Tips to Photograph Your Takeout Food

  • 01 of 08

    You Can Do It!

    Thai food
    Thai food. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    You might be thinking "Take photos of takeout? Are you kidding me?" I am not! Takeout food is an excellent subject to practice your food photography skills. You don't need to prepare the meal and can concentrate on eye-pleasing compositions and how to get the right exposure.

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  • 02 of 08

    Order Wisely

    takeout menus
    Study takeout menus. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    Do not order a burger and fries, or anything that—you know—will look awful, mushed, and gray once it arrives. Asian takeout, Japanese sushi, Korean noodles, or anything Thai is usually well packaged and keeps up its shape and flavor. You still want to eat the food too, right? When you go trough the menu, consider color, shape, texture, and size. I order a variety of dishes and appetizers, more than I would eat ​so that I have plenty of options to choose from.

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  • 03 of 08

    Set Up Your Scene

    Typical takeout bag
    Typical takeout bag. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    While the food is on its way, set up an area to shoot. A low table or other good-looking surface next to a window will give you beautiful daylight and the option to step on a chair to shoot from above. Have a couple of napkins, plates, and flatware handy, in case you want to up-style the food and not shoot it in its plastic containers. A couple of food styling tools, such as brushes, a spritz bottle with water, paper towels, and vegetable oil will help you make the food look delicious and brushes, a spritz bottle with water, paper towels, and vegetable oil will help you make the food look delicious and fresh.

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  • 04 of 08

    Get a Before Photo

    Takeout food
    Thai food in containers. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    Once the food arrives, unpack everything, line up the containers, and take a photo. These "before" shots are fun and will make an interesting pairing with the "after" photo. You don't want to do a lot of food styling in this shoot, but if there is something that bugs you—a smear, drop, or a chunky piece of broccoli that sticks out—do take care of it. The before photo should look appealing too.

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  • 05 of 08

    Style the Dish

    Thai Takeout
    Green chicken curry and spring rolls. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    Open the containers and see what the food looks like. Pick the best looking dishes and loosen up the food with a fork. The containers and transport have probably smushed everything into a lump. If anything looks dry, like the spring rolls above, lightly brush it with a touch of vegetable oil to make it look alive. Spray a little bit of water on salad leaves or other greens.

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  • 06 of 08

    Upstyle the Dish

    Thai takeout food
    Thai takeout food in ceramic bowls. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    You can easily up-style the takeout food. Simply transfer it to your own blows and plates. Add linen, flatware or chopsticks and—ta-da!—you have a picture-perfect scene. Again, you can also fluff up the food, loosening it up as you arrange it on the plate.

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  • 07 of 08

    Shoot the Action

    Thai takeout food
    Don't forget to take an action shot. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    Hopefully, you are sharing the food with your family or friends. Arrange the dishes, step on your chair, call "action," and take pictures that capture the scene from above. You might have to direct your friends a little. Since they can't see what you are seeing from your angle, tell them how to move their arms and what to reach for, cut, or eat.

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  • 08 of 08

    Shoot the Aftermath

    Thai takeout food
    Leftovers. The Spruce / Evi Abeler

    This is not always a success, but shoot it anyway! See if you can make the leftovers work. You might have to take a few elements out or create less or more mess, depending on your artistic taste. And don't forget to have FUN!