“What I really wanted to do before (food photography) was street and landscape photography but I’m too shy to approach people and too lazy to wake up before sunrise. So I just practiced with what we had around the house, and what we had a lot of was food.”

This was how the blog Ten Thousandth Spoon started. After accumulating hundreds of photos on her hard drive, the blogger who wants to stay anonymous finally decided to immortalize her works by posting them online.

“I didn’t really intend for it to be a food blog at first, although at the time, majority of the things I was shooting was food, mostly pasalubong from the Philippines. So my first food photos were of otap, polvoron, and suman.” She has since moved on to more elaborate dishes and ingredients, with each photo proving to be both inspired and inspiring. Here, she shares some of her food photography tips. 

Proper lighting

“Find a good spot with proper lighting. I shoot near a big window. Use a diffuser/white cloth if the light is too bright. Depending on the mood you want, you can use reflectors (white foam boards) if you want to remove shadows, or black foam boards/cloth if you want to add shadows or drama to your photos.” 

Simple food styling

“I try not to mess with the food too much and just keep it simple. Use fresh ingredients and let the colors of the food take center stage. I also like putting some of the ingredients beside the cooked food. A dusting of cocoa or powdered sugar, a drizzle of melted chocolate or honey also helps add charm to the photo. Try to shoot it while it’s still hot and fresh. Wilted and dried-up food are not pretty and not appetizing.”

Elaborate prop styling

“Use different surfaces like old wood palettes, ceramic tiles, scrapbook paper, mismatched flatware, wooden plates, and vintage stuff to add character and texture to your photos. Also, I play with colors the way I would when I dress up. I did try to use a color wheel once but it didn’t work because it felt forced. So I just style by instinct, and accentuate a color either by using an ingredient, a plate or cloth. 

Balanced compositions

“The most popular and overused angle on Instagram is the overhead or top view shot. For this, you have to either stand on a table or lay your board/table on the floor. Use plates and props of varying sizes, textures, and colors. If you want a modern look, arrange them in an organized fashion. If you want a more laid-back look, scatter them around. But try to balance them without making the whole picture look staged.

Careful planning

“Plan the shoot a few days ahead. This way you get to shoot a lot more of the details and you don’t feel the pressure of time. Some people make mockups or sketches of the photos they want to take. Or make a board on Pinterest. Study your past works so you can avoid cliché shots. Set up the props and surfaces before cooking the food and practice some of the angles you’d want to shoot.” 

Originally published in F&B Report March-April 2015