How to Take Great Food Product Photos with a Point & Shoot Camera

posted on: April 23, 2010

In this online marketplace, something as simple as a photo can affect the overall perception of your product's quality and value, which will ultimately make or break an online sale. Like many small businesses, Sweet Lydia's needs great photos of her products for her website. The photos need to be an accurate product representation, and they need to be desirable to her buyer. While she would love to have a professional photographer create images for her on a regular basis, she really wants to be able to create great imagery with her point & shoot camera on her own in the meantime. Since Lydia has become a dear friend, and I want her to be successful and well-represented online, I shared some tough love on her original product photography and then invited her into the studio for a mini-lesson on improving the product photos on her website. The following images were some that we were able to create with her Canon PowerShot point & shoot camera:

Sweet Lydia's Custom Smores Favors

It starts with a custom made marshmallow, sandwiched by graham crackers, cookies, or dipped onto a pretzel, and then wrapped in a blanket of chocolate. Yum! We want it to look just as fun and tasty as it sounds!

Sweet Lydias Pretzel Smores

Here are the techniques I shared to help improve her product photos:
• Create a mini scene with complementary objects to provide context for the product use & to suggest a relationship that attracts the ideal buyer. In the circumstance above, we paired a sentimental box with stamps to suggest sending a food gift to someone sentimental far away. In the second photo, we used a small basket and a fresh cut flower with mason jar to suggest taking some along for a picnic.

• Use soft natural light, preferably in open shade but close to an open light source like a window or door. The images above were taking in a hallway next to a large window of light in the afternoon.

• Use complementary colors to make products stand out rather than blend in. We used greens to help offset the pinks in the first image and then the pink flower in the second image to provide contrast to the brown, but also to create a relationship with the sprinkles.

• White balance for a warmer tone when photographing food (on a point & shoot camera, this often involves changing the "AWB" to Shade or Sun). Warm colors make food look healthy and nutritious. Blue tones make it look moldy or old.

• Step back and zoom in to provide accurate object size comparisons and to compress background scenery to a minimum. Zooming in helps narrow your background so that you don't have as much competition for attention in your product scene.

• Make adjustments in Photoshop or iPhoto, or whatever program you have, to enhance brightness and contrast for a little extra detail and clarity. Extra contrast helps provide sharpness and clarity, as long as it isn't taken too far, which could result in something looking fake. Brightness will help bring out details and textures.

While I know we can create more amazing images with studio lighting and/or professional cameras and lenses, it's not always practical for today's crafters and entrepreneurs who are working with limited budgets and time. A basic photographic understanding of how to make a product look more appealing can really make a difference in online sales, which hopefully translates into more people making a living doing what they love, which ends up creating a greater sense of peace and happiness in the world! ("Some say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.")

2 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Another good one also... if they are trying to shoot a smaller object up close, setting the camera to the Macro mode (or little flower) will allow the camera to focus on the item.

  2. Actually, depending on the piece of work, Macro may not be the best answer. There are definitely some pieces, like jewelry, that greatly benefit from a good macro image but sometimes a macro on a wide shot will actually be more distracting rather than less.


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