How to make your holiday food photos look better

Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/Getty Images

Of course, no holiday celebration is complete without food — and in today’s world, that means posting pictures of your beautifully-roasted turkey or perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Even the most delicious meal can look like yesterday’s garbage if not photographed properly, however, so take a little care with your food photography to make your holiday meal look picture perfect.

Food photography tips

Soft light and low contrast generally make the most pleasing food pictures, so if you can, find a north-facing window and let that soft north light work its magic.

Turn the flash off — it will throw harsh shadows, create bright patches, and is otherwise not going to do your turkey, pie, or Jell-O casserole any favors. (Find out more reasons not to use your camera’s flash here.)

As far as composition goes, oblique angles and focusing on the front third of your food item tends to draw the viewers eye into the photo naturally. Get close and the frame — though it’s also worth remembering that you don’t necessarily need to get the complete plate or food into the shot. As the photo on the right shows, sometimes just a taste is all you need.

Bread Stuffing
Photo credit: cislander/Getty Images

There’s no one-size-fits-all “pose” for food though, so this is one circumstance where it’s okay to play with your food a bit.

Finally, just like when you’re photographing a house for sale: staging is important. Take your turkey out of the roasting pan and set it on a nice serving platter. Use a paper towel to clean up any drips or smears before you start to shoot. Maybe place a carving knife at a jaunty angle in the frame.

When shooting a plate of food, clean up any drips again, and include a nice napkin along with some clean silverware — after all, you’ve probably got the good stuff out already, right? So add a few props for scale and a natural appearance, but don’t overdo it — after all, the food should be the star.