Artificial Lighting Tips for Food Photography

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

I’ve been preaching natural light since before I knew what “natural light” even meant.

Whether food photography, portrait photography, or whatever in the whole wide world photography, NATURAL LIGHT RULES. In my opinion, there is no comparison to the beauty you get with a good camera, a great photographer, and perfect natural light from the sun.

But let’s get on track with the reason I’m writing this post today.

The reason is that I’m trying to chill out my life a little bit, and part of that means being able to do a shoot at 9pm, after the sun is long gone. Which brings me to the topic of this post: how to make your food photography look great when using indoor, artificial lights.

Samples of indoor lighting

While I’d like to think that I’m really generally zen and stuff, I have been known to be kind of uptight when it comes to lighting. For example, in my previous life (like, last week) I would have been insistent on having my cinnamon rolls and glaze ready to drizzle at exactly 2:47 pm as the perfect ray of sunlight would sneak through my kitchen window. IT’S HERE! Pour, shoot, drizzle, shoot, pour, lick fingers, pour, shoot shoot shoot. Then my stream of light would disappear behind the roof of the neighbor’s house. That was a fun five seconds. But I live in the dark, frozen tundra of Minnesota. Have I mentioned that? In the winter, it starts getting dark about the time I’m ready for lunch. You guys. It just isn’t practical for me to think that I can shoot in natural light for every single recipe. And on my Saturdays, when I would have a few more hours of that nice light to work with, lately I just want to bond with the couch. You know?

Natural light rules, and I will take that to my grave. And while I’ve always recommended it only as a very last resort backup, but do you want to know my guilty secret? About half of the recipes I’ve done in the last month have been shot in artificial light. I’m not even following my own advice here, people. And the photos have turned out… like… kinda great. For example, all the pictures in this post were shot with artificial light.

Tips for Indoor Food Photography

Yeah, we can work with that. So today I’m getting over my preconceived notions and just sharing some quick and easy tips for making it work when you’re photographing food with indoor lighting and without the ever elusive sun. I hope it helps you relax and find more flexibility in your quest to take mouth-waterliciously yummy food photos.

Lighting Tips for Indoor Food Photography

A non-negotiable for indoor food photography –> a light. A “special” aka.. intensely bright, non-overhead light that is made for a job like this. I have the Lowel EGO Digital Imaging light. Take a look.Tips for Food Photograph Lighting Indoors

In case you forgot, let the Pinch of Yum photos of days gone by remind you that kitchen lights are horrible for food photos.

Tips for Food Photography Indoors

Thank you, Self, for those bright orange reminders.

Turn off all your lights to get rid of any weird colors and use ONLY your special light to illuminate the food. If you purchase a light designed to simulate natural light, it will, um, simulate natural light. Amazing, I tell ya. And even if you can just get a bright small tabletop light that you can maneuver in some way (side? back?) to make your food more appealing and to rid yourself of those overhead lights, you are pretty much already winning. You know what about this light? It really is special. The special lights aren’t cheap, but that is $95 well spent, if you ask me. If you’re more of a DIYer and less of a spender, check this little tutorial out.

Lighting Tips for Indoor Food Photography

These, on the other hand, are just a few buckeroos. Go buy a couple of little cardboard or foam things like this at Michael’s. That’s what I did. Or if you order a specialized light, it typically comes with a handy dandy white reflector like this.

Be sure to set your reflector up in such a way that it bounces the light back over the food. BOOSH. Gorg.

Tips for Indoor Food Photography

Notice how the kitchen lights are turned off. I really mean it. Every last little one. It’s like a food photography rave.

…Er, is that what a rave is like?

Lighting Tips for Indoor Food Photography

These are the best angles for lighting food photography that I’ve found, whether using natural light or The Special Light. Here’s the side lighting example:

Side Lighting: Tips for Indoor Food Photography

And the backlighting example:

lighting examples

Back lighting is a lot trickier than any other lighting style I’ve tried, but I have a total love affair with it because of the bright, glowy, magazine-like quality it gives your photos. It’s worth a shot, peeps.

Lighting Tips for Indoor Food Photography

These are the settings I typically use when shooting with my special light:

ISO – 400

Shutter Speed – 60

Aperture – 3.2

In general, know and work with your trifecta settings (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) so you can take full control of how the photos look. And in general, ISO = up. I know that not everyone agrees with this, but my line of thinking is —> who cares about a little bit of barely detectable graininess in the photos when you have excellent light throughout the entire photograph to make up for it? So I say boost your ISO. If you’re like, HALP ME I DON’T KNOW THOSE WORDS, check out my ebook Tasty Food Photography for some practical/picture-heavy/easy reading.

