Food Photography

5 Steps To Discover Your Food Photography Style

With so many photographers out there, what sets us apart is our style and personality. As a new photographer it is often something you think about. You most likely have gotten into food photography as you have been inspired or moved (maybe even both) by your favourite photographers/artists, and are now asking yourself, what’s my style?

Discover Your Food Photography Style

At the point where you decide that you want to be a photographer, whether professional or as a hobby, something shifts within you and you’re eager to start creating imagery, stories, works of art. Yet at the beginning, something is missing. You stare at the images and they don’t quite feel right. Not to say that you aren’t proud of the work you’re producing or how you are progressing, but they images don’t quite feel like yours yet.

Finding your style in photography is like any worthwhile relationship. It takes time to build.

I started shooting 3.5 years ago, and I can honestly say that it’s taken me 2.5 years to find my style. I know what you’re thinking – are you serious, stuff that! Don’t mistake me here, during those 2.5 years I was on an incredible journey, I shot a lot of great stuff and images that I am still proud of. I believe that your creative style in photography is like fashion, it’s never finished and always evolving. I find that exciting. Just like life, it is about the journey and not the destination.

I have always been drawn to images images that have a powerful impact, so I’d say my style is Bold and Clean. This approach focuses intently on the food, emphasising its beauty with few distractions, like highly stylised sets or props. The idea behind it is that the food is the focus. It is styled in a way that focuses on interesting details within the food itself and leaves the viewer with a powerful connection. I like to use a lot of negative space, and although my images are usually bright, I focus more on highlights and soft shadows to create my work.

Let’s begin your journey to unleashing the style within.

5 Steps to Discover Your Food Photography Style | Starting to wonder when that so called 'style' will appear in your food photography images? Here is 5 steps to discover your style. Perfect for new food photographers, food bloggers and those looking for something new. Click through to read.


Get Comfortable with Technique

I think food photographers have a tough gig. There are so many elements that go into the craft and many food photographers juggle them all. Photography technique, styling and quality, good looking food are the three points on the triangle you’ll need for great food photography. There are differing opinions as to what matters the most out of the three, but in my mind the first and most important is technique. You are a photographer first and foremost. Understanding and nailing your technique should be your starting point.

If you are a beginner, you’ll want to start with nailing the basics and getting so comfortable with them that it becomes second nature. My love affair was sparked when I read Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin, I highly recommend getting your hands on it if you are passionate about food photography.

Until you have this figured out, your style won’t be able to be fully developed.

There is a multitude of photography techniques out there, and even if you are a professional looking to develop, you’ll want to get comfortable with a new technique before you’ll see a shift in your results.

I started an A-Z project with fruits and vegetables to focus on technique and blogged about it on my old site. (Whilst the images were absolutely horrendous, it was quite a bit of fun).

5 Steps to Discover Your Food Photography Style | Starting to wonder when that so called 'style' will appear in your food photography images? Here is 5 steps to discover your style. Perfect for new food photographers, food bloggers and those looking for something new. Click through to read.

5 Steps to Discover Your Food Photography Style | Starting to wonder when that so called 'style' will appear in your food photography images? Here is 5 steps to discover your style. Perfect for new food photographers, food bloggers and those looking for something new. Click through to read.


Inspiration, Find what Moves You

There’s so much advice out there about not looking at other people’s work for how to find your style? I just don’t get that. How else will you find a style and type of photography that really moves you?

Inspiration is definitely all around us, all the time and it can take a keen and well trained eye to find it. When you find that image that really moves you, gets that fire burning inside of you, that’s when you know you are on the right path to unleashing your style. That doesn’t then give you permission to go and copy that image – for me it means you will challenge your composition continually until you feel that same feeling.

Pinterest was the thing that did it for me. I pinned and looked at hundreds of images everyday, and started to notice my composition was evolving. Subconsciously you start to absorb it all, and it starts to get released slowly along the way.



Reading Images

When you find images that you love and move you, pin point the ‘what’ it is about the image that intrigues you so much. These will be the elements that you’ll want to pursue on your journey to finding your style now that technique is becoming second nature.

What exactly do I mean by ‘reading images’? Reading the image is a way to determine how the photographer captured and styled the shot.

Ask yourself:
What angle is this shot at? (Straight on, 45 degrees, overhead)
What depth of field has been used?
Where is the light coming from? (side light, backlight)
Are there shadows and are they harsh or diffused?
Is the image bright or dark?
What props has the photographer used?
Is the image highly stylised, or minimalist?
What interesting details are present in the food?
What textures are present in the props and background?

