Best Food Photography Courses Online 2021

Best Food Photography Courses Online 2021

Lately, it seems like everyone is a food photographer. Sharing pictures of tasty homemade recipes or adorable latte art is commonplace on Instagram, blogs, and other social media outlets. Amateur food photography is often mocked on these same forums because it tends to be of poor quality. However, that doesn’t have to be your fate.

If you are serious about sharpening your food photography skills, there are plenty of online courses to cater to your needs. No matter your skill level or intentions, you can become a better food photographer easily from home.

Orientation

When choosing a food photography course, there are a few elements to consider. This will help you have the best possible experience and reach your individual goals.

Equipment

It’s no secret that almost everyone has a decent camera in their pocket. Smartphones have been improving their cameras, both in terms of hardware and software, for the past few years. But many people who are serious about photography still enjoy the quality and control of a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera.

Many courses focus on helping you hone your skills with whatever your preferred camera is, but some are geared towards specific equipment. There are even classes designed to help you get the most out of smartphone photos. If you don’t want to invest in a camera yet, making sure you choose a course that is still valuable to you with the tools you have is important.

Some classes may also give instruction on using light sources. While basic ring lights and key lights are affordable additions to your photography equipment, you can still get great shots by using natural light and other light sources available to you.

Skill Level

Many food photography courses are geared towards beginner photographers. This means they often walk you through topics like photo composition, camera settings, and other basics. If you do have experience in photography but want to focus specifically on food, these might be a little redundant for you information-wise. In that case, you might want to start with a more advanced-level class.

Top 10 Best Online Food Photography Courses 2021


1. Best Starter Class: Food Photography With Andrew Scrivani

  • 14 hours $149 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: camera or phone
  • Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Features info on starting a photography business on a budget

Why we like it

This is an excellent class that both hobbyists and would-be professionals can enjoy with some great bonus information.

Course Review

Taught by photographer and producer, Andrew Scrivani, this course is a passionate journey through the process of staging the most effective photos of food. Whether you’re trying to make a croissant or a bowl of spaghetti into art, this course has you covered. Detailed units focus on specific types of food and how to create a scene around it with various props.

For beginners and hobbyists, the course has information on getting the most out of cell phone and point-and-shoot cameras. But, there are some units that give insight into camera settings when it comes to more professional equipment as well. There’s even some instruction on how to write copy around your subject.

After digging into staging, props, and lighting, students will have scenarios to test their skills and take some sample photos. You can even upload them to share and enjoy browsing the work of other students in the course. Towards the end, the focus shifts to helping you navigate the business side of photography with some helpful information about copyrights and how to get started with a photography business.

Who It’s For

If you have been itching to show off all the cooking and baking skills you acquired during lockdown and want to start a blog or Instagram profile, this course is just what you need to get started. It helps students become versed in photographing various kinds of food and even touches on how to write the text that accompanies your work — ideal for the food blogging scene.

The class attempts to cover a bit of everything but is very focused on the artistry and process, for the most part. It’s also very style-heavy, so if you’re looking for a course that gets more technical, you may not have all the information you need.

The class is also several years old, so in the sections that discuss cellphone photography, the information is a little dated. An iPhone from 2013 (when this course was recorded) is very different from one produced today. If you’re looking for a more up-to-date course about the best way to get great shots on a modern smartphone, try the Smartphone Food Photography class instead.

Pros

  • Comprehensive look at styling and shooting many foods
  • Suited to multiple camera styles
  • Touches on aspects like lighting and props
  • Gives practical photography business tips

Cons

  • Not heavy on technical information
  • Outdated smartphone information


2. Best Class for Home Chefs: Food Photography: Capturing Food in Your Kitchen

  • 1 hour $100 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: smartphone or camera, editing application
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Simple tips that can improve your photography instantly

Why we like it

This class is quick, easy, and practical for even the most inexperienced food photographer.

Course Review

This recently updated course packs a lot of information into one. It promises that in just one hour, it can teach you how to make your food photos much better and it delivers on that promise by breaking down composition basics for you.

Focusing on using what you have, this course helps you choose a location, arrange lighting, and set up a design to make even basic meals pop. You don’t need special equipment; the course focuses on using natural light and even gives some DIY suggestions to fake a more professional lighting look. This course also encourages its students to embrace photo editing to polish their shots further, whether they have software like Lightroom or are using their smartphone app.

The instructors walk you through live demonstrations of setting up and shooting a few common foods. Students are also given an exercise to practice photographing whatever their next meal is. There’s an online photography group that anyone can enroll in to share their work and gather inspiration and advice from other students.

