Food Photography Equipment and My Go-to Accessories for Beginners and Advanced

I’m so excited to share this list of never ending, always changing food photography equipment and accessories.

*I originally wrote this post at the beginning of 2019 and now we are nearing the end of 2020 and I couldn’t think of better time to update this post or list. With everything going on in the world this year, I’ve had lots of extra time on my hands to learn some new tricks and try out some new gear.

I’m here to share it all with you!

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need the most expensive camera, lights or backdrops to get gorgeous photos–you just need to understand light, composition and editing. With that being said, you don’t have to dish out thousands of dollars on camera equipment to achieve success in this industry. I promise you that whatever camera you have, you can make beautiful photos using it! Anyway, more about all that in a future post.

My Beginners Equipment

Canon 5D Mark IV– I purchased this camera a few months ago and I’m in love with it. The 5D Mark IV handles low light well and it’s great having a full frame camera. Before this one I was shooting on a Canon 7D Mark II which I bought used on eBay. I shot with the 7D for years, learned everything I could about photography before I made the jump to the 5D. If you are looking for a more affordable camera to start out with, the Canon Rebel Series Bundle is a great one!

24mm-70mm 2.8 II – This lens is a spectacular lens. If you can afford it, this zoom lens will replace most of your lenses with it’s sharp images! I’m obsessed.

50 mm 1.4 lens– This is the lens I use most often, like everyday! I usually start every shoot with this lens and especially for flat lays. This lens or the “nifty fifty” 50mm 1.8 (which is significantly cheaper) is the lens I recommend starting out with. 

100 mm 2.8 Macro lens– This is hands down my favorite lens because it gets you right up in the food. This lens is how I get those great “in your face” shots. The downside is the price but pay for what you get with this lens. It’s definitely not cheap but I promise you, it’s worth it. 

60 mm Macro 2.8 lens– This lens captures light so beautifully and it’s one of my favorites. This lens is fantastic for food photography because of it’s macro capabilities and affordability. This lens is only compatible with my 7D mark II so make your camera will work with this lens before buying.

My Lighting Equipment

I started my photography journey using natural light and finally mastered artificial light probably less than a year ago and I have to admit that sometimes it’s such a relief not having to rely on good natural light for my photoshoots. When I started working for brands creating their content, packaging, website images, etc. this was especially helpful in helping to achieve a consistent look.

The list below seems long and overwhelming but I promise you that it’s not. It’s just one light source with a few pieces sold separately. What I love about this setup is that it’s affordable (I think all together it’s probably less than $150) and it’s light weight so if you needed to take it apart and bring it with you (which I’ve done on many occasions), it’s not going to weigh down your camera bag.

food photographer
This was shot in natural light

So let’s get on with it…

Newer NW – 561 Speedlite – This speedlite is probably one of the cheapest ones available but it get’s the job done!!! Unless you are shooting for a big commercial brand like Burger King, you can get by with this light! I’m telling you, I shoot with this thing everyday and it’s hands down the best $36 bucks I’ve ever spent for my career. The down side to this flash is that it only lights a couple of feet so if you are lighting a large scene like a wedding, this wouldn’t be an idea flash but for food photography, it’s great!

Studio Umbrella – I used this to bounce the light through the diffuser. You could just just use the speedlite to shoot directly at your subject that would create very harsh light which isn’t ideal for food photography so I highly recommend grabbing one of these umbrellas to bounce the light.

Receiver & Trigger – I probably should have mentioned this at the beginning but I believe that this lighting setup only works with a DSLR. If you have a point and shoot, iPhone or mirrorless then this lighting setup isn’t for you. That being said, you need this receiver and trigger to communicate between the camera and speedlite so when you press the shutter, the light flashes at the same time.

Receiver & Trigger (second option more expensive but worth it) – I recently upgraded to this trigger and receiver and I like it much better than the one listed above. It won’t change the outlook of your images so if this price point is too high, the one listed above will work just fine but this trigger and receiver are much more durable and will last much better.

Light Stand – You will need this to hold the umbrella and speed light.

Light Stand Bracket Mount – This is just the mount that connects your speedlite flash to the light stand

Lighting Diffuser – Diffusers are so important and can be such a great tool for photography. It’s something that I use in natural and artificial light. This diffuser will essentially act as your light source (so the bigger the better) while also diffusing the light and getting rid of harsh shadows.

Diffuser Holder – This one is not necessary because you can prop your diffuser onto anything use some cheap clamps but if you want a stand/holder for you diffuser, this is the one I use.

Reusable Batteries – These lights eat up batteries fairly quickly so reusable batteries will save your life! Get AA and AAA.

That’s it! These are the main things I use for my food photography. With all that being said, remember that good food photography really only comes down to lighting, composition and editing. Please send me an email or leave a comment if you have any questions. 🙂

If you love this post, be sure to leave a comment here on the blog or reach out to me on Instagram. I love hearing from you! xx

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garrett siller
garrett siller
4 years ago

Hi Ciarra, I hope you get this I’m your Biggest Fan I’ve been away from your site for a few years now and Wow has it changed your photos look great and your now your giving tips on taking them , I hope you don’t mind I signed up for your news letter again so I can keep up with your work. Love Your Dad………

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