Looking for photography styling tips? These 11 tips will take your amazing photography to the next level. From lighting to prop placement and more.

Shooting your own photo? Here are 11 photography hacks to get perfect shots, every time.

A cookbook photoshoot using nectarine and honey tarts photography styling tips

I have always been a little in awe of my friend, Lisa.

She writes a blog with the most amazing photographs.

Not like a little amazing….like the kind of amazing where you study her photos and think to yourself, why didn’t I stack the plates on a cutting board and add a kind of fuzzy bottle of milk and finish off the scene with sprinkles?


Well today Lisa is going to tell us all about the why and the how and behind the scenes and tons of photography styling tips.  It’s just like a mini class with beautiful pictures.  She’s going to share her top 11 tips for getting photos to look like the one I just posted above.

And one more thing.  As you read the tips…you might notice the occasional aside in parenthesis.

That’s me.

And my two cents.

We can’t miss a blog post.  🙂

Take it away, Lisa.

Styling food photo shoots is all about lighting and angles, like for this peach cobbler photo shoot photography styling tips

11 amazing photography styling tips

When KariAnne asked me share a few food photography tips, I was honored and honestly a little nervous too because I’m not an expert. I still struggle with all the things about photography that you probably struggle with too. However, I have found a handful of things that work well for me and I’m happy to share 11 of my favorite tips with you today.

(total aside:  See how sweet she is?  That picture totally does not look like it’s struggling.)

The textures in these photos are created from different wooden elements like plates and cutting boards photography styling tips

1. Collect textured wood, cutting boards, crates, large floor tiles and trays

I think some of my most appealing photos include textures backdrops and accessories that compliment my food. It’s amazing how a little piece of wood peeking out from under a dish can make a difference in the photo.

(total aside:  Note to self.  Gas station pizza would photograph so much better on an antique cutting board.)

Eclectic and colorful dishes can make a photoshoot more vibrant and interesting photography styling tips

2. Shop flea markets, and specialty shops for vintage dishes and linens

Keep your eyes peeled at those flea markets for vintage bowls, plates or other unusual props and rustic fabrics, linens and lace that can be used to enhance your shots and add texture and interest to the overall presentation.

(total aside:  I want that clock plate.  Oh…and those stirrer things.)

Using props like spoons and napkins help set the scene for this mini blueberry cobbler photoshoot photography styling tips

3. Great props are right under your nose

I found a stack of old backing trays in my mom’s basement. You know the kind that has that fantastic burned-in seasoning? I’m so glad I got wind of them before she tossed them. Definitely raid your mom’s cabinet for gems like this.

(total aside:  Seriously.  This picture.  Makes. Me. Sigh.  Do you think it’s the tiny bit of blueberry dripping down the edge?)

lisas photo tips boards
Use props in your food styling shoots like utensils, pots and pans, cutting boards, or other kitchen items that add to the style of the shoot

4. Use white foam core and black foam core boards

You can find foam core at most office supply or craft stores. They’re like poster boards but thicker. I use the white boards to help throw light onto my subjects. Try using the black foam core as a dark background for your food photos.

These muffins are brightened up by using foam boards to reflect light into the subject of the shoot

5. Seek out natural light

Find a good window with streaming natural light. I have identified two windows in my house that provide great light at different times of day. My family looks at me like I’m crazy when they see me carrying fancy foods to an upstairs bedroom but that’s where some of the best light is located.

(total aside:  Also remember that your rooms photograph differently depending on the weather outside.  I have a dining room that never met a cloudy day it didn’t like.)

Natural light is a great resource for photoshoots when you find a great source that works with your setting

This large window lets in a lot of natural light that brightens up the table scene with a copper potted plant

6.  Invest in a diffuser

I also use a diffuser (available at any camera store) to help soften the window light which can be pretty harsh sometimes.  You can also use a sheer, white curtain to get the same effect.  A step stool will help you to position yourself directly above your subject for that overhead shot.

(total aside:  Remember not to photograph yourself in the copper.  Especially if you are having a bad hair day.)

A light diffuser and black foam core gives this kitchen scene perfect lighting

This baking scene with eggs, brownie batter and butter has perfect lighting from a light diffuser and black foam core board set up

7. Crumbs, spills and strategically placed berries are a good thing

Whatever food I’m shooting, I often take some of it and sprinkle a little on the side of the dish for a more natural, read-to-eat type of presentation.