Lighting Tips for Indoor Food Photography

It just helps you have a reference point when you’re adjusting your white balance later on. I find that the white balance is already pretty good – in fact, maybe even easier to control when using artificial light – but still, it’s a good idea to have something in there just so you have that reference point during your editing. (Okay okay I’m a cheater and this photo was taken in natural light. But the principle applies more than ever when using artificial light. Seeeriouslydoit.)


Wow! You made it to the end and you’re still reading. GO YOU!

If you want to know more about using artificial light for food photography, check out our Artificial Lighting for Food Photography post on Food Blogger Pro!

Artificial Lighting for Food Photography


Some other posts you might like are:

Five Ways to Improve your Food Photography with Artificial Light

5 Ways to Improve your Food Photography with Artificial Light

 Ten Household Items That Can Improve Your Food Photography

Household Items for Food Photography

Ten More Household Items That Can Improve Your Food Photography


Time Saving Tips for Food Photography

Tips for Food Photography

Lastly, if you want to continue this chat and learn more about food photography in a more comprehensive (but very approachable) way, check out my eBook, Tasty Food Photography! TFP has 60+ pages of easy to read tips and tricks on everything from lighting, to props, to working food photography into your schedule. You’ll also get access to a series of video tutorials on using specific editing tools for food photography in both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Tasty Food Photography on an iPad

Tasty Food Photography - Buy NowMmk, that’s all for today. Go get a cookie and a glass of milk – you win the dedicated reader award! TGIF, friends.

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  1. These are such great tips! I am lucky to live in Florida, where the light is generally cooperative but I can imagine that it gets stressful, and not so fun, when you get good light for about .57 seconds in a day.
    I had no idea your past pics were in artificial light girl! Still so gorgeous.

  2. I’m a huge fan of your food photography tips! Nowadays I shoot only in natural light (long gone are the days of the orangish photos with the kitchen lights, lol) but it means I cannot shoot many of the things I cook because some of them never see daylight… And I have been seriously thinking about enrolling a studio photo course in order to improve my shooting skills with artificial light. So, today’s tips are precious!!!! Thank you :)

    • Glad to hear it Ondina! This light has been such a helpful tool for me and enabled me to photograph things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

  3. You’re amazing. I love when you talk about your photography! I have recently discovered that only one specific set of light parameters work for me, but I know I still need to try new things. I tried back lighting yesterday, and it wasn’t too bad!

  4. This is so helpful!! Can’t wait to delve into this over the weekend.

  5. Great tips! We live half in the woods, in Michigan, so we get maybe 2 seconds of light a day (your 5 seconds seems so luxurious!) and I also like to spend quality time with my couch 😉

  6. I have a lowel ego and never really found that sweet spot with it. WOW Im going to dust that sucker off and practice and just perch it on my workspace as if it were lovely real backlight! The setup shot you gave, the pic right under And the backlighting example:
    that is worth it’s weight in gold! That’s exactly what I do….with natural light.I’m going to plop my lowel up there and see what happens!

    And I also shoot manual and see nothing wrong with cranking up to about a 640ISO for blog pics. Who cares. No one is going to really pay that much attn. I can’t shoot at a shutter of 60. I need 80 b/c otherwise I see shake so am even more flexible with going up in ISO and I also cant shoot at a f/3.2 or it’s bokeh city but not in a soft pretty way.

    Such a great, helpful post! Thank you & pinned!

  7. AJ Thornton says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    I just wanted to say thank you for this post! I have read your other post/article about this light, but I appreciate the more in-depth detail you provided us here. I am challenged by living in a tiny (550 sq ft….) east cost apartment with a kitchen the size of a small closet. Add to that, I typically work from 7am-530pm, so shooting in natural light isn’t really an option unless on the weekends. But from the looks of your pictures and the light itself, I think that is the perfect size light for my tiny space! With my website just a few weeks away from being finished, I can’t wait to pick up this light and elevate the looks of my photos!

    Thank you again!! I really appreciate everything you guys are doing!!

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Awesome post, Lindsay! I started using artificial lighting once in a while (although more now) last year. It took me a while, and a ton of trial and error to get used to it and to figure out the settings that work best. I will always prefer natural light, but having artificial lighting has reduced my freak outs a lot :)

  9. This is awesome! I’m just beginning my journey into food photography, and I knew I needed to get rid of the overhead floodlights on reflective black countertops, I just didn’t know that a special light existed to do that!

    I thought I had it bad with the early sunset living in MN, but after two years on the east coast I swear it sets an hour earlier here :( No natural light for me.

  10. Lindsay- your photography tips rule and I just finished reading your photog e-book which I bought on black Friday. Thanks so much for being so open and honest about what you do, you’re the best!

