5 tips for dark and moody food photography

Dark and moody food photography is a specific style that has gained a lot of popularity within the past few years.

I am interested in this style because it really helps make the colors pop on some foods which allows the photo to give off much more personality/feeling. While some food photography shots are very light and focused on achieving an overall bright and warm feeling, these dark and moody shots use a darker backdrop to make the color really come out and switch the mood.

This was a highly searched topic within the realm of food photography, so I decided to provide 5 tips from people who know how to achieve the look perfectly.

Here are 5 tips that will help you get started with shooting dark and moody food photography.

Tip 1. Moody Food Photography: The How-To Guide via TylerClayMedia.com

Within this post titled Moody Food Photography: The How To Guide, Tyler goes through a quick explanation of how to shoot images that have a great dark and moody look. Tyler uses a very laid back tone and does a great job of covering the equipment that is needed to achieve the desired look. For example, I enjoyed when he mentioned what he feels is the most important piece of equipment needed to achieve the look…

 “For me I think best piece of equipment that I had was my backdrop. If you don’t have a good backdrop to offset your food then your picture won’t turn out as well as it could have.”

This is a great place to start while searching for how to get that perfect dark and moody shot.

Full postMoody Food Photography: The How to Guide

Tip 2. How To Guide: Create Dark Food Photography (With Just A Box) via TwoLovesStudio.Com

IMAGE VIA Two Loves Studio

       Image via Two Loves Studio

Rachel from Two Loves Studio created this informative how-to guide for creating dark food photography with just a box. Within her guide, she does an amazing job at showing how this shoot is set up. After reading through this, the way people achieve those great dark and moody shots made much more sense to me. 

Rachel describes the post:

“Ever wondered how food photographers create those really bold images of still life or dark food photography? The answer is so simple, you’ll be shooting away like a pro by the time you’ve read this post.” 

I like this post because Rachel is very specific about not only what you’ll need to achieve the shot, but also how you can approach it.

Full postHow to Guide: Create Dark Food Photography (With Just a Box)

Follow TwoLovesStudio on: TwitterInstagram, or Pinterest 


Tip 3. An overall look at Dark and Moody via Celebrate-creativity

Lisa from Celebrate-creativity published this article that covers the trend of dark and moody food photography. I enjoyed this article and decided to include it because it provides the perspective of one person and how they personally approach dark and moody food photography. It’s less of a “this is how you should do it” type of post. She even says,

“While I’ve admired the look for a long time, I’ve recently started experimenting with the dark and moody effect myself. Throughout this post, I’ll share a few of my first efforts with this technique starting with chocolate and other elements from my cake styling shoot.”

Lisa talks about how she has personally grown with shooting dark and moody, and also talks about how she’s learned to enhance this style by using some post-processing. This is a great chronicle of one person’s journey through trying to achieve the perfect “dark and moody” style.

Full post: Dark Food Photography

Follow Lisa on: PinterestInstagram, & Facebook


Tip 4. An overall look at Dark and Moody Food Photography via Vera at NicestThings.com

This very in-depth guide is a gift. Within it, not only does Vera discuss what “dark and moody” is in a clear way, but she also carefully explain how to achieve it by covering points like props, backgrounds, lighting, styling, equipment needed, and editing!

I enjoyed Vera’s description of what dark food photography is: 


vera nicestthing tamron

                         Image Via Nicest Things

“The photos are dark with atmospheric light accents on the food and exciting rustic textures. They come across as being honest, spontaneous and have a somewhat melancholy and shabby appeal, making you feel as though you’re sitting at an old oak table in the back room of an Italian trattoria having dinner with the padrone.”

This is another article that I believe would be a great starting point for anyone who’s trying to learn how to achieve this specific look.

Full postDark and Moody Food Photography via Tamron

Check out Vera’s personal blog: Nicest Things For Interior DYI

Follow Vera On: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Instagram 

Tip 5. Using artificial light to achieve the dark and moody look via MexicanandMeatless.com

Nancy from Mexican and Meatless (wow, I love that name) created a guide that covers how to use artificial lights to shoot food photography. Although it seemed like Nancy was attempting to simply show how artificial light can be used, she did it by showing an example that I believe would be considered “dark and moody”.

dark food photography, mexican and meatless

                    Image via Mexican & Meatless


She has a diagram for how the setup looks, quickly mentions the equipment she uses and shows the difference between using silver, white, & gold reflectors, she also shows us what the different images look like before and after post-processing.

When she goes into the props that she uses portion of the article, she says 

“ From the beginning, I knew that if I started thinking about needing to buy a bunch of props and dishware, I would be wasting energy that I needed to direct on learning my camera and lighting first. As time went by, I began experimenting with a few props. I feel that it is the food that should be the center of attention and not the props, so I tend to not use many. What I do use are tablecloths, place mats/table mats, kitchen towels, small pieces of fabrics, flowers, plants, ribbons, and color paper.”

As someone who’s a beginner, I found that quote interesting because the thought of not worrying about getting all of the perfect props until later had not crossed my mind. Now I’m giving it some more careful thought!

Full postFood Photography: My Shooting Setup With Artificial Light

Follow Nancy On: TwitterPinterest,  Instagram, & Facebook

Tip 6. 5 Essentials for Shooting Dark Food Photography via Cheeky Kitchen

Brooke from Cheeky Kitchen created this video that is so easy to follow. If you learn through seeing people do things, this is for you! There’s something about the way she explains it that brought me comfort and made it seem like it would be easy to do. I don’t know Brooke, but I wish she could be a fly on the wall while I actually attempt this so she could laugh.

Anyway, Brooke covers the equipment you need and even the props you can use. I love how she mentions that it’s not really too important to get your props from a specific place. This put me at ease because many other food photographers say the exact opposite.

My favorite part of the video is when she says

“when you’re doing dark photography, you want to make sure you decide where you want your light source to come from because it becomes extremely obvious when you’re taking your pictures”

Full Post5 Essentials for Shooting Dark Food Photography

Follow Brooke On: TwitterPinterest, & Instagram  


Like “light and airy” food photography, dark and moody has its own place in the food photography realm. Whether the trend will continue upwards or go downward? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Hopefully, I’ve provided you with enough information to feel like you can get started with capturing dark and moody food photography.

How do you feel about dark and moody food photography? Is it your favorite? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Comment below and let me know – ‘Rouk 





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