The art of food photography
with Linda Lomelino

Linda Lomelino chocolate cake dough

The art of food photography

Swedish food photographer/filmmaker and food stylist Linda Lomelino knows what it takes to catch that perfect food shot. Linda has been photographing for over 20 years, but she really got into food photography after starting her baking blog Call Me Cupcake back in 2009. Since then, she has written and shot several books and hosted photography workshops all over the world.

Here are Linda’s best tips for improving your food photography.

1. Think about the light

Good light will be the foundation of your photo and can make or break it. To get that beautiful, soft light - position your food next to a window with indirect light (meaning, no sun coming directly into the window). If you have windows facing different directions, experiment shooting next to all of them during different times of the day. For example, north facing windows have the most even light throughout the day. Move around to find your best light source!

2. Manipulate the light using fabric

If you still find the light to be a little bit harsh, try using a thin white curtain over the window to diffuse the light. Or simply cover the window with a piece of sheer, white fabric. If you want your shots to be a bit more moody and dark, use a dark grey or black curtain to block some of the light coming through the window. This will create a smaller light source which in turn will make the whole room darker, while the light will be more focused on your subject, creating more contrast and drama.

spreading fudge frosting

Linda’s journey with food and photography started with her baking blog in 2009.

chocolate cake

Check out the recipe for Linda’s chocolate sheet cake at the end of this story.

3. Short depth of field

When I bought my first lens (Canon EF 50mm f/1.4) and tried shooting with a low aperture, I was blown away by what a difference it made! This is the benefit of shooting with a camera over a smartphone - you have more control over your settings and can create that beautiful short depth of field. I usually shoot at an aperture around 1.8 if I’m shooting for example a cake from the side. How low you can go depends on your lens!

4. Try complementary colors

Complementary colors are basically opposites on the color wheel - for example yellow and purple, red and green and blue and orange. Think about the colors and keep them to a minimum - using just two or three colors will make your shot stand out more. It’s not always possible but it’s good to keep in mind!

chocolate cake piece

Shooting with a camera instead of a phone allows you to create that beautiful short depth of field.

5. Consider the angle (and use them all when you can)

Different angles are going to bring out different features in the dish you’re shooting. For example, if you’re shooting something flat like a pizza you’re likely doing it from above. But if you’re shooting a cake, you might want to shoot it from a side angle first and then create a flat-lay composition using the slices. This is a great way to create variation to a series of photos which you can then use in a portfolio, a blogpost, a magazine or in an instagram carousel post.

6. Continuous shooting for capturing movement

Using the high speed or low speed continuous shooting setting creates a burst of quick shots which is perfect when you’re trying to capture movement. You will most likely also need to shoot at a faster shutter speed, depending on how fast your subject is moving. I usually shoot at a shutter speed of 1/1000s to capture dusting flour - and then adjust ISO and aperture accordingly. Another great way to capture movement is by using the camera’s video capabilities, especially the slow-motion feature (set the camera to ’video’ and then enable ’High Frame Rate’ in the menu). This will capture movement in a beautiful way and you only need to film a few seconds.

glazing the cake

Objects with different heights and shapes add interest to your frame.

cake with candles

Try placing suitable objects to the foreground or background of your image.

7. Negative space

Using negative or empty space in your frame gives the eye some space and room to breathe and it can actually help draw attention to the main subject!

8. Think about layers, textures and shapes

By playing with textures, depth and height you create layers and add visual interest to your shots. One way to add depth is to place a suitable item in the foreground or background of your main subject. Adding objects with different heights and shapes also adds interest to your frame. Something simple like a crinkled fabric napkin and some sprinkled salt on the table adds texture and interest and can take your shot to the next level.

Linda Lomelino cake

“Choose props and backgrounds that bring out the best in your food”, Linda says.

9. Bring out the most photogenic feature

Think about the most photogenic feature of the food and how you can bring it out. What is the biggest strength of the dish you are cooking and shooting? Is it the color, texture? Shape? Choose props and backgrounds that bring out the best in your food!

10. Practice but have fun with it!

This might seem obvious, but this is the most important tip I can give! Practice, practice and a little more practice will improve your photography quickly - but most of all, if you enjoy it you’ll want to do it more often.

shooting with Canon EOS R50

Food has been Linda’s main subject for the last 14 years.

Canon EOS R50

These photos were shot with a Canon EOS R50. Check out Linda’s tips on lenses below.

Here are Linda’s kit tips for creating incredible food photos:

Camera: Canon EOS R50 – a compact camera body with lightweight design, outstanding image quality and seamless connectivity. Pair it with any RF lense, for example these:
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM – a wide-angle lens with fixed focal length and large aperture.
Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM – a compact and affordable lens with a fixed focal length.
Canon RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM – a light lens with a fixed focal length for beautiful details.
Canon RF-S 10-18mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM - an ultra-wide, small and light zoom lens.