  11. Thanks Lindsay for these amazing tips. I just bought a Folding Island Kitchen Car from

    So I can take have more freedom with the light at home.
    Thanks again.

  12. This is SO helpful. Two kids and another on the way, I neeeeeeed this. Thank you! Pinned.

  13. Light ordered :) It was on my wish list for 2014 anyway, and the company you guys posted charges a lot less for shipping to Canada than Amazon does. Thanks! I love seeing you guys rock it.

  14. Thank you, thank you for sharing your tips and tricks from years of experience. I’m going to buy that light immediately. Already on my to-do list for the weekend!


    Lauren H.

  15. Lindsay, this information is invaluable. Thank you so much. Also, would you consider adding an easier way to find your photography tips posts? I have a hard time digging through all of your wonderful food posts to find your hints and helpful tidbits on photography. OR you could create your own photography site. GASP! What a grand idea!

  16. Ohmygosh! Thank you so much for this post! Like you, I work full time and by the time I get home it is dark and photographing is impossible. Which means weekends packed with cooking and photographing. Too stressful! Buying this light now, thank you so much for the recommendation!

    Quick question, do you adjust your white balance settings on your camera at all when using this light? To tungsten? Or is it the same as if shooting in natural light?

    You are the best! Thanks for always sharing what you’re learning and inspiring to continue improving on my photography skills Lindsay!

  17. I neeeded this!! I live in Wisconsin and was all ready to shoot a recipe when all of a sudden, the sun was GONE. It was just there, ugh. Thank you times a million, you are awesome!

  18. this came at such a great time for me Lindsay. Thank you so much. I have been trying to shoot pictures for my book but its been really difficult. I will have to look into those things.

  19. More brilliant tips! I’m definitely in the ‘omg it’s 2pm, all photography must STOP’ stage, but I think I might just buy one of those lights – it would definitely be easier if I was able to cook my dinner AT DINNER TIME rather than 8 hours early haha

  20. This post came at just the right time for me, Lindsay! I have been struggling with the elusive Minnesota sun for weeks!! I much prefer taking my photos in the late afternoon or evening, which works great in the summer, but in winter, not so much. I’ve got to get one of these lights ASAP, I can’t wait to try it out and use your tips. Thank you!!

  21. Like a few others here I am also battling the short time on daylight in the north (Michigan) and have read a few tips on how to create light. Thank you for sharing your tips. You make it look so easy!

  22. Do you know if you can by one of the handy dandy type reflectors from amazon? I’m in Ireland btw!I have big daylight lamps but need a reflector ASAP!

    • Hi Shel,
      The two white boards that Lindsay showed can be easily made with two sheets of white foam core board, taped together at the seam on the back side. You can find foam core at stores like Walmart or Target, dollar stores or art supply stores. It should be in the same area as poster board, tri-fold presentation boards (which are also great for photo backdrops, since they are up to 4 feet tall and fold flat–I have white and black ones) and office supplies.

      Lisa :)

    • I would just make one! You can also use tinfoil or white posterboard to reflect light back in the photograph.

  23. These are some amazing tips! I’ve been wanting to improve my photography and this definitely helped. Great post, bookmarking for future reference. Be sure to stop by my link party today, #OmNomNomFriday, and share your fantastic creations :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  24. This is why I love this blog — thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with the rest of us! I live in a dark apartment that gets natural sunlight for approximately 18 minutes per day, so it’s good to see how you’re doing this without the help of the sun!

  25. These are great! I live in a basement apartment, so I don’t get any natural light … ever. I have a homemade light box, but this seems like another great option.

  26. You guys seriously have the best tips. This is such a fabulous post!!

  27. It’s so funny that you posted this today, as I was just reading through your other food photography tips. You read my mind! Thanks for another great post

  28. Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!! I am SO anal about my photography shoots — they have to begin by 1 pm, but no later than 1:12 — because that’s the only time the natural light flows perfectly through the window. And with daylight savings time? Geez, all of a sudden I have an extra hour and can shoot at 2 pm during the summer! But it’s SO stressful to plan my entire day around that “window” of opportunity (yeah yeah, bad pun intended! 😉 ). If I want to sleep in? Can’t photograph. If my recipe fails and I need to remake it? Not enough time to shoot. GAH so frustrating!

    I am DEFINITELY looking into these special lights and a new nighttime set up. You’re amazing Lindsay — thank you SO much for the tips!!

  29. I love your tips! I also have finish reading your Tasty Food Photography book that has been sitting on my To-Do list. I already learned a ton, thanks! :)

  30. Thank you! This is a fabulous post; so many of my pictures are MAJOR bleh indoors and I too often miss the natural light. Thanks for breaking down the steps in using an indoor light; I’ll be investing and learning. Yes, thank goodness it is Friday!

