Photo Tip :: Photographing Food in Public

There are tons of brilliant posts about how to photograph food, especially in your home. No matter what, some of the same rules apply. Natural lighting when ever possible and never use flash. But you're in a restaurant?! I take a lot of photos in restaurants - it's almost become second nature to me to pull out the large DSLR in my purse at every meal. Here are my biggest tips to you.

Use a lens with a low f-stop
I chose all of my lenses because of their abilties to hit a low f-stop (1.4, 1.4, and 2.8) and when in a restaurant, I pretty much always put it at the lowest f-stop available so that I can take in more light without shake or using flash. I would have never been able to get such a crisp image of this cocktail without a low f-stop.

Choose your seat wisely
When you can, sit by a window so that you get all the natural light you can. When it's dark out or a window option isn't available, choose a seat with a hanging pendant or some sort of light over it. If all else fails and you can't choose you seat and you end up in the middle of a restaurant, you'll have to bump up your ISO

Play with ISO
I start at 240 ISO with an f-stop of 1.4 and see what my shutter speed is. If it is less than 20, I change my ISO until I can get it to at least a shutter speed of 20 or higher. Below this I start to get a lot of blur since I am hand holding my camera.

Seito Sushi in Celebration

Shoot in burst mode
I shoot about 5-10 images and about 1 turns out good. This just helps to get one good one if you are shaking a bit much. I shoot in burst mode all the time because with digital, I can delete what I don't need.


Try and spin the plate to where the food is in depth and the background is blurred. In certain situations, you may need to shoot the food from where your companion is eating. Many times, I shoot the dish in front of Jason instead of in front of myself, then switch them. Or I hold the camera above my head for a straight on shot. Also think about using the rest of the table decor or background. Don't forget the details - remember, sometimes the restaurant is as fun as the food!

Dilly Deli

Shoot before you eat
Half eaten pictures of your meal are never as pretty! Have your camera on the table before the meal, shoot right when it gets put down, and then store it for the rest of the meal and enjoy it.

Dessert at The Columbia

Be brave
Don't be afraid to take the photos. Remember - most likely, you won't see any of these people again. They won't remember you and your photo taking for more than a few seconds - so it's not worth being nervous about. That's the best advice I can give you - even if you feel awkward, if you want to do it, do it! It will eventually stop feeling awkward. This goes for anything really. It's become second nature for my husband to wait for food until I take a camera out I have been doing this for so many years now.


  1. these trips are helpful. i'm shy to take photos in public place, ANY photos...

  2. Thank you so much! I must admit I'm a bit self conscious of taking photos with the giant cameras in restaurants ;) But I really want to give it a shot!

  3. The be brave tip is the best. I often feel awkward taking out my big camera in a crowded restaurant. Mostly I just suck it up if I want a picture though!
    Also, is that Clocked in Athens? So tasty!

  4. such good advice! i recently started blogging about boston food options and I feel SO nervous dragging out my camera for a meal. however, after my first few features, I realized the pictures are so pretty! last tip is so true: suck it up and go for it!

  5. thanks for the tips :) will definitely be utilizing these. my photos always become blurry!

    Mili from call me, Maeby

  6. I always feel so awkward pulling out my DSLR at a restaurant. I'm trying to get over it :)

  7. some really great tips!


  8. I love this! I always get frustrated about how dark it is in restaurants, and these tips will help a lot. :)


  9. These are such good tips! Especially trying to get a window seat. Me and my dad usually try to get a window seat anyway when we eat out, so I guess that's good for me! I should really start taking food pictures. I just don't eat out that much and when I do, I always get the same thing... lol, predictable me!

    "shoot before you eat"--man, that sounds difficult! ;)

  10. Super helpful tips you have here! Dark restaurants almost always deter me from taking a snapshot, but since I just got a new camera, maybe this will soon change!

    Food photos, here I come! :)

    Modern Buttercup

  11. Hey dear I really like your blog! What about following each other? Also on bloglovin, facebook and even lookbook if you want...just let me know :3 <3


  12. Gosh, girl! I love your point about how we'll never see those people again and they won't even remember us. It sounds silly, but it is seriously SO easy to forget that!

    Thanks for sharing the tips. ;)

  13. I think my favorite tip here is to have your camera on the table ready... I always see the food and get too excited and then remember the picture after I've eaten half and you're def right.. those pics are just very so-so. Thanks for the tips, picking the lighting is def helpful & i'll have to remember that about photographing from diff angles since I usually struggle w/ good pics in restaurants.

  14. great tips! but like Dus Katrina above this comment, i usually also remember to take photos after i've eaten half of it haha... so usually my iphone does it and i immedietely upload to instagram. and sometimes i'm not brave enough (people tend to stare and I'm quite shy haha)

    xo, Carla

  15. these are really good tips and a great post.
    i love taking pictures of my food haha.

  16. I'm really going to start doing this on my vacations! I'm always a little shy to take out my camera so that must change! But I don't go out a lot to eat where I live :) xo

  17. Such a great post - I don't think I'll ever get round to photograph the foods when we eat out, but now I know where to go for the useful tips. :)

  18. Thanks for the tips. The photos look gorgeous <3


  19. These are SUCH great tips Katherine! I've always noticed your photos at restaurants come out really well.

  20. I love and appreciate your photography tips so much! It always takes me a ton of tries to get a semi-decent picture of food, especially in dark settings. I'm still getting to know my camera so I take every bit of advice I can get! <3

  21. Thanks for your tips! I love your crisp sharp pictures!

  22. This tips are great!

    I'm gonna be honest: I'm too shy to take photos in public. I don't know, people start looking to me and I hate that. So shy...

    But these tips are usefull because like that when I take (with courage) I'll make sure to take a good one at first :P


    Sofia G

  23. You always make me so hungry with your photos of food too!!!

  24. This is an awesome post! I still need to learn more of the basics but this is good to know since I occasionally pull out my camera for important dinners like birthdays, vacations, etc. I love how fearless you are about taking photos in public!

  25. great post Katherine this is something I really want to get better at and you seem to have the best photos!
    xo Ilana @ My Modern Vintage: Enter my Amazon e-gift card Giveaway!

  26. i always use my cell phone camera in restaurants. i feel so awkward pulling out a DSLR. these are excellent tips. i seriously need to take a camera class. i know knowing these things will create better shots.

  27. ah, i loved these tips! either the restaurant is great to photograph in, or horrible i feel! and i love the tip about "you will probably never see these people again", because i feel that way all the time when i do silly things with my camera!

    lindsey louise

  28. My husband will start to eat something and I'm like "WAIT! I have to take a picture of it!". I'm so embarrassing. =)

  29. Such a great post. My favorite tip is definitely the last one since that's the one I have the most problem with. It's true, you most likely won't see them ever again and I'm sure the waiter/waitress doesn't care at all. :P

  30. nice post! It's always a little bit uncomfortable for me to get my camera out in a restaurant and start making these clicking sounds.. but I still do it! Because I love taking pictures of food, I've been doing it for many years even before I started the blog. And it's still a little awkward every time :-)


Thank you for visiting and reading this post! We're excited to read your comment - and even if we aren't always able to get back to you, we read these together. Definitely feel free to hit us up on Twitter also - @kmuchadoo or @jamcadoo