Look at all the images that really speak to you and work out if there is a trend in these elements you are reading.

I collected similar images, mostly through Pinterest and would read their elements to find out what it was about the elements that I liked.

5 Steps to Discover Your Food Photography Style | Starting to wonder when that so called 'style' will appear in your food photography images? Here is 5 steps to discover your style. Perfect for new food photographers, food bloggers and those looking for something new. Click through to read.


5 Steps to Discover Your Food Photography Style | Starting to wonder when that so called 'style' will appear in your food photography images? Here is 5 steps to discover your style. Perfect for new food photographers, food bloggers and those looking for something new. Click through to read.


Do It Better

This sentence has resonated with me and was really powerful in fining my style. In The Passionate Photographer by Steve Simon, Steve made an interesting point that there are very limited new ideas out there in photography that haven’t been explored, (maybe that saddens you?), but the greatest thing is that there is only one you and no one can do it like you can.

Once you have read a bunch of images that you connect with, pick some of the elements to play around with – do it better. The point is not to necessarily be ground breaking, but create something better by letting the process be true to you. Stick with exploring the elements that interest you, not all of the image features, and over time you’ll start to see a pattern with how you execute those elements. (This will be your style, finally).

Please note: There is a fine line between copying an another photographers work and using the elements of an image as a base to explore. I think all honest and passionate photographers know the difference and are more interested in what they can create, but make sure frustration doesn’t entice you to take the easy road.

Once a week I would take the elements that I was drawn to and put them into practice with a simple type of food. Something that was already pretty and didn’t need to much styling. Bakes goods always work a treat. You don’t even need to make them yourself!



Act, Practice and Enjoy

Good news, bad news? If you’re like me and a lot of humans, we just want to read something, take something or have magic wand and boom. We are better or proficient at something.

Finding your style doesn’t happen that way. Good news is that photography is a journey and there will be many hours with your camera and editing that you will simply just enjoy. Bad news is that your first 10,000-15,000 images will be your worst. So you’ll want to get cracking on snapping away that number.

Practicing photography should be enjoyable and the best way to do this is to find or create a project you are not only passionate about, but one that is going to challenge you.

I think the turning point for me in terms of finding what style I really wanted to shoot was when I shot an entire cook book with 55+ recipes in 5 weeks. With almost no budget and little time, I created some great images, but deep down I knew they weren’t exactly what made my heart sing. It was through this challenging project I worked out what it was I really wanted to create.


5 Steps to Discover Your Food Photography Style | Starting to wonder when that so called 'style' will appear in your food photography images? Here is 5 steps to discover your style. Perfect for new food photographers, food bloggers and those looking for something new. Click through to read.

5 Actions to Discover Your Food Photography Style

1 – Read Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardan

If you are looking for a one stop shop for Food Photography technique, this book will get you on your way. I highly recommend it for beginning food photographers.

2 – Create inspiration boards on Pinterest

If you don’t already have Food Photography inspiration boards on Pinterest, set one up now! Make sure to pin images you can aspire to create, so they must be luxury, highly technical images. Check out my Pinterest page for ideas!

3 – Find elements in images that interest you

Once you have your Pinterest board set up, pick a couple of similar images and find out what those elements are. Write them down in order of difficulty (if you can) and interest.

4 – Put those elements into practice

Put regular time aside to practice those elements that you wrote down. This might include doing a bit of research online and practice. Get your hands one some delicious baked goods, cakes, cupcakes, sourdough loaves, they make for simple and beautiful subjects so you can focus on exploring the elements.

5 – Create a project to practice those elements

Once you have put some time aside to explore those elements, create yourself a project for you to practice and build upon. This might look like working on an image for your Instagram daily, a 365 day project on your blog or an A-Z project undertaken each week.

Remember to have fun and frustration is a sign that you are challenging yourself. So make sure not to be too hard on yourself.


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  • Reply Becky Winkler September 30, 2015 at 3:45 am

    Great post! I love these ideas, and you’ve inspired me to revisit the Pinterest board I already have for food photography and really nail down what moves me about each image.

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 1, 2015 at 7:04 am

      Hey Becky – this is so great to hear. I wish you the best of luck with it and I’d love to know how this goes for you. I have taken a peek at your Pinterest board and it looks fab. Some great ideas in there. Keep in touch!

