Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

In the summer of 2009 when I began this blog and my learning food photography journey, often times I found myself playing with my food. These “playing” sessions were and still are my way of practicing food photography. In doing so with every session I manage to pickup at least one new technique and some additional knowledge.

Today I want to walk you through what one of my typical food playing or rather photo practicing session looks like. From start, including setup, to finish it lasted 15 minutes. This session I shot an eggplant from whole to the small pieces that I needed for a recipe. The purpose was to see what I came up with and how to change each photo a bit from the previous one. In doing this I wanted to learn what angles were good and what preparation step made for the most interesting photo. Of course a session like this could be just to play with the camera and have some fun.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

The first tip I’ll give you is to keep things as simple as possible. As you learn more add more details, props or elements as you like. Here it’s just a simple photo of the eggplant, because I was using a shallow depth of field, f-4, I decided to angle it with the green facing the camera so the rest would fade out.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

Next I rinsed the eggplant and placed it on top of a cutting board,  I then brought back them to the shooting table. With the shooting angle here I was able to capture the water droplets. Had I shoot from above I wouldn’t have been able to accentuate them.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

Wanting to add interest to the photo the eggplant was sliced and turned to an angle. In doing so we can see more detail of the eggplant as well as the knife, water droplets and contrasting cutting board.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

This is basically the same photo as the previous one. The difference is that I stepped closer for a tighter composition.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

Now by moving higher to a 3/4 angle we get an entirely different view and more of the scene detail has been captured.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

Here I positioned myself lower than the table and aimed the camera up at the eggplant. By shooting up at this angle we can give the sense of a larger eggplant. This angle can be used to accentuate height and details.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

A direct view from above allows us to capture the entire scene. This is great if you have a table setting or multiple plates, bowls, cups, or other items and want to capture it all. Again you’ll notice how simple I’ve kept everything but to make it a bit more interesting I angled the cutting board instead of placing it straight.  The interest is all drawn to the chopped pieces of eggplant without any other distractions.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

Lastly having a bit of fun I positioned the eggplant tip on the edge to give another interesting element to the photo. By angling myself and the camera below I was able to capture the pile and accentuate sense of height to the viewer.


Technical Notes:
In this photo below you can see how I setup the shooting session. The sun had just began peeking out after hours of rain. This is my north facing balcony that, as you can see, does not receive direct light. Because of that there is no need for me to diffuse the light — it is already soft. Also the day was bright enough that I did not need the help of a reflector. But you might notice off to the right side is a white door. In a way that was my white board, which helps to bounce light back onto the subject. The light hitting the eggplant is mostly from the left side, but because we are outdoors it is also falling from above. All photos except the second one down were shot at f-5 but the shutter speed changed as the clouds passed by.

Food Photography Tutorials: Playing With Your Food by @SpicieFoodie | #foodphotography #photography #tutorials #eggplant

Thanks for stopping by, I hoped you enjoyed these simple food photography tips.


Craving Eggplant? Check out these recipes.
Imam Baylidi by Gourmet Getaways
Indian Eggplant Curry
Thai Red Curry with Vegetables and Coconut Milk Recipe
Thutilinanga Indonesian Chili Fried Eggplants/Aubergine
Angelina’s Eggplant Parmesan by Memorie di Angelina
Sumptuous Fried Eggplant (Vegetarian)
Spicy Bulgur and Eggplant Pilaf, Vegan


Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide to Better Photos, Photography eBook by Spicie Foodie



  1. says

    Wow, what great information. I am so glad you showed your entire set up. I kept thinking, hmmm…wonder where she is doing that. I need to play with my food more! You are an inspiration!

    • says

      Hi Cynthia! Thank you and glad to found this helpful. I don’t always shoot my photos in this location, I like to vary them so that the light is also different. But I am lucky that the light is great on my balcony. Thanks for reading & happy shooting.:)

  2. says

    All your photography tutorials are so informative Nancy. I love going through them and of course learning from them. One day, I will step out of my Phone photography :)

  3. says

    Thank u again for sharing all these wonderful photography tips. I always looks forward to these posts of yours :)
    You make it look so simple yet the pics are so captivating…hope I’ll be able to take pics like u some day!

  4. says

    A very informative tutorial. It shows how a slight change in the angle can alter the whole perspective of the photograph. Beautifully done nancy :)

  5. says

    Hi Nancy! Always interesting and fun to read your photography tips and I love eggplant -so very much liking your subject today ;-)

  6. says

    I love your tutorials..You are so generous with your tips..Such a nice person!
    Natural make natural..and not natural seem effortless..and both look the same equality:)

    Not me yet..
    I find eggplants a thing of great beauty..their true aubergine color..of course..because that’s what it is..:) shape..etc..
    You made this one a star.

  7. says

    What fun to see how and where you work. No wonder you get great light! What a superb spot. I must look aorund my house to get more variation in my light. In the morning, one of the bathrooms has fabulous light but I must admit I have never shot in there.

    • says

      Thank you Suzanne! I do get really great light on my balcony — specially this time of year. That’s great that you are aware of good light places in your house.:)

  8. says

    Really fun and informative post! I often shoot just for the heck of it – to discover new things, and just to reinforce the skills I already have. Excellent post – thanks.

  9. says

    Interesting setup in that last picture – blocking the light behind the eggplant, allowing it only on the sides. I’m going to play with that. I’m curious how it would work in my space. I loved this session and is definitely something I need to start doing – just finding the time to just play. Thanks for another great tutorial Nancy! Hope you’re having a wonderful week.

  10. says

    I love the way you play with your food. :) I need to play with more light… I tend to take it the bright sunlight and all my photos look the same.

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