Essential food photography equipment for anyone starting with food photography! 10 basic must-have items I can’t imagine taking photos without!
When I started taking photos of food with our DSLR camera I did not know a thing about the camera or camera equipment. I thought I would take a picture or two of the food/dish and move on… Yes. That was how I imagined photo taking in my head. At that time I did not follow any blogs so I did not know you could take magazine-like pictures in your home with a bit of practice.
It had taken me quite a while to learn these things and I guess if I had spent more time reading food blogs I would have been smarter back then. My progress could have been faster (or not – who knows)!
Back then I knew nothing about diffusers, reflectors or a tripod. Come to think of it I hardly knew how to change a battery or memory card. Ooops!
However, since then I have not only learned how to change the battery and memory card (haha) but I now know what the must have items – the absolute basics in food photography are. If you have just started this beautiful journey of becoming a food photographer here is what you need to know:
Essential Food Photography Equipment
First of them is camera, right? An entry level DSLR camera is pretty important. Of course you can take pictures with your iPhone or point-and-shoot camera and you will get decent pictures but if you want to get more serious about food photography, you will probably need to invest into a decent DSLR camera soon or later! Canon EOS 600D (Rebel T3i) – it is reasonably priced and I think it is good entry level camera (bear in mind this camera has cropped sensor. Full frame cameras are way more expensive). Important: Do your research before buying! Ask around, ask at the shop, read reviews!
Tripod has changed my life when it comes to food photography (Well, I am not saying it happened right away but it did happen). Now I don’t like taking pictures without tripod for several reasons. Number one reason is that my hands shake like crazy so I usually end up with blurry pictures. Number two reason is that your picture will never look the same when shot several times. You can never shoot, check, make adjustments to your dish/props… and shoot again from the exact same position or angle. I prefer being in control. With tripod I know exactly where I stand. If certain props look weird, I can move them around without moving the camera! This is important to me! Also my hands are free (well at least one – the other one holds remote control) so I can use the free hand to hold a reflector. I admire all those who can hold their camera with one hand and hold the dish with another and at the same time, keeping their hands steady and pressing shutter button!
My advice: Choose a steady, strong tripod. Do your research before buying. I am all about bargains but with this one I highly recommend to take your time when choosing one. We have this one and so far are happy with it: Hama Star 61. It’s a pretty simple tripod that does the job well (so far).
Reflectors are also important when it comes to shooting pictures but here you can improvise and if you don’t have any money left for reflectors (because we all know that most of these items are not cheap), it’s not the end of the world! Check out the Internet for DIY photography reflectors – you might be surprised what options you have and how much you can save.
If you want to invest in good reflectors at reasonable price then have a look at Neewer reflectors. They look great to me!
Even though you camera is mounted to tripod this doesn’t mean it’s shake free when you press the shutter button. And that is when wireless remote control comes in. A must have item in your camera bag!
The higher the number the better! 2 cards are better than one! But if you are planning on shooting in your home mainly, then you can start off with one. You can simply download the photos/videos onto your PC and continue with shooting afterwards! Keep in mind that certain foods may not stay fresh that long! So like I’ve mentioned the higher number the better! We use SanDisk 32 GB mostly.
Without a lens you can’t really take a picture, right? So make sure to do your research before investing in one. There are various lenses on the market and it is only up to you to decide which one you will go for. Ask around or try some out, if possible. Our food photography lens (or that’s what we call it) is this Canon 50mm fixed lens. We decided to buy this one because it was good value for the price. So far we are happy with it.
Camera lens cleaning kit
Wouldn’t you say that this is as important as the rest of the items? Well, I guess you could live without it but truth be told you will be using it quite often. When I shoot food I always end up with dirty hands and even though I am being careful accidents happen. The better you care about your lens the longer it will last. Also imagine taking beautiful pictures but when checking them in your PC you realize there is a blurry spot there. Maybe an oil mark, who knows… Imagine you took pictures some place outside your home and you get back realizing they are all “contaminated”! A microfiber cloth is a basic lens cleaning item to have. If you buy the whole kit, you will probably get a brush, dust blower, lens cleaning fluid…
Diffuser reduces the light coming in from your window/door because even though natural light is important it still (many times) needs to be softened/diffused. You can buy a professional diffuser or make your own. Voile curtain can act as a diffuser as well as a white bed sheet.
Invest in 1 extra battery! This will save you time! Nothing is worse than a flat battery during your shooting! Trust me! Keep them both charged at all times! Imagine taking pictures of a fast melting ice cream and you can’t continue shooting because your battery is flat!
External Hard drive
To be on the safe side we try to do a backup of our photos regularly. Also because the pictures are in RAW format their size is enormous (for my laptop anyway) there is no way I could store all these pictures on my laptop. And that is why external hard drive is pretty handy! If you travel a lot and take the hard drive with you, then you might want to think about a decent case pouch to protect it.
Now this is essential food photography equipment that you will definitely need when taking photos! I am sure there are other cool gadgets on the market that you will want to buy but if you are starting I would go for these basics.
But no matter what it is you are going to buy do the research. Read a lot and ask around a lot. If you have a chance of renting a lens and a camera, do so! Get familiar with it before you decide what is best for you!