Sofa to Bedroom: Tips for Photographing Food at Night

Sofa to Bedroom: Tips for Photographing Food at Night

Sarah Rae Smith
May 17, 2010

It's become more than a trend lately to snap a few photos of your food prior to digging in. It's great for your own personal recipe archives, blogging, and just plain old memory lane — but what do you do when you have less than awesome lighting? It's important to remember that food doesn't have to be photographed on the kitchen table. In the case of last night's midnight cupcake photo shoot... we found ourselves in the bathroom!

(Now, if you happen to be out to eat, please don't take your plate of food to the bathroom for an impromptu photoshoot. Besides being a little weird, it might get you a request not to return. Though we didn't think that actually needed to be said, we figured a quick disclaimer never hurt anyone.)

For years I felt frustrated by the photographs of food that came out of my kitchen in comparison with the pictures in the cookbooks. I felt frustrated that I had spent all that time and effort attempting to make something, but then the end result was not quite being what I wanted.

My biggest food photography tip is to use natural light, but if you happen to be a midnight baker like I am (it keeps the neighbors from knocking on your door and asking for samples), finding a room with multiple light sources is your best option. In my case, it happened to be the bathroom. With the help from a lamp (brought in from the bedroom) and the overhead lighting sources, I was able to take a half way decent photo of these Lemon Cream Pie Cupcakes last night.

Above is the same cupcake, as it stands on our kitchen counter. The light is so dim at night (remember kids, eco-friendly light bulbs aren't always awesome), that a flash was mandatory and things feel harsh, sloppy and unrefined. The end result, shot from the bathroom looks much nicer don't you think?

So if you really want to catalog your foodie habits, just make sure you have the best lighting you can, even if that means taking your food into your closet, placing it on your sofa, or even your bed (I've done all three!). We promise you'll be rewarded for your efforts.

Related: Morning Eye Candy: Max Wanger's Food Photography

(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)

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