If you’re featuring berries-drop some berries around the plate. If you’re shooting a dish with flour, sprinkle some around the plate for that natural, lived-in look.

These food scenes look natural and perfectly messy with well placed crumbs

8. Layer the elements in the photo

Try to imagine that the entire setting is divided into horizontal planes that build out from your main subject. These horizontal planes can in the front OR the back of your main subject. Fill-in these “planes” with small props, dishes, crumbs, pieces of fabric, etc. This layering effect will give your food photos, dimension and visual interest.

Depending on your lens and aperture the props within the “planes” that surround your main subject may be blurred but that can be a nice effect too.

 (total aside:  She made leaves from pie crust.  Be still my heart.)

Layer items like napkins, plates and cookies to give the photo depth

 9. Use photo editing software

I used to think that using photo editing software was somehow cheating. Then I realized that just about every one of my favorite photographers edits shots. It’s OK to tweak your photos with programs like Photoshop, Lightroom and/or others.

In the photo below, I used Photoshop to adjust color, exposure and sharpening to make the finished picture more appealing.

Big difference in the before and after, huh?

(total aside:  You can always use PicMonkey, too.  Great place to start.)

Using photo editing software to adjust photos helps with lighting, sharpness, and other details that make your photos look even more amazing

10. Study food magazines and favorite photo/food blogs and even cooking catalogs

I’ll buy a cookbook or food magazine in a minute if I love the photos. Also, don’t toss those Williams-Sonoma catalogs until you’ve browsed them for styling ideas too.

Check out WS’s cheeseburger on the left and my pulled pork version on the right.

Taking tips from cookbooks and other food photoshoots is an amazing photography tip to help improve your skills

11. Use a tripod and practice often

Finally, a tripod will help prevent accidental camera movement which causes blurry photos. Use one whenever you can. Of course, these photography styling tips won’t mean anything if you don’t practice, practice and then, practice some more.

(total aside:  I am living proof of a tripod works.  I owe all the pictures on my blog to my tripod.)

This bowl of chili is shot with a tripod, giving stability and height to the photo

By the way, I’ve written quite a few posts on photography, styling, building photo backdrops and more on my blog.

Pop by for more easy tips and food styling inspiration.

(total aside:  She’s right.  You don’t want to miss these posts. I’ve listed some of my favorites below.)

How to make photo backdrop boards

How to use dishes in food photography

Props for photography

Rustic find and vintage props

PS  Thank you, Lisa.

You are amazing.


You can find Lisa over at her blog, Celebrate Creativity, every day. If you get a minute, stop by and tell her hello.

Happy day friends. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

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  1. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Ooo, pretty. I guess I'm lazy? Better get with it if I want to improve my photos. Heh. Hm, I think I'm going to pop over and read more. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Image for Amy W. Amy W.

    This blog post was great.....and your comments as always were funny and amazing! Thanks and have a super great weekend!

  3. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    WOW beautiful pictures and great tips. I photograph my hand spun yarn and I do have some vintage items that would be cool in a picture with them. Great ideas…Thanks!!!!! Love the pictures too!!

  4. Image for jae jae

    I subscribe to, and adore, both blogs, yours and Lisa's! She always has the most incredible imagery.....and you make me smile, and laugh! Thanks to both of you!

  5. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Thank you both!! I follow Lisa and may I say I wouldn't miss her post or Miz KariAnne. You both are amazing with your photography and I do study them. The food shots are so appealing -- I was busy studying the lighting and the placement of the props and food I couldn't figure out why my tummy was growling. Obviously tummy was busy studying the delicious looking food. Thanks again and I'm going back to restudy the tips and techniques. Oh!! I am going to see if I can't get a really good top to my tripod -- you know one that has one of the ball jointy things that lets the camera go in all different angles. Have a great weekend. I'd better eat something so my tummy will let me concentrate on photo study. :-)

