A couple of things to note before we get into my food photography gear guide! This is quite a long, comprehensive list! There is absolutely NO need to purchase these exact items to create beautiful images and videos you are proud of. This is a collection of gear that I have accumulated throughout the past ten years - little by little investing in items or buying them second-hand based on a passion that eventually turned into a career.
These are all items that I've purchased and use on a nearly everyday basis. I've used Canon and Apple products since I started getting into photography back in high school, so naturally, this guide will detail a number of canon products along with the corresponding software I use to tether or edit with my Canon cameras.
For transparency, note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I make a small commission from each purchase. I've also added a number of youtube links that will help you to further understand how these items function - if you're a visual person like I am this will help give additional context!
My hope is that you'll find this list of items and resources a helpful starting point for you as you invest in your photography passion or your business! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment at the end of this post so I can help. Let's get into it!
Camera Body & Battery
- I recently shifted into the world of mirrorless cameras and purchased the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera with the Canon mount adapter. One of the reasons why I was skeptical about making the move towards a mirrorless camera is the fact that I've invested in a number of EF/EEF-S canon lenses throughout the years. Canon's new mirrorless cameras require you to purchase brand new lenses that fit their new EOS R system. To get around this, you can purchase the mount adapter which allows for EF/EF-S lens compatibility with the EOS R camera system. Personally - I adore it. Here's a helpful video that breaks down the pros and cons of the EOS R!
- I've been using my Canon 5D Mark III for the past 5 years... if not longer! I find it to be a phenomenal full-frame camera that also enables you to take high-quality photos and videos as well. It was released back in 2012 and still stands the test of time. It may not have all the bells and whistles that newer models have, but as discussed in this video, it's still known to be a wonderful camera and I would highly recommend it.
- Don't sleep on that camera in your pocket! I currently have an iPhone 12 Pro Max and there are a number of photos that I've taken with my phone camera that I end up adding to my blog posts, such as the first photo from my Coconut & Pineapple Margarita recipe. I also use my phone to capture some of the quick videos and reels that I post on social media.
- I recently purchased a new battery pack for my canon cameras that plugs straight into the wall, charging my camera indefinitely. It has TRULY changed the way I set myself up and prepare for photoshoots. Usually, the day prior to shooting, I will charge as many batteries as possible as I don't want to be in the midst of a shoot and run out of battery. Shooting videos in particular on both of my cameras can zap the life out of your batteries quite quickly. With this AC adapter and coupler, I never have to worry about charging my batteries, unless of course, I plan to shoot outdoors or in a space without an outlet.
These are the three lenses that I use on nearly a daily basis! I've added examples of my photography below each lens so that you can get a feel for how they perform. I also use my wide-angle lens from time to time especially when teaching online classes, but it's quite a rare occurrence when shooting food or drinks.
- First off, we have to talk about the good old standby, your basic tripod. There's really no need to get an expensive or fancy version, it's an incredibly versatile tool that you'll be able to use in different ways depending on your needs. I will usually use this tripod as a base for my cameras, to attach lights, clamps, ball heads, and all kinds of different modifiers!
- In all honesty, I avoided shooting on a tripod for far too long and tried to get away with shooting freehand. Yet all that changed once I invested in this Manfrotto Tripod. It's incredibly easy to manipulate, flexible, sturdy, and also has a 90-degree arm that allows me to take overhead photos and videos with ease. I won't lie, it's an INVESTMENT... but I personally find it to be a worthwhile one!
- To make sure that your tripod does not fall over due to the weight of your camera body and lens, especially while you're shooting overhead shots, a sandbag or a weighted bag of some kind to keep your tripod secure and upright is necessary! I actually filled my sandbag with leftover garden rocks that I didn't end up using instead of "sand"... a real Tim Gunn make-it-work moment! An exceedingly affordable option is to simply grab a tote bag and add canned goods inside, then attach it to your tripod so that it's weighted down and secure.
- WHAT a versatile piece of equipment - let's talk about C-Stands. There are so many different ways to use a C-Stand in the world of photography and videography! Whether that's propping up a background, holding up your modifier, setting up your key light, or attaching your camera to create an overlay shot - the options are truly endless. I've added links to a few youtube videos that will help you get some visuals and determine if a C-stand is something that may help you and your setup! The first is a general overview of using a C-Stand and the second helps you understand how you can set up your overhead shot.
- To create videos using my phone, I love using this incredibly sturdy camera stand to hold my phone in various angles while I'm recording. Near the end of my post, I'lll describes how I mirror or tether my phone to my computer so that I can see what I'm capturing while my phone is secured in its stand. Stay tuned!
Lighting & Modifiers
- Diffusers will help you to create softer light within your photos. By using diffusers of various sizes, you're able to reduce the intensity or glare of your light source and generate fewer shadows, making the effect of the light much softer! The diffuser I've linked is quite large, but there are a number of different sizes that you could look into and purchase depending on the amount of space you have to work with.