  • Reply Susan September 30, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Thanks for the post – really useful. I think I’m still in the pre-figuring out my style phase. I’m still a bit all over the place in terms of trying for different images and have multiple folders for favourite images, generally divided into ‘rustic’, ‘light’, ‘dark’ and ‘dramatic’. You can see it’s going to be hard to find MY style in all of that!

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 1, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Hey Susan, I am so pleased to hear that you got something out of this. It sounds like it might be a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. I’d bet within all of those photos there would be some similar elements that you can focus on. That might be as simple as the way they style their food or props, the movement the shot creates, the mood, so many things. I do love bright images, but I also am drawn to dark. The constant in both of those is the use of highlights. I just love highlights. So whilst I might shoot a dark image, I feel it is still my style because of the way I capture them.I’d be more than happy to chat to you about the elements in these photos if that would make a difference to the journey you are on. Anytime, flick me an email Remember there is no right or wrong here!

      • Reply Susan October 26, 2015 at 2:18 am

        Hi Rachel. Just wanted to say a massive ‘thank you’ for your generous and thoughtful advice regarding my food photography. You’ve provided a clear pathway to help guide me towards better food photos and I’m so excited to get started! You’re the best!!

  • Reply Monika September 30, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Thank you for your courage! I tend to be impatient and sometimes frustrated when my pictures do not look like I imagined. But it needs time and practise and I already see the difference in my pictures now and 2 -3 years before. You just have to keep trying, look around and get inspired every day…

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 1, 2015 at 7:10 am

      Hey Monika! You are welcome, thank you for sharing this. I totally feel frustrated ALL the time, and that usually means that I am pushing myself and trying something that I am not completely comfortable with, which is when we grow. Actions is always better then inaction and will lead you closer to where you want to be. I am so pleased to hear that you can see a difference in your pics. Best of luck!

  • Reply Kiki September 30, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    What a great post, Rachel Jane! As you know, I’ve been following for the past 3 years, and it was you who made me pick up Plate To Pixel after I had stopped at the first chapter. I’ve been admiring your photography all this time, especially how it developed and turned out so beautiful.

    Personally, I’ve been stuck in a rut with my own photography for a while, because I felt I couldn’t get my visions into a picture. I didn’t know if what I currently do has become my style because of a lack of imagination or if it’s a case of not knowing how to take the next step. What I do know is that I don’t really want it to be my style, I want to develop it. By "it" I mean all three elements – photography, styling and props.

    I’ve actually just come back from a food photography workshop with Helene Dujardin, and I have a lot to think about. I know it will take some (even a lot) of time for me to process everything I learned there, and your post couldn’t have come at a better time to assist in this thought process, so thank you for that and the great timing!

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 1, 2015 at 7:15 am

      Hey Kiki, I am thrilled (and slightly jealous) that you attended her workshop! Good for you. I am sure that you have a lot to process, and I have taken a well overdue peek at your blog today and I can totally see a massive improvement in your technique. You should be so proud of yourself. I don’t think that you lack imagine, I think (for me at least), when one lacks direction or organisation, that makes us struggle with the work we want to produce. If you ever want to chat about how to take the next step, or even what that might look like for you, please shoot me an email. I would love nothing more than to chat to you about it. Sometimes it just takes an outside perspective to see something that we are blind to because we have been staring at it for too long! Anytime,

      Please keep in touch and let me know how you go!

      • Reply Kiki October 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

        Thank you so much for your offer to chat! I’d really love to do that, and once I’m home and have started processing what I’ve learned, I’m sure I’ll appreciate a chat as well as advice, especially from someone whose pictures I adore!Talk to you soon.

  • Reply Karene' October 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Rachel Jane, I love the way you broke this all down into manageable steps. I’ve been shooting for many years, but it took me a really long time to realise that you can’t find your style inside of you, while sitting in a vacuum, but that you need to open yourself up – be eclectic, look at what everyone else is doing and absorb bits that feel right. We need to learn from others all the time. Everyone absorbs different things, which keeps us all slightly different. Then a little bit of gut feel can come into it after you’ve found your way. You’ve summed up a wonderful reminder of the process. I think it is an ever-growing process that I need to return to regularly. I love your clean, serene style. Good to be hearing from you again.(Very jealous of the Helene Dujardin workshop too! )

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 9, 2015 at 3:54 am

      Hi Karene, It’s so great to hear from someone who has been shooting for some time! You are totally right and I love how you have expressed finding style as opening yourself up and being eclectic. Everyone does absorb things differently, that is so very true. I think writing this post has allowed (and reminded me) that it is all a journey and I need to keep creating and pushing myself and this is the exact process I need to walk through to get there.

