Before I've upgraded from mobile captures to DSLR I never imagined how many tools and softwares I will use by the time, so I believe that this collection will help other creatives to start their experiments in the world of photography, food styling, editing and publishing their work online.
When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.
Start with the equipment you already own or spend only on an entry-level camera. Learn photography foundations, master your gear, be confident about the settings and introduce editing in your workflow. If you are surely stick with your new passion and you need some reasonable upgrades that you will surely will benefit from, trying to provide better services to your clients, then you are probably ready for an upgrade.
I've started capturing food with my phone's camera, edited in free apps, these images illustrated my blog posts and social media platforms for more than a year. I clearly proven, that blogging and food photography is really something I want to do. Originally I wanted to buy a KitchenAid, but my husband suggested to use the same amount of money and order a DSLR camera.
Upgrading could be exciting and overwhelming at the same time, so if you have mixed feelings about it, you are not alone. I was super happy that my images will have much better quality, but I did not know my new gear, never edited in Photoshop or in Lightroom, and it seemed an additional time I need to schedule. Now I cannot be more grateful for my husband for his suggestion, because nothing is giving me more joy about my self-development than food photography and enhance my images in post processing.
Be passionate but patient, always take the opportunity to learn from other creatives and spend time to expand your skillset. As a result of this personal growth, you will have the incredible results you never even imagined before!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because I believe in them. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!
“The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.”
Camera & Lens
I guess you would buy your first DSLR camera with a kit lens. But do not forget the other option either: you can buy the camera body and the desired lens individually. This way you invest almost the same amount of money and you don’t have to wait for the opportunity to get the lens you desire. My choice was the small but smart Canon EOS 200D camera body and a Canon 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. And yes, it’s really that small, so easy to deal with when I’m shooting from hand too.
I think it’s the best idea to invest in proper batteries for your camera since there is nothing more painful than a few hundreds of pounds extra cost in case of cheap battery damages your beloved camera.
Tripod & C-stand
A tripod is essential for sharp images especially if you shoot at lower natural light conditions. My Manfrotto Action Tripod is being with me from the very beginning. I love it so much but later on I will definitely upgrade for a robust one with the boom-arm option. Otherwise a tripod is essential for sharp images especially with low or controlled natural light conditions.
My workflow mostly happens at night so I cannot rely on natural light all the time. I tried a cheap led panel first, but its battery life was ridiculously low so I've returned it after 2 days of struggling.
I spend hours with styling and shooting different projects so I’ve exchanged to this bulb-based continuous light I can plug into a socket and won’t let me down as easy as the ones with battery and it comes with its own softbox, so you (propably) won't need additional diffusing materials.
I’m very often focusing on actions when I’m shooting food, so I needed an upgrade. This is how it happened that I’ve introduced off-camera flash to my workflow. I use this Godox flash with this trigger.
I use the official Canon EOS Utility 3 software for tethered captures while keeping my camera on the tripod I can modify my scene real time which provides repeatability, which is crucial. My camera can connect to my laptop wireless, but I’ve found it slows down the processing at motion captures when I have to take multiple images in short period of time, so I’ve invested in a TetherPro cable.
My new favourite tool is a heavy duty laptop stand, which makes my life much easier by the opportunity to move my laptop around while tethering.
Normally it is me who is pouring, sprinkling, cutting, doing whatever actions on my pictures, so I have a remote switch with a 5m extension cable, I can plug it directly in the camera. You can set a timer as well, but it’s very time-consuming in some cases to wait 10 seconds repeatedly between two shoots.
By the time I trust more in cable solutions than wireless options regarding to their data-sync speed.
Backdrops & Props
I love to create my own wooden backdrops and some props by upcycling unwanted items, use the treasures I find at flea markets or simply transform something unusual into a prop.
I run international giveaway contests on my Instagram account where you can win some of the handmade props I've designed myself, so make sure you give yourself a chance next time.
I have a 5-in-1 collapsible reflector set that contains a diffuser too. For food photography, I mostly use the diffuser plus the white and black reflectors. Silver is rarely in use, the gold is not too handy when you shoot food since it’s negatively affecting the white balance, but it could be great for specific portraits.
If you do not want to buy a set like this, you can reflect the light with some cheap white and black foam boards or use white EPS or white paper. A simple white fabric sheet or a piece of transfer paper will do as diffusing materials.