Honey, I’m home!! – how to photograph food when short on time

Apr 27, 2024

Living a dream

So you’ve just started with food photography and you’re oh so excited about it. You try to photograph every dish you make, often in the evening when you’re done with work. Your head is an active volcano, erupting with new ideas every waking hour. You are doing your very best and expecting great results. You catch yourself in the middle of the night still sitting at your computer and editing pictures instead of sleeping. Always in a rush to post to Instagram on time. You give it all you got. But then… the reality of the daily life kicks in. And it kicks hard! I’m already feeling tired just writing about it.

Reality kicks in

There it is, your soul-crashing, mind-numbing, back-breaking job. There’s the hungry husband and kids (if you have them) impatiently waiting for you to get on with it so they can finally eat dinner. There they are the groceries, the chores, the laundry, the homework, the sickness, the needs, the hunger. And there you are, exhausted, shivering, and on your own, trying to navigate this stormy sea. Been there, done that, so trust me, it doesn’t work.

Walking into Mordor

It doesn’t work because you simply cannot do it all at once. And you cannot do it fast. And it is really hard to do it on your own. So… give it a break! Be patient, things will get easier. Take time to create quality images. Don’t try to juggle too many things at the same time. Something or someone will suffer eventually. You can walk into Mordor if you wish, but you better be prepared.

When you’re short on time and need to photograph something, make something easy, like soup or salad. Or even buy something ready. Photograph produce. Stick to a simple composition and minimal food styling. And order pizza for your folks so they leave you in peace.

Ideally, you should photograph the food prepared exclusively for the photoshoot. Photographing your dinner can be tricky, for the reasons I already mentioned above, and also because undercooked food or raw ingredients look better in the picture. I used to photograph our dinners and I can tell you it was very stressful and looked really awful.

Dinner is ready!

Sopa de Fideo is a Mexican comfort food and is ready in 30 minutes or so, depending on which recipe you use. It’s a simple tomato soup with toasted pasta. I prepared it earlier in the day, photographed it, and warmed it up later for dinner. No fuss, no stress.


I used Crisco shortening to make a layer on the bottom of the bowl. In that way, I only need to use a little bit of the soup (not everyone is willing to eat photoshoot leftovers) and get a good base to place the toppings on. Sinking toppings was my long-time struggle.

While styling your photoshoot only add one item at a time and take a picture each step of the way. You will be able to see directly if something fits and looks nice or not, and if needed adjust or remove it before the whole thing is ruined.

For instance, I added too many pieces of avocado at the end which messed up the sour cream, however, it wasn’t too much of a problem because I shot each step and could make a composite later.

See all the steps in the GIF below.

Behind the scenes

The camera is mounted on a C-stand and connected to the computer with a tethering cable. I placed one strobe with a bare bulb high and directed it at the wall to bounce the light. I wanted to imitate hard light on a sunny day but without making the food look too harsh. Both with lighting and styling I was going for a feel of a meal at a Mexican table.

The final result

The final image is a composite of 6 photos where I picked the parts I liked best. Edited in Capture One Pro and cleaned up in Photoshop.

If you have any questions hit me in the comments. See you the next time!


Whenever you feel overwhelmed, put this song on and cry it out.



  1. Jennifer says:

    Great post, we want more!

  2. Emanuel says:

    I love your sense of humor. Well done, keep it up girl.

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