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Mastering Food Photography with Your Phone

With social media platforms like Instagram fueling our visual cravings, food photography has become an essential aspect of running a small food business. Thankfully, capturing mouth watering images of your products and dishes is now easier than ever, thanks to the advancements in smartphone cameras. Great photography can elevate your brand's visual presence, entice customers, and increase your online visibility.

While a DSLR and professional light setup will provide the best results, anyone can make it work with just a smartphone, some natural lighting and a nice backdrop. Here are some basic yet effective tips that anyone can apply to elevate your food photography game.


Lighting plays a crucial role in the quality of your photos. Natural light is the best option that will enable any camera to capture a lot of detail. Try to position your dish near a window or shoot outdoors during the day. However, you’ll want to make sure to avoid harsh direct sunlight, as it can create unflattering shadows and highlights or overexpose your subject. Cloudy days or shaded areas can provide soft, diffused light that beautifully illuminates your food.

Lighting position chart

Lighting positioning is another key variable to take into consideration. Consider the diagram below, where the photographer (you) is positioned at 6 o’clock:

  • The optimal position of light is beside the subject, either between 9-11 o’clock (this will cast shadows on the right side of the subject) or 1-3 o clock (this will cast shadows on the left side of the subject).

  • If the light is coming in directly behind the subject at 12 o clock, you will risk shadows being cast directly on your subject, causing the photo to appear darker (backlit).

  • If the light is coming in from behind the photographer (between 8-4 o clock) you may end up blocking the light, casting your own shadow on the subject, depending where you’re standing.


Next to lighting, the composition of your shots is the second most important variable that you can manipulate to create visually appealing images. Experiment with different angles, such as overhead shots, 45-degree angles, or eye-level perspectives. Flatter dishes and ingredients are great to shoot overhead as you can capture the colours and textures of your subject with a better perspective. Dishes with height and lots of dimension should be shot at a 45 or 0 degree angle in order to show off its shape and any layers. If your subject is lacking in colour or shape, try using complementary props like utensils, napkins, and ingredients to add depth to your shot or context to your photo.

Angle position


The rule of thirds is a fundamental composition guideline that can add balance and interest to your food photographs. The rule of thirds is a general framing technique that will help you to put yourself in your viewer’s shoes and guide their eyes to the main focus of the photo.

Enable the gridlines on your smartphone camera settings. You can position your main subject:

  • In the centre square. This is the most straightforward way to draw the viewer’s eye to your subject.

  • At one of the intersecting points. This technique creates a more dynamic and visually appealing image compared to placing the subject in the center.


Don’t worry about getting the perfect shot in the moment. Post-processing is an additional step to enhance your food photos further. During the editing stages, you can resize and crop your photos, boost the saturation, brighten the exposure, and heighten the contrast (to name a few tricks). Editing your photos allows you to manipulate the shot to look better than reality.

Fortunately, there are several free photo editing apps available. For example, Apple's own Photos app provides basic editing features like cropping, adjusting exposure, and saturation. Additionally, third-party apps like Adobe Lightroom, VSCO, and Snapseed offer more advanced editing tools to fine-tune your images. Experiment with different filters, but remember to maintain a natural look, avoiding over-saturation or excessive editing. As a general rule of thumb, food looks more appetizing with warmer tones in comparison to cooler tones.

With the convenience and capabilities of modern smartphone cameras, capturing stunning food photographs is within everyone's reach. By paying attention to lighting, composition, focus, and editing, you can elevate your iPhone food photography game. Remember to experiment, have fun, and let your creativity shine through. So, the next time you indulge in a delectable meal, don't forget to snap a photo and share it with the world!

By following these basic food photography tips, your smartphone can become a powerful tool to capture and showcase the artistry and deliciousness of your culinary adventures. Start practicing and refining your skills, and you'll be amazed at how your food photographs transform into mouthwatering works of art. Happy clicking!


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