10 composition tips to make your food photos look delicious

Food photography is such a fun genre that almost everyone has tried it at some point. Even though it’s a simple genre at first, it’s quite a challenge to make outstanding food images. Taking the same close-up photos of food over and over again can get a little tedious.

Are you an avid food photographer and want to add the wow factor to your photos? Then look no further. We have some great tips for composing your food photos perfectly.

1. Start with the rule of thirds

You may already know this simple tip that can instantly improve the look of your photos. Start by dividing your frame into three sections vertically and horizontally. You can then place your main subject along the intersections for a great food photo.

The rule of thirds works particularly well when viewed from above. You can easily implement this rule anywhere. The rule of thirds is also available in most phones.

2. Follow the quota rule

Shrimp Tacos

There’s something visually appealing about arranging things in groups of three and other odd numbers. This is a handy rule to keep in mind when photographing desserts.

So the next time you bake cupcakes, creme brulee, or cinnamon rolls, be sure to arrange them in odd numbers before taking photos. As shown in our image above, the odds rule also applies to savory foods.

Of course, you can also accommodate two items when picking up larger plates. In this case, you can have one dish in full focus while the second is only partially in focus. Essentially, you’re still following the quota rule, with only one disk in focus.

3. Add layers to your composition


Layers are something that landscape photographers pay a lot of attention to. But layers can add depth and visual interest to any type of photography. As a food photographer, you can add layers to your images to make the photos stand out and not just look like flat images.

You can add layers in different ways. If you shoot at a 45 degree angle, you can place some elements on the front and back of your main subject. By keeping your subject in focus, these accessories will blur and create depth. You can also place your plated food on a larger plate or bowl to add layers while shooting top-down.

4. Try the Golden Triangle

golden triangle

With this rule, you divide your fame into four triangles and place your subject along the intersections. This rule is similar to the rule of thirds, but we use diagonal lines to separate the frame.

First, draw a line diagonally across your frame. Then draw two lines from the other two corners to intersect the main line at 90 degrees. Placing accessories such as spoons, forks or chopsticks along the diagonal line can create an interesting composition.

5. Aim for the golden ratio

Golden spiral

The golden section draws your eyes in a curved line similar to a shell. It’s not the easiest composition rule, but with practice, you can master it to create stunning photos.

First, use the general curvature of the plates and bowls to follow the golden ratio. Once you become familiar with it, you can use the golden ratio with other elements in your composition.

6. Place your subject along the Phi grid

phi grid

The phi grid is related to the golden ratio but is similar to the rule of thirds. The vertical lines are slightly closer together in the middle. You’ll find this rule refreshing once you’ve used the rule of thirds extensively. The photos created with this rule are far more captivating.

Because the lines are concentrated in the middle, this rule is great for showcasing individual foods.

7. Play with color

Chocolate Cupcake

As a beginner photographer, you can set up your food and get started. But if you take some time to compose your food photos, you can take it to the next level. First, it’s important to refresh your knowledge of the basics of color theory. If you understand it, you can enjoy colors.

Experimenting with different colors is key. For example, change the background or try different napkins to make the picture livelier. Also look out for bold patterns and textures.

8. Use shadows creatively


If you always use diffused light when photographing food, it’s time to try something creative. Harsh lighting can give your photos a different look and accentuate the sunny feeling outdoors. You can adjust the position of the light to get shadows of different sizes and at different angles.

In order to be able to experiment with the effects, you need an artificial light source. This flexibility may not be available in natural light. You need to shoot strategically at different times of the day to get the result you want.

9. Compose with dynamic symmetry

Dynamic symmetry

Dynamic symmetry is the most complicated compositional rule you can implement in your photos. But you can use the overlay for the first few days to get the hang of it. The rule works incredibly well on flat layers of multiple items. Use the intersections to place your interesting things.

Artists mainly use it to compose their artworks. As a food photographer, you have the luxury of having time to prepare your shots. Think of this rule as a combination of applying the rule of thirds with diagonal lines. In fact, the simpler rule of thirds derives from dynamic symmetry.

10. Don’t forget negative space

Pomegranate closeup

The use of negative space is a hallmark of minimalist photos, and you can use this powerful technique to create stunning food images. It’s a good idea to leave at least half of your image as negative space. If you leave enough negative space, the viewer’s eyes will have some breathing room.

This is also crucial if your images appear on a menu or other promotional material. Your photos should have space for words, logos, etc.

Master these composition rules to become a confident food photographer

In food photography, composition matters. Even if you’re an accomplished cook and your food makes you drool, you still need to hone your artistic skills to make it look delicious in photos. Read this guide again if you need help getting started.

Leave a Comment