Basic Food Photography
4.3 (935 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
6,673 students enrolled

Basic Food Photography

Learn how to take delicious food photos from scratch
4.3 (935 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
6,673 students enrolled
Created by Andrew Olson
Last updated 7/2019
English [Auto]
Current price: $34.99 Original price: $49.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 5.5 hours on-demand video
  • 10 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • How to tell a powerful and engaging story through food photos.
  • How to style your food in ways that are aesthetically appealing to the camera.
  • How to create dynamic lighting setups that make food scenes look stunning.
  • How to create and use a variety of surfaces that create dramatic backdrops for your pictures.
  • How to use props & accents that add depth and complete your scenes.
  • How to choose the type of camera that meets your food photography needs.
  • How to take stunning food photos on a smartphone.
  • How to frame your shots with the perfect composition for food photography.
  • How to conduct a successful food photo shoot from start to finish.
  • How to adjust the essential editing effects that make your food photos look more stunning and realistic.
  • How to use Adobe Lightroom to create an efficient workflow and apply key editing effects.
  • How to export and share your photos with the right dimensions and quality settings.
  • How to use social media as a food photographer in ways that gain recognition for your pictures.
  • The information is this course is designed to apply equally to all levels of equipment. Whether you're using an iPhone or a pro-level DSLR, you’ll still get maximum value from this course.
  • A camera. Any category of camera (camera phone, point & shoot, or DSLR) will work for this course.
  • Adobe Lightroom 4+ for Mac or PC is suggested. The editing section of this course introduces Lightroom. If you do not have this software, the course provides information on getting a free trial.

With Basic Food Photography, you can quickly learn to take stunning food photos even if you’ve never picked up a camera and never styled a plate of food!

Thanks to social media, food photography is now a big deal. Sites like Instagram and Pinterest make it easier than ever to take pictures of food and share them with millions of viewers. But getting your pictures noticed requires so much more than just a well-composed snapshot...

The problem is, Food photography is uniquely challenging because it demands the perfect balance of artistic and technical skills. A great food photographer knows how to combine the technical skills of taking well-composed pictures with the artistic skills of styling gorgeous food scenes.

That's the goal of Basic Food Photographythis 27-lesson video course weaves together the art and the technology behind food photography in a way that you can put into practice. The skills you learn here will help you take stunning photos from start to finish - anytime, anywhere, with any camera.

Specifically, Basic Food Photography will teach you these core skills:

  • Food Storytelling - Learn to give your pictures power by telling a delicious story through the food and the scene.
  • Food Styling - If the food looks unappealing, so will the photos. Learn to style your food in ways that are photogenic to create stunning pictures.
  • Scene Composition - Compose beautiful and structured food scenes that make best use of lighting, surfaces, accents, and more.
  • Photo Shooting - Learn how to get the most from your equipment (from iPhone to DSLR) to take gorgeous, well-composed food photos every time.
  • Image Processing - The goal with any food photo is to make it look realistic. This can be enhanced with a few key editing effects that you’ll learn how to apply.
  • Sharing - Gain recognition for your work by applying techniques that engage the social web around the delicious photos you’ve learned how to create.

In this course, I am sharing all the photography techniques that have helped my food blog grow to over 125,000 monthly views in less than a year. Whether you want to start a food blog, or simply share more rewarding food photos with friends, Basic Food Photography is designed to give you the confidence you need to take stunning food photos that get noticed.

In addition to over 5.5 hours of practical, hands-on instruction, this course includes a printable 17-page “cheat sheet” with key points that you can reference time and time again to make your photo shoots more successful. This dynamic Udemy platform also gives you direct access to me where I can offer you personalized instruction and feedback along the way.

In just over 5 hours of lessons, you will gain the skills and confidence to shoot more rewarding food photos that you can be proud to share with others. I cannot wait to see the amazing pictures you're going to take!

Andrew Olson
Photographer & Recipe Developer,

What Other Students Are Saying:

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P.S. Basic Food Photography comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. Sign up today and check out all the material. If it doesn’t help you take stunning food photos in 30 days, you’ll get a full refund. No questions asked. Go ahead and click the “Take This Course” button now - there's absolutely no risk.

Who this course is for:
  • Anyone who wants to develop the skill of taking delicious food photos – amateurs looking for an introduction to photography, or experienced photographers wanting to learn the specifics of working with food.
Course content
Expand all 28 lectures 05:37:26
+ Learning Food Photography
3 lectures 35:05

In this introductory lesson, we will discuss the reasons why food photography is a valuable skill you may want to learn, and provide a brief overview of the topics covered in this course.

