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Food Photography on a Budget

It’s been forever since I have specifically talked about food photography. I am constantly growing in this area and I want to share my advice and what works for me. I used to do posts where I shared my food photography from that month. It’s been a while since I have done this. So this post is going to be a roundup of some recent food photos as well as how you can achieve quality food photos on a budget. If I’m honest, all of my photography is budget friendly because I don’t have extra cash laying around.

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Backdrops

Some people buy custom made backdrops for their food photography. It makes sense, but I didn’t realize this until I became more serious about food blogging. I think it’s a little ridiculous to buy specialized backdrops especially if it’s not your full-time job. If you have the means, then go for it. But this is not something you have to invest in. I recommend using surfaces you already have. My desk is placed by a window. So for the most part, I use my desk for the set up. My desk is a solid color and has a good light source.

You can find the recipe here!

You want to find a surface near a natural light source (preferably a large window). This could be a desk, a counter top, or maybe a table. If none of these work for you, you can create your own surface that is budget friendly. If you have a bulletin board or poster board, you can create a backdrop using that. You can paint the board to resemble a kitchen surface or you can cover the board with parchment paper and other props.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies – recipe coming soon!

Gear

I don’t buy camera gear I don’t think I absolutely need. I think that you can food blog with an iPhone and good lighting. That’s what I did until I saved up enough money for a DSLR. I would recommend at least an iPhone 6 because of the camera quality.

This photo was taken with an iPhone! Crepes recipe.

The camera I use now is the Canon EOS Rebel SL2. It’s a great beginner DSLR and I use a 50 mm lens. This lens is more affordable compared to other lenses and you can find my review here. I don’t use a tripod, I use a chair and manually hit the shutter button. At this point, I don’t feel that it is necessary to have a tripod. However, I have noticed affordable options at Best Buy, Walmart, and online.

Taco salad photo with artificial light.

I don’t recommend artificial lighting. But if you need to utilize artificial light – this is the one I have. This is a strong light so I place a white towel over it to diffuse the light and avoid harsh shadows. Which brings me to the topic of diffusers.

Falafel with a sweet potato bake.

Some people swear that you must use a diffuser for food photography. If the light from your window is very harsh, then you might consider it. But, you can also hang a sheer white curtain from your window and this will diffuse the light without breaking your budget. I didn’t mention many items because I use minimal gear. Creating quality photos doesn’t equate to expensive gear. In the future, I might invest in more items but right now there is no need.

Props

You might be thinking, “what are props and why do I need them?”. Props in food photography are extra items in the set up that add balance and increase the aesthetic of the photo. Props can be extra bowls, spoons, towels, spices, garnishes, baking utensils, etc. Some people use flowers or other inedible objects. I tend to avoid this because I prefer a simpler style. But if that’s what you enjoy, keep doing that!

I am still improving on this aspect of food photography. Adding more props completes the photo in my opinion. Although, I do not go out of my way to obtain props. The props I use are items that I can find in my kitchen. If I do purchase items for photos, I buy them secondhand from a thrift store. I tend to stick to neutral colors that match what I am photographing. That is something to keep in mind if purchasing new items. You want to avoid buying props just for one photo or one dish. If you are shooting outside of your home, a similar sentiment applies. Use what is available to you and get creative!

Editing

I spend $0 on editing! I feel like the only blogger that doesn’t use lightroom, but that is way out of my price range. I use VSCO and PhotoScapeX to edit my photos. I typically adjust the warmth and contrast. I sometimes adjust the shadows and add color to specific parts. Then, I use the filter F2 on VSCO. There are a lot of free apps and software. If you are starting out, I don’t think you need to pay a lot to edit your photos.

Thank you for reading this quick post about budgeting as a food blogger. I hope this was helpful! Let me know your budget advice in the comments. Adventures in Cooking and The Bite Shot are good resources for food photography as they are actually professional photographers (unlike me). Follow me on instagram @vegkaley to see all of my photos.

The featured image is a salad with acorn squash, vegan chicken, and a tahini dressing. This post uses affiliate links, see disclaimer for more details.

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25 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Thank you for reading! I’m glad this was helpful! I feel like I have a long way to go too; there is always room for learning and improvement.

  1. Lovely photos! I wish I was better with mine -then again it would probably be better to use something other than my phone. I probably won’t buy a camera yet, but I did write down the programs you use to edit so hopefully they’ll turn out a little better.

    1. Thank you very much! I used my phone for at least a year and I managed. Upgrading did improve my photography, but starting where you are at is key. I hope this post helped!

    1. Thank you for commenting! Photography is still overwhelming to me sometimes even though I’ve been doing it for a few years. You are definitely not alone!

    1. Thank you for this nice comment! I agree, it’s important to go at your own pace and slowly add more techniques/equipment. I enjoy the lights. They are affordable and are nice for when I don’t have time to wait for natural lighting. I hope you have a great day too!

  2. Right there with you! I don’t do crazy elaborate setups either. Our dining table is by windows — boom, done. I am toying with the idea of getting a small light for winter though, because I just moved to the upper Midwest and sometimes it’s dark at 4 o’clock. Great post!

    1. Thank you for commenting! I think keeping it simple is best, especially on a budget. I started using a light occasionally in the winter because it would be dark in the afternoon. I still prefer natural lighting, but that’s not always possible.

  3. I get a kick out of the beautiful arranged pictures of meals l see!
    And I’m over here dumping in bowls and onto plates LOL 😂

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