One of the key things for food photography – if not all photography – is great light. So what is great light for food photos and how do you get it when you’re taking food photos in your home using window light?
In one word: diffusion.
It’s so good that even if you’re fighting with your camera or thinking that the answer to better photography is a new camera, try diffusing the light for your food photos first. Chances are, it will save buying a new DSLR.
If you’re using an iPhone or other phone camera for your food photos, it also works. Yay!
WHAT IS DIFFUSION?
Diffusion is softening a light source – in this case, the sun – with a specialist diffusion fabric. If you’ve ever had your portrait taken in a studio, the chances are the photographer was using a soft box around at least one of their lights with a white diffusion fabric in the front.
Diffusion fabric helps make the light softer and more flattering for portraits. Ditto for food photos.
HOW TO GET GREAT LIGHT IN YOUR HOME
To get diffused light for your home food shoot, you need your light to filter through diffusion fabric before it hits your food. For window light, just hang a few yards of specialist diffusion fabric over your window. It costs about $10.
If you are using artificial lighting, you can use the same principle: hang diffusion fabric or a soft box between the light and your plated food, allowing a safe distance between any bulbs and the fabric.
I use a couple of fold-back clips to hang the lightweight fabric on curtains on either side of the window. You could use similar clips or a tape that is designed to lift off easily without removing paint from your window surrounds or hang from your curtain poles. Once the shoot is over, I remove the fabric and hang it from a skirt hanger; it takes seconds to hang or remove the fabric.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Yes indeed. For even BETTER food photos, you can put a reflector on the opposite side of your light source/window and bounce light back into the shadows of your set-up, balancing out some of the light to dark gradient. I like a silver one for bright, zingy reflected light.
So that’s how to get great light for your food photos with just two tools. If you could like to see the five tools I use every week to take natural light photos with simple ‘how to’ instructions, you can download it by entering your name and email address in the box below.
If you want more help with your food photography, you can get the Food Photography Quick-start Templates to help you with that. The templates contain three templates for taking food photos including styling, lighting set-up and camera settings.