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These are the 6 main types of food photography

Creative Geometric Pink Food Photography Of A Bunch Bar With Raspberry Flavour

So, to start, what is food photography? How does a food photo look? Or better yet: how can it look? The answer is: it can be many different things! In this article I dig a little deeper into ways of photographing food.

We see so many images each day. Subconsciously even. If you are interested in food as a topic, chances are marketeers will slap you around the ears with images of food. They will make you hungry, get you cooking, or maybe even annoy you. This food photography overload can be overwhelming if you are looking to have food photos taken by a photographer.

Let me help you outline the basics around ways to photograph food.


1. Product photography or packshots

A product photograph is an image of the product itself. It can be extracted from the background in post-production. These product photos now have a transparency and can be placed on any new color background.

Food product photos can be used for packaging layout. The props and background used, if any,  are mostly predefined and made to fit the layout.

Because of their transparent background, product photos are very flexible in use. Their purpose is to showcase the product for example in webshops, catalogues, folders, etc.

This is a technical type of photography and requires professional lighting, attention to details, styling and photo editing skills. This is why we always shoot product photography in our studio.

2. Advertising

An advertising photo has the purpose to promote a product. They can be used in banners, catalogues, billboards and online ads such as promoted Instagram posts and Facebook Ads.

In most cases, the photographer will work closely with an art director and the client to meet the creative brief.

On some occasions, the photographer gets the responsibility for coming up with the creative concept. This is mostly the case on smaller projects. In our case, Eveline -the photographer- is an experienced graphic designer and cross-media minded creative. She loves to work out a creative concept for advertising campaigns.

product shot of a Devos&Lemmens mayonaise jar with blurred people in the background of the kitchen
bottle of rockhopper rum and a glass on foggy stones


Editorial photography is more about representing a mood. It tells a story.

There are different uses of editorial food photography. For example, an image of a recipe to go alongside text in a cooking magazine, cookbook photography, documentary and the kind of images that just make you go hungry when scrolling through social media.

With editorial food photography, there is a synergy happening between food styling, propping, lighting and composition. When these elements are right, even the most difficult food can look mouthwatering.

3. Product in mood

A product that is sitting in a basket, laid out on a cutting board, packaging with some fresh fruits next to it. They are all representing a mood but they are not processed in a recipe. For example, a jar or marmalade can be accompanied by fresh strawberries to show it is made of fruit. A tea box can have a cup of steaming tea next to it and some empty cups in the background, as to say ‘we are ready to have an afternoon tea with friends’.

food photo by French Beans of three bottles Mirabel syrup in a cosy setting
meat product sliced bacon on a chopping board

4. Recipe

Products that are processed into a recipe are photographed for editorial purposes. This is the type of food photography we as consumers encounter most frequently nowadays. We see it in magazines, cookbooks, social media, brochures, e-mailings, … It is also the most popular type of photography to practice among food photography enthusiasts, hobbyists and bloggers.

stack of american pancakes with Mirabel apple-cinnamon syrupliquid photography by French beans
art photo by french Beans of 3 slices of pizza witch zuchini

5. Lifestyle

A lifestyle image attempts to show the use of a product in a real life situation, often having people in the shot. The key to a good lifestyle image is to make it look as natural as possible, while making the food look good. The product itself is no longer the main subject, but part of the story.

6. Documentary

Reportage or documentary photos are a still of an actual real life situation. The image is not staged but a capture of one specific moment. A photographer can put personality in these images because he chooses what he captures through the lens and what information he leaves out. Mostly a documentary is a series of images combined to tell the story behind the product or food, how it was made, what the origin of its ingredients are etc.

female butcher in a butchery witch fresh sausages hanging from a hook

Now food photography is a popular subject. Whatever category, a good sense of composition, how light works, an eye for detail and understanding of how food behaves are crucial skills a photographer and food stylist must master in order to make a great food photo.

I hope this was an insightful article. If you are looking to photograph your food, send me a message. I am glad to be of service.


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