Who It’s For

For would-be food photographers starting at square one, this class provides valuable tips and ideas that you can apply instantly. The no-frills approach is not intimidating, and it assumes your beginner level without being condescending.

If you have any art or photography experience, this may not be a valuable course for you. Suggestions about how to shoot in a room that has natural light, for example, is a common-sense suggestion to anyone with some knowledge of contrast.

This course doesn’t dive in too deeply, so it’s not for someone looking for professional development; however, it’s great for people looking to have fun and enjoy a photography or food hobby.

Pros

  • Approachable for true beginners
  • DIY lighting suggestions
  • Up to date for phone photography
  • Easily applicable tips

Cons

  • Suggests common sense concepts
  • Very surface level photography info


3. Best Foodie Class: Food Photography: Shooting at Restaurants

  • 30 minutes Free with Skillshare subscription Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment; camera or smartphone, restaurant meal
  • Skill Level: beginner to intermediate
  • This unique course focuses on getting the most for a restaurant setting

Why we like it

This course will inspire you to head to the nearest restaurant and let your creative juices flow.

Course Review

Daniel Krieger’s photos have been featured in the New York Times, Eater, and other respected publications. Now, he shares his tips on getting the best possible shots in a restaurant with photographers and enthusiasts alike.

In this brief course, students follow Krieger on location to an NYC restaurant and watch him go through the process of setting up a shoot while he provides tips along the way. Setting the mood, and even ordering the best food for the most dynamic shots is considered in this class. Students are advised on how to use natural light and take advantage of lunchtime — which is the best time to shoot, according to Krieger.

The class itself is brief, but students walk away with an assignment and the next steps to take in order to get the best restaurant photoshoot of their lives. Krieger’s down-to-earth enthusiasm and balance between practical advice and whimsy can get students feeling inspired to test out their new skills.

Who It’s For

If you have a bit of experience with photography, but you want to take your restaurant shots to the next level, you will enjoy this course. Even people with some level of photography training or professional experience may find this course useful if they haven’t worked in the world of restaurant and food photography before.

This course is pretty brief, though, so it’s not very in-depth and focuses mainly on staging and preparing shots in restaurants. There’s no discussion on editing or technical camera information.

The class is more like a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a professional practicing his craft and giving tips and explanations along the way. While many newer photographers may find this inspiring, those with experience may feel it lacks the substance they really need for professional enrichment.

Pros

  • Focuses on capturing the ambiance of restaurants
  • Shows how to select the best food options
  • Focuses on staging effective photos
  • Inspires you to try it out for yourself

Cons

  • Doesn’t teach in a traditional way
  • No editing information


4. Best Class for Photographers: Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

  • 5 hours $49 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: camera
  • Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Practical lectures by industry professionals

Why we like it

In this course, students can enjoy learning how to improve their food photography skills while starting their own photography business.

Course Review

Photography for pleasure or a hobby is different than photography on the professional level. This class gives students insight into what the world of professional food photography really looks like. It starts off by helping students hone the skills they need to make their food photos stand out and attract clients.

The essentials, like what gear to take on shoots and how to make the best use of natural lighting are covered. Deeper into the class, they teach you about more specific scenarios like shooting in kitchens and taking commissions for clients. The course wraps up by focusing on the nitty-gritty of preparing your professional website and portfolio to help you get the jobs you want.

While some people are uncomfortable talking about money, the instructor has a unit dedicated to how to price your work and negotiate. The course is intended to be a launchpad to help professionals succeed in their new business.

Who It’s For

This course is perfect for students that have some background in photography but who want to adjust their focus to food and start developing as a professional. The class really hones in on commercial photography and how to work effectively in this world.

However, if you don’t have pro-level photography equipment or the budget to invest in any at the moment, this class may not be as useful. The instructor spends a lot of time focusing on gear and how to set up and use it.

This class is also a recorded lecture where the instructor interacts with live students and shares personal anecdotes from his working life. While some students may love a format that mimics the classroom experience, others may find it a bit annoying and dislike the off-topic information.

Pros

  • Focuses on commercial photography
  • Tips for shooting in various locations
  • Extensive info about professional work

Cons

  • Not for those with budget equipment
  • Some off-topic information


5. Most Comprehensive Beginner Course: Foodtography School

  • Flexible $587 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: Camera or Smartphone
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Interact and get feedback with the course’s FB group

Why we like it

This in-depth beginner course offers some opportunities for interactive learning and networking.

Course Review

Split into seven digestible units, Foodtography School is an ultra-beginner-friendly course that walks students through all the fundamentals they need to become better food photographers and share their work with the world.

