Ramp Up your Food Photography

by diannejacob on December 6, 2009

There’s no way around it. Blog readers are as interested in the visual aspects of the food as the  content. So if you’re writing about food you ate or cooked, you need to be just as good at taking the photos as you are at writing.

How do you get there? Fortunately, there’s tons of good information online about improving your photography skills, much of it provided by friendly bloggers, including those who win awards for their work.

free-stock-images-cake-pictures-01-500x375Here’s a list, by no means comprehensive, of ways and people who will help you improve your food photography:

Generous food bloggers who share their knowledge:

Post Production

As mentioned in a previous post about Jaden HairLynda.com has classes in Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom.


  • Culinary Entrepreneurship classes, featuring instructors Matt Armendariz from Matt Bites, caterer Denise Vivaldo and stylist Cindie Flannigan. Classes are based in California and include food styling and photography techniques for bloggers, plus food styling workshops and classes. They’ve even got one coming up in Singapore
  • Photo Styling Workshops has online classes on food styling techniques and prop styling
  • Check out Lou Manna’s website for food photography workshops.


If you don’t want to take your own photos

  • Donna Ruhlman offers free medium resolution photos for blogs. She will email the image to you.
  • Photo sites such as iStockphotos have a huge selection of gorgeous shots, but you have to pay.

Please chime in if you have a terrific resource I didn’t list, or if you disagree that the stakes are high for gorgeous photography in food blogs these days.

Photo Copyright FreeStockImages.org (very limited food photos)


Broderick December 6, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Great list. I’d add White On Rice Couple for their photography tips ( http://www.whiteonricecouple.com/photography-tips/ ) and Wrightfood’s posts ( http://mattikaarts.com/blog/technique/ )

diannejacob December 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Thanks Broderick. These are terrific additions. In fact, Todd and Diane will be teaching at Club Med Ixtapa next month. Can’t believe I forgot to mention that!

Cheryl December 7, 2009 at 9:26 am

This is so, so helpful. I’d seen many of these sites, but not Wrightfood, so thanks to commenter Broderick above for adding that to your list!

diannejacob December 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

Cheryl, yes, it’s so helpful to me when smart readers (including you) post such great information.

Speaking of color-drenched, sensuous photography, your photos rock.

Clair December 6, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Great list! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Stephanie - Wasabimon December 6, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I have a page here that I setup with a handful of good links:


I just added a link to this post as well.

diannejacob December 7, 2009 at 7:47 am

Wow Stephanie, that is a great list. Thanks.

Amy S December 7, 2009 at 6:04 am

Thanks for this post! I’ve been trying to work on my photography, but I’m a slow learner. 🙂

diannejacob December 7, 2009 at 7:46 am

Amy, there is so much to learn!

Mia December 24, 2009 at 1:11 am

Hi Amy:
Lou Manna will give a workshop on February 6th, 2010. It will take place at Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL. Good news, it is also available online (webcast). To register http://www.digitalfoodphotography.com.

Candace December 7, 2009 at 7:33 am

Wow, Dianne! Great list and information…just what I was looking for! Thank you so much! Thank you to Broderick, too!

Yemu December 7, 2009 at 9:32 am

Hi Dianne!,
I’ve just finished reading your book, loved it and decided to check your blog. Great post, I hope this will help with the blog I’ve started. Thanks!

diannejacob December 7, 2009 at 9:56 am

You are most welcome, Yemu. I’m so happy the book was helpful. I didn’t have enough about photography in it so the blog is a way for me to add to the book.

Yemu December 8, 2009 at 1:22 am

Sure, there was not much about photography in your book, and not much about blog writing. But there’s a lot of other useful info for someone starting his/her food blog. I’d recommend this book, for anyone who starts to write about food, even if English is not his native language (like me – I write my blog in Polish, so I had to adjust what I’ve found in the book).

Although, I have some experience with graphic design and writing, none of it is connected with food writing and food photography. So there’s a lot for me to learn 😉 I’m going to check your blog often.

diannejacob December 8, 2009 at 8:42 am

Terrific, Yemu. I meant the blog to be an adjunct to the book. I wish there was a Polish version for you! So far there’s been one in Taiwanese but that’s it.

Sarah Henry December 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Such a timely post. Was just talking with a designer today about the need to ramp up the visual element of my blog. Thanks for all these great tips & resources.

As much as I’m a word person, the fact of the matter is that gorgeous graphics are an essential element to this medium.

diannejacob December 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Yes, so true, isn’t it?

Fortunately, I learned graphic design as part of being an editor. At newspapers I laid out my 14-page newspaper sections, deciding where to start stories and where to place photographs. I knew obscure terms for no-nos like “tombstoning,” putting headlines next to each other; and “widows,” ending a line with only one word.

But do either of these things make me a great photographer? Heck no. I’m fine at composition, but I don’t understand contrast. Everything looks fine in the viewfinder!

steph December 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm

“I knew obscure terms for no-nos like “tombstoning,” putting headlines next to each other; and “widows,” ending a line with only one word.”

This would make a great post! Obscure terms that newbies might not know – I certainly had never heard of a “widow” before you mentioned it a few weeks ago.

steph December 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm

“I knew obscure terms for no-nos like “tombstoning,” putting headlines next to each other; and “widows,” ending a line with only one word.”

This would make a great post! Obscure terms that newbies might not know – I certainly had never heard of a “widow” before you mentioned it a few weeks ago.

Jamie December 8, 2009 at 3:45 am

As a writer I have so much trouble photographing the food for my blog, but I am learning, slowly. Thanks for the great links and advice!

diannejacob December 8, 2009 at 8:43 am

You are most welcome, Jamie.

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home December 9, 2009 at 10:24 am

Oh, I feel I am in need of a workshop. I usually take 100+ photos of the dish I made before deciding on 2 that I think are decent enough to post! However, I do enjoy the process. Like anything that’s worth something, it takes time.

Heidi from 101 Cookbooks has a few photography tips as well:

Thanks for this post Dianne – you listed some good resources.

diannejacob December 9, 2009 at 10:48 am

Erika, why not come to the Food Blogger Camp with us then? Where else can you get all these talented photographers in one room (or beach): Matt Armendariz, Donna Ruhlman and Todd Porter and Diane Cu?

Natanya December 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Thank you so very much for putting all of these great resources together in one place. I’m commited to 2010 being the year that I improve my photography and these will absolutely be a big help. I really appreciate this most practical post.

diannejacob December 10, 2009 at 2:39 pm

My pleasure, Natanya.

Hilla December 30, 2009 at 5:54 am

For those who don’t want to take photos…I’ve had some luck with Flickr. The photos are are often under a creative commons license, so you can credit them, and it’s fine to use for free.
Also, the USDA photos are public domain. The USDA photos are helpful for more generic food photos, like an apple on a tree. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/
I’m starting to learn about taking photos myself and will most definitely use these resources, thanks!

diannejacob December 30, 2009 at 7:55 am

Thanks Hilla, I had no idea there were government photos online that we can use. The fruits and veggies photos are gorgeous. Your tax dollars at work!

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