5 Tasty Food Photography Tips When Traveling Abroad

This weeks Travel Tip comes from a pal of mine, Sarah, who lives in New York. She is a really cool designer and her work can be seen at the famous Amusement park Disney in the US of A. Without futher ado, here she is with her tips on Food Photography and Travel.

5 Tips on Food Photography

Have you ever had a moment where you’re eating something special and wish you could photograph your food a certain way? I admit it, I do! Anytime I travel to a foreign city or a new restaurant I want to try out their very best foods. I want the food to be photographed as appetizing as it can be when I whip out my camera.

Food photography can be challenging but photography poses challenges in every scenario. I want the food photo to speak for itself and tell it’s story at the given location. A really good food photo makes you hungry again and makes you want to go back for more. It may take a little practice, but having some great traveling food photos and stories to share with your family & friends is great. So if you’re looking for tips on how to take better food photos when you travel check out these 5 quick tips.

1– Lighting


Natural light is a great tip to beautiful food photography. Try to take advantage of the natural light by having your meal near the window or outside seating if possible. Try avoid flash and use as much as natural light if you can. Flash photos usually flattens the food photo out.

2– Experiment

To me experimentation increases my chance of getting the quality I want. So make the most of the shots before you take your first bites. Try portrait and landscape when shooting, jazz up the viewfinder a little bit. It may create different kinds of croppings and angles. Don’t be shy to take the shots. Sometimes the best shot is the one you don’t expect.

3– Depth of Field


Shallow depth of field is great when it comes to food photography. It separates the food against the background. This allows you to focus on the food itself more. If you’re using an SLR camera, I would recommend a 50mm f1.8 for food. It’s fast and more zoomed in.

4– Details

Always pay attention to small details. Sometime these small details are essential to tell the story at the given location or place. It can be a small fork or special plate that that remind you of a city or a town. Perhaps capturing a bit of the interior of a restaurant conveys the intimacy and warmth that you experienced. It does make a big difference when it comes to traveling abroad. The details can reflect where you have been. It’s like a visual record for your travel memories.

5– Composition


Composition is one of the main keys of great food photography. It needs perspective or texture or maybe even a background to enhance a photograph. Sometimes, the complete opposite is best – nothing but the subject matter in sight. Take for example this simple plated dessert. It commands your attention immediately!

About this week’s Guestwriter:

Sarah Wu is an interactive designer & art director based in New York. She draws on her diverse experience to design and develop interactive campaigns and branded online experiences that are both innovative and technology-driven.

Currently working full-time as a lead designer in Disney, but she is actively pursuing freelance projects to breathe life into!

Follow Sarah on Twitter:@swgraphic

Check out Sarah’s website: SW Design and Art Direction


  • I agreee wholeheatedly with here. And yes Lighting is #1!!! without it everything else fails. Good little pointers Sarah! I’ll look up for her on twitter.

  • Marcky says:

    Points to note on the 50mm f/1.8 (of any model):

    1. Minimum focus distance limits close up shots (you can’t focus very closely at all).
    2. You need to stop it down a little, usually to f2.8-4.0 (I find it best at 2.5-3.5, depending on the shot).
    3. No stabilization means you need a faster shutter speed, which means you need very good lighting. Not a real issue but stabilization helps.

    Points to note about flash lighting:

    1. Flash *usually* flattens out food, but with the right equipment and skill, it can come out beautiful.
    2. Sometimes we don’t have natural light, especially in the evenings or at night.

    All that being said, I actually shoot exclusively with a 50mm f/1.8 (for now) and my flash gun is collecting dust. I’m not antithesizing your points, though, just highlighting a few points that might be useful to know.

    Useful post!

  • ayngelina says:

    Love Sarah’s work so I was happy to see this post. I have the 50mm 1.4 and agree with @Marcky that my best photos usually are 2.8+.

    I knew all of these but they were such great reminders, especially #4 as I’m traveling in South America all those background details really make the photo.

    Thanks Sarah – you rock!

  • Brother B says:

    Wow, Sarah does live in living colours – all in full technicolour glory

  • LeslieTravel says:

    Sarah- thanks for the tips! This is very helpful. I know how challenging it is to take good food photos (I haven’t mastered it yet). I’ll try the settings and techniques you mentioned 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Aww Thank you for everyone’s lovely comments and for letting me be a guest on your site. I agree that 2.8+ is great f-stop for pictures. I have been using prime lens and I’m crazy in love with them. I think it forces me to be more creative by standing up and walking back and forth. I would love to get a zoom lens if I can saved up for the L series, haha. Anyways we’re all in love when it comes to good food, right? YUM*

  • Erica says:

    I have a nasty habit of eating my food before I think about taking pictures of it. I have a 50mm 1.8 but my stomach has always won over photography.

    Beautiful work Sarah!

  • SUPER helpful tips for a photography-amateur! Thanks

  • Very helpful tips last but not least, practice makes perfect. The more familiar with your camera and the more photos you take will help improve your photography skill:D This is a never ending learning process:D

  • I suck at taking pics of food. My girlfriend is way better in this, so I need her beside me, when I’m on a foodventure 😛 Thanks for the useful tips. You will be linked.

  • Very impressive. I love everything about Sarah’s shots and this list is proof. I will say these tips will definitely help, but talent is the main reason and Sarah has it in spades.

  • Poi says:

    I agree with Erica, we always mean to take pictures of the street food we eat but normally we’re so hungry it slips our minds before we get a chance! I’ll keep these in mind though!

  • Kiran says:

    Thanks for the tips Sarah 🙂 I’m a Malaysian living just a few miles away from Disney Orlando. Gimme a shout out whenever you are visiting Florida 🙂

  • Tran says:

    i always ask myself what is the thing that makes a particular dish good and try to capture that. usually involves melting butter or pools of grease. great tips….

  • Juno says:

    Important tip. Food photography is one of the thing I really can’t do. I I’ll keep those five in mind! 🙂 Thumbs up for both of you!

  • Kristy says:

    Sarah, awesome posts- wanna come eat with me??? Bring your camera, I will bring the food! (oh but you need to get over here!!!)

  • Andrey says:

    Thank you so much for the tips

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