ynI get asked a lot of questions about my food photography and my recommendations when someone wants to start with their photography. That’s why I believe this list here will be helpful to those of you who are looking for some information for your photography. These products are all things that I use by myself. I do get a small commission from only some of the products you see here at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use. If you do purchase through these links, then I’m really thankful! (It’s anonymous and I really don’t know who should I thank exactly). Hope you enjoy the products.
My camera gear
- Nikon D750 -(I bought the body with a kit lens 24-120 mm because when I bought it, then the kit was just cheaper than the body alone. It’s a nice lens for traveling, but I still prefer lower F numbers. If you would like to buy this lens on its own, then I don’t recommend this lens. There are way better lenses). For food images, I don’t use the 24-120 mm at all (order from Amazon US/ UK).
If you don’t have a camera, then just read some reviews and buy something that is good for your budget. I upgraded to D750 in August 2017. Compare to my old D90 it was a massive upgrade for me.
- NIKKOR 50mm f/ 1.8G AF-S – This is quite a cheap lens if I compare it to other lenses. It might be cheap, but it’s very powerful for food images. I must say that when I started to shoot with this fixed lens my food photography went 100% better. The images were just sharper than before. It costs around 200-250 $ and is much better for food photography than some zoom lens which costs around 1000 $. Most of the time I use this lens for food images (order from Amazon US/ UK);
- Nikon 20mm f/1.8 AF-S – This one I bought mostly to shoot nature images. However, sometimes I use this lens for overhead shots. Especially when I would like to capture the whole table. It’s perfect for gathering images (order from Amazon US/ UK);
- Manfrotto 190X 3 Section Aluminum Tripod– This Manfrotto tripod is the best I have ever have! So far it has been fabulous and steady. I couldn’t wish for more! The tripod I had before was broken, and I used a string to hold the camera on the tripod. Bad idea! (order this Manfrotto from Amazon US/ UK);
- Studio light kit – Usually I use natural light. However, in winter time there is sometimes only about 4-5 hours of daylight in Estonia. There are days when the weather is just so cloudy that it is dark almost all the time. Firstly I just ordered some softboxes, but I realized that it still wasn’t enough and I end up ordering the whole kit. Also, to get some backgrounds for the images. However, I feel that I’m still in the learning process with the studio light (order from Amazon US/ UK);
- Adobe Creative Cloud – When you would like to improve your food photography, then you should never stop learning. If you already don’t know how to edit your images, then you just have to learn how to edit your images. Master Adobe Lightroom. I think it’s the best editing software you can have and I’m not going to hide that it’s my FAVORITE program. Many years ago I tried Picasa or other free software but now it’s only Lightroom! It seems to me that almost everybody is using Adobe Creative Cloud. I do need to pay monthly for this (about 12 euros per month) but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it.
What do you get for that?
- Adobe Lightroom – This is my favorite and I use it almost every day.
- Adobe Photoshop – I don’t use this one as often as Lightroom but it’s still useful.
- Other programs such as Spark and Illustrator that I recently discovered. I mostly use this for graphics (when you would like to edit videos with Adobe Premier, then it’s a little bit more expensive).
- App for your phone – You can quickly edit your images straight on your phone. I honestly can’t image my life without that app.
- Cloud – You can sync your images to the cloud and you can make sure that you will not lose any work and you will always have a backup.
- Adobe Stock – You can purchase images from there. I haven’t used this to purchase images but I can just easily sell my images in Adobe Stock and now it’s even easier to upload the images there.
- Organize images – You will have the best catalog system for all of your images in Lightroom! You can even catalog your hard drive which is one of my favorite parts. There are even options for smart previews which mean that you can be sure that your computer hard drive isn’t full all the time. That means you can have the access to your images all the time and you can even edit. When you connect your computer to your hard drive, then it makes them all the adjustment that you have made with editing.
There are so many places where you can learn Adobe Lightroom. Some of my favorites channels on Youtube are B&H & Adobe Creative Cloud. If you would like to invest in some courses, then you can just go to Udemy (some courses here, here or here).
The problem with Youtube videos most of the time is that there aren’t a lot of structure but with paid courses, you will get everything on your plate with structure. You just have to watch the videos or read about it and you will learn so much about editing. Because almost every photographer is using it, then it’s easier to find courses for this as well. You can learn everything! I still don’t know everything about Lightroom and there are just so many features to explore. In the future, I’m going to take some new courses.
- Photography backgrounds – The truth about backdrops is that you can spend A LOT of money on these. I have seen some online shops where one backdrop costs about 100 to 200 dollars. These backgrounds are amazing and will last forever. However, the international shipping to my place costs about the same price as the board itself. Almost. So, I rather make my own or find some cheap ones. No more than 20 euros. Thanks. In the end, I get tired of them quite quickly.
The only background that you can buy and I can recommend is the cheap “marble” backdrop that costs only about 7 to 10 USD (order from Amazon UK/US). I even have three different marbles. Two white ones and one black “marble” (order from Amazon UK/ US). White is still my favorite and I would like to use it almost all the time.
