Tip Thursday: Food Photography Edition

by: Hannah Queen IMG_6019

One of the easiest and cheapest ways you can improve your food shots is a simple piece of white foam board. It’s dirt cheap, a couple of dollars at the most and you can easily purchase it at a store like Target or an art supply store.

This white board bounces the light back onto your shot, filling in any harsh shadows. It’s best to place it opposite your lighting source, like in the picture above, the light is coming in from the left, so the white board is on the right.

without reflector
without (straight out of camera shot, no editing)

with reflector
with (straight out of camera also)

As you can see, the harsh shadows are gone, giving the shot an overall brighter appearance. The difference is dramatic!

Here’s the final shot, with post processing (which is another post for another day!)


I encourage you to go try this out yourself, if you do, be sure to add your photos to The Kitchen Generation flickr group!

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February 24, 2011 | Print This Post | Share & Bookmark | Font Size: a A | 24 Comments | Leave a Comment

  • Lindsay Jewell
    February 24th, 2011

    Nice tip!

    I’m very interested in a post about your post processing. :)

  • Jenn
    February 24th, 2011

    ha it took me over a year to figure out 1. what a white foam board was called en français and 2. what type of store to find it in. Now that I have successfully acquired my white foam board en Suisse, I use it in EVERY shot. so incredibly useful to combat those harsh shadows! great advice :)

  • Audrey
    February 24th, 2011

    Off to Target (or Staples) tomorrow! Thanks for this great tip.

  • Tweets that mention Tip Thursday: Food Photography Edition | the kitchen generation -- Topsy.com
    February 24th, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hannah Queen and preeturheartout, ktchngeneration. ktchngeneration said: New at The Kitchen Generation, a food photography tip from @honeyandjam! http://bit.ly/ei47gF [...]

  • emily
    February 24th, 2011

    that’s great! thanks. i’m such a photo moron, and so appreciate any hot tip you’re willing to share! i can’t wait to give it a go!

  • Liz
    February 24th, 2011

    It is amazing what a simple piece of white board can do!

  • candleashes
    February 24th, 2011

    the white foamcore is a great tip. i like the shot before processing though, it has more depth and texture.

    Hannah Queen (Editor) Replied:

    i actually do too! i just wanted to show it brightened up a bit more. :)

  • Jennifer @ Licious Food
    February 24th, 2011

    Thanks for the tip! Running out to buy some foamboard …. TODAY! So what do you do on the non sun shiny days?

    Hannah Queen (Editor) Replied:

    these were actually taken on a really overcast/rainy day! if you are close to a window, you can still get well lit photos on those days. :)

  • Chef Froggie
    February 24th, 2011

    Thanks a ton for the tip! I’ll have to try it out now!

  • Cat
    February 25th, 2011

    A piece of card wrapped with tin foil is also a good reflector and will give a different light – slightly brighter

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    February 25th, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more… a white board is so helpful in reflecting some of the light to remove the shadows.

  • Stacy
    February 25th, 2011

    Thanks for the tip! I’m going to get a foam board and try this out!

  • Mochene
    February 25th, 2011

    I agree with candleashes, love the pre-processed shot. Can you include a post about indoor lighting tips? I cook a lot in the evenings and have to shoot after dark. I bought a light which I thought had a good broad-spectrum bulb, but my shots have a lot of blue tones. Still tinkering with camera settings, but I think it would be lovely to get some tips here!


  • Amanda
    February 25th, 2011

    Such a great tip! It really does make a world of difference.

  • Trysha
    February 25th, 2011

    For my birthday all I asked for was a lightbox and foam boards. My dad came through. Now I just need to use them.

  • Toni
    February 25th, 2011

    what? you have a flickr group?! i’m on it….

    (great tutorial hannah! )

  • Ewelina @ guilty pleasures
    February 25th, 2011

    thank you so much for the tips
    wish I had a good camera eh, but still it’s really good to look at your wonderful pictures
    thank you :)

  • Debbie B.
    February 25th, 2011

    Thanks so much for the tip! I’ve been having issues with harsh shadows and this is so helpful. Gonna pick up some white board soon :).

  • Ez
    February 26th, 2011

    Such a great tip! I just recently learned about this myself and it’s been making a huge difference. One added tidbit that I learned from Nicole of Nicole’s Classes is to prop the board up using two floral frogs. Works like a charm!
    Thanks for sharing…and can’t wait for your post processing tips! xo Ez

  • Maria João
    March 5th, 2011

    thank you so much for the tip. I must try this with my photos soon! hope it makes a difference in it :)

  • deeba
    March 10th, 2011

    You guys are a generation apart… and are great fun! Love how you hit the nail on the head! Fresh perspective and great insight! Good luck always!

  • Constance
    June 16th, 2011

    Thank you SO much for this post! I can never seem to get nice natural lit pictures of my food. It’s times like these that I’m glad my mom always has a bunch of art supplies (foam board) lying around the house! I’m trying this tomorrow!

    By the way, as a young food blogger, I must say this blog is very inspiring and makes me want to put a lot more time into my blog.

    Thank you. You can be sure that I’ve bookmarked this blog and will be returning very soon.

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