It starts off with the very basics of using a camera, adjusting lighting, and composing shots. The class educates students on editing techniques and creating moods. Beyond just capturing great shots, the importance of creating a unified look to visually brand yourself as a photographer and creator is emphasized.

The class also focuses on the power of social media and dedicates an entire unit to understanding and finding success on these platforms, particularly Instagram. Students have a chance to exercise their new skills with assignments, and they can share their work on the private student Facebook group to get feedback and connect with other photographers.

Who It’s For

If you’re new to photography but want to create beautiful and professional-level shots, this is a great starter course. It’s adapted to the world of Instagram photographers and food bloggers, so it’s ideal if that’s your goal.

The ability to interact with other students and engage in live styling sessions with the instructor adds a deeper level to this class than just merely watching a video. If you learn better through interaction, you’ll appreciate this.

This course isn’t cheap, though, so it’s not for those with just a casual interest. However, while it does give information on the business side of things in the final unit, it’s not geared toward commercial photography; also, some of the information is very basic. If you have a background in photography, you may want to try their advanced course instead.

Pros

  • Social media focus
  • Editing basics
  • Opportunities for interactive learning

Cons

  • More expensive than many other courses
  • Very basic in some areas


6. Best Smartphone Specific Class: Smartphone Food Photography: Practical Guide

  • 4.5 hours $89.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: Any Smartphone
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Helps you create different moods with your smartphone photos

Why we like it

This practical course helps you develop an aesthetic identity in your photos.

Course Review

They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and nowadays, most people have powerful cameras in their pocket thanks to developing smartphone technology. This course embraces the idea of using whatever you have on hand and making basic tweaks to get the best possible shot. This course is designed to work for you whether you use iPhone or Android.

Geared toward the world of Instagram aesthetics, this course features units specifically on cultivating moods in your photography. Dark, moody photos, bright and fresh photos, and cozy rustic photos are the main themes.

The class focuses on simple and practical ways to improve your shots and gives examples featuring five different kinds of food. After the main session, there is a bonus lesson that takes a deeper look at the dark and moody aesthetic with several sample shoots from setup to editing.

Who It’s For

Increasingly more artists are encouraged to develop aesthetic identities to help them be recognizable on social media platforms. This class particularly focuses on that, so it’s useful for students who want to better develop a sense of unity in their shots.

Of course, this class focuses quite a lot of time and attention on the dark and moody style, which may not be as valuable if you lean in another direction. If you just can’t get enough of it, though, you can also try this course which focuses solely on that style.

This class is very approachable and beginner-friendly. You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or have a background in art or photography, which is great for many newbies.

The instructor is an experienced professional photographer, but he also gives an approachable vibe, not bombarding students with technical jargon or a pretentious sense of artistry. Overall, it’s down to earth and inspiring, which will be refreshing for most students. The only issue is that there are some audio problems at a few points in the course.

Pros

  • Approachable style
  • Works with whatever smartphone you have
  • Focuses on developing mood and aesthetics

Cons

  • Leans heavily toward moody photography style
  • Some audio issues


7. Best Social Media Photography Class: Dark & Moody Food Photography for Instagram Success

  • 1 hour Free with Skillshare subscription Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: Smartphone
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Touches on how to effectively use editing apps on a smartphone

Why we like it

Social media savvy, this class helps you be successful on Instagram.

Course Review

It’s no secret that moody photos that look like they were captured on a rainy day do very well on Instagram — as the instructor of this course is well aware. Visual storytelling and capturing moods take center stage in this brief beginner course.

This class is geared towards smartphone photography, and even while discussing editing photographs, the instructor discusses how to make the most of editing apps directly on your phone, not just computer software. This streamlines the process from taking your initial shots to uploading to social media. Of course, many successful Instagram photographers use cameras and more sophisticated tools and equipment, which are also discussed in this class.

The class also shares some simple tips for how to stage your photos and get the best possible lighting for your shots. Dissecting what makes a good food photo and how to express a story through your work culminates in a hands-on project that you can share with your instructor and other students by uploading your work to the site.

Who It’s For

This class is quick and to the point. If you want to be more successful on Instagram and have your work go viral, either as a photographer in your own right or to share recipes or restaurant reviews, this class is a great way to boost your skills.

This course focuses both on simple and effective changes you can make in your photos and also on developing yourself as a visual storyteller. It also walks the line between sharing quick tips and encouraging its students to go a little deeper. Much of the advice isn’t food photography-specific, but it is geared towards general lifestyle content. This is great if you photograph a range of subjects; however, it doesn’t key in on the unique qualities of food photography the way some courses do.

