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  • Writer's pictureSarah Graham

Before & Afters: Food Photography Inspiration

I have once again decided to share some before and afters of my recent food photography images to show just what some good lighting, styling, creativity, and technical photography skills can do to a subject.

I like to work with natural light streaming in through a window. The best window in my house happens to be the office window and most of the time I use a white tri-fold poster board to reflect the light back in to the set so it softens the shadows form being too harsh. It also creates neutral white "walls" in the background of the images.

Here is a simple before & after of some colorful peppers. Seeing them all chopped up sparked my desire to display them whole with chopped pieces all in the same image for a unique display on a piece of slate.

I have all sorts of linens, props, and backgrounds available to style the shoot with, although you will see a bunch of them repeated in my images on the website. See if you can spot them reworked in varying ways : ) This is where my main creativity comes in to play. Then, there's a second and third round of creativity in the shot angles, followed by the editing and cropping process.

On the left you can see that I bought a prepackaged grouping of vegetables, lightly microwaved the package so they weren't too droopy, and added in some accessories. The tricky part is piecing the right colors together from what you have available, layering the pieces and arranging them in an aesthetic way, and then using angles to your advantage to capture pleasant images.

Transform basic ingredients into delicious food porn. Take these pre-packaged brownies for instance:

I bet you had no idea that store-bought plain old sheet brownies could look like this!

Notice how many different angles and details were captured with just one set up and a few added props. I changed out the slate piece for a white wooden base in some of the shots. You can also see how adding in one of the ingredients(Oreo cookies) from the food to the image plays a big role in the overall appeal. While the brownies are amazing looking on their own, your eyes instantly move around the images with multiple focal points, colors, textures, and props. The image feels more intimate, more homemade, and shows the origin of where the brownies 'came from'. It makes you feel like you are personally right there using that fork to scoop up the brownie. See those crumbs? YUMMY!

Here you can see I got two of these chocolate mouse sweet buns in case I wanted repetition in the image. But it turns out all I needed was one for some stellar pictures! I am glad I did get two though, because I ended up taking some chocolate curls from the second one to add to the main one to more evenly fill in the gaps.

In these pictures, you can also see my newest favorite background: a $2.00 poster of fake wood planks. Looks like it's sitting on a farmhouse table, huh?

Watch me take these props and transform those unique looking Taro pastries into something magical:

Eek! Look at how many wonderful images I created just by rearranging the props. Notice that stool in the before picture? I use that to stand on to get those aerial shots looking directly down on the food. That smooth black background is actually just that black cabinet behind the poster board.

Then I added in a playful donut with a cute little red flower sprinkle that inspired a more colorful background and the need for coffee with my pastries:

I hope you enjoyed seeing some behind-the-scenes and before and afters of how my food photography images come to life. I will post more before and afters as they become available.

You can follow me at:

Instagram: theornateplate

Facebook: The Ornate Plate

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