iPhone photography made easy

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Welcome to my kitchen! Today, I am going to be making some breakfast bars, and i’m going to show you some iPhone photography tips for you how can get great food photos. This is a simple guide to food iPhone photography and you can actually use any camera you have. If you’re interested in food photography and you want to grow some of your skills, it’s really easy to get fantastic shots just using a few very, very simple steps, and some very simple lighting. 

I do a lot of food photography as a professional photographer – I shoot for food magazines, all kinds of restaurants and chefs, and a whole range of different food photography – and so today I want to really simplify the whole thing in this little iPhone photography tutorial, and show you how to get great shots of your food in your kitchen with just your iPhone, so that you can grow your skills.

Now today, I’m going to use continuous lights, rather than flash. I would normally use flashlights but today because i’m filming and because it’s the most simplest way of lighting i’m going to use continuous lights, which is the best lighting for iPhone photography, and i’ll show you those lights in a few minutes.

I’m also going to shoot with different cameras to show you how you can get shots using any camera, so i’m going to use my iPhone and i’m going to use this very cheap, older camera.  It’s called the Fujifilm X-M1 and it’s with a with a very cheap manual focus lens – so very, very budget friendly, but a beautiful camera and lens nonetheless.

I will also use this Fujifilm X-T4 which is one of the most recent cameras in this range, at the time of filming, so you’ve got the full spectrum there. I’ll use an 85mm lens which is a portrait lens.

iPhone photography

So, i’m going to make these breakfast bars and then we’ll get to capturing them with the various cameras, but let’s have a quick think about the lighting. I use all different types of lighting for food photography, from big soft boxes with flash photography, which have big diffusers – all the way to smaller continuous lights. Sometimes, if the natural light is good enough, I don’t need to use any artificial lights at all.  It just depends on your situation.

For iPhone photography, natural light is best, or continuous lights. The iPhone 14 pro has amazing dynamic range and will be able to get great shows, even in lower lighting conditions.

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The best way is to start iPhone photography is with no lighting, and see what you can achieve with natural light, and then add lights to help improve the photo.

Today, i’m in a conservatory so there’s obviously a lot of light coming in from different directions. You’ve got light coming in from all the windows, and more importantly, the top windows which will add a lot of helpful lighting to the shots.

There’s a lot of natural light pouring onto this table, so it’s going to make photographing the the food in one respect very easy because you can keep your iso very low, which means you won’t have a lot of digital noise on the photo. If you’re not familiar wit digital noise, it’s just whether your camera is going to have a clean image or a slightly grainy image. The lower the ISO, the better.

There’s room for creativity when you’ve got lots of light on your food, but if i was to turn off the two lights shining on me now, we would have a flat look, even though it’s still bright in this room.

Now, the problem with the flat look is that it’s not very interesting when you photograph the food. It may be bright but actually it’s all the same which means that really there’d be nothing to define your food from the background, and what you really want is lighting that’s positioned in such a way that it creates a bit of atmosphere in your image.

Now, because we’ve got a very bright room you’re not going to be able to get the type of shots where you’ve got a very dark, and a little tiny pop of light on them because you need a very dark room to do that. In this situation we can still create some dynamic looks, so when the food comes out in a few minutes we will start to do that.

Ok, so I’m going to show you the lighting i’m using today. I’m using lights by a company called Newer. I’m using a set of three of these and they are actually really great for food photography, as well as video because you can do the same setup and shoot both your food with a stills camera and a video camera. If you’re filming yourself like I am today, I don’t really want to be using flash because then I’m going to be having to have lights for the video and separate flash for the photos – whereas in this situation I can use both at once.

On the back here you can see what happens you have got the option here to change what’s called the ‘temperature’. The great thing about this is you can go right from a temperature of around 3000k, which is basically like a tungsten light – a very orangey, warm light.

From there you can go all the way up to around 5100k, which is the daylight temperature. This means you can match the lighting to the temperate of the room light – meaning the food will look just right when you photograph it.

iPhone photography

The other great thing about these lights is that they have things called barn doors.  The barn doors are side and top flaps, and this means that when you are shooting your food, you can literally open and close the barn door to move the light, and that stops the light from leaking out onto areas of the photo that you don’t want it to. It means you can be much more precise. 

You can actually be very definite as to where you want your lighting to be, and that helps a lot when it comes to shooting food, because you don’t want the same light everywhere – you want to be able to manage the light.

Before I take this breakfast bar next door and cut it up and photograph it on the table, I want to get a quick shot of it on the granite worktop, because i think it looks goo here. I’ve got two lights set up – a light behind me here, and one of these newer lights which has got the barn doors slightly closed, giving a bit of light onto this side and another one just behind the camera, again with barn door slightly closed. 