  31. Thank you so much for this post Lindsay! I have the same lights you own (per POY recommendation) but I rarely use them because I just haven’t practiced with them enough and – frankly – I’m a little scared. Usually when I pull them out I find they’re so bright that they make my picture look overexposed on one side and pretty dark on the other side, and I usually have to pull them away from my setup and even filter the light with a pillowcase or something to make the picture reasonably exposed. Even then, the color balance just seems off and so far from being natural. Any tips? And do you custom set your white balance?

    • Nope, I always keep it on auto. I do know what you mean, and I try to opt for lower ISO (even though sometimes I’m tempted to go 500 or 600, I stay around 300) and then make up for the dark spots with editing (exposure and shadow tools in Photoshop). Also sometimes I use a second reflector. Hope that helps Alexandra!

  32. This is amazing, so you mean to tell me that I don’t have to shut all picture taking down after 5pm?!
    I had no idea I could use a “special light” and get the pics to look like that,i’m going to Home Depot first thang in the morning!
    Thanks Lindsay :)


  33. Thank you so much for this post! Like others have mentioned in the comments above, I work full-time during the week, and have been SO frustrated waging war against the overhead lights. We even have under-cabinet lights that are equally BLEGH. That special light would be so worth it!

  34. I too would like to thank you for another really helpful post! At the moment I’m enjoying an Australian summer so I have reasonably decent light until about 6.30pm, but I do find the ‘finished’ piccies just before we eat are a bit more of a struggle as the sun’s beginning to set by then! Plus, I’m dashing outside with all my food at the moment because there isn’t a lot of decent window light … and that’s just … weird!
    Solution = get one of these special lights! Thanks again, Lindsay!

  35. Thanks so much for this information! I, too, live in gloom-land and have so much trouble finding good times to cook and take pictures. Recently, I was given a soft box for free (which I appreciate) but turns out I need to buy a flash for it and I think those are more expensive than the Lowel light. Now I’m wondering if I should try the Lowel light. Truthfully – I can’t wait until summer!

  36. Great tips! I actually don’t photograph food that often, but I do photograph my hand-made items for my Etsy shop and blog. I have the same exact lightbox that you have so these tips will help me a lot. I especially love the t-shirt as filter technique. Gotta try that!

  37. Yay! I get the dedicated reader award :) What a great post Lindsay – per usual :) I so get that feeling of pressure of trying to get your food prepared at the right time of day. It’s so stressful. It’s about 2pm in my San Diego kitchen. I have to suck it up and take the leap and by the Lowell Ego light.

  38. Fantastic article Lindsay. I am blessed to be living in South Africa, where our natural light is amazing. Our Winter days are even better than summer, and where I live in Durban, we have sunshine nearly all year. This gives me the opportunity of moving from one window to the next around my house to get the best light. But lights are great to use during those sleepless nights when you are the only one up. Love your book too and would recommend it to everyone to buy.

    • Thanks Ev! I miss the light that I had in the Philippines. It got dark early, but when it was there it was great. Even at noon in MN, the light can be grey and drab. Thanks for the comment!

  39. Love it! I have a Lowell light (in fact I got over zealous and bought 2!). The difference it made in my photography was just short of amazing. I work full time, live in Seattle, night time food shoots are just about all I ever get. I recently started using a reflector as well but my set up is different from yours and your pics are da bomb! Can’t wait to try the new “Lyndsey Way”. :)

  40. Thanks so much for posting this! I need to get me one of those light thingy’s ;). Pardon my non-technical jargon :). With the lack of winter daylight, the hubs and I are always scrambling to get recipes done by 4pm! :)

  41. Wow, thanks for this article! Your tips are so helpful! I usually only shoot during the day on Saturdays, but now I will definitely try to shoot at night with a special light! This will definitely expand my opportunities for shooting because days are pretty short in the winter 😉

  42. Thanks so much for mentioning my DIY Lights!

    This is an awesome post, great for reference! I always need help with this, lol.

  43. You are a beacon of light out there for all of us bloggers! You guys are so amazing, I’m always inspired by what you do (and honestly how much money you make too :0).
    THANK YOU TONS for sharing priceless information with the world on the in’s and out’s of food blogging. The first $100 dollar check I get from AdSense will be used to purchase the light you recommended :0)

  44. I love you for writing this. Sometimes I just want to sleep in on my only days off but I’m always up first thing in the kitchen, preparing everything for that 12:00 light. Ugh. I love it but when you work full time, it gets old. Fast. So thank you so.much. for sharing these tips!

  45. Thanks for the practical tips! Excited to check out your E-book on photography.

  46. TFP has been a BIG help, for the new kid, still shooting with my IPhone :-) thx

  47. This post is RIDICULOUSLY helpful! Thank you SO much for sharing!!!
    It’s so appreciated!
    lauren at

  48. I just moved to the twin cities area and wow does it get dark early!! Like a full hour earlier than in Nebraska where I moved from!!