1:19 - About Me (Andrew Olson)
2:18 - Why Learn Food Photography
4:08 - Goals of this Course
5:25 - Course Overview

NOTE: Each section of this course includes a "cheat sheet" with key points from the lessons and homework assignments. These can be downloaded in this "materials" area from the first lectures of each section. A complete collection of cheat sheets can be downloaded in lecture 28 at the bottom of this course. Below is the cheat sheet for section 1:

Preview 09:19

With any skill, there is simply no substitute for practice. In this lesson, we talk about the importance of practice, introduce the equipment needed for this course, and you'll get started taking your first food photo shoot.

1:15 - Practice, Practice, Practice
2:28 - The 10,000 Photo Rule
4:10 - Your First Food Photo Shoot
5:03 - What You Need to Get Started
Get Started Now

Telling stories through your pictures is the foundation of taking compelling food photos. In this lesson, we'll learn about the 4-step "story blueprint" and the tools that you can use to tell intentional and engaging stories through your pictures.

2:00 - Building a Human Connection
2:47 - The Food Story Blueprint
5:58 - Tools for Storytelling
8:55 - Examples: What's the Story?
14:40 - Two Takeaways
Food + Camera = Story
+ Food Styling
4 lectures 40:38

Styling your food is a crucial aspect of taking beautiful pictures - you simply can't take pretty pictures of ugly food. This introduction to styling shares before and after examples of food styling, showing you what a dramatic difference styling can make in your final photographs.

1:54 - Why Style?
3:55 - Before and After: Styling Examples
7:48 - Pretty Doesn't Just Mean "Neat"
8:36 - The Goal of Styling

NOTE: Download the section 2 cheat sheet with lecture notes and homework assignments below:

Pretty Pictures of Ugly Food

If food is your art, the dish is the canvas. The plate you use is an important consideration when styling your food for photography. In this lesson, we will learn what aspects you should take into consideration when choosing a dish. We'll also discuss tips on building a collection and how to get great pictures when at restaurants.

0:44 - Your Dish is Your Canvas
2:30 - Choosing the Right Dish
3:39 - Going Dishless
4:27 - Building a Collection of Dishes
6:09 - The Bowl Trick
7:12 - When Eating Out
Choosing the Right Dish

Food styling can seem intimidating at first, but it is actually quite easy. You don't need gifted artistic ability or years of training. This lesson introduces the 6 elements of good styling that can help make your food look more appealing and photogenic.

 1:10 - The Six Elements of Styling
9:32 - Styling is a Personal Art
10:23 - The Importance of Pausing
Food Styling 101

Styling is your most powerful tool in telling the "story" of the dish. You want to be mindful of how your styling adds information and creates emotions. This video shares advice on accomplishing both of those goals while making your dish look as delicious as possible.

2:01 - Styling to Inform
3:19 - Styling to Create Emotion
5:33 - The Story of Delicious
Styling Within the Story
+ Setting the Scene
4 lectures 44:18

Your eye interprets light very differently than a camera lens. Learning to see like a camera is an important step in setting your scenes to be beautiful and photogenic. In this lesson, we discuss the differences between the human eye and the caner's lens and provide instruction on setting up rectangular scenes that create appealing images.

1:45 - Your Eye vs. the Camera
3:03 - How to See Like a Camera
4:01 - Example: Seeing a Rectangle

NOTE: Download the section 3 cheat sheet with lecture notes and homework assignments below:

Seeing Like a Camera

Nothing is more important to your image's overall appearance than proper lighting. This in-depth lesson provides a crash-course in lighting your scenes. We'll discuss many topics including: how to notice light, the primary lighting angles, tips for finding the best light in your home, and more.

1:41 - How to Notice Light
2:22 - The Primary Lighting Angles
4:50 - Scraping Your Light
 6:15 - Defusing Your Light
8:00 - Finding Your Light
9:35 - Making a $1 Reflector
10:56 - Artificial Lighting
11:52 - Shooting Outdoors
Setting Up Your Lighting

The surface upon which you're shooting food photos matters greatly to the overall composition of your sene. This lesson explores the options you have when choosing a surface, and it provides suggestions on creating or purchasing professional wooden tabletops.

   0:48 - Surfaces Tell Stories

   1:45 - Using Existing Surfaces

   3:02 - Using Foam Poster Boards

   4:03 - Making a Simple Chalkboard

   5:10 - Making a Wooden Tabletop

  An in-depth tutorial on making a wooden tabletop:

   7:07 - Dealing with Surface Reflections

   8:28 - Surfaces = Backgrounds

Preview 10:13

Props and accents are the elements that go around the plate to complete your scene. They can share information and add depth to your images. In this lesson, we'll discuss how and why accents are needed, as well as a quick rundown of the types of accents I use most often.

