If you have your own pet blog or run your Fido's Instagram account, you might want to take pictures of your dog's food and treats. This is especially true if you make them yourself and have recipes to share! Dog food photography can be tricky, and it's a lot different from pet photography.
Of course, the quality of the photos that you take will vary depending on the quality of the camera you're using. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a camera setup to capture nice photos, and you can be taking pictures with your cell phone either. A quick internet search will give you some good ideas of cameras in your price range and there are doggy social media stars we can all learn from (some of whom I'll mention below).
Photography is an art, and without proper training you cannot expect your photos to look like the ones you see in magazines. It takes a lot of practice and experience to know how to use lighting, angles and props to your advantage. These tips will give you the basics, but if you really want to know how to take good quality photos of dog food and treats, I suggest you take a photography class or ask the advice of an experienced photographer.
Before we get into the whole list of dog food photography tips, I also recommend you browse the Top Dog Tips homemade dog food section – Samantha takes some really great and appetizing looking photos of her homemade meals. You might as well ask her for some guidance on how she turns every doggy meal into mouth-watering shots.
Dog Food Photography Tips
How to Take Good Photos of Dog Food and Treats
You absolutely must have the right lighting when trying to take pictures of food. See how professionals do it – most dog food companies with Instagram accounts are a good example of this. Take a look at this above nicely lit photo from Fromm Family Foods (@frommfamily).
Luckily, you only need one light source to get the perfect picture. The light source you use for food photography should be big and bright. Preferably, it will be diffused, so you don't get any glare in your final product. A diffuser is also necessary to ensure the light spreads out over your food or treats well enough.
Obviously, you can use artificial lighting for this light source. However, before you go out and look at photography light sources like soft boxes, see if you have a nice window that gets good light. Natural light can work just fine as long as it gets bright enough, and using a window will save you quite a bit of money on lighting supplies.
2. Different Angles
When you are trying to photograph dog food, it's important to take a few different pictures from different angles. Since you are getting a close-up photo, it's going to be hard for you to tell which one comes out good right away. However, even a simple angle with a bit of a twist can work well, like in this homey photo with delicious looking fresh dog food from Nom Nom Now (@nom_nom_now):
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@thisdogslifesite had some great things to say about the benefits of eating #NomNomNow. "Throughout this month’s journey, we have noticed that Milo’s poop is smaller and firmer (gross, but important for dog owners). He also doesn’t have dry skin and isn’t gassy (woohoo!)." See the link in our bio to start your own journey. Photo by @thisdogslifesite
Take several pictures from directly above, from the side, and at different angles and views so that when you upload your pictures to your computer, you can have some choices available.
Sometimes what you think might look good on your small camera screen ends up looking sloppy when full-size on the computer. If you have several options, it ensures you don't have to go through the process of preparing the food and shooting pictures again. Take it from someone who has been there… that's extremely frustrating.
3. Get in There!
If you are used to regular photography, you are probably going to try to get a wide view of the dish, with the entire thing in the shot as well as some background. Don't limit yourself! Get up close and personal. You don't even always have to include your full dog, kind of like the team at Beyond Natural Pet Food (@beyondpetfood) did here:
Sometimes your picture will come out better if you zoom in and highlight the details. Like the above tip about angles, take a few different shots from different distances to see what comes out best.
Remember, when photographing food, even taking photos of dog food, you have a limited amount of time. Take several shots quickly so you won't have to go through the process again if the photo doesn't come out well.
