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Appetizing Holiday Table Photos

Appetizing Holiday Table Photos

After all of the attention paid to laying-out a beautiful holiday dinner, why not make a photographic record of all of that hard work before your hungry guests dig in? Here are few quick food photography pointers.


The best composition of a table layout is a vertical frame using the near/far approach. The turkey, ham or roast should be about in the center of the frame. Put something colorful and interesting in the lower part of the frame—no mashed potatoes or rolls—vegetables, salad, or cranberry sauce. Keep the composition tight and use a short zoom-in. Remember, you don’t have to show an entire dish. People will know it is round or oval even if you cut the bottom third out.


Avoid clutter, but include accessories that make sense. Always light the candles. If there is a floral centerpiece, position it to the back of the image, where its busyness and color won’t compete with the food. If there is a liquid in the shot, gently blow some air into it through a straw to create a few bubbles on the surface near the rim of the container to make the surface more interesting. If there is a glass of wine in the shot, lightly moisten a piece of tissue and stick it to the back of the glass so that you can’t see the edges of the tissue from the front. This will prevent the glass from acting like a lens and pulling in everything in the background, and will make red wines look less black.


Do not use the built-in flash—it makes food look flat and uninteresting. Flash reduces texture and the feeling of depth and roundness in food photography. You are far better off using available light—be it a light fixture or window light or a mix of both.

Check out more great photography tips in the Olympus Learn Center.

Scene Modes

If your camera has Scene Modes, try the Cuisine, Indoor, and Candlelight Modes to explore the different effects. You may like one better than one of the others.

  • Indoor: This scene is suitable for taking pictures of indoor gatherings. The flash reaches further away, so backgrounds are reproduced clearly.
  • Candle: This scene is ideal for shooting under candlelight. The camera automatically sets optimal shooting conditions to reproduce warm colors. The flash is disabled in this scene.
  • Cuisine: This scene is ideal for still life photography. The camera enables Macro mode and increases the saturation, sharpness and contrast to produce sharp, vivid images of the subject.