1:17 - Props Add Information
2:23 - Napkins & Textiles
4:06 - Burlap
5:08 - Kitchen Towels
5:39 - Placemats
6:48 - Utensils
8:20 - Using Nothing
Using Accents & Props
+ Getting the Best Shots
6 lectures 01:07:08

Only after learning to style our food and set our scene do we begin to discuss the camera. This lesson includes an overview of the different categories of cameras to help you make an informed decision about which type to use for food photography. It also introduces the 3 aspects of exposure (Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO), and includes many examples that showcase the strengths of each camera type.

1:03 - It's Not the Camera (The Chef and the Photographer)
3:28 - A Quick Comparison of Camera Types
6:47 - The 3 Technical Aspects of Exposure
7:51 - 1. Aperture
10:23 - 2. Shutter Speed
11:19 - 3. ISO
13:00 - Which Camera to Use?
14:10 - Which Camera Took THIS Picture?

NOTE: Download the section 4 cheat sheet with lecture notes and homework assignments below:

Using The Right Camera

Using an iPhone or other mobile device for food photography has several benefits. In this lesson, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a mobile camera, introduce apps that give you more control on an iPhone when taking photos, and talk about how to get the most from mobile photography.

1:59 - Photo-Taking iOS Apps
3:04 - The Camera+ App
5:43 - When to Use a Mobile Camera
7:07 - Getting the Most from Mobile Photography
Mobile Food Photography

Point & shoot cameras can seem like they're stuck in the middle: not as convenient as mobile phones, but not as powerful as DSLRs. Yet, this category of cameras can take amazing pictures when used correctly. This lesson explores the situations in which using a point & shoot could make sense.

0:22 - Advantages & Disadvantages of Point & Shoot
3:14 - When to Use a Point & Shoot
4:15 - Getting the Most from a Point & Shoot Camera
5:55 - Are P&S Cameras Stuck in the Middle?
Point & Shoot Food Photography

To conclude our series on cameras, we'll take a look at DSLRs; the most powerful and customizable category of cameras. In this lesson, we explore what makes DSLRs so powerful and when you may want to use this type of camera as opposed to another. The lesson also includes some final recommendations on how to decide which camera(s) you may want to use for food photography.

0:40 - What is a DSLR?
1:40 - Advantages and Disadvantages of DSLRs
4:00 - When to Use a DSLR
5:00 - Getting the Most from a DSLR
6:20 - My Setup and Recommendations
DSLR Food Photography

Composition is all about what you choose to include within the rectangular frame of the camera. With food photography, the way you compose your frame is critical to getting the best shots. In this lesson we introduce several elements of a well-composed photograph, including the rule of thirds.

0:50 - What's in the Frame?
1:37 - Getting the Right Angle
2:33 - Getting the Right Zoom
3:20 - Getting the Right Depth of Field
4:32 - The Rule of Thirds
5:52 - Shooting in Vertical (Portrait) Mode
8:40 - Use Closeups for Ugly Food
Composition & Framing

It's now time to put everything we've learned into practice to create a successful and efficient food photo shoot. Here we go through one entire photo shoot from start to finish, using the 5-step process that leads to great pictures every time.

The 5-Steps for a Successful Photo Shoot

1:10 - 1. Learn the Art of Copying
2:53 - 2. Set Your Scene
3:19 - 3. Compose with Stand-Ins
4:51 - 4. Prepare Great Food
5:40 - 5. Use the 5/10 Rule
8:08 - Using Cooking/Action Shots
8:55 - A Note on Flow
The Successful Photo Shoot
+ Image Processing
5 lectures 01:10:39

Before diving right into the technical side of editing, we need to pause and ask ourselves, "what goal do we hope to accomplish by editing our food photos?" In this lesson, we learn that editing food photos has the singular goal of enhancing realism, and we'll conclude by looking at several examples that illustrate this point.

0:33 - The Goal of Editing
1:19 - The "Do's" and "Don'ts" of Editing
4:19 - Editing Examples

NOTE: Download the section 5 cheat sheet with lecture notes and homework assignments below:

The Goal of Editing

With the goal of adding realism to our photos through editing, we simply need to focus on 6 key editing effects. Each of these important effects are described in this lesson. We also take a deeper look at the practical differences between shooting in RAW vs JPEG format.