4. Dealing with Ugly Food
Dog food is not always the most attractive thing to photograph. Shaped treats might look okay right off the bat, but if you are making homemade kibble or other daily meals for your pup, it sometimes doesn't look too appetizing. But it's all about how you approach it. For example, this dish below from Let Them Be Dogs (@letthembedogs) could've looked pretty unappetizing, but instead it looks delicious:
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Let's talk supplements. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Many new raw feeders get overwhelmed by all the various supplements. There are dozens of different functional foods that you can add to your dog's diet to give it a boost. This bowl has a TON. But, many of these fantastic functional foods are strictly optional. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My recommendation for new raw feeders is to focus on the basics. Learn how to make a simple balanced diet for your dog using meat, bone and organ. If you can't feed bone, use some other source of calcium to balance the phosphorus. Give your dog some time to adjust to their new raw diet with just these limited ingredients. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The first, and most important supplement I recommend is oily fish or another source of Omega 3. Adding Omega 3 to your dog's diet helps to balance the fats. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Once your dog has adjusted to this basic balanced diet, then you can dive into the wonderful world of functional food supplements. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How about you? Do you supplement? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But if you're not as skilled as the photographer from Let Them Be Dogs, and when you are having trouble getting it to look good, try taking a different approach. Use the above and below tips, combine them and take many shots. Get creative.
Take pictures of the ingredients instead of the entire dish put together. Try plating the food on a fancy plate, or take a picture of just a bite in a spoon or small glass. Remember that colorful plates or serving bowls can take the eye away from ugly food. Get creative! Don't feel like all you can do is take a picture of the completed dish or treat in a bowl.
5. Remove Clutter
Whether you are taking pictures of only the finished food or each step as you go, you'll want to reduce the clutter in the photographed area. If you are cooking for your pooch using homemade dog food recipes, chances are you have lots of utensils out: spoons, knives, cutting boards, pans, etc. Get these out of the shot!
Here's one clean looking and appetizing from Samantha's recent dog food recipe:
Having a prop as a compliment to the dish is one thing; having your focal point overwhelmed by kitchen utensils is another. Make sure that no matter what else is in your shot, the food or treat is the first thing your eye is drawn to for a successful photo.
RELATED: How to Take Great Photos of Your Dog
6. Keep It Clean
Have you ever watched kitchen competition shows like Iron Chef? They perfectly plate their dishes, ensuring not a crumb is out of place. This is because a neat plate looks more appealing to people. Even though you are working with commercial or homemade dog food, it's important for the meal to have a clean, neat appearance.
Check out how well structured this raw dog food meal from @cali_da_staffy looks:
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A very serious lady waiting for a very serious meal….. 🧐……..🦃Turkey Neck 🐖Pork Shoulder 🐄Beef Chuck 🦆🥚Duck Egg with 🥦Broccoli Sprouts 🐖Pork Spleen 🐑 Lamb Liver 🥒Sweet Peas 🎃 Pumpkin 🍇 Blueberries 🥗 Fermented Veggies #homemadedogfood #feedreal #rawfeddogs #rawfeedersofinstagram #rawfeddogs #rawdietfordogs #barfdiet #rawfeddog #rawfeddogsofinstagram
Plate your food neatly, using whatever utensils necessary. Then, follow up with a dishtowel or paper towel; wipe up any crumbs or spills that are on the plate. This will give you a nice, clean appearance that draws the attention to the food, instead of to a mess.
7. Include the Dog!
Yes, it's great to have a close-up photo showcasing the dish. But if you are posting a recipe or review, include a picture of your pup enjoying the food! This is a great way to personalize your blog post or webpage, and it will show that your recipe and review is backed up by your pet.
Plus, if someone is visiting your site, chances are they love dogs! They'll want to see your pet in all kinds of cute situations, including eating. Another plus? You've got a free mascot for your website or pet blog. The popular Instagram account of Popeye the Foodie Dog (@popeyethefoodie) doesn't take dog food photos, but it's a great example of how to effectively feature your pooch to sell the picture:
8. Keep It Steady
One problem many people have when trying to photograph food is keeping steady enough to reduce blurring. It can be especially difficult when you are trying to get close-ups of the dog food. An easy way to solve this problem is to place your camera on something stable.
If you're willing to spend a little bit of money, a mini-tripod is a great way to support your camera while still giving you complete control over the shot. If you don't want to make a purchase, something steady like a pile of books can work just fine. With proper lighting and steady hand, you'll be able to take amazing shots like Lana (@lana_the_mini) here:
Even though food photography differs greatly from regular photography, it doesn't have to be overly complicated. With a little practice, you'll be churning out professional photographs in no time. Hopefully these tips will help you get started no matter what you need food and treat pictures for!
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