  • Reply Jo October 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Each this post is BRILLIANT!! I think its hard sometimes to even recognize your own style because you know everything that went into a shot and you’re not just seeing the finished product. I was shocked when someone told me that when they one of my Insta posts they know right away its my photo – I think I have the most inconsistent style because I love trying new things and exploring – much like what I love it life : Variety. Do you think its important to have and stick to a particular style or be adaptable especially when it comes to working with different clients needs? I know I feel way better about my work I am producing photos of a consistent quality. Plate to Pixel is what got me started too!!!

    • Reply Jo October 1, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      Silly auto correct – Rach not each!! 🙂

      • Reply Rachel Jane October 4, 2015 at 4:32 am

        Haha, I know. This happens a lot. It drives my husband crazy!

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 4, 2015 at 4:31 am

      Thanks Jo! So pleased you enjoyed it. It is funny, sometimes we are so involved in the work that we produce we find it hard to look at it for what it is. I totally would be able to pick which images are yours, as I know what your ‘look’ is or when your work reflects you. I do often wonder if people would be able to do the same for my work!

      I definitely think that one needs to adaptable and flexible to shoot varying client needs, however the work will always reflect the direction of your style. I think clients approach certain photographers because they want their project to be executed with your eye and artistic visions. If someone approached me with a concept that I didn’t think was within my realm of ability, I’d have a conversation with the client to set expectations and what the work would look like if I executed it.

  • Reply Aysegul Sanford October 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Dearest Rachel,These are incredibly helpful techniques. I totally agree about the fact that it takes time. And most of the time we do not like this fact, but it is a reality.When I started back in 2013, I had a couple of people that I admired but as time went by I immersed myself in the community and started liking people who are completely different. At times it was (and still is) a painful process, but in a way it is almost like learning about yourself and how you see the world. I did benefit so much from Helene DuJardin’s book as well. I still follow her to this day and she is always amazing. Another book that I learned from was called "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon. It talks about what you said – Learn from others work by analyzing and trying to figure out what you like about them and apply those things to your own work. It was such an eye opener for me. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. Your style is one that I admire and learn from regularly.Sending lots of Caribbean sunshine to your way! XOXO

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 9, 2015 at 3:57 am

      Oh you are so very welcome! Recently I was told by someone that they could see how impatient I was and wanting it all to happen right away. This is a reminder that it is about the journey and not the destination. Who did you admire in the beginning and who do you admire now?I was also directed to that book, but have not read it yet. I actually have it book marked to read in the future along with a few of his others. I really enjoyed writing this post and find it so fulfilling that my experience can help others. Thanks for stopping by. See you on IG!

  • Reply nanette October 20, 2015 at 3:17 am

    I love this! This is so insightful and helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Reply Rachel Jane October 20, 2015 at 4:45 am

      So great to hear that Nanette! I’d love to know what was your one main takeaway from this?

  • Reply Giulia November 7, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Rachel, thank you for this inspiring post. I’ve been blogging for more than 6 years now, and I learnt food photography by admiring other food bloggers and photographers and reading Helene’s book. Recently I was lacking inspiration and I was looking at my pictures and thinking there was something which needed some improvement. I’m working on this now, and your article is really what I needed to make a step further in my investigation. Thank you, I’ll follow you to learn more!

    • Reply Rachel Jane November 8, 2015 at 3:42 am

      Hey Giulia, it is so lovely to hear from you and that you got something out of this post. I find that there is a lot of resources for beginners, but not so much for those wanting to make the leap into a new space. I would really love to hear how this journey goes for you! Take care and best of luck!

  • Reply Rachael November 19, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Thanks for this post Rachel – very inspirational! I love improving and growing as a budding food photographer, but I often feel like I’m getting stale, so a new perspective is a wonderful thing. I’m going to set myself an A-Z challenge as I read Helene’s book. Thanks.

  • Reply Rachel Jane November 22, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    It is sure Rachael, and it happens to everyone whether they are just starting out or a seasoned photographer. Challenges are a great thing to do. I should dig up my old A-Z images and share them for everyone to see the improvements in my work. Should be a good laugh.

  • Reply Maeve November 24, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Thanks so much for writing this all out for the world.. I’m studying photography and doing my final portfolio on food photography and have really gotten sort of stuck. This post was like a wake up call and a reminder of why I love photography and especially food photography so much. Truly inspiring. Thanks for kicking my butt back into gear! Ready to finish my semester strong x

    • Reply Rachel Jane November 25, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Maeve, I am so pleased to hear it. It is always nice to find that motivation again, what a great feeling. Best of luck with your final semester – how exciting!