The 6 Core Editing Effects

1:34 - Crop & Straighten
4:39 - White Balance

This TED Talk on visual illusions was mentioned in the lesson and is highly recommended to gain a better understanding of how we see and interpret colors:

7:24 - Exposure
8:50 - Contrast
10:16 - Sharpness
11:21 - Noise Reduction
13:21 - How to Save Time in Editing
14:24 - RAW vs. JPEG: A Comparison
Types of Editing Effects
Editing Effects
5 questions

When managing large numbers of photos, it can be important to setup an efficient workflow that allows you to easily import, sort, and edit your pictures. In this video, we will be doing a live screencast to introduce the Adobe Lightroom software and how it can help us accomplish all of these tasks.

0:17 - Adobe Lightroom Free Trial

You can download a free 30-day trial of Adobe Lightroom for PC or Mac at the following link:

1:15 - Introduction to Lightroom
5:30 Importing Photos into Lightroom
8:33 - Flagging & Deleting Photos in Lightroom
11:11 - Creating Collections in Lightroom
13:56 - Managing Files in Lightroom
The Lightroom Workflow

Adobe Lightroom is the easiest and most effective way to apply the editing effects discussed in lesson 19. In this live screencast, we'll learn how to perform all of these adjustments and more on a food photo in real time.

4:30 - Crop/Straighten in Lightroom
6:09 - White Balance in Lightroom
7:28 - Exposure in Lightroom
9:56 - Contrast in Lightroom
10:54 - Sharpness in Lightroom
11:44 - Noise Reduction in Lightroom
12:38 - Spot Removal in Lightroom
13:41 - Final Notes

NOTE: Below are 3 unedited full-size images of my own. Feel free to use these for your own personal editing purposes to achieve the effects discussed in this lesson.

Editing in Lightroom

If you don't have access to Lightroom, or simply want a quick way to edit food photos on the go, Snapseed is a free app for iOS and Android that makes it easy to perform all the adjustments discussed in this course. Here, we'll look at how this application is used and discuss mobile workflow considerations.

1:15 - Advantages & Disadvantages of Snapseed
3:05 - An Overview of Snapseed's Features
6:48 - Quiz: Snapseed vs. Lightroom
8:41 - Mobile Workflow Suggestions

Download Snapseed for iOS:

Note: In this lecture, I mention that Snapseed is unavailable on Android, but this is no longer true. Snapseed can be downloaded for Android here:

Editing on a Mobile Device
+ Sharing Your Photos
5 lectures 01:02:38

In order to begin sharing our pictures, we need to export them with the right format, dimensions, and image quality settings. This lesson discusses these considerations and shows a live screencast of exporting in Lightroom.

0:57 - Exporting & Compression 101
2:53 - Getting the Right Dimensions
4:10 - Getting the Right Quality
6:35 - Lightroom Screencast on Exporting
11:43 - Mobile Exporting

NOTE: Download the section 6 cheat sheet with lecture notes and homework assignments below:

Preview 13:53

Food photography and social media work perfectly together. Get maximum exposure for your food photos by following the practices shared in this lesson.

1:36 - Why Use Social Media?
3:11 - Photo Sizes for Social Media
5:50 - Instagram
11:05 - Google+

What The Plus?! by Guy Kawasaki:

14:45 - Pinterest
19:45 - Explore. Have Fun.
Getting the Most from Social Media

What makes some pictures more successful on social media than others? A scientific research team found the answers. Shared in this lesson are the 6 elements found in most successful pictures on Pinterest. The original article mentioned here can be found at:

1:28 - The 6 Elements
3:48 - Recap
The Perfect Pinterest Picture

Food blogging is hard work, but it can be very rewarding. This lesson provides a brief introduction to the process of turning great food photos into a great food blog, including my 4 steps for becoming a successful food blogger.

0:50 - What is Food Blogging?
1:56 - Advantages of Food Blogging
3:28 - What it Takes

4:48 - 4 Steps for Successful Food Blogging
An Introduction to Food Blogging

In our final lesson, we’ll do a quick review and tie up a few loose ends, including: where to get help moving forward, the importance of joining a photography community, and your final homework assignment.

0:43 - Course Review
2:00 - Things to Remember
4:08 - Getting Help
5:18 - Joining the Community

The Google+ Food Photography Community:

6:50 - Connect with Me
7:15 - The Final Homework Assignment
Taking the Next Steps
+ Extras
1 lecture 00:00

This printable PDF file contains all the lecture notes (cheat sheets) for the entire course, along with checkboxes for each homework assignment. They can be downloaded all together here, or each segment is also available individually in the "materials" tab under the first lesson in each section.

All Cheat Sheets & Homework
17 pages