Gift Guide for Food Photographers


Everybody loves food. I know mouthwatering photos and videos fill all my social media feeds, and the field is ever growing. If you have a foodie in your life looking to begin their photographic journey, or have a friend already taking some sweet photos, look through this gift guide.

Get Up Close

Perhaps the most-used lens among food photographers is a macro lens. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it basically means you can get really close to your subject and still keep everything sharp and in focus. A lot of food is small, or perhaps has fine details that deserve to be captured, and a macro lens is one of the best ways to do it.

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

If a full-fledged macro lens is a bit out of your budget, consider picking up close-up filters or extension tubes. Both of these products work with your friend’s existing lenses and cameras and are cheap and effective for getting closer to your subject. You can learn a lot more about all the macro options in this article or even try to find some ultra-macro lenses for getting extremely close for unique images.

Canon 72mm 500D Close-up Lens

Work with Light

Many food shooters tend to rely on natural light for their images. It works super well, but they can elevate their images without much effort using a simple reflector. By filling in the shadows, they can balance the image and reveal some details that would have been lost in the shadows. It also helps teach new photographers how to manipulate and understand light. One versatile pick that will work for general shooting, as well as food shots, is a collapsible reflector. Available in many sizes, it quickly folds up for storage, making it a great tool. There are also options for different colors, making them useful for warming up, cooling down, or just filling in your photos. If this is the way you want to go, you can look into reflector kits that include stands to hold them.

Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Oval Reflector (42 x 72")

Steady Goes It

Photographers like having a bit of stability in their life, and the best way to gift it is with a tripod. If they are primarily sticking with a smartphone or small camera, a tabletop or mini tripod is a good bet. By simply using a tripod, they can create much better images, especially in darker environments where a longer shutter speed can be a huge help. There are plenty of available accessories for mounting a smartphone, as well. For more serious shooters, a full-size tripod is almost a necessity. For food, you will likely want to pick up a tripod with a lateral/90º center column, for overhead shots.

Joby GorillaPod 5K Flexible Mini-Tripod with Ball Head Kit

Light ’em Up

In the fall and winter waking up before the sun rises and getting home after it sets are common occurrences. The problem here is if I want to shoot I can no longer rely on natural lighting setups and have to turn to my artificial options. A great stocking stuffer is an on-camera flash, also known as a speedlight. These small lights are effective, fit into your bag, and pop right on top of the camera when the moment comes. They can even be augmented with plenty of modifiers and be taken off camera with the right tools. B&H has a comprehensive guide to on-camera flash if you or someone you know wants to make the jump into flash photography.

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT

If you took my earlier advice and picked up some close-up accessories or a macro lens, then you can dial into a more specific category of lighting: macro and ringlights. These are custom-built tools designed to get your lights close, in a more suitable position, and to keep the lighting even. Two main types are available: flash and continuous. For strictly photography, go with the flash options, but if video is a concern, or even an option, the continuous options are more suitable.

Canon MR-14EX II Macro Ring Lite

Random Stuff

You can’t go wrong with the basics. Memory cards, gaff tape, bounce cards, are cleaning cloths are all great choices if you need to find a quick stocking stuffer. Another nice tool would be a gray card, helping speed up post production by making white balance a simple click in Photoshop. Not exactly tech related, but heading to some yard sales and picking up props such as plates and surfaces is another way to go. There are many small must-have accessories for camera bags that all photographers can enjoy.

Sony 64GB SF-G Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

Any food photographers want to chime in with their own favorite tools? Make sure to let us know in the Comments section, below!