20 Food Photography Hacks, Plus the 6 Best iPhone Lenses for Food Photographers
Thinking of starting a food blog but don't know where to begin with lenses, lights, apps, or other photography supplies? You may be surprised at the number of food bloggers who solely use their iPhones (or other smartphones) for food photography. Don't worry if you don't have the best camera on the market made specifically for food photography. If you keep a few things in mind such as lighting and time of day, background color and shadows, and editing and apps, anyone can create gorgeous pics of their prettiest plates with nothing fancier than an iPhone.
We've gone in for the best blogs to discover the most pertinent of food photography tips on how to create the best mobile photography for foodies. Which kind of lighting do you need? What are the best lenses for iPhone food photography? What's the best mobile photography kit?
Ready to find out what the top food photographers use to get their drool-worthy pics in focus? Come check out our finds on the best food photography hacks and top iPhone lenses for mobile foodie photography. For starters, our research left us with the following best-of categories:
- Best for shooting a large grouping, like a whole table of dishes or very ornate centerpiece: Olloclip Wide-Angle + Macro-Intro Lens
- Best for shooting stunning, detailed close-ups: Moment Macro Lens
- Best for unique, spherical, "fisheye" type shots: TrueLUX Fisheye Lens for iPhone
- Best to brighten up a dark food shot without a flash: Aputure Amaran AL-M9 pocket-sized LED fill light
- Best free image editing apps: SnapSeed and Gimp
When we visited the top food blogs for tips on creating the best food photography, we found that the most important features the bloggers suggested considering were fairly consistent throughout. They went something like this:
- Background color and shadows
- Food styling
Let's take a peek at the essentials of each one and see how we can up our Instagram foodie photography game.
Food photography lighting tips & products
The light you use can make a huge difference in your photo, so we'll look at lighting first. First of all, pay attention to the time of day you'll be eating. If you can make your food photography photo shoot during daytime hours, your lighting will automatically be better — especially if you can get a seat near a window or two.
So try for a breakfast, lunch, or early dinnertime meetup, if you're going with others. Be sure to mention to your lunch-mates that you may not be eating until the food is cold — sometimes it takes that long to arrange the right shot, and the pics come first in the life of a foodstagrammer, after all!
Next, make sure your plate is positioned away from artificial lights. If you can't avoid them, try covering them with a white napkin to gently subdue any harsh, bright lights. That said, you'll also want to avoid direct sunlight, as it can also create harsh, unpleasant lighting in your shot.
Most importantly? Forget that flash! Never use the phone's camera flash as it can create the worst of unpleasant lighting possible.
According to Alexa, foodstagrammer for EatingNYC, using natural light is extremely important, as is using daylight to take your shots.
If you find you must take your food pics at night or in a dark restaurant with artificial lighting, Alexa recommends using the following:
Aputure Amaran AL-M9 pocket-sized LED fill light
Image Credit to Amazon
To brighten up a dark food photo without the overly bright light of a flash, the Aputure Amaron pocket-sized LED lets you create the optimal image by gently adjusting lighting. Alexa suggests holding it at a 45-degree angle slightly in front of the dish for best results. It's available on Amazon for $45.00. Be sure to check our Aputure promo codes to save up to 30% as well.
- Excellent portability and luminance
- Decent battery life
- Some reported the unit's 3 sets of 3 LED lights created odd shadows they disliked
Great for any time you need a little extra light, i.e. finding keys in a dark purse, shining on your car door lock in a dim parking lot, or, of course, shooting amazing food photos for your Insta. Some thought it was expensive for its size, but others were perfectly satisfied and used it often enough to be well worth the price.
Tips on background color, angle, & shadow for food photography
- Play with background colors or back-lighting
- Be sure your food, plates, and background colors are in sync
- Choose the best angle for the food you're highlighting
- Use shadows to create the optimal shot
- Use a white foam board on the opposite wall of a naturally lit window to reflect it back and brighten up your shot
Try out a few different background colors in your photos if you have options available. You'll want your food, plates, and background colors/objects to appear to be in sync. Wooden backgrounds, neutrally colored backgrounds, tablecloths, and tea towels, for a few examples, can help create interesting pictures.
Which angle presents your plate in the best way? Overhead or birds' eye? 45-degree angle? Straight-on? Use different angles to highlight certain aspects of your subject, i.e. if you've got a quadruple layer grilled cheese and veggie sandwich sliced in half, show it straight-on so viewers can enjoy the colors of each separate layer. If you've got a beautifully decorated table setting and centerpiece or a colorful hors d'oeuvres platter, capture it with an overhead shot.
Consider how shadows look in the photo. Are they interesting or flattering to the subject? If not, reposition until you find the right angle. Is there an eye-catching way to place your subject in front of a backlight? What about letting part of the subject blend into shadows while the rest is in the light? If you've got any around, Oh My Veggies uses a white foam board on the wall opposite the naturally lit window to reflect back over the subject matter for a gorgeous plate shot. Experiment until you find your best shots.
