The DIY Food Photography Setup: The Gear You Shouldn't Bypass

It's annoying, I know. You thought you had it figured out. You thought you'd ticked every box, but I guarantee you didn't. I certainly didn't and haven't to this day! The amount of gear we use as photographers is ridiculous. It makes even the smallest of shoots a test in organization, packing, loading, unloading, setting up, packing down, and remembering to do it all again. But there are some items that simply can't be ignored. 

Most of my photographic career, humble in its infancy though it respectively is, has gone from knowing nothing to knowing a little, to thinking I know it all, only then to realize I know very little again. In my days as a restaurant food photographer (still very much alive and well today, I'll have you know), I was a true believer in the unbridled power of natural light. Barking orders at chefs and restaurateurs to turn off pesky spotlights and aesthetically pleasing neon signage and dragging the prettiest wooden table over to the main source of light was part and parcel of my setup. A little reflector here, maybe a tripod there, but generally, I didn't think or more so, steadfastly believed, I didn't need much more. Transferring those skills over to my own kitchen or studio space, however, where there are no chefs, no pre-prepared meals, talented mixologists, or even staff on hand to help out, I knew very quickly I was unprepared.

DIY food photography is an enormous industry, and it can be done in any reasonable space. My pokey kitchen gets a ton of wonderful natural light and is just big enough for extra lighting, should the miserable UK weather let me down. But I digress, lighting is a whole article in its own right. What are the items you should be looking at getting hold of to have that perfect DIY food photography setup?

In this video from We Eat Together, we're taken through just a few integral pieces of kit for food and still-life photography. 

Skyler's videos are truly fantastic. He brings warmth and humor to these educational videos that really help anyone looking to get into food photography, no matter what their experience.

Michael Barrow's picture

I'm a food and lifestyle photographer, currently living and working in London.

I’ve worked as a writer and educator in photography and maintain a deep and unhealthy relationship with food and cooking. As such you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

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