    I’ve been bugging the BF to help me set up a photography station…I think I’m bookmarking this so maybe I can get a fancy light for my birthday!

    I’m loving your blog by the way! I was directed here by Lee from Fit Foodie Finds and Amanda from Running with Spoons! :)

  49. Thanks so much for sharing this. I spent last week reading your book. Now ready to give my new camera a go.

  50. Thanks so much for such an informative post! I’ve had Spring fever since, we’ll, last Spring! These short days are killing me!

  51. Lindsay,

    I rarely comment on blogs, but I can’t help myself. THANK YOU.

    As someone who works during the day and is battling a cruel winter, this post literally changed my foodie game. I really adore the space and community you’ve cultivated here.

    Fist pump!

    Cheers, Felicia

  52. Lindsay these tips are AMAZING. I have 2 photo lights and a reflector and I just can’t get the results I want without natural light. Since I’m also in the MN frozen/dark tundra, that means that I usually spend all weekend frantically baking/cooking and shooting, and that can drive a girl (and her significant other) crazy.

    Like you, I would LOVE to “chill out” a bit. I might have to try that little light you have.

    Thanks for all your great tips, and as always – beautiful photos!

  53. I have always assumed artificial light could just never compare – loved this post proving me wrong! Also, shooting in the total dark except for the special light? Looove the mood, and would love my hubby’s reaction every time I turned off all the lights just forrrr….a food photo shoot :)

  54. Awesome post! I always learn so much on becoming a better blogger with your posts. You are a great teacher. I can imagine you being a fabulous teacher outside of the blogging world too.

  55. You have some skills! I have a whole bunch of good lights and I never use them because I can never get my photos to look half as good with them.

  56. I recently received your ebook through the 5 Day Deal bundle. However, I did not receive the password for watching the videos that are linked in the ebook. How do I get the password?

    Your book is excellent, BTW!

  57. Good advice, yes! I try to shoot weekends only (I work during the daylight hours…. sigh, winter) but sometimes I really do have to get out my artificial light. The handy thing about the white reflector the Lowell comes with is that you can use it as a white/grey card to set your white balance right there in the camera!

    I’ve found I don’t need to bump up my ISO needs if a tripod is being used. I can shoot in low light, with a good 200ISO and get crisp, awesome shots — the tripod holds everything still enough for the perfect exposure. Also, try setting the Lowell light back farther from the subject one time….. It will seem way too dark, but the camera sees thing differently than we do, as you know…. it can still provide gorgeous, diffused light while reducing the risk of pesky hot spots of blown-out bright. Just wanted to throw in my two cents (or three)! 😉

  58. Oh Lindsay, these are so helpful. I finally took the plunge and started a food blog, but I’m already finding it hard to find the time to do all the cooking and photography during the day with my little monkeys dictating most of my day! I am thankful for all your helpful tips. I bought your ebook last week and I loved it. You are a gifted teacher – those were some complicated topics that you broke down in an easy to read way. I feel like I will read it over again and again and will get something new from it each time! Thanks for being AWESOME!
    p.s. I’m even further north than you, in Edmonton! Ugh, I can’t wait for summer!!!
    p.p.s. (this is starting to feel like 6th grade) i would NEVER have known those pics were done in artificial light!

  59. Thanks for the amazing tips.

    Quick question about your one of your pots. Where did you get the pot that you are using in ‘Tip #1…?” My mom used to cook w/ that type of pot all the time, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Suggestions?


  60. Such a great post!

    I too am a big fan of natural light and have been a bit intimidated but interested in delving into artificial light.

    Last month (and again this month) I’ve been hired to do some work with Food & Wine Magazine and have found it really really hard to shoot as many images as I need with the tiny bit of wintery light that my super dark apartment gets. It’s a constant struggle.

    You’ve encouraged me to order the Lowel Ego light. Can’t wait for it to arrive so I can play with it!

    xx Kristen

  61. This is so fabulous and helpful, wish I would’ve read this before creating my post today!

  62. This is so useful Lindsay, thank you! I was trying to find a lamp likes this last week but I didn’t found it.
    And even though I live in LA and am blessed with the natural light here, I don’t always want to cook during the day and heat up our food again. I want to do healthy and fresh dishes on my blog that needs to be eaten right away because they don’t taste as good when you heat them up again.
    Again, thank you!

  63. The trick about using white objects was the one that is going to stand out in my mind as it’s something I haven’t thought too much about. I’ll give it a try! Thanks for this post. It’ll work for more than just food photography, too!

