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A Guide to Lifestyle Food Photography: Capturing Delicious Moments

CEO Tinh Phung
Are you a food lover with a passion for photography? Do you find joy in documenting your culinary creations and dining experiences? If so, then lifestyle food photography might be the perfect genre for you....

Are you a food lover with a passion for photography? Do you find joy in documenting your culinary creations and dining experiences? If so, then lifestyle food photography might be the perfect genre for you. In this guide, we'll explore the art of capturing food in a natural and enticing way, incorporating the elements of life that fill our hearts.

Photo: Pam Bradford, CLG Instructor Photo: Pam Bradford, CLG Instructor

1. Unveiling Lifestyle Food Photography

When we think of food photography, the images that come to mind are often stylized and artistic, like those in glossy magazines or cookbooks. However, in lifestyle food photography, we aim to portray food as it is prepared, served, and enjoyed. These photos reflect the process and the way the food is served or eaten, hence the "lifestyle" tag. They should transport viewers, make them feel hungry, entice them to visit a particular venue, or even inspire them to recreate the dish themselves. Lifestyle food photography is a genre that appeals to storytellers, as it allows them to create visual narratives with food as the focal point.

2. The Power of Storyboard Style

A fantastic way to tell a story through food photography is by shooting in a storyboard style. Start with simple ingredient shots and progress to capturing the setting as you set the table and enjoy the meal. The options for storytelling are endless.

The Recipe: Every story has a beginning, and in cooking, it's the recipe. Even if you know the recipe by heart, writing it down for the purpose of a photo adds an important element to the story.


The Ingredients: Highlight the freshness and abundance of the ingredients by keeping the shots simple. Shooting from a top-down perspective works well for these images.


The Preparation: Engage viewers by including shots of hands creating and preparing the dish. This adds a human element and helps them imagine themselves in the process.


The Finished Dish: There are countless ways to photograph the final dish. Whether garnished, served straight from the stove, or presented on a platter for diners to serve themselves, each shot tells a different part of the story.

Finished Dish

3. Composition & Angles

In food photography, close-ups are great for highlighting detail and texture, but don't forget to include some wide shots for context. When deciding on the composition, consider what you want to highlight and what elements might clutter or distract from the focal point.

Varying your angles will provide a wide variety of shots and perspectives. A slightly higher than eye level angle is ideal for lifestyle food photography as it captures both the action and the elements being used. This angle allows the hero of the shot to shine, without overwhelming the scene.


4. Harnessing the Power of Light

In lifestyle food photography, natural light is often preferred. The ambient light plays a crucial role in setting the mood and conveying the story you want your audience to experience. Look for beautiful soft light near windows or use a wide aperture if your space is light-challenged. Different lighting styles can evoke specific emotions, so consider what you want your viewers to feel when choosing the lighting setup.


5. Gear & Settings

While preferred focal lengths may vary, a 24-70mm lens is often considered perfect for lifestyle food photography. It allows you to capture the surroundings while still being up close to the subject. When it comes to aperture, avoid going too wide if you want to showcase detail and texture. Shoot at around f/2.8 for focused shots and up to f/5.6 for shots that capture both detail and surroundings.

Gear & Settings

6. Lifestyle Food Photography Selfies

Including your own hands in lifestyle food photography adds a personal touch to the images. If you want to capture shots that feature both your hands and the main food subject in focus, follow these simple steps:

  1. Set up the elements exactly as you want them to appear in the shot.
  2. Take test shots to ensure you're satisfied with the composition, angle, and settings.
  3. Choose an aperture that gives you good depth of field if you want both the food and your hands to be sharp.
  4. After the test shots, focus on the sharpest point and switch to manual focus to lock it.
  5. Use a timer mode with a delay to allow yourself time to position and compose the shot.

Voilà! You've just captured a lifestyle food photography selfie.

Food Photography Selfie

Lifestyle food photography is an excellent way to document your culinary adventures, develop your photography skills, and unleash your creativity. While it's essential to honor the story you want to convey, keep in mind a few guidelines to ensure your images are authentic and engaging. So grab your camera, get creative, and let your love of food shine through your captivating photographs.

Note: Big thanks to Sally for sharing her inspiring words and captivating images! You can find more of Sally's work and connect with her for food photography assistance here.