How to Take Great Food Photos (When You Don’t Have Your Dream Kitchen)

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Thanks so much to those of you who have filled out my reader survey – I am so grateful for your feedback as it helps me to determine the direction and feel of this blog!

A good number of you have requested more photography-related posts, and I am happy to oblige! 🙂 Photography has gone from something I just did (as in, snapping hundreds of low-quality pictures of food and landscapes and people) to something I am very passionate and intentional about!! I now offer photo editing services – head there for more information as well as more examples of my photography!

The biggest drive for me to improve my photography has been this blog! Photography is really crucial in the world of blogging – you want crisp, clear images that really speak to who you are! My thoughtful husband Bjorn gave me my camera Pachelbel as a Christmas gift 2 years ago, and I’ve been striving to go from quantity to quality ever since! 🙂

charcuterie meat cheese board 2
Click the photo to go to the Charcuterie Board post!

We’re currently renting a house in a small town surrounded by acres and acres of fields…but we plan one day to actually live in the country. So, while we don’t have our dream kitchen right now, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying our kitchen and trying to take the best food photography shots I can!

Here are my tips for getting the most out of your food photography.

How to Take Great Food Photos - When You Don't Have Your Dream Kitchen - Just Bee Blog

How to Take Great Food Photos (When You Don’t Have Your Dream Kitchen):

1 // Take it outside. I’m so serious!!! Any time I’m getting frustrated with how a photo shoot is turning out, I grab that plate, whisk it outside to our picnic table in the backyard, and suddenly everything improves! The lighting, the background… It is so worth it! Even if you have to set that plate on a chair on your patio, it will make a huge difference! Now, it’s a little more difficult in the winter here in Minnesota – but it’s always worth a shot!

Click the photo to go to the Peach Blackberry Vanilla Crisp post!

2 // Shoot from particular angles to capture plain backgrounds. Now, I’m not saying not to experiment with new angles – that’s one of the neatest things about photography! Trying different angles is highly recommended! However, if you’re shooting in not-your-dream-kitchen (or even if there are dishes in the sink), limit yourself to shooting from more thoughtful angles. If I’m not in the mood to incorporate busy, unique wallpaper patterns into my food shots (and I’m usually not, haha), then I make sure I’m shooting from angles that only bring the plain cream-colored cupboards into the photo, or the simple kitchen table, instead of shooting where I’m displaying a whole swath of colors and patterns that may not necessarily fit the aesthetic of the photo.


3 // Make your own backdrop! I bought a couple different patterns of contact paper on Amazon and affixed them to poster boards. They’ve already been such fun to experiment around with, but my favorite one is the marble pattern. It makes shots look a lot more elegant! (Elah Tree has a great post with some more photo backdrop ideas!)

4 // Natural light works wonders. DO NOT allow yourself to be limited to just shooting food photos in the kitchen!! Grab that plate and head to the nearest window. I am such a natural light photographer at this point…I cringe when I have to shoot with artificial light.

A lot of these tips work for non-food-related photos, as well! The next time you want to shoot a picture of food or an object (even with your phone), just go over to a window with bright natural light coming in. It’ll make a big difference!

Hearty Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Recipe - A great fall or winter meal idea! - Just Bee Blog
Click the photo to go to the Hearty Stuffed Spaghetti Squash post!
Click the photo to go to the Chicken Avocado Salad Pita Pockets post!

5 // Really pay attention to presentation. We’re not all Master Chefs (though, how fun is that show?!), but we can definitely take away some valuable tips from them. That show has taught me to carefully wipe the rims of my plates, and make sure I arrange pieces of food in the most aesthetically-pleasing way before shooting pictures. This doesn’t mean that plates and dishes must be pristinely styled…sometimes crumbs and drizzles and fluffs of flour add a ton of rustic, authentic character to a shot! I really admire Mary Beth’s food photography over on Casey Wiegand’s blog. (Scroll through her recipe posts HERE for a ton of inspiration!)

Peach Blackberry Vanilla Crisp Fall Recipe - Just Bee Blog
Click the photo to go to the Peach Blackberry Vanilla Crisp post!
Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini with Honey and Rosemary
Click the photo to go to my Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini recipe!

6 // Get creative! Some people may think that food photography is boring – after all, aren’t you just pointing your camera at food that’s just sitting there? Well, it’s so much more than that!! You can get creative with prop ideas, with color combinations, with place settings, dishes used, angles (like we talked about earlier), and backgrounds! For example, before I had made my marble and other contact paper backdrops, I used our Home Goods placemats for this DIY Hot Cocoa Mix post!! The options truly are limitless! 🙂


Do you ever experiment with food photography? What has helped you improve over time? Do you have any other photography topics you’d like to see here?



  1. I love the character and the feel of your photos! I love these tips 🙂 I can’t wait to experiment more with food photography. It’s truly an art in of itself!

  2. Your photos are fabulous, Hannah! I have definitely taken plates outside for photos. I post fewer recipes now, but for the occasional Instagram snapshot I’m really intentional about getting the right lighting and backdrop!

    1. Thank you, Daisy!! That means a lot, since I work hard to get good food pictures! 🙂 And yes, taking dishes outdoors is such a handy trick to use! 🙂 I love your Instagram pics, too!

  3. I love these tips! I’m ALMOST saved up for my DSLR and I’m so excited to really get into photography and make my blog look a million times better! <3

  4. Great tips, Hannah! I don’t do much food photography, but so many of these tips apply to any kind of photography or styled shoot. This is definitely an area where I want to grow, so thank you for the helpful post!

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