  64. Thank you! I am home during the day, but with three young kids it is not always possible to photograph during the day. If I make food during their nap, by time it is done it is getting super shadow-y.

    Your tips are so helpful! I got a camera back in November and have been practicing like crazy getting ready for my site launch in March. My hope is to have consistently decent photos by then. With the goal of getting to be amazing as quickly as possible after that.

  65. Gracias for feeding us with great tips. Specially this one, living in the cold dark “Montreal” results a bit difficult to find the right light.

  66. Wow! Awesome you guys 😉
    I just found you and I can’t peel my eyes off the delicious tips and secrets you reaveal 😉
    Love your site!
    But I have just one question about (kind of unrelated to lighting) what about watermarks on photos???
    Have you touched on this? If so, please send me the link to that post….
    If not, can you tell me your opinion whether you think adding watermarks is a good idea or not.
    Of course there’s always that fear of having others steal your work. Plus they find you better because the credit is right there on the photos when shared on Pinterest etc.

    Please do share your opinion. I do notice you only use your logo on a few select photos, usually collages or info posts. But your recipe posts don’t have any.
    Your advice would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to brand myself the best way and need to know if I should continue doing what I do… or remove the watermarks and let the photos/ food speak for itself 😉

    I appreciate your advice!
    xoxo Ella |

  67. The lighting is always a problem creating factor for my photography. Anyway now get some idea on artificial lighting effect, Thank God!

  68. Thank you so much for this valuable information. I have been struggling like crazy and your tips have enlightened me! Now I must go so I can continue reading more of your amazing blog.

  69. Thank you for sharing these great tips. I use my everyday cooking for the blog, which means I’m taking pictures at night time. I’m ordering one of those lighting things today. When you say edited, which photo editing program are you referring to?

  70. Wow Lindsay – this is a fantastic post! During the winter months I typically only have the weekends to take pics, and this can mean a busy weekend! One question – Where did you get the wood piece?

  71. Lindsay,
    You say not to combine this with other artificial light, but would you ever combine it with limited natural light? My job limits me to early mornings when there is *some* light, and late evenings (and in the summer there is *some* then.) Can I combine it with that, or does it have to be totally dark??
    Thanks, your tips are about to save me a whole lot of stress. :)

  72. This is a lifesaver! I’ve been saving all my food photography for the weekends, but it leaves my only free time so hectic and it would be great for me to take photos in the middle of the week when i am craving my food like RIGHT NOW. The funny thing is that I DO have some good lights from a mini photo studio I have for product reviews on another site I own. I never even thought about using it for my food photography until now. I can’t wait to get home from work and test it out!

  73. I’m totally new to food blogging and love food photography. These tips are great. I think I will buy your special light, and I was thinking of a cardboard box too made of white all over. Anyway, thank you sooo much for this article!

  74. Hey Lindsay quick question. Where do you pick up those wooden backgrounds you use on your pictures? When I’ve been shooting my pictures I’ve just been using things like cutting boards or tablecloths. But so many food bloggers have about 18 different types of wooden backgrounds, and I assume you all don’t have that many coffee tables in your house! Help me! Love Pinch of Yum as always!


    • Hi Matt! All over the place – I only have 2 that I really use consistently, but I have a large carving board, the top of a chess table that I got from an antique store, a few pieces of wood from a table we bought at the market in the Philippines, and now a large piece of slate from an antique store. Goodwill, antique stores, salvage yards are all good options. :)

  75. I absolutely love all your photography advice! I just started my food blog a few months ago and you’ve been a huge inspiration as far as photography.

    I am very tempted to buy your food photography ebook! Can I read that on my iphone 5, do you know?

  76. I can’t tell you how much these tips have helped me and started me really thinking about my food photography. Thanks! love it

  77. I am new to food blogging and didn’t realize how important to have good photos when I started my blog. Your camera specific settings is a lifesaver and your tips are really helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  78. Thanks so much for this fantastic post! Got some really great tips that I can’t wait to try out 😀

  79. Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.

    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  80. Great post, very helpful! Thanks a lot.

  81. Hi,

    thanks for posting this…I’ve been searching for these tips. Do you have any recommendations on other artificial lights. The one mention (Lowel Ego) is a tad out of my price range.

    I’ve been looking into those Photo Tent kits on Amazon or Ebay, but not sure if the quality of lighting is good.


  82. Thank you so much for this article, it’s just coming into winter when I really decided I was going to ramp up posting to my blog. I’ve just ordered a flourescent light which should do the trick.

    I love your writing style, I cracked up a couple of times! HALP ME I DON’T KNOW THOSE WORDS hahaha!

    Thanks again!

