Learn how to master close-up food photography to take mouthwatering food photos with lots of crisp and clear details of the food. Who doesn’t admire those gorgeous close-up shots of food where you can’t help but want to grab into the picture? Close up food photography is a great way to draw attention to the textures and layers of food. It shows the qualities of food in detail.
It’s easier as you might think to nail those beautiful close-up shots of food. There are different approaches to achieve that, and I want to talk about every one of those in this blog post.
What you will learn:
- What is close-up food photography
- The Difference between close-up and macro photography
- Best equipment for close-up shots
- How to take close-up photos
What is close-up food photography?
In close-up food photography, the food is the one and only star in the image. All the focus is on your food and nothing but the food. In close-up food photography, it’s still that you get the sense of the subject and what you are looking at. The context with the world around it is still given. It’s great to show textures like a drop of chocolate fudge sauce dripping down a cup of ice cream. With close-up food photography, you draw attention to that drip and nothing else.
You can also use it very effectively for process shots to show the viewer how the texture of a cake batter is, for example, as in the picture below:
Or for beautiful single ingredients shots:
What is the difference between close-up and macro photography?
Close-up food photography shows your super delicious piece of cake in BIG, but you still recognize what you look at. Macro photography, on the other hand, is used to show the textures of a subject very detailed. It allows you to show all tiny details of a subject like every little hair of a kiwi for example. It’s not necessarily that the context with the world is still given. In macro food photography, the details fill almost all of the image.
What equipment to use for close-up shots?
For close-up shots, you can use regular camera lenses like I use the 50mm 1.4 for example. For macro food photography, you need a macro lens. The best macro lens for Canon is the 100mm 2.8 for example. Be sure to buy a macro lens which achieves at least a 1:1 magnification. Here is a comprehensive list with the Top 19 Best Macro Lenses for all camera brands. You can use macro lenses also for close-up shots.
Did you know that you can turn a 50mm 1.4 into a kind of macro lens? Well, that’s possible by applying an extension tube between the camera body and the lens. I use this extension tube with my 50mm 1.4 lens for super close close-up shots. This extension tube saved me hundreds of dollars because I don’t need to invest in an expensive macro lens. I use a Canon EF 12 II extension tube. Read here more in detail, what an extension tube actually is.
The photo below was taken with my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens and the Canon EF 12 II extension tube. The photo was not cropped in post-processing.
Especially when you want to show crisp and clear details, it’s a no go to capture movement from your hands to end up with blurry images. You could adjust the shutter speed to avoid capturing movements from your hands, but sometimes the light is too low that shooting with higher shutter speed is not possible. In this case, a tripod is your best friend when taking close-up food photos. Here I found a good post about Tripods for Food Photography.
How to take close-up food photos?
For outstanding close-up shots choose a minimalist approach in styling and composition. Don’t crowd the space around your food with props because it distracts too much from the food. Keep it simple is the way to go. Negative space works beautifully for close-up food photography. Unless you don’t take macro photos, make sure that the food is not too close and too big in the picture that the context to the world around doesn’t get lost.
Like in the picture below. The viewer still recognizes that this is a bitten cookie.
In close-up food photography, you have a very shallow depth of field. That means that everything else in the photo except the food is out of focus. You can adjust the camera settings to get more or fewer details in focus. Recently I wrote a detailed guide on how to shoot food in manual mode. There I show example food photos with different aperture settings and how the depth of field changes by adjusting the aperture. A shallow depth of field on your subject lets the viewer focus on the food and blurs out the background.
Also, to set the correct focus point is very important especially in close-up food photography. Think about where you want to lay the focus on. On which area should the viewer look first. What does need to be crystal clear in the picture? Sometimes it helps to take an example shot of your food and look at it on the back screen of your camera or preferably on your computer screen. Then analyze yourself where your eyes look first naturally. That is your focus point.
Close-up food photos are a great way to show the viewer all the textures and qualities of your food. You don’t necessarily need a macro lens to take great close-up shots. The most important thing in close-up photography is that the food is laser sharp in focus. A very shallow depth of field draws even more attention to your food.
Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think about close-up food photography in the comments below.