Constructing Your In-Home Photo Setup

Food Photo Setup

Before I dive into how you can create the ultimate in-home photo setup, I’d like to first announce the winner of last week’s Food Blogging For Dummies giveaway. The winner, as selected by, is Ann (comment number 17) of Cooking Healthy for Me!

As promised, I’ll be giving away one copy of the book every Monday until it hits shelves on April 17, so read on to learn about photo setups and then leave a comment for your chance to win! 

Photos are undeniably one of the strongest draws to any food blog, and one of my biggest goals in writing Food Blogging For Dummies was to share how a few simple tricks can turn blah images into mouthwatering masterpieces. But there’s no need to break the bank to make it happen.

One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What kind of camera do you use?” And while I’m more than happy to share the model (Nikon D7000) and my go-to lens (18-105mm), what’s more important is discovering how you can make the most of any shot, regardless if you’re shooting with a digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera, a point-and-shoot or even a camera phone.

I dedicated three entire chapters in the book to the subjects of food photography and styling, with an emphasis on how you can best use the equipment and props you already own to capture stunning food images. And while I can’t divulge every last tip from the book in this post, I can share one of the most important parts: your in-home photo setup.

The image below depicts my basic in-home setup for photographing food. My camera, located at the 6 o’clock position, is facing the dish, and the light (in this case, it’s natural sunlight) is entering the frame from the 3 o’clock position. I’ve placed a white foam core board, which you can purchase for $1 or less, on the left side of the frame so that it reflects the incoming light back onto the dish.

In-Home Food Photo Setup

In the book I cover how moving the foam core board, known as a bounce card, closer and further away from the subject affects how much light you are reflecting, and thus how your dish will appear. I also address the wide variety of backdrops and props, and why certain ones work better than others (Hint: Save those paper grocery bags!).

You can check out the Food Blogging For Dummies online Cheat Sheet for more practical tips and pick up a copy of the book for the full tutorial!


To enter to win a copy of Food Blogging For Dummies, leave a comment below that answers the following question:

What is the hardest food to photograph and why?

A single winner will be selected via and announced on Monday, April 2. This giveaway closes on Sunday, April 1 at 12 p.m. EST.

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  1. Osso Bucco in a red wine sauce, for something that taste so utterly divine but just looks so plain and un-glorious on a plate. Osso Bucco is my top challenge to photograph. The shape is unappealing, the color is boring and the texture is ugly. At least with taking a shot of a steak if you cook it medium you can slice it and see the juices oozing, gets my taste buds going any day

  2. I really struggle with the photography aspect of food blogging, mostly because I have very little time to devote to it. Also, most of the recipes I feature on my blog are for dinner, when it’s dark outside! And I work during the day, so daytime photography is pretty much out for me. Still, I’m very interested in reading this book. Would love to make my blog stand out a bit more!

  3. I’m very much a beginner, so a lot of food is hard for me to photograph. But, I would think something like a brown or olive green, slightly chunky soup would be the hardest because it looks like vomit. And that’s just nasty… lol

    I’ll also echo several people above and say that all white food is hard, too.

  4. I would have to say the hardest food to photograph is anything white. I can’t seem to capture the details, it always comes out as a white blob!

  5. Thank you SO much! I can’t wait to read it (if you select me again – please select another one – I just want to comment).

    To me, meat loaf and casseroles are difficult to photograph. There is just no way to make meat loaf look sexy!

  6. I think for me photographing is hard because my apartment gets very little light when I am home from work, but I think meat is hard to make look good and not dry

  7. For me the hardest food is any kind of pasta. My photos on pasta always look miserable :( maybe because pasta dish kind of messy, so it’s hard for me to make it beautiful.

  8. The hardest food to photograph is casseroles! Ugh! How do you make “messy” look pretty?

  9. Ice cream, for sure. The popsicles or anything on a stick is much easier but assembling scoops then photographing it in time before it melts is difficult.

  10. I think foods that are a lot of the same color are hard to photograph. Like broccoli, not very pretty to photograph after its cooked.

  11. I’m Asian, we eat a lot of rice, so naturally, I think the hardest food to photograph would be rice, especially steamed white rice. Because they it can look washed out and without definition.

  12. Thanks for this post, very helpful. Your dog is adorable! I am new but the hardest things so far have been steak (sliced) and light colored foods.

  13. I just started blogging, so almost everything is hard! I think most savory dishes are hard because sometimes it just looks like globs of food when you try to capture a portion of the dish rather than the dish as a whole.

  14. This is a great tutorial, can’t wait to read the rest of the book. Love your insights! I hate photographing lasagna, it’s just not pretty!

  15. I love this post! I find unattractive dips pale in color to be hardest to photograph for me… making them look as good as they truly taste can be a challenge!

  16. Constructing a more practical, flexible photo set-up has just become a major priority for me. I know what I like in food photography and I’ve got great camera equipment. Now I need to “master” light (mixing natural and artificial as needed), and create a flexible space that provides for a wide variety of shots and angles.

    I agree with the comments above: It’s hard to get good photos of soups and stews, skillet dishes, dark cakes/brownies, and light/white foods, too. Always looking for ways to improve!

  17. White foods like creamy soups or rice… I can work with anything else that has some color, but I’ve avoided things like coconut chicken soup just because I can’t imagine it coming out well. Thanks for such an informative post!

  18. great post. The hardest part of food photography to me are really dark foods. Great post! Hope you had a good weekend!

  19. In my apartment, EVERYTHING is hard to photograph because we get ZERO natural light in there.

  20. I think photographing meals as a whole is hard to do. I like to show the end result of a meal coming together, but often the different elements are mashed against each other or blend into one another and it’s hard to tell what’s what.