Editing tips & apps for food photography
Use photo editing apps to:
- Sharpen detail
- Add/remove brightness/redness
- Change highlights and shadows
- Deepen contrast
- Crop images
Once you've got your pics, do a little editing. There exist no shortage of editing apps you can use to perfect your images by sharpening detail, adding or removing brightness or redness, changing shadows or highlights, or deepening contrast.
Photo editing apps:
Specific photo editing apps recommended in our research included:
- SnapSeed (free)
- Big Lens (99 cents)
- PhotoShop Elements ($99.99) — check for Photoshop promo codes here first
- PicMonkey (comes with a free trial)
- Gimp (free, but check here for Gimp promo codes)
As you can see, there are a few free options, in case you're counting pennies, so there's nothing to lose in trying them out.
Food styling tips for food photography
Dress up your plate a little. If you've got a sprig of fresh rosemary or a handful of bright red cranberries to draw out an accent color, use it. Drizzle a thin pattern of richly colored maple syrup, chocolate sauce, or sriracha over your subject or part of your plate. Play with food styling in your spare time to get the best ideas for your photos.
- Drizzle a complementary colored sauce over your food or part of a plate
- Sprinkle a few of crumbs from the item booked, or berries, seeds, or other small items to accentuate your dish
- Decorate with a sprig of fresh rosemary, mint, or parsley
- Use color to create an eye-popping image
- Play with texture and detail
- Don't use zoom - opt for an actual close-up instead
Note: Although Macro lenses are recommended, any other type of 'zoom' feature is not. They can reduce the quality of the image significantly.
Consider the best color scheme for your food pics, too. Color can have a huge impact on the way an image is portrayed, and this is true for foodie pics just as much as any others. Join similar colors together on the plate for a more harmonious photo or place them in direct contrast for a bolder look. Layering shade and texture in the form of a stack of pancakes, layer cake, burgers with all the fixings, smoothies, or sundaes can give a stunning array of color for the right photo.
To get a specific look for your food photos, you could also check the resources sections of your favorite food blogs, where you'll find the bloggers' favorite photography equipment listed, such as those highlighted on the Minimalist Baker's, Oh She Glows, and Vegan Richa's sites.
Once you've played with settings, lighting, shadows, editing, and food styling, give a little thought to special lenses. We found the following 6 best iPhone lenses to be particularly helpful in mobile food photography. Take a look:
Wide-angle iPhone lenses
The essential goal behind using a wide-angle lens is to pull more subject matter into your picture. With food photography, wide-angle lenses for an iPhone might come in handy with those shooting a variety of dishes together, a series of plates/bowls, an ornate centerpiece, or a tablescape.
To be more precise, most wide angle food images shared on Instagram are flat lay photos. This means they're set up on a flat surface and taken from above. Both amateur and professional food photographers use flat lay photos, especially on sites like Instagram. The image above is an example of a flat lay photo.
To get a wide-angle lens for your iPhone, try browsing The best price we found for beginners is:
AMIR clip-on lens set
Image Credit to AMIR/Amazon
- Includes not only a super wide-angle lens but a 10x enhanced macro magnification lens and a rounded 180-degree fisheye lens
- The detachable clamp is universal in design and works with all popular smartphone and tablet brands and models
- The Macro lens and Fisheye lenses are attached upon arrival
- Some reported lens caps come off easily, allowing lenses to be exposed to scratching/damage
- Some reported the edges of images became blurry when using their wide-angle lens
For the most part, this is an excellent value for the price. Take extra care to ensure your lids remain on to avoid scratching and any other damage causing the edges of images to blur.
Olloclip wide-angle + macro-intro lens
Our favorite lens from Olloclip for food blogging newbies? The Wide-Angle + Macro-Intro Lens:
Image Credit to Olloclip
Olloclip's Wide-Angle + Macro-Intro Lenses are suitable for iPhone 8/7 and iPhone 8/7 Plus for $19.99. Olloclip's site has a few other varieties of wide-angle lenses available as well. Plus, we've got a few great Olloclip promo codes to boot, which can save you up to 30% off original prices.
- Provides both a Wide-Angle and Macro Lens in one
- Allows photographers to capture a larger area in the shot
- Good for group video chats or selfies as well as food pics
- Unscrews to a Macro Lens which turns the phone into a digital magnifier for amazing close-ups, highlighting fine textures and details, or popular 'bokeh' background effects
- You'll also need a Connect-X clip from here to attach your Olloclip to your phone, which costs another $20 appx
This is a high-quality lens for a reasonable price, combining both wide-angle and macro features for optimal foodie shots.
Macro iPhone camera lenses
To magnify your food and create stunning close-ups or 'bokeh' looks in your pics, the Macro lens is in order. Make sure you hold perfectly still to get optimal shots using this lens.
