me is a good source of natural light. I shoot by my window when the sun isn't harsh either in the morning or late afternoon.

I'm from the camp that believes that props tend to steal the focus from the food. I like those type of photos, but I find myself wanting to buy the props instead of wanting to eat the food. That said, I'm a sucker for two things: fabrics and plates. My house is now filled with an assorted range of single plates.

I love my 50 mm/f1.8 lens. It makes food look so good. It makes everything look so good! Of late, I'm enjoying playing with some macro filters I'm not big on editing photos - just minor colour correction in MS Photo Editor. 

I absolutely adore these two sites lately: Minimalista and What Katie Ate "

Ria Mathew really doesn't need an introduction here! She is a certified cake decorator, freelance food writer, stylist and a photographer who blogs at Ria's collection, a definitely awesome collection of gorgeous recipes, each one a winner! She is also of course my gracious co-host for The Kerala Kitchen our monthly cooking event to share and preserve the cuisine of Kerala, and a good friend and a blogger I really admire, and also a previous DMBLGIT winner.
She had these wonderful tips to share about how she takes such beautiful pictures both with her point and shoot and more recently with her Canon Rebel T2i :

"Natural lighting is the best. I've never had luck with a light box hence I don't use artificial lighting.

So basically you will need good natural light & a bouncer (white board) and you are all set to go. If you have a tripod, use it as it will give you images which are much more sharper than a hand held camera.

 Favourite props:  I'm a person who uses whatever is lying around me at that time.No matter how much I plan, I've always noticed, it never works the way I wanted. So I just go with the flow.

I just look around my favourite food blogs for inspiration and stay away from photography dedicated websites. I feel they give out a lot information, which is really good but it just passes above my head.

Many of us feel that we need an expensive camera to get a good photograph, which is so untrue. Equipment does play a vital role but most importantly it's the person behind it. It's how creatively you bring your food in front of the camera and how well you control the light that decides the fate of the photograph in most cases. If you are good with editing softwares, you can even do magic with a dull photograph. 

When I started my blog, all I took were the close up shots of the food I made. But gradually I realised it's one of the terrible ways to go about things. Don't go too close to the food, instead move back, straighten up, feel relaxed and then take the picture.Give some space between you and the food. Walk around the table, click pictures, compare and see which ones are better etc. If you do this (which is what I do) eventually you will find an angle, a place where you think you can shoot the best pictures. 

If you have some favourite food photography sites, observe the way they take pictures and try to understand what makes their pictures special.Try to incorporate that  and see if it works for you. Eventually you will develop your own style of photographing food."

Dario Milano of Food Pixels is a former Chef and a professional Food photographer and stylist based in Sydney. He offers food photography tips and even critiques photos submitted by readers of his awesome photography blog  

Here is what he had to say:

What is your most favourite thing to shoot?
I like shooting any food ( and drinks ) and I enjoy the challenge to capture different foods with different lighting, lenses and angles; some ingredients are highly reflective, others have a more interesting texture; some are really colourful others have a more intriguing shape - the possibilities are almost endless when shooting food.

What camera would you recommend to a new and aspiring food photographer?
Any basic DSLR would be a good starting point; no need to spend too much for 2-3 thousand extra megapixels ( at least at this stage ). Just get a solid camera and learn how to use it in Manual (M) mode.

What is your favourite piece of camera equipment/ photography aid?
Without talking of the camera itself or the lenses, I'd say probably my favourite piece of equipment are my 6 Pocket Wizards : 6 wireless radio transreceivers ( transmitters / receivers ) that allow me to fire my flash units and trigger the shutter of my camera remotely.

What are your top tips for shooting food?
Find good natural light in your home/ studio
Learn how to use a flash off camera
Pay attention to props 
Don't overdo the food and in general keep things looking as natural as possible
Invest in a good, sturdy tripod
Read my blog  ( eh, eh ) 

Helene Dujardin has graciously agreed to pick the host's award of the picture that received high scores from the other judges but was not amongst the winning list. 
She is a former pastry chef, incredible food photographer and stylist who has shot for magazines and cook books and 
Helene's breath taking blog My Tartlette helped me (and many others I'm sure) achieve macaron success and her stunning pictures are always an inspiration. 

Tips from her would cover an entire book (or several bookshelves), so isn't it great that she has just come out with one? In just a few days since it's release it is already on the digital photography bestseller list! Go grab your copy, if you haven't already!

Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Book Description:

Food photography is on the rise, with the millions of food enthusiasts who document their meal as well food bloggers around the world interested in improving their photography and food styling, and this book should serve as your first course in food photography. You’ll get a taste of the visual know-how that is required to translate the perceptions of taste, aroma, and appeal into a stunning, lavish finished photograph.
• Learn how to work with your camera modes and settings
• Discover how to use natural light to capture stunning images
• Learn how to compose the most appetizing photo
• See how food stylists exercise unique techniques to make the food look attractive in the finished product
• Develop an after-capture workflow process to improve your food photos

Check out this awesome video of Helene as she talks about her book.

These people I have admired from afar for their awesome work, also amazed me by their warmth and friendliness. I am so glad that they agreed to share their tips and precious time in the midst of so much amazing stuff they are into. I am so glad to have them to judge amongst 43 gorgeous entries, each one a stunner- a tough job indeed! 

The winners will be announced shortly. Meanwhile here is a slideshow of all the entries that were received this month. Feel free to visit the gallery, drool a little  if you must :) and do leave comments on the ones you liked, I'm sure the photographers would love to hear from you.


  1. Those are really wonderful tips.. Thanks for sharing dear...

  2. Very informative! Thanks all for sharing :)

  3. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips..eagerly waiting to know about the winners..

  4. This was a very informative.Beautiful entries too.

  5. Very useful article for beginners like me .thanks for sharing.u have a wonderful space,glad to follow u.

  6. thanks for sharing Mag, this so awesome!

  7. I sent you my photo and it is not on the gallery. What went wrong?
    Thank you.

  8. Patricia I am so sorry that I missed your entry, I have checked my mail several but do not see one from you. Could you have got my mail id wrong? It is magpiemails at gmail dot com?
    I am a huge fan of Technicolour Kitchen and feel terrible to have missed an entry from you!

  9. When we will have the results...? thanks ;))

  10. Hi Marta winners will be announced before the 8th.Since Helene is travelling to Santa Fe hope to receive her pick of the hosts pick as soon as she is back.

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