  83. Thank you SO much for the wonderful tips! I actually just ordered this and your set up really helped me get the shots I was hoping for. We live in an apartment with very limited natural light so this lighting set up was a must! Thanks, again!

  84. That’s amazing! Thank you so much for these super useful tips; the pictures really help to understand. Do you have any tips on how to soften the light when the sun is too strong?

  85. Hi, I live in the UK and can’t get a hold of your light. Have you ever seen SAD lights? Do you think it would do the same type of thing?

    • I do not know much about SAD lights – are you sure you can’t order the Lowel light to be shipped to the UK? Have you tried amazon?

  86. Hi Lindsay,

    I was so looking for artificial lighting options for my food photography. This blog makes complete sense and will allow me to photograph recipes at night for my food blog. Thank you so much.

    How can I purchase your book? Please provide me the details.

  87. Oh my gosh. Thank you SO MUCH for these tips. I’ve been struggling to get recipes finished before dark because my stupid kitchen doesn’t have any natural light. I have to keep taking stuff on my back porch, shooting it, then bringing it back into the kitchen. Ha ha! I bet the neighbors think I’m so weird. I can’t wait to implement some of your tips.

  88. Hi, Lindsay!

    Thank you so much for these awesome tips! I just started to learn food photography and found your food blog. Now I’m a fan.

    I love your articles. The lighting example photos help me so much to understand and I really want to share it to friends in my blog or our facebook page. Do you mind if i translate your articles to other language (Indonesian)? I will put your blog name and link.


  89. I purchased the light and tried your 3.2/60/400 settings with my Nikon. iso 400 made the picture totally blown out over exposed white! I had to go with iso 100. I’m happy with it though because I too live in a frozen tundra where I go to work in the dark and return home the same way 6 months out of the year.

  90. Thanks so much for this post, Lindsay. It was storming terribly today at my house, and I’m going out of town tomorrow and needed to photograph two recipes. Thankfully, I waited until the sun went down and using this post as a guide, got some great shots without natural lighting! Thank you thank you!

  91. I am so glad I found this post. I found a piece of styrofoam in my home and put a piece of white cloth on it. My camera was a little dark at 400 so I used 500 and that seemed to work perfect. This will be great for those crappy Winter days without sunlight that we get here, which seems to last like forever.

  92. Hi there! Thanks so much for this post- super helpful! I live in Washington state and like a lot of other places gets super dark here. I noticed they sell a 2-pack of lights. What are your thoughts on needed two versus one? Thanks!

  93. Laura Perry says:

    Such great tips, and I’m not so sure that I deserve a reward for reading all the way through since it was a breeze due to your engaging writing style. This was both helpful and enjoyable. Thanks! :) You know what? I think I’ll have that cookie anyway. 😉

  94. Vaϲhement passionnant, je pense que cet аrticle intéresserait mon pote

  95. What a great post and tips, I found it very helpful and inspiring, all I have to do now,- it is to find time to full fill it and to adopt it to my photography skills. Unfortunately, all my food shots are done in a kitchen light (in a hurry, usually after midnight, after busy day at work, when I have no energy for experiments with the camera :( and I agree with you, it looks ‘Yeesh’, so I need all the help I can get. I’ll try to take on board everything you said, thank you, again, for tips and motivation! :)

  96. Μagnifiquе article : une fois dee plus

  97. Thank you for this, today I was thinking about why I don’t do photography that much during the fall/winter. By the time I get home it’s dark, and the kitchen light doesn’t cut it. So I will definitely be doing this method.

  98. This post is going to save my life this winter. I, like you, live in a frozen tundra (aka Erie, PA) where natural light in the winter is a rare commodity lol. I have taken many icky orange kitchen photos and am so happy to find a way to take great pictures at any time of day in any light! You and your blog are amazing! Thanks so much for the great tips!

    much love,

  99. Thank you for all these amazing tips. I can’t seem to fight a light though. Is a soft light the same thing? Or at least give the same desired effect?

  100. Thank you for this. I’m looking into lighting options and you’ve helped me a lot.

  101. Just ordered (via your link) because I’m tired of trying to find that perfect hour of light here in Northwest Washington! Love your e-book and am gradually noticing an improvement in my food photos. Next to master: one of the editing programs!
    Thanks for your tips and site.
    p.s. Of course, feel free to stop by my site. (Yes, the pictures are still amazingly amateur…still learning!)

  102. Doug Dalager says:

    Thank you for the tips! I’ve been combing the Web hoping to find one person who would simply suggest camera settings for taking foods photos. I’m not much of a photographer, but a couple if my clients are restaurants who can’t afford to hire a pro, so I do what I can with my Samsung Note 3 (lol). Now that I have your recommended starting point (400,60,3.4) I can perhaps get better results. Thank you!
    P.S.: Duluth here

  103. I’m experiencing the impacts of not enough lighting as winter keeps getting closer. I just set up a white box and have some daylight bulbs I’m using to capture more light in my photos. Thanks for the tips they were great!

