Something New To Learn: Food Photography 101

I wanted to learn calligraphy, and so, I looked for workshops that’s within my budget. Then, I saw a post in Facebook about brush calligraphy from Tavel Factor’s Kapitolyo 101. I checked out their website, and then I saw that they are also offering a workshop for food photography. I scrapped my first plan, and signed up for Food Photography 101.

Our instructor is Mac Centeno. He has years of experience in food and product photography. Just before our workshop, he went to Canyon Woods in Tagaytay to do a shoot of their menu. He showed us samples of his shots, and we were very impressed and in awe upon seeing his works.



Our instructor in action


Joining him is Tonette Asprer, a well-known food stylist. Part of our lesson is to learn and know how food styling is done. She showed us how she prepares the food to be shot.


How to make an ice cream?

She styled 3 dishes – pasta, chicken and ice cream. She showed us some tricks on how to make the food look good in billboards and advertisement. She told us the rules of food styling

  • It doesn’t have to taste good, it has to look good
  • Don’t eat what you style

Some of the sample food she prepared are not really thoroughly cooked. For example, she simply boiled the chicken, until the skin looks good enough to paint on (yes, paint.) The pasta she prepared is half cooked, and cooked in oil. Like a make up artist, she have a lot of tools and what-nots to make the food look good. And in a shoot, the food needs to be retouched from time to time.


Looks delish, right? But you can’t eat this

A food stylist and food photographer always work hand in hand. The output of the photographer would depend on how realistic and mouthwatering the food the food stylist prepared. Sometimes, due to budget constraints, its the food photographer that would end up styling the food.

Mac taught us how to take a good food picture. It doesn’t matter if it’s through our mobile phone or DSLR camera. Here are some bullet points of what he had taught us.

  • Lighting is very important in food photography.
  • Light source should always at the back, and you should use a reflector in front.
  • Shoot the subject to where the light is.
  • The reflector to use can be any piece of white paper or board. You can even use a tissue as a reflector. It just needs to reflect the light from it’s source.
  • Don’t shoot directly in front of the food, as you will lose the shadows and highlights, which makes the food look good.
  • Arrange the food neatly
  • Never use flash when taking a picture of your food, as the output will be much whiter
  • Take a photo as if it will be the final layout in the magazine, and you will have minimal editing to do.

We had our hands on practice on one of the restaurants/coffee shop around Kapitolyo. We went to United Coffee to test our skills, and ordered different kind of coffee for our practice shots. Here are some of my best (I guess) shots, taken from my Sony QX10


The best part about this is we get to eat what we shot! And of course, I met new people and found new friends, aside from learning something new.



Hopefully, they will offer a workshop on food styling. But for now, I’m signing up for their calligraphy class.