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3 (More) Photo Styling Tips to Improve Your Food and Still Life Photography


If you’re gonna take pictures of food for Instagram, at least do them justice. Here are three useful tips that’ll help you improve your food and still life photography.

This video comes to us from Daniel and Rachel of Mango Street Lab, and it’s actually a followup to another popular tips video they created back in January. In that video, they offered 3 photo styling tips:

  1. Pick the right perspective – Neutral, 45° angle, or bird’s eye.
  2. Overfill the Frame
  3. Chose straight lines or s-curves to affect the ‘feeling’ in your photographs

Now they’re back with three more tips that will help you further improve those overfilled frames captured from above and arranged in an S-curve.

1. Back or Side Lighting

The Mango Street Lab folks work primarily with available light, so it’s crucial that they set up their scene near a window and allow that light to cascade over their subjects. That means absolutely no standing between your light source and the food you’re photographing.

Bad light = Bad photo. It’s an obvious tip, but someone has to mention it.

2. Use Texture, Color, and Layers to Add Depth and Character

It’s not just the subject and lighting that will tell the “story” your still life is trying to get across, texture, color, and layers can help in that department too.

The texture of or on the surface you’re working with can add character, a few subtle pops of color will draw your viewer’s eye where you want it to go, and layering plates, napkins, and other appropriate props will help add more depth to the shot.

3. Use Your Composition to Tell a Story

Finally, don’t forget to build your composition with your message in mind. Is the photo supposed to show a lonely minimalist message (coffee for one) or a cluttered and cozy one (family kitchen during the holidays)? Use negative space (or lack thereof) to strengthen the story your photograph is supposed to tell.