Decorations and Backgrounds in Food Photography – Tips and Tricks

Decorations and Backgrounds in Food Photography – Tips and Tricks

Food blogs are more popular than ever and social networking websites can be used as sources of pictures of menus, snacks, cakes, soups, and even smoothies. From complicated arrangements lit with professional lighting to the simple picture of a bistro’s daily lunch menu taken with a smartphone, all kinds of food photography photos can be found on the internet. Even cookbooks today rely more on tasty-looking food photos than on the actual recipe ideas. For those of you who like to cook and want to show your tasty creations to the world or just with friends, there are some things to consider to ensure your viewer salivates in anticipation.

Planning and Style

Besides the colours and consistencies of the food to be presented, decorations, backgrounds, dinnerware, and cutlery all play a deciding role. All of these factors combined construe a certain mood in the photo and put the food in the right “context.” In advert photography, professionals work with materials like artificial ice, shaving cream, and all kinds of other unappetising things. This is of course out of the question when you’re planning to eat your scrumptious dish after you’re done photographing. Here, we’ll give you tips on how to best accentuate your food on camera without resorting to using such techniques.

It’s a good idea to already start planning your photo while grocery shopping and to think about how exactly you’re going to cook your dish. Accentuating your finished meal with some of the raw ingredients used to make it are great decorations. You could, for instance, use green herbs, red peppers, white salt, and purple eggplant to create eye-catching contrasts. Depending on the food being presented on the plate, you can arrange your decorations in more of a quiet and classic fashion, or perhaps in a loud and colourful manner. The main thing to keep in mind here is that the food should be the main attraction of the photo; you should also be sure to not try to fit too much into the photo. The food portions shouldn’t be too large and the dish components should look appetising. The style of the photos should be clear and not be too boring. The decorations, dinnerware, and cutlery shouldn’t be too colourful and should also fit the mood of the dish.

Background, Decoration, and Accompaniment

The little touches you add to the dish after the food is done cooking also contribute to the overall quality of your food photos. Accentuate a pasta dish with a nice glass of red wine or perhaps add a cup of coffee or hot cocoa to a piece of cake. The right additions to the main dish depend on your theme and whether the meal is breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


The background in front of which the dinnerware, food, and its accompaniment are presented also plays a very important role. You can easily create a suitable background yourself. You can craft your own backgrounds in the blink of an eye using cardboard, wood, table clothes, cutting boards, and other similar materials. Natural materials, wooden table tops, plywood, as well as slabs made of glass, slate, or marble also make brilliant backgrounds.

You could, for instance, use a bamboo mat to photograph a tasty Asian dish. A dish with wild game could be showcased on a slate plate while a smoothie is best accentuated in front of light wood.


Homey or Modern

The ingredients of the dish (such as fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs) decide what kind of background you should use as well as how you should arrange it: rustic or modern, warm or cool, or a summer or winter feel. The colours and materials you decide to use are key factors.

Wood, pottery or dinnerware painted with flowers, warm colours, and ornate silverware create a cosy atmosphere associated with homes in the countryside. The dishes photographed in this fashion appear very natural and original. Accordingly, traditional and classic dishes as well as fruit and vegetables are perfect for this kind of background. You can also use enamel kitchenware to beautify the photo that much more. The decorative elements, dinnerware, and even the surfaces in front of which you shoot your photos can even be a little irregular or damaged, aka “shabby chic.”

Your photos can appear quite different when you decide to give them more of a modern touch. The same dishes will be showcased in a completely different light and the overall mood of the images will be a bit colder. When photographing in this style, it’s best to use white dinnerware made of porcelain in classic or angular shapes. Black or white smooth surfaces combined with elegant modern silverware, wine glasses, and single-colour serviettes complete the setting.

International Dishes

Asian dishes like sushi are best presented when fitting accompaniment is also used in the photo. A black background combined with chopsticks, soy sauce, and an organised arrangement are perfect for accentuating your culinary creation. Asian noodle and rice dishes are best photographed on elegant black plates or in dark-coloured woks. In the background you can also use a natural stone slab or a bamboo mat.


Oriental dishes and curries can be arranged on beautiful plates and bowls with colourful decorations and floral patterns. Rice, bread, and other side dishes can accompany the main dish in bowls in the background. Sprinkle on some fresh herbs and place some silver cutlery to the side – that’s all it takes to create the perfect motif for you to photograph.


Extra Elements in Your Photo

If you end up photographing food often, you’ll always be on the lookout for new possible ways to present your cuisine. One idea to bring a bit of movement and creativity to your photos is to bring people into the mix. You could, for instance, photograph someone wearing thick winter gloves holding a warm bowl of soup, someone licking ice cream in a cone, or even someone cutting a delicious-looking cake. The focus here should still be on the food even when you use people in your photos. Try it out for yourself and you’ll be surprised at what kind of brilliant photos you’ll end up with.

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