Basic lighting for food photography

Lighting food is tricky if you don’t know what you are doing.

As a New York City Food Photographer, I have been lighting food for years and there is

always something to learn. The simplest way to approach lighting is of course to use natural light.

Most photographers who have never photographed food may not know

how to approach this particular subject matter. My advice is to invest in some diffusion material

<> like the one pictured here,

some white bounce cards, a clamps and a few household mirrors.

The easiest way to set this up is to create a set close to a window. Take the diffusion material and

put it in the window. Food is almost always backlit or lit from the side. I rarely ever front light

the set because it really is unflattering to the subject. Here is the trick use your bounce cards to bounce light into the

front of your subject. Usually 2 cards at 45 degree angles. You will need something to hold the cards up so you can

either score the card at the center and tape it. The cards will be free standing. If not use something heavy like glass

bottles to lean cards against. Once you frame your subject and add bounce cards, use the mirrors from the drug store.

The mirrors usually they have 2 sides. I prefer the non magnified side since the light is less specular.

Use the mirrors to pop light into dark areas and to give it some contrast.

Its that simple. With enough practice you can easily master simple food lighting

and get your subjects to really look great.

Bill Brady Food Photographer <>