While focusing on the dark and moody aesthetic theme, this brief course doesn’t discuss much about how lighting affects the end product or how to take your photos to the next level. It’s a great course to get you started if you’re new to photography and social media, but as such, it lacks depth and nuance.

Pros

  • Social media-geared course
  • Discusses editing on a smartphone
  • Introduces the principles of visual storytelling

Cons

  • More general lifestyle photography tips than food-specific tips
  • Very basic concepts


8. Best Behind-The-Scenes Class: Introduction to Storytelling in Food Photography

  • 18 minutes Free with Skillshare membership Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: Camera or Smartphone
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • An intimate look at how a professional photography works

Why we like it

Students get a true behind-the-scenes look at setting up a photoshoot.

Course Review

This class invites students to simply sit back and observe, then take inspiration for their own project. Photographer and cookbook author, Mare Marie Forseberg, invites you to take an intimate look at how she works with this class. For example, you can observe how she sets up a photoshoot of a feast in a rustic outdoor setting.

While Mare Marie sets the scene, she explains to students the methods she uses to create a story for her audience. Creating a shot list in advance, she emphasizes the importance of preparation going into a shoot and styles the meal accordingly.

Students are given a follow-up assignment at the end of this course. In the project workspace, students introduce themselves and have space to share their own meal stories and the photos they took. This forum allows you to bounce ideas off fellow students (and the instructor), as well as receive feedback on your finished images.

Who It’s For

If you have some understanding of the basics of photography but are looking for a course that inspires you, this is the class for you. It doesn’t get bogged down in teaching you the technical details but rather helps you find a story to tell and organize yourself to be more effective in doing so.

The class takes a more artistic viewpoint and focuses on the story, not the shot. It’s also relaxing to watch, allowing students to get a glimpse of how a professional works, all while getting background information about the process and advice from a pro.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a class that is loaded with tips and hacks on how to use editing software or light diffusers, this may not be for you. It’s better for students that have some idea of what they are doing behind the camera but may be struggling to set up their first shoot. There are also a few audio issues with this course, which may irritate some viewers.

Pros

  • Relaxing and low-pressure course
  • Invites students to exercise their creativity and share work
  • Gives you behind the scenes tips and insight

Cons

  • Not much technical information
  • Some audio issues


9. Best Class on Artistic Principles: Foodies Ultimate Food Photography Masterclass

  • 4 hours $100 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: Camera
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Features information about color theory

Why we like it

This class is a great overview to get you started in food photography.

Course Review

This course is structured like a manual for new photographers, complete with a quick start guide unit. From the fundamentals of composition, props, and using a camera, this class quickly covers a lot of information.

Principles of art, such as ratios and color theory, are lingered over before getting down to the actual photographs. This enables students to have practice in recognizing what makes an image pleasant to look at or not. Controlling the narrative of your picture comes into play through the use of props and tools.

Some unique features of this class are budget tips on finding useful objects at your local dollar store that can transform your pictures. It also includes a rough guide to editing your photos after the fact and even adding text and graphics for various applications.

Who It’s For

This course says that it’s for foodies, and that assessment seems on point. Anyone who loves food or cooking and wants to document their adventures in restaurants or the kitchen, but has no knowledge of aesthetic principles or photography, will find some helpful start information here.

Despite including a unit on getting your first paying customer as a photographer, the course really doesn’t feel like it’s on the correct level for that. Most of the information is very elementary, geared toward hobbyists, not toward professionals. If you want something tailored to more advanced photographers looking to make the leap into food photography as a business, there are better courses.

This course bills itself as a one-stop shop for food photography enthusiasts, so it features a lot of beginner content. However, the class assumes students will have a camera and spends some time teaching things like shutter speed to enable students to shoot in manual mode. So, if you want to get a better handle on how to use your camera, this can be helpful; however, if you are starting on a smartphone the information will be less helpful.

Pros

  • Features essential info to get you started
  • Teaches about aesthetic art principles
  • Dollar store prop hacks

Cons

  • Less helpful information about finding paying clients
  • Assumes students shoot on a camera, not a smartphone


10. Best Advanced Class: Capturing Food in Motion

  • 5 hours $49 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Equipment: Camera and Lighting Equipment
  • Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Course Review

While displays of beautiful dishes and meals are everywhere, it’s undeniable that shots of food and drink in motion are far more dynamic and professional-looking. In this class on capturing food in motion, students are taught the essential techniques to create these exciting photos.

From classic shots of pouring and drizzling while cooking to whimsical fantasy shots of “flying pancakes”, this class is full of ideas and methods for creating unforgettable images. Importantly, it starts off with vital information about protecting yourself and your equipment while in the splash zone on these photoshoots.