  104. You are a godsend! I just got my special light, and it’s frickin awesome! Best $95 ever spent. The end of daylight savings was killing me, but now I’m back in business! Thanks so much for this info!

  105. This is perfect! I have been trying to make my food photos better recently. You have some great posts about it! Thanks!

  106. Hi Lindsay! Thanks so so much for this article, it was amazing AND just what I was looking for. I knew after googling the topic and seeing your blog pop up that it as going to be good! I have the Cowboy Lighting System that is popular on Amazon, so I might see how that one works. Have you had any luck with buying external flashes? Thanks again!!

  107. Great tips Lindsey! I love your e-book by the way! I reference it a lot! I started doing tutorial shots. I am getting better ranking with them. Have you tried the Lowel Ego lights vs. a soft box?? I have 3 soft boxes but hate to lug them from my garage to my kitchen. I may just try to keep one in a kitchen corner. What are your thoughts???
    Thank you!

  108. I recently started a this food blog and though I had a dslr to work with, I was left desiring a handful of tips on how to best get THE photo for the recipe I was putting up on the website.
    Of late I have started with the video recipes as well on my channel on YouTube and there is this same problem I face; natural light is ok but in case I had to shoot some in artificial I was still struggling to find the chord. Actually, to be frank, I still am nowhere with this :(
    So thanks for the post as this is something I am going to try for sure. Hopefully the images on my website and YouTube channel will only get better :)

  109. Hi – LOVE this post!! This is so helpful as I’m a newbie blogger and must restrict my blogging activities (cooking, photog, posting, etc.) to after-work hours, which means NO NATURAL LIGHT!! Argh. Those few weekend days I’ve been able to shoot have been so glorious that it has been quite discouraging to try to recreate (miserably) the same environment and results. I’m really looking forward to trying your tips out. One question though – as I’m a DIYer/less spendier (or trying to be LOL) – under Tip #1, the hyperlink to the tutorial didn’t work for me. I will try again later but wanted to let you know in case it is a broken link or something. Thanks so much!!!

  110. Lindsay,

    Thanks for the post, this is very helpful. I have just started a food blog – Often, making meals in the evening means I don’t have access to natural light.

    I am 100% going to buy a light such as the one that you use.

    I think the money will be well spent!



  111. Hi Lindsay,

    Very informative and interesting post. Thanks for all the information that you have shared. I am debating between getting one light (the one that you have mentioned) or two. I am on bit of a budget, but if it makes significant difference, I am ok getting two lights. I look forward to your answer. Thanks.

  112. I wanted to start blogging again and one of the things I wanted to improve on was my indoor pictures… usually, photography tips include using natural light…and that’s about it, but I work during the day and would like to chill out right after work! So a BIG thank-you for this post!

  113. Thanks for the tips, Lindsay! I am definitely going to put them to use on my site. I am always trying to improve my photography! I recently made a step-by-step DIY light that is almost just like the Lowel Ego light. It has made my life so much easier!

  114. I use flourescent’s as well, but recently shot on some day light LED’s and I was blown away! Only problem is they are around $700 to start… Thanks for the tips!

  115. Thanks for this post! I’ve been wanting to play around with artificial light but didn’t know where to start. Just bought the lowel light:)

  116. We’re renovating our kitchen and need to replace our lighting. I love taking photos of food on my counter tops. Would pot lights be a good idea? I know they can be adjusted to avoid the reflection they leave on counters. What kind of lighting should I look for. Cool or warm tones. Is under cabinet lighting a good idea? Thanks!

  117. Hi! Great article. Do you have a link to the reflector board you used? Or a description of the item that I could use to find one?


  118. Hi!light…
    Jeeze I thought I would spend my life between october and may running back from work, rushing to get a quick but nice meal ready and speeding to shoot it while I can still get some light….These days are over, thank’s to you!

  119. Thank you times a million!! I work full time and on week nights natural light is just not an option for me. These tips are extremely helpful!

  120. Great post. Low light photography is one of my favorite choice. You can prove your creativity in this area. If anyone is interested to know more about low light photography..visit here..

  121. Hi Lindsay,

    I really love your “easy going” writing style. I’ve been reading up on food photography and this is the most easy to understand information I’ve come across. I can say with absolute certainty that this has been the most helpful guide (and I’ve read post articles on Serious Eats on the topic). I bet you were a great teacher. Thank you!

  122. Hi Lindsay!

    Had a great time on the post. This indeed is an eye opener who is struggling with artificial lighting at nights.
    Thank you for sharing the best book for food photography.

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