#AskMahaMonday: Food Photography & Food Styling Tutorial; a look behind the scenes

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Have you ever had trouble setting up, styling and lighting your recipes? Do you ever wonder how professional food photographers do it? Do you have to have a studio to get professional looking photos?

If you've been following my stories on Instagram, you know I am visitng my family in Abu Dhabi and I don't have most of my equipment/props...etc, so in this post, I am taking you behind the scenes of how I styled and phoographed this butterscotch pudding, with simple props I found lying around the house and just natural light!

So, first things first...

The Setup:

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As you can see here, nothing fancy, I found a white wooden tray that I flipped and used as my surface, white foam board as a background and to block some of the light and a window with natural light coming in (this is a south-west facing window not my usual north facing window).

Since I was shooting late afternoon with South-West facing window, the light wasn't very soft and changing fast. This is why I used the foam board to block a portion of the light (you can use a light screen to cover the window I was just in a rush to get the shot done before losing the light completely.

The Props:

I've used glass because I wanted to show the pudding and layer it up with stroopwafels so I needed something transparent, since I didn't have identical glass I chose three tea cups that are different but still look good together (I found them at my sister's place, haha). As for the spoons, these are ones that I have bought from one of the antique shops in Toronto.

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Food Styling:

As I have mentioned previously HERE , I always start by setting up my scene, deciding which angle I am shooting from then style the food accordingly.

In these videos (meant for Instagram stories), you can see how I was adding the pudding carefully to avoid splashes.

If you get any splashes on the glass, you can use a cotton swab to clean it up.

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Taking The Shot:

Knowing that I wanted to take a 45 angle of the pudding to emphasize the top, I took few shots of the pudding and settled on this one as my favourite:

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Since I was happy with the shot, I decided to play around with the styling and add one of the mini stroopwafels on top:

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I think the photo looks even more interesting , don't you agree?

Process Shots:

When taking pictures of your recipes, people are always intrigued and interested in knowing what the texture is like, this is why we like to cut the cake, take a bite or break some biscuits, in this case I took few shots of me digging the spoon into the pudding and pulling it out, because it tells a story and connects my viewers to the recipe even more

Last but not least...

Phone Vs. DSLR

What if you don't use a DSLR, what if you prefer to use your phone or tablet, here are a couple of shots I took with my iPhone X on portrait mode (natural light) to demonstrate that as long as you have good light and well styled food, you can still get a good shot

I think the phone photos look pretty darn good, what about you?

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my work and I how I go about styling and shooting most of the food I share on my website and Instagram  my aim is to simplify the process for you and help you get started. 

Now it's your turn, what did you enjoy the most about this tutorial and what do you want to know more about? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you have any specific question, feel free to submit it HERE

Until next week, 

Much Love, Maha

Maha Munaf

Toronto, Canada

Creative professional passionate about design. Photographer, Architect, Traveler and Lover of coffee & cupcakes!