- If you're looking to add a continuous light source to your setup to help illuminate your subject, here are a few options I love! I've used these smaller Neewer lights to add specific, directional light into my scenes. They come in a set of two and attach to a basic tripod. You're able to then adjust the warmth and intensity of the light and use the attached barn doors to direct the light into a specific area of the scene you are capturing. When I want a larger-sized continuous light source, I'll attach this Godox SL-150W LED light to my large Godox 47" Octagon Softbox to illuminate the entirety of my scene. Then use a small reflector/bounce board to fill in or help to add shadows!
- All of the photos and videos that you'll find on this site have been edited using Adobe Creative Cloud's collection of software. I use both Lightroom and Photoshop to edit photos and Adobe Premiere Pro to edit videos!
- Inshot is a phenomenal app for editing videos on your phone. Looking to whip up a few reels or TikTok videos? Inshot is a go-to. It's a free app, with a vast range of capabilities and is extremely user-friendly. I've added a link to a youtube tutorial so that you can get a feel for how to use the app in case you're interested in giving it a try!
- The ability to tether your camera to your computer is an absolute GIFT! By connecting my camera to my computer using a USB-C cord and booting up Canon's software EOS Utility 3, I'm able to see the scene of my camera on my computer screen without having to look through the viewfinder of my camera. The Biteshot created a video on how this is done that I've linked - check it out as the method and software may be vastly different than mine depending on your gear. Camera Connect is another similar option - it's an app that you can use to connect your Canon camera to your phone with ease using Bluetooth - here's a video that will explain how to use the app and connect your camera!
- If you like taking videos with your phone and you're using some kind of tripod or stand it can be incredibly challenging to see what you are actually capturing as the phone may be propped up at an odd angle. To mirror or tether my iPhone to my computer so that I can see what I am capturing on my phone, I use Quicktime! I've added a link to a tutorial that will help visually walk you through the process.
- My Camera Leveler is a priceless little gadget. Slide in this bubble leveler into the hot-shoe of your camera to ensure that each photo is level before pressing that shutter!
- Of course, a memory card with ample space for photos and videos is a must. You don't want to be in the middle of a shoot and have to deal with transferring those files and reformatting your memory card before moving forward with your shoot. I have two of these SanDisk Extreme Pro 24GB cards that I've been using for the past few years and they work perfectly.
- Where would I be without my external hard drive and/or some kind of cloud storage system! I've had a bad experience in the past where I lost quite a bit of personal photos due to my external hard drive dropping and breaking (SO awful) so I've switched to using two modes of storage for my files. For the past two years, I've been using the SanDisk 1TB External hard drive - it's super durable, water-resistant, and shock-resistant ... not to mention it's pocket-sized! I also use iCloud Drive as an additional storage system - a backup for my backup.
Props & Backdrops
- When I started pursuing Food Photography, I would head over to Home Depot, get a 2x3 foot board of ¾ inch plywood cut and add the adhesive wallpaper of my choice to the top of the boards! It was a lot of effort, but I was on a budget and enjoyed the process of custom creating the backdrops of my choosing! If you're looking to buy your backdrops, I've adored the backdrops I've purchased from Capture By Lucy, Poppy Bee Surfaces, and Erickson Surfaces!
- I am always and forever on the hunt for more props - whether that's pinch bowls, linens, cups, plates - you name it! I tend to find most of my unique props on Etsy, in thrift stores, and at garage/estate sales! Sweetheart Ceramics is a local Los Angeles gem of a business run by the ceramicist Susan who creates the most beautiful pieces to add to your prop collection! Otherwise, I love checking in at CB2, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, TJ Maxx and West Elm.
Additional Resources & Education
- Food Blogger Pro - A subscription-based community, Food Blogger Pro's endless resources make the monthly or yearly fee well worth it. I've learned so much throughout my time using Food Blogger Pro, especially as I was in the midst of starting my blog.
- Artificial Light Academy - Curious about learning more about the art of artificial lighting?! Look no further. Joanie Simon from the Bite Shot created an incredible online course that was very recently updated! It's a gem of a course and has allowed me to not have to rely on natural lighting on my shoot days. Currently, all my videos are filmed with artificial light and that is 100% due to Joanie's incredible course. She also has a youtube channel that I would highly advise taking a look at - it's full of invaluable resources for photographers and videographers!
- Foodtography School - Both for their many resources and online courses, I'd recommend taking a look at Foodtography School and seeing if it would be a good fit for you! Some time ago I took their iPhone Foodtography course and purchased a few of their templates and guides that I've found incredibly helpful!
- Youtube University - Let's be real, youtube tutorials online are EVERYTHING. I've added a few youtube tutorials throughout this post that I've personally found incredibly helpful, but truly don't sleep on youtube. Whether it's figuring out how to assemble your softbox, how to tether your camera to your computer or how to use the healing tool in photoshop - youtube is the place to get quick answers and problems solved.