7 ideas for styling food shots to make your audience hungry

We’ve all been there. Scrolling through Instagram, you see a photo of food that makes you instantly hungry. It makes you want to try it straight away, whether it’s a photo from a restaurant or a food brand.

That’s the power of good food photography.

Food photography is an art that can make or break your food brand’s appeal. Whether you’re a restaurant, a food manufacturer, or a food blogger, the way you present your dishes or products makes a massive difference.

But getting the right shots isn’t easy, and it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together seven ideas for styling food shots with examples from fantastic food photographers to give you some inspiration.

Featured photo by London-based food photographer Stephen Conroy.

1. Play around with different moods

Giulia Sansone food photography
These shots by Scottish food photographer Giulia Sansone show how professional photographers use different lighting to create different moods for food shots.

Playing around with different moods in your food photos can create a range of different emotions and set the tone for your brand. Whether you want a cosy, rustic feel or a bright, modern look, adjusting different elements can make a significant impact.

Professional food photographers create different moods by experimenting with lighting, background, and props. They also have the experience to know what works for different foods and dishes. For example, a dark, moody shot might work well for a rich, indulgent dessert, while a light, airy photo could be perfect for a fresh, summery salad.

2. Contrast colours for striking results

Food and wedding photographer in Southend-on-sea Essex
This vibrant shot by Essex based photographer, Alessandro Pietrosanti shows how contrasting colours can make a dish pop.

Using contrasting colours in your food photos can create eye-catching and memorable images. Think about colours that work together and choose complementary colours to make your dish stand out. For example, a bright slice of orange against a deep blue can make the orange pop.

Contrasting colours not only make your photos more appealing but also highlight the different elements of your dish, making it look more appetising. Food photographers often use contrasting colours and they can help make your dishes or products stand out on the screen and from your competition.

Tell a story with your food photos

Event and food photographer in Liverpool, Merseyside
Showing how a product or dish is made can motivate potential customers to buy like in this shot by Liverpool based photographer, Antonio Franco.

Great food photography isn’t just about capturing a dish—it’s about telling a story. Customers want to know more about a dish than just how it looks and tastes. They want to know where the ingredients come from, how it’s made and why certain techniques are used.

A professional food photographer can help you to show the journey of your food, from raw ingredients to the final plated dish. They’ll help you Include elements that tell a story about where your food comes from, who made it, how it’s meant to be enjoyed and, importantly, why people should care.

Use props to make a photo pop

Food Photographer Harpenden Hertfordshire
This shot by Richard Brown uses props to enhance the appeal of the dish and make it way more appetising.

One of the big mistakes that many food brands make is focusing purely on their product or dish. While these look great and work within a wider collection of photos, you should also get photos with other elements.

Props and other elements can add context and texture to your food photos. Think about using utensils, napkins, or ingredients as props to enhance the story you’re telling. But be careful not to overdo it — props should complement the dish or product, not overshadow it.

Props can also help fill empty spaces in your photos, making them more balanced. A professional food photographer can help you to get fantastic shots using props that make your food photos more engaging without distracting from the main course.

Focus on textures

Food photographer London
This close-up shot by Charlie Bard highlights the textures of the food beautifully. 

Texture is a crucial element in food photos. A close-up shot that captures the crispy crust of bread, the creamy texture of a dessert, or the juicy details of a fruit can make your audience’s mouth water.

Highlighting textures makes your photos more tactile and engaging, giving viewers a sense of what it might feel like to take a bite. But it’s a tricky thing to master on your own.

A professional food photographer, like Charlie Bard, can help you make your food’s different textures stand out and make it almost impossible for your audience to say no.

Experiment with angles

Natalie Tkachuk food photography
In these shots, photographer Natalie Tkachuk uses creative angles to add a dynamic feel to the photos.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles. While the top-down shot is a classic and reliable choice, trying other angles or even extreme close-ups can add a new dimension to your photos. Different angles can showcase various aspects of your dish, making it more appealing.

By experimenting with angles, you can find the most flattering perspective for each dish, making sure every photo is unique and engaging. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at professional food photographer portfolios to see how they use angles to make food look even more delicious.

Include human interaction

Food Still Life Photographer
This shot by London based photographer Lena Otvodenko shows how using human elements in a shot can make it more relatable and enjoyable for your audience.

Including human interaction in your food photos can make them way more relatable and dynamic. Show hands preparing a dish, someone taking a bite, or a group of people enjoying a meal. These elements add life to your photos and can help tell a better story.

Human interaction in food photos creates a sense of connection and encourages people to put themselves in the scene. But it’s tricky to pull off convincingly on your own — food photographers have the experience and skills to include human interaction in a way that looks real and natural.

Ready to take your food photos to the next level?

Food & Interior Photographer Southwark London
Professional photographers like Clive Sherlock have the skills and equipment to elevate your food photography.

While you can definitely take food photos on your own, working with a professional food photographer guarantees you get high-quality images that make your food look incredible.

If you’re looking to take your food photos up a level, we’re here to help. Head over to our food photographers page and take a look through the portfolios of some of the best food photographers in the UK.

On their portfolio page, you’ll be able to see loads of their previous work, learn about who they are and get an idea of their prices. Then, when you find one you’d like to work with, get in touch with them directly through their portfolio page.

Good luck with your next photoshoot, and we can’t wait to see the delicious content you create!