What’s in My Bag? Diary of a Food Photographer

The great thing about being a food photographer is how light I get to travel. No huge backpacks full of gear for me. Travel light, move fast! 

Did you buy it? I’ve got to admit to fibbing to you. The truth is that while the camera and lens collection I lug around with me is somewhat smaller than the kind of gear that gets toted around for a wedding, there is significantly more in my bag(s) than just camera gear. 

After all, I need to work with the best restaurateurs to ensure that I capture their food at its absolute finest, and this can sometimes involve digging deep into my bag of tricks. So, let’s take a quick look through the items I carry with me when on a foodie mission.

The Camera Bag of a Food Photographer

I’m a Nikon shooter. Specifically, I carry two Nikon d750 cameras. These come armed with the following:

  • Nikon 50mm f2.8
  • Sigma 105mm f2.8
  • Tamron 24-70mm f2.8

A NIkon D750 Camera bodym a Sigma 105mm Prime lens, A tamron 24079 Lens and a Nikon 50mm prome lens sat on a white wooden backdrop floor with a pink marbles back drop behind

Some photographers might make arguments that every kit should have lenses with a shallower depth of field. For a portrait photographer, that may be true, but when you’re shooting food, which is typically smaller than the average human, a shallow depth of field is often more a hindrance than a help. 

The 24-70mm lens comes along with me when we’ve agreed to shoot team members and fly-on-the-wall documentary images, where I may not be able to use my feet to move around. The kitchen can be a busy place, and I try to stay out of the way when necessary. 

In addition to the camera and lenses, I bring the most appropriate lighting, either flash or continuous, depending on the planned set-up. Again, I try to ensure that the process does not get in the way of the smooth operation of my client’s kitchen, as we are often shooting dishes moments after they are prepared, when they look their absolute best.

I’ll also bring any agreed-upon backgrounds and props to ensure that the final image is as perfect as can be. 

The Fun Stuff!

So, if you know camera bags, this probably doesn’t sound too different, does it? But there’s more, and this is where the fun starts. 

As well as everything above, I also bring:

  • Blue tac
  • Glue dots
  • Putty
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton buds
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dulling spray
  • Water spray
  • Glycerin
  • Gloves
  • An apron

A culoinary camera apron and mug with paintbrushes and skewers in the pocket

This is where I get to perfect the scene. Whether it’s picking out a stray sprinkle on a cake with tweezers or using glycerin to enhance the shine of a glaze, I like to consider myself an artist. Cake Whisperer? Pasta Perfectionist? Cocktail Wrangler? All this and more!

Food photography is a funny game, and sometimes there are so many tricks involved in making a product look its best. For example, when I’m shooting a burger, it’s important that the product looks inviting and juicy, so I’ll often use water spray for this purpose.

Or, when I’m shooting a particularly long dish, I might use putty to prop up the sides to get the perfect angle. Blue tac and glue dots can come in handy for keeping an attractive but precariously balanced garnish in place.

So that’s what I carry around with me when on a food photography mission. It’s all about keeping the gear lightweight and staying nimble so I can get the best shots possible, as quickly as I can! 

I hope my little peek inside the bag of a food photographer has given you an insight into the sometimes forgotten elements of food photography! If you’d like to discover more about what I do or to discuss arranging a shoot for your restaurant or bar, I’d love to speak with you – Just drop me a message

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