Food Macro Photography Tips

Food is perfect for macro photography. There are so many vibrant colors and interesting textures to capture.

Tips for Getting Great Macro Food Photographs

closeup macro shot of blueberries
  1. Wipe off any food particles or condensation on your lens with a lens cloth.
  2. Use a tripod to steady your camera and reduce distortion from camera shake when shooting at high magnifications (you may need a remote shutter release so your hands are not touching the camera).
  3. Use a flash to eliminate shadows or ambient light. If you don’t have a flash, take your photos during the day when natural light is sufficient.
  4. Shoot in manual mode and and set your aperture to f/16 or f/22 and your shutter speed to slow (3 seconds or longer). This will create a large depth of field. In other words, from front to back in the photograph, everything will be in focus. This will result in more detail being captured for every piece of food that is in focus.
  5. Make sure your camera is positioned and focused properly on the food. A good way to do this is to mount your camera on a tripod and then compose your shot, set your focus, and then lock it down by tightening your ball head or removing the camera from the tripod. Tripods are especially useful if you’re shooting using a flash. Shots with macro lighting tend to be very contrasty so you’ll want to lock down the exposure and white balance so that you can get consistency throughout multiple photographs.
  6. Use the Live View feature to compose your shot. This will give you a better look at your focus and composition than using the view finder.
  7. Experiment with different focal lengths and zooming in on the image to get more detail in the periphery of your photograph – depending on your lens, there may be some distortion at these magnifications.
  8. If you’re shooting food using a flash, be sure and test out different positioning of the light source (i.e., where you want to place it relative to the object being photographed). Use a reflector for optimized lighting.
  9. Be sure and apply lens correction profiles to your photographs (in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom) to remove distortion caused by shooting at high magnifications.
  10. For food that has been prepared in a way that would make it hard for you to recomposing the image after you’ve taken a photograph, be sure and shoot in camera raw (not jpeg). That way, you can adjust your image after taking the shot. In camera raw, use the crop tool to recompose your shot.

Bottom Line

Macro photography is a fun and rewarding hobby, especially for people new to it. It’s best to start out slow and with simple food subjects. Soon you’ll learn to refine your skills with more challenging shots.