Read how to start a photography project here

Bringing it onto this side just gives me two lights on these two angles, and i’m going to shoot coming down the middle of that. I’m coming through that light. I don’t want to shoot against the light and I don’t want to have the light behind me because it will just light the front only. I want the lights coming from both sides to give an all-round effect over the whole thing, and i’m going to come down slightly low and i’m going to keep this bit of parchment paper behind and the knife in shot slightly as well, just to show that I am at this stage of the process.

Here are breakfast bites – they’re already they’re actually quite nice. I tasted one and they taste alright. I think they probably need a bit of yogurt with them just to give them some extra niceness, but you know they’re all good.

I have a selection of different backdrops here as you never know  what you’re going to need. Clients vary in their tastes, you never know what they’ve got with them so i often take a few rolled up backdrops with me and time and time again they’ve been so useful.

But, if you’re at home just get whatever you can find. You may just want to use your worktop or something, but i’m gonna just choose one of these backdrops. I will use this one which has got some nice bits of white in it and blue and black, like an aluminium surface. 

To build up the shot, you have got to think about how you’re going to capture it. Will you come from above? Are you going to come from below? What I often do is i design little photo set which has got the option for me to shoot from above and to shoot from a 45 degree angle, just to show some of the height of the food.

In this situation what I would do is place a little wooden board like this and i’ll just start to put some of these on. Sometimes, i’ll stack them. In this situation I could even put a little bit of parchment down and just start to build. Just imagine you’re back to being a child again and you’re thinking about stacking lego.

iPhone photography

The downside of having this parchment is that if i shoot from above all i’m going to see is the parchment, so i’ll probably just have one at the bottom and then maybe I’ll just see if i can get two or three stacked up together without them falling off.

You want to create some kind of connection between the board and the backdrop so that they don’t feel like separate objects. You want to help them to feel like they’re in the same group, and belong together.

In this situation what I would do is either place one here or I would allow some crumbs to fall down and scatter a little. Maybe a bit of parchment and maybe one that’s been slightly broken up. I could just take this one and i could just give it a little bit to show that youthere’s something in the background.

I said before it would look good with yogurt, well I actually think maybe i’ll put a little spoon of yogurt in this shot, and maybe some blueberries. It will just kind of add a bit more to the image to show how you can eat this, so i’ll just do that.

Okay, so here are some blueberries and some natural yogurt. I’ve put them in these little pots because these will actually help make a nice image. I’m going to put the blueberries just here because they will correspond to the color on the backdrop.

I’m going to take a few of them and then just put a couple down there as well. It helps gives the relationship between the two areas. I could put some yogurt on top but I think it’ll make it messy, so at the moment I’ll just put the yogurt just here, and it responds nicely to this curve in this board. 

I’m just going to bring it near that curve and hopefully even from your direction you can see the shot is starting to build up. There are other things you could add sun as things around you. You could get some flowers which are here. The yellow might actually do well as it might just give a little bit of color into the image. 

I’ve got these two lights coming in here, you’ll see I’ve got a scrim here. This is a two-stop diffuser and this will stop the sun from hitting my face, but also more importantly it will prevent the harsh sunlight from hitting the table, because i don’t want the sun to have any kind of influence over the lighting. It will still have a bit of influence, but this diffuser is so good that it will actually diffuse that sunlight and help to give it a lovely cast of light without shadow. 

The reason I’ve got these two lights in the position i have, and the barn doors slightly closed is they’re basically pointed directly at this area here, and the idea is is that they will eliminate all the shadows between them as they come in from two different directions. If I turn one of them off there will be shadow from one of them and the corresponding label, and this way I basically eliminate shadow.

I’ve used the scrim to eliminate the sun’s shadow and I should now have hopefully a nice photo. So, let’s start with the iphone and let’s see what the iphone gives me. So, here we go one shot from that way and one from above. Then, let’s try with this camera. This one is a manual focused lens so this is a very cheap camera.

Now we’ll try with the the professional camera. Okay, so we’ll get higher this one’s the 85mm lens which means it’s actually much more zoomed in as it were, so I’m gonna have to stand up so you you may not see me for a second. And then we’ll just get a shot from here. You don’t have to photograph the whole thing when you’ve got a flat lay like this. 

You don’t have to actually photograph the whole table, you can do if it looks great but sometimes it’s nice just to cut bits out and just to show show bits of it but always making sure that your main food that you’re shooting is your hero. Everything else is there to embellish it. Make sure you are keeping the hero as the hero.

I’m using a shallow depth of field, which is a wider aperture to slightly blur out the backdrop, and then we’ll just bring this around here. Once you start to shoot you start to notice things – you can just start moving bits around just to fit what you’re looking to do.

It’s a very simple process to get some great shots, even with the iphone or with a very cheap compact camera, and obviously with a a better camera. You know you can get your own food shots at home using whatever camera you’ve got just by thinking about the way you light it.

It really it comes down to your creativity and your lighting. If you set up a lighting situation like this where you’ve every area covered, you can then really get the shots that you’re looking for.