How to Take Better Food Photos When You Travel

May 6, 2019

Photography, Travel

Has this ever happened to you?

You find an incredible place to eat on vacation that serves amazing food that looks just as good as it tastes. So you snap a few shots to put on your Instagram. Unfortunately, you just can’t seem to make the food look as good in a photo as it does right in front of you.

That beautiful dish ends up looking just mediocre at best.

So how can you take what you see and make it look true to life?

With just a few steps you can make your food photos look more professional, more yummy, and more social media ready!

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Bonuts at Biscuit Love in Franklin Tennessee
Bonuts at Biscuit Love in Franklin, TN

Here’s some of the best tips I know for how to take better food photos while you travel, or even at home!

1. Choose the Right Camera

Now I know not everybody wants to rush out and buy an expensive camera and figure out how to use it just to get a picture of your lunch. The good news is you don’t have to.

You can take beautiful photos on your smartphone or on whatever camera you have with you. It’s all about how you take the photo.

Canon EOS rebel t5 dslr camera

However, I will say that I do like to use my Canon 90D any chance I get. I feel like I can get the best quality photos this way. I use either a wide-angle lens or a macro lens depending on what I’m trying to capture.

Want to see what I keep in my camera bag? Check out My Photography Gear.

On the other hand, I don’t always want to carry around a camera bag and whip out a bulky camera everywhere I go. I take a lot of my food photography on my iPhone. And you can, too!

2. Pick a Good Angle

The most popular angles for photographing food are shooting from directly above or at an angle (about 45 degrees).

You’ve probably seen those amazing flat lays in magazines and on Instagram where the photographer shoots from directly above the food. This is a great angle for showing the whole spread of several plates of food.

PG Club Sandwich with fries at pizza grocery in Corinth Mississippi
PG Club Sandwich at Pizza Grocery in Corinth, MS

It’s also good for foods like pizza where the detail is on top. Not so much for sandwiches and burgers. For food with most of the detail and color on the side, an angled shot is best.

3. Lighting is Everything!

Lighting is arguably the most important part of photography. This goes for any photo, not just photos of food.

Sometimes it’s hard to get good lighting if you are in a dark restaurant. Try sitting by a window or even outside if possible to get that natural light.

Many restaurants have lights with a yellow tinge that can be very unflattering for your photo. Window light is a much better source for natural-looking light. However, if it’s late at night, those indoor lights are your best option. The flash on your phone or camera will most likely make your food look washed out.

Cheeseburger and Fish at Aquarium Restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Burger and fish at the Aquarium Restaurant in Nashville, TN

4. Pay Attention to Your Background

Even though you are focused on making the food look good in your photo, the background is important, too. Always check and see what is behind and around your food. You can remove and reposition objects to make your frame look cleaner.

Vanilla cream donut at five daughters bakery in Nashville Tennessee
Vanilla Cream donut at Five Daughters Bakery in Nashville, TN

Even if you are shooting straight down for a flat lay, you can readjust plates and other objects to get the composition you want.

If you are shooting at an angle, look at the colors and lighting in your background, and check for any items you want or don’t want in your photo.

Another great tip is to use your location as the backdrop. Sure, your Mickey ice cream bar is cute, but it would be even cuter in front of Cinderella’s Castle!

5. Be Selective About What You Photograph

You don’t have to photograph every single snack and meal you eat. Some foods just taste better than they look!

Also, it’s best to take a photo as soon as you get your food. Those fries will look a lot better before you put ketchup all over them.

Double Up burger with cheese and fries at Burger Up in Nashville Tennessee
Double Up burger and fries at Burger Up in Nashville, TN

Don’t take pictures of your half-finished meal if you can help it. A fresh steaming plate looks a lot more appetizing than something with a few bites taken out of it!

So those are my tips for great food photography wherever you go!

It’s important to remember that these are not rules, just tips! Use your best judgment and your artistic style to create photos that you love! Just have fun with it!

Do you have any food photography tips for traveling? Please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Need help with editing your photos? Download my free Lightroom Mobile preset to edit your photos in one click!

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Unleash your photography skills and make every meal you capture a culinary masterpiece. Learn how to take better food photos while travelling, capturing the rich colors, textures, and aromas of global cuisine. From composition and lighting to food presentation, we've got you covered. And the icing on the cake? We're giving away a free Lightroom mobile preset for one-click editing. So, what are you waiting for? Read the blog post and download the preset now!


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  1. I’m so gonna be able to use these tips when I travel to Europe next month!

  2. Mary Marino says:

    That’s awesome! Where are you traveling in Europe?

  3. Melissa says:

    Great tips, even for pictures of dinner at home! So often I’ll see someone sharing the dinner they made and are proud of, but it does not look appealing in the picture at all ha ha.

  4. Connie says:

    Awesome photos. You made me hungry just looking at them. Great photography tips!

  5. Nicole says:

    All of the photo’s you included in this post look delish! You certainly make me want to go grab a burger and some fries. LOL. You listed some really good tips I appreciate the advise because I’m always looking for ways to improve my technique.

  6. Mike says:

    I am so hungry now!
    Excellent article and great images. Nice work, and I pinned the graphic!

    Fonts and color pallete are very nice on your site, too.

    – Mike

  7. Amazing piece brought together. You have given me the courage to eat more and take more pictures…

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