There are budget-conscious tips for building a set to work on and an introduction to crash photography included in the class. The instructor walks you through preparing the food, staging your scene, and capturing high-speed images. From there, the later units guide students on how to choose the best images and edit them layer by layer for the most professional effect.

Who It’s For

Experienced photographers who are looking to add some visually impressive shots to their portfolio will appreciate the theme of this class. The topic is somewhat niche and definitely requires students to have more equipment and experience than the other classes on our list.

While the demonstrations in the class are very interesting and can give valuable insights to photographers, the instruction style isn’t for everyone. Not all the discussions are linear or pointed. It’s not the smooth, technical, step-by-step way of teaching that some people prefer to fully grasp the concept.

It’s also a fairly niche style of photography that beginners probably won’t have the skills or tools to jump into. Even many food photographers don’t shoot in this style, so it won’t be for everyone.

Pros

  • Shows how to create dynamic food photos
  • Provides tips on protecting your equipment from splashes
  • Gives photoshop editing tips

Cons

  • Very niche style of photography
  • Some may find instructor hard to follow
  • Requires more equipment than other classes


Frequently Asked Questions About Food Photography

Here are some lingering questions you might have as you move forward in your new career or hobby.

The most important thing you need is some sort of camera, and when you’re just starting out, that can be your smartphone camera. By using natural light and gathering props in the form of everyday objects around your home, you can keep costs very low.

As you start to get more into the hobby, you may want to invest in a mirrorless or DSLR camera, depending on your preference, to help you get more consistent and professional-looking shots. A tripod can also be useful, as well as extra lighting sources, so you aren’t as dependent on the weather to get a great shot.

Food photography has grown in popularity in recent years, and it can be a surprisingly diverse field. Many people choose it because they are passionate about food and like to capture their experiences of trying new cuisine at restaurants. Alternatively, some people use it as a vehicle to share recipes and their personal progression as they’re learning to cook.

Food photography is also an in-demand skill professionally. From magazines that cover the restaurant scene to show off the latest bistro to cookbook authors that need images that instruct and inspire their audience, there are many job opportunities for skilled food photographers.

Many newbie photographers interested in food photographers are looking to share their passion for food and cooking. The competition is fierce, with many bloggers sharing their culinary adventures, so it is wise to make yourself stand out by having exceptional photographs. Even if your recipes are delicious, blurry and poorly lit photos will turn off many readers.

Since it is a saturated market, many food bloggers won’t make much, if any, money. However, for those that consistently share excellent work, there have been success stories. For example, Smitten Kitchen has been a successful cooking blog that resulted in the creator publishing several cookbooks.

Transitioning into video content has also been a successful strategy for many food bloggers, and receiving sponsorship from brands can be lucrative.

Just like blogging, the world of Instagram is very competitive. Finding your niche can take time, but some creators have rolled their Instagram work into a source of income. Getting enough followers and interaction on your account while having a unified sense of identity can help you connect with brands. Sponsorship and brand affiliate codes are one of the main ways that Instagram creators make money from brands.

If you don’t want to work with brands, you can also receive sponsorship directly from your audience. Patreon and Ko-Fi are popular resources that allow your fans to donate to your work either on a subscription basis or as a one-off donation.



Extra Credit

Overhead shot of food

There are plenty of online photography courses to help you get started, whether you’re brand new to photography or you want to hone in on a food photography niche with the basic skills you already have.

Basic Art Skills

You don’t have to be able to create a masterpiece in charcoal or watercolor to be an art-savvy photographer. More useful to use as an artist is understanding basics like color, composition, and chiaroscuro: the play of shadow and light. Training your eye to recognize what will be a great shot and how to make more dynamic photos is more important than just learning all your different camera settings.

Some courses on our list also touch on some of those basic, theoretical aspects of art and photography, like color theory.

Creating Stories and Moods

The shots that resonate with people the most tend to be the ones that tell us about more than just the existence of an object. By playing with storytelling and creating moods with your photo, you can give your viewer an emotional response and say something about the atmosphere of the photo.

For example, is this cup of coffee cozy and comforting? Is it energetic and exciting? Is it lonely and contemplative? By playing with lighting, angles, and editing techniques, you can create vastly different messages by photographing the same object. You can experiment with exercises of creating different moods. Several courses on our list touch on these aesthetic principles, particularly this one.

Say Cheese (On an Attractive Board)

Food photography can be both an enriching hobby or a lucrative career path. Whether you’ve never picked up a camera before or you have a background in photography, there are courses to help you learn this specific genre of photography and prepare for however you want to use these skills.

We hope our list has shown you the wide variety of options there are for online photography courses, and we’re confident that you’ll be able to find one to suit your needs.