As previously mentioned, you can find Macro lenses in combination with others, such as Wide-Angle or Fisheye, in a single product, or look for them individually. In some cases, your iPhone may already have sufficient Macro features to suit your needs.
Our favorite Macro Lens today is the:
Moment Macro Lens
Image Credit to Moment
You can get this Moment Macro Lens on their company site here for $89.99. Don't skip browsing through our Moment promo codes before you hit the checkout, too — you could save up to 30% off original prices.
According to the Moment site, this lens works optimally with:
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 7 / 8 Plus
- iPhone 7 / 8
- iPhone 6 / 6S Plus
- iPhone 6 / 6S
... As well as several Samsung and other smartphone varieties. You can use this lens in a unique way, getting as close as an inch away from your subject to show the tiniest of details and textures your iPhone's camera alone can't even see. Instead of using an iPhone zoom lens, use this for your best close-up food shots.
- High-quality lenses
- Impressive detail on zoom
- Superb clarity
- Comes with a removable light diffuser which doubles as an indicator of space if you're getting too close to your picture's subject
- You'll need a case to go with this lens (compatible with the Moment Photo Case, Wallet Photo Case, Battery Photo Case or look for the Moment Lens Ready badge on cases from your favorite brands).
If you don't mind the price, this is an excellent quality lens you can use to get stunning close-ups of your food shots with impressively vivid details.
AUKEY 2-in-1 mini clip-on
Image Credit to AUKEY/Amazon
Get distinctively detailed close-ups and fisheye views with the AUKEY Optic iPhone Camera Lens with 20x Macro Mini-Clip-on and Fisheye. This lens kit works well with iPhones as well as Android and Samsung smartphones.
The kit includes a 20x zoom Macro lens and outstanding fisheye lens for less than $20.00 here on Amazon. There are some great Aukey promo codes and Amazon promo codes as well to get you your best deal.
- Close-ups are very high detail and distortion-free
- Easily clamps onto the front or back camera of iPhone
- Constructed of durable aluminum
- Backed by a 45-Day Money Back Guarantee and 24-Month Product Replacement Warranty
- Some reported the lens needs to be so close to the subject matter, it obscures the lighting
- Some found their images were too blurry
Get top shelf close-ups of your vittles with this Macro lens which also features a Fisheye. A great deal at $20.00, this gem also comes with a money-back guarantee and 2-year product replacement warranty.
Fisheye iPhone camera lenses
Image Credit to Summit Food & Spirits
To create eye-popping, spherical shots of your food, table, or dining area, the Fisheye lens is recommended. You can also play with the edges and make them more interesting with distorted or extra detailed corners. A favorite of trendsetters, this lens is a must if you're into the original style.
Once again, there are many options which include the Fisheye lens into a combination iPhone lens, or you can seek one out on its own.
TrueLUX Fisheye Lens for iPhone
Image Credit to Hitcase
This model, the TrueLUX fish lens for iPhone from Hitcase, is an ultra-wide lens with 3 spherical lens components which work beautifully with all iPhones including the iPhone X lenses.
The TrueLUX fisheye lens for iPhone is compact, lightweight, and completely waterproof, dust-proof, and snow-proof both with and without a protective Hitcase.
- Waterproof, dust-proof, and snow-proof
- Low chromatic aberration
- Produces extraordinarily sharp images
- Comes with a one-year limited product warranty
- Has anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings on all components of the lens
- Reasonably priced
- Unique field of view may not be appreciated by everyone
Perfect for mobile photographers on the move, the TrueLUX fisheye lens for iPhone creates sharply stunning spherical images to wow your friends both on and off Instagram.
Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone and Android
Image Credit to Xenvo
According to Fliptroniks, the Xenvo lens pictured above ranks among the highest for the best fisheye lenses ideal for iPhones 8 and 8 Plus and Android.
With a protective coating over its glass and firmly securing clip-on feature, this model is durable and well-made, and its being slightly smaller in design has its advantages in getting the best shots.
- Made of aircraft-grade aluminum and premium optical glass
- Excellent image quality
- GlowClip LED light clips to your phone, brightening up your subject area in natural-looking, gentle continuous light
- GlowClip LED light has 3 brightness settings for your best food photos
- Comes with Wide Angle and Macro Lenses as well
- Travel Case and LED light included
- Using the Wide-Angle lens is what gives your pics the fisheye look; it's not an independent feature
This gives you a fisheye lens without necessarily trying, but for those who want that look, it's perfect. Top quality metal framing and glass, clear photos, and a handy GlowClip to brighten up your subject to boot!
So what do you think? Are you ready to start your food blog or do you still need more time to decide? Did we miss your favorite lens? Let us know if you take pics with these hacks or lenses and be sure to share your shots with us below!