  • Reply Lauren November 26, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Oh hey! It’s me! 😉 Grateful to have a moment to myself this Thanksgiving morning to spend some time with your beautiful work and blog. I love this post! It’s amazing to me how much of our journey is similar. I was in a photography class years ago when my teacher said that I should try to grab a copy of Plate to Pixel. Isn’t that book amazing? I’ve done a workshop with Helene and she’s just as wonderful (if not more so) in real life. I don’t shoot food as much anymore but I’m always drawn to your work, and I love your five steps. Another step that helped me (because I’m verbal) was to come up with three words that defined my style. This took a lot of thought and a narrowing down of a much longer list! Now, when I shoot, I try to have those words in my head. Doing so creates cohesion, at least I hope it does!

    Looking forward to continuing this conversation. You always inspire me!

    • Reply Rachel Jane November 27, 2015 at 12:22 am

      I am so grateful for this response and that you took time out of your Thankgiving day, I feel very blessed. So thank you too!I feel that a lot of our journeys are the same and that we shouldn’t have to do it alone. The most powerful part of being creative is working as a team and as a community. That is when the most incredible things happen. I am so intrigued by this concept of the three words and would love to continue the conversation. I am a very visual person, but I ‘see’ words too! I will shoot you an email.

  • Reply Kym Grimshaw November 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Hello from not so sunny England!

    I’ve been a lover of your work through Instagram and Pinterest for a short while now, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read your blog but I made it! So glad I did 🙂

    This post is really useful as a reminder that these things do take time. I’ve just started my food blog and have already found myself getting tirelessly frustrated with my photography and styling, I want everything to be perfect NOW! That being said I do enjoy it, I’m going to pay more attention to the journey. The A – Z of vegetables project is a fab idea to help with this! Thank you for the motivation.

    • Reply Rachel Jane November 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Hey Kym, thanks for making the journey over to the blog! I am so glad you did too.

      Things indeed do take time and I am so classic gen y and want everything to be perfect now as well. It is interesting how we resist the desire to be frustrated, when in fact it is these occurrences that actually make us think differently and get us where we need to go!

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  • Reply Elle July 9, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks so much for the inspiring and insightful read! Always so great to read about others experiences. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Rachel July 19, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Oh you are very welcome Elle!

  • Reply betty September 4, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    This is fantastic. There’s been much unsettlement in the community about imitation and the very thin line between inspiration and outright copying, but I think you summed it up really well. But there is another side to it – not only is there the novice taking on inspiration (which inevitably happens in our small community, so well connected via social media) who has to be wary of toeing the line, but I’ve also been seeing (sadly), those with established styles who go paranoid on thinking everyone is copying them. I love that you’re sharing your thoughts – thank you for this! I’m going to be sharing this!

    • Reply Rachel September 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Hey Betty! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It is definitely a changing world and the access to photography is unparalleled. I really think Steve Simon said it the best, ‘everything’s been done before, do it better’. It really allows you to take the concepts you love and roll it into work that is your own. It’s so interesting because I find that I can’t replicate someone else’s style. It always looks like my work. Appreciate you sharing this perspective!

  • Reply Sarah Thompson November 8, 2016 at 3:53 am

    I have just discovered your website today (via Jonathan Thompson so big thank you to him!) and have been reading avidly all afternoon. Thank you for being so generous in your sharing of tips and inspiration, I’m loving it all!
    I’m only just starting my food photography journey but would love to do it in the long term. Reading through your 5 steps (I’ve read and long been equally evangelical about ‘Pixel to Plate’ – wonderful book) I decided to really examine my food Pinterest board (loooove Pinterest!) and found it really didn’t need much examining for the moody shots to stand out so I guess that might be where my true style lies. Goes to show how easy it is to miss something that’s staring you in the face, just takes someone else to point you in the right direction. This is my board so you can see how laughingly obvious it is!
    Thanks Rachel, onward and upward x

    • Reply Rachel November 8, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Hey Sarah, lovely to meet you. Yes JT is a superstar. Glad you found this post helpful and that moody shots have found a way into your heart. Now all you need is practice and patience as you walk the walk. It’s a matter of can’t see the forest for the trees in so many cases. I find life is like that and it just takes someone else to point it out. All the best and stay in touch!

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  • Reply Hanna February 6, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    thank you very much for your work. Information and tips you share with us very useful and inspiring. Sorry my English is not so good, so I write briefly.

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