  6. Image for Barbara Ann Barbara Ann

    Thank you for bringing such a great artist to us. Great tips. I have an etsy shop and there always pushing to photograph items against an all white background. But I sell vintage. And it looks much better staged. I like to show buyers the items how they could use the items. I feel if I can spark an idea that appeals to them, I might get a sale. And I too drag all my items all over the house for the right light. Did you share what type of camera you use? Thank you both! Barbara Ann etsy.com / shop / barbaraannscreations

  7. Image for Marie@The Interior Frugalista Marie@The Interior Frugalista

    Fabulous tips! I've been taking notes while reading this post. Wowee, I'm so glad you shared Lisa's stunning photography with us today Kerri-Anne! As much as I find my tripod to be a pain in the (you know what) it has become my best photography friend because this coffee lov'n blogger shakes like a bobble head.

  8. Image for shelley shelley

    Karianne, I just love you and all your total aside notes...you always know how to make me laugh or smile or cry...Your guest blogger was pretty awesome, but It's you I come to visit everyday... Blessing, Shelley

  9. Image for Heather C Heather C

    I guess I have been taking the photos for granted, thanks to Lisa and your blog today, I'll not be so cavalier. But Karianne, you're no slouch either, I love reading and looking at everything you do. I too like the clock plate!

  10. Image for Judy Pimperl Judy Pimperl

    I needed this! Thank you so much for sharing your friend and her talent with us Karianne! And, thank you Lisa, for the tips. I will begin using some of them immediately! Judypimperl.blogspot.com

  11. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    Thank you so much for sharing these insider photography tips! I'm just getting interested in photography, and I can't believe that you're sharing this with us, because just this week I've been working on my own "Summertime Table." I literally went back and forth between blogs, studying the details of the tables for the Mikasa giveaway, noting the particular perspectives of each picture. I couldn't help noticing that your (first) shot included the most details (which in my book is a good thing, since I am detail oriented). For instance, I can see the shape of the table, as well as the head chair, and one side chair, along with your sideboard, and also your beautiful smocked drapes...and of course the dishes and details on the surface of the table. Nice job! Your pictures are truly the most appealing I've discovered because they are so crisp. Thanks again for sharing and for asking your friend to share, Karianne!

  12. Image for Peg Peg

    Thank you for bringing us this wonderful talent! I cannot believe that Lisa doesn't consider herself a professional...she.is.absolutely.amazing!!! I, too, enjoy all of your guest bloggers, but it's you I come to see. You always make me laugh and smile. : )

  13. Image for COLLEEN COLLEEN

    As always your little tidbits bring a smile to my face and heart and I too love those clock plates (did you find out where to get them)? Thank you for introducing me to Lisa's blog; I truly a loyal follower will be. She is really gifted, I didn't know where to look-- the props, the food. Help my mouth is drooling over the berries and my tummy is saying go get some. Thanks Again

  14. Image for Susan Susan

    Thank you so very much for sharing Lisa's photography tips with us, KariAnne...they are truly amazing...I have taken note of each one and have bookmarked this page so I can return to this post for when I need a refresher, which will probably be quite often as my mind is like Swiss cheese at times...hehe! I only wish I could look at these gorgeous photos without suddenly craving something sweet and decadent...because, oh my goodness...YUM! :)

  15. Image for Shonee Shonee

    What lovely tips!! I love the one specifically about layering. It really does make the picture pop to have multiple layers. Also, I read your post about using a tripod months ago and it literally change my life!! haha. I have been using my tripod exclusively now. Thanks! -Shonee www.hawthorneandmain.com

  16. Image for Jillynn Jillynn

    This is so great!!!! You should see pictures from when I started my blog 5 months ago!!!! They have come a long way but I still have TONS to learn and practice;-) All I have learned has been from posts like this!!!! Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!!! Food I am getting better at but projects and rooms... not so much;-)

  17. Image for Shelly@ConfettiStyle Shelly@ConfettiStyle

    KariAnn, Thanks so much for having Lisa guest post and share all of these fabulous photography tips. While I don't shoot much food, these tips can definitely be used for shootting home decor items too! I'm missing Haven this year so have fun for both of us! Shelly

  18. Image for Michelle James Michelle James

    I am not a food blogger but I love to get all of the great pointers. I sometimes need a close shot of my crafty items. I really need to get a better camera though. Thanks so much for all of these tips. I learned a lot!!

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