Editing food pictures

Hey guys. This week is the final part of this series – I’m talking about photo editing. Now, one thing I will emphasis: Less is more.

As a professional photographer, it’s my job to get it as perfect as humanly possible before it reaches my computer. I’d like to say that I do get it perfect, but it’s more like 95%.

Food editing differs greatly from editing people pictures. Soup doesn’t really worry about looking like it has a double chin, lol! The point of food photos is to advertise, and make it look appetizing. Making you want it. Making it look YUMMY.

First and foremost, make sure you’re not editing the original file/layer. Always make a copy of the layer and work on the copy, or just work on a duplicate of the file.

The main things to make sure you get right:

  • Colour/White balance
  • Contrast
  • Detail/Sharpness

Colour/White balance:

We’ve all seen gross food pictures that makes your meal look like something from another planet. Well, there’s a reason for that: Normally, your eyes will ‘white balance’ themselves.

What this means is that your eyes gradually adjust to changes in light colour (to an extent). So That’s why when you take a picture of your food in your fluorescent lit kitchen, it looks bluish or greenish. Most cameras have an auto white balance: This isn’t always that effective on phone cameras or digicams. DSLRs generally handle it better, but it greatly rests on the quality of what you’re using.

If you’re using something cheaper, you’re better off photographing stuff in daylight (which is neutral) or even a slightly yellow bulb light. (Yellow is more flattering to most foods, it’s kinda like candlelight for skin).

If you camera has it, set the white balance to the closest thing to your lighting that you can. With digital pictures you can try to fix this afterwards, but I wouldn’t advise it on jpgs that most cameras output. If you’re using Camera RAW (CR/CR2) files you’ll have much more room to play. Don’t take this as license to slack off though – RAW editing is a whole other subject. You also need higher end programs to edit them properly, like Adobe Photoshop, or Lightroom.

In the end, you want the lighting to be neutral OR slightly warmer. Don’t use blue/green tinted lighting. It will look awful 99% of the time.


Contrast is the difference between colour and light in a picture or object. What this means, is that a high contrast can give a higher visual impact and the illusion of more definition. But, the higher you go, the more you separate the levels and it gets nasty looking. Play with this, but take it easy! You want your blacks to look black, but if you push it too far, your whites will blow out and look bad. Always keep lighter colours below absolute white, or it gets overpowering.


Make sure the details don’t get lose in shadow. Sharpness should also be the last thing you do before publishing a photo – but again, less is more. Sharpen in small increments until you get the level you want.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below in the comments.

Happy Halloween!



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