However, I still suggest you stick the “marble” on some kind of board. Just get some wooden boards or painters canvas and stick this marble to your “board”. Otherwise, it will be rumpled after some time (I have tried to skip that part, but I ended up ordering a new “marble”).
When you would like to improve your food photography, then you should never stop learning. There are so many ways to learn about food photography even for free. YouTube is full of photography tutorials with shooting tips. If you would like to spend some money, then Udemy is also a great place where you can take online courses. When I started, then I spend endless hours on watching videos and learning and I still take online courses. There are some food photography courses in Udemy as well (here). Some are a little bit old but at least you will get the basics for your photography. You just have to watch the videos or read about it and you will learn so much about photography.
If you don’t know anything about photography, then I suggest you start with basics. You can take a basic course and you will learn a lot. When I started then I really struggled with this because I didn’t really want to learn the technical side. I’m usually not good with technology. As you can see in this image 2015 it’s bad. I didn’t shoot this image RAW. There’s a problem with focus, exposure, and light. I shoot this in a dark room and didn’t use manual mode. The image from 2017 I shoot in a RAW file and manual mode. I used natural light and stand next to the window without direct sunlight. The most fun part is that I used the SAME CAMERA!
My list for the future:
- Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 OR Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro – I feel like the macro lens is a food photographer dream. You can get closer and I hope to buy this one soon. Right now I feel like I can’t shoot some images that I would like to capture.
Classic cookbooks & photography books I have, love & recommend:
(It might be weird but I honestly like these classic cookbooks that aren’t “healthy” all the time. I just get some inspiration from these classic recipes. I learn the techniques and try to experiment with healthy options.)
This book is one of my favorites. I agree with the Guardian who said that “there are dozen Italian cookbooks on the market, but The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is the only one you need to buy.” That’s just so true! The book itself is cheap if I compare it to others. It’s a big book and has about 700 pages of pure wisdom. I have had so much inspiration from that book that I can’t even describe it. You can learn about all the essentials of Italian cooking you need to know. It’s one of those books which can just sit on your bookshelf and you can open it whenever you like, and you will always be happy to try new recipes. I prefer to use this as a guide for my inspiration (read my post about recipe development). Many of the ingredients I don’t eat at home, but I can always learn all the techniques that these classic cookbooks offer (order from Bookdepository).
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child ( Volume 1 and 2)
Who doesn’t love Julia Child? Am I right. Even if you didn’t like the film Julia & Julia, you might like the book. Just all the amazing French cooking techniques that you have only heard of. Sometimes I think that it’s almost like a cooking dictionary for French cuisines. All the wisdom from French cuisine is here in English. You don’t even need to learn French to know more about the cuisine. Read some of my posts here, here and here and find out how I have used this book as my inspiration for healthy cooking (order from Bookdepository).
I got this book from my friend as a gift and I must say that it’s one of the best inspiration for creative cooking. You can learn why one flavor works with another and “examine what goes with what, pair by pair.” The book has all popular ingredients alphabetically and sometimes when I think about some combinations, then I just go and read this book. Look at my post here how I experiment with coconut and raspberry combination (order from Bookdepository).
This one is another Italian cookbook. If I could choose only one Italian cookbook, then I would choose the first one I mentioned, but this one is a good one as well. Look at my post here to find out how I used this classic cookbook for a little bit healthier pizza (order from Amazon).
Eat Fat Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health by Dr. Mark Hyman
- I have talked about healthy fats a lot. Look at my posts here and here and find out why I just love this book. That explains very well why we should eat more fat. He has been one of the New York Times #1 bestselling authors. “It turns out, the key to losing weight, increasing overall energy, and achieving optimum wellness is eating more fat, not less.” (Order from Bookdepository).
Baking with Julia by Julia Child (written by Dorien Greenspan)
Just a classic book for everyone who loves to bake. “This is the resource you’ll turn to again and again for all your baking needs.” I use it as an inspiration for my healthy baking. All the good techniques are there (order from Bookdepository).
I must say it’s one of the best travel photography books I have read. Overall it gives you quite basic photography information and tips for travel photography. However, I felt that I can use these tips even for my food photography. It’s all about basic photography. It’s again one of the best-selling books and there have been many editions. It obviously shows how good the book is (order from Bookdepository).
Light is one of the most important things in photography. In food photography, it’s the same. You have to learn about light as much as you could. When I started I used to shoot images in a dark kitchen. When I moved next to the window, then my images went better 100 %. Light makes a big difference even when you have a high-tech gear. This book explains very well almost everything you need to know about light (order from Bookdepository).
Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson
This is a photography book, that explains very well basics. You can use this knowledge for your food photography as well. Just to get that sharpness and contrast in images. I remember when I started, then I didn’t know anything about exposure. Not to mention that I didn’t know what exposure should I use for still food images (order from Bookdepository).
My popular posts about food photography: