The psychology behind professional food photography

The food and restaurant industry in Cornwall is booming, and here at Chetwode Ram we love food photography. Local chefs are constantly cooking up mouth watering treats, and it’s our job to make sure they look as good as they taste! It’s a great job that has led us to wonder.. what is it about food photography that makes us so hungry?

Food Photography

How it makes us feel

Have you ever been scrolling through social media, magazines or a recipe book and a delicious cream cake catches your eye, and suddenly you’re hungry?

Social media is jam packed full of both amateur and professional food photography, because we love showing off what’s on our plate. Our love for photographing food has given birth to our obsession in the glamorisation of food, by presenting and photographing it in an appealing manner. This ultimately results in hungry bellies and typically a bucket load of likes, shares and comments.

The theory is that the way we display, arrange and photograph our food can have a physiological effect on us. It can generate hunger, create interest and entice the viewer in.

The science

We decided to investigate this, and it’s no coincidence that when we’re flicking through food photography, we get a rumbling in our stomachs. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that the sight of delicious food stimulates our appetite. A study conducted on young healthy men found that when shown images of food the amount of neurosecretory protein hormone increases, resulting in hunger.

There you have it. It’s been scientifically proven that an inviting image of food can make us experience the desire to eat, even when we’re not hungry.

The photography

For food and restaurant manufacturers there’s no better way to entice customers, than visual imagery. We eat with our eyes, and they’re usually bigger than our belly!

For this to work, attractive food is only half the battle. When we think back to those images that made our mouths water, it comes down to the powerful photography. Food can be made to look more delicious with the right presentation, lighting, and atmosphere.


Food Photography Techniques

How we do it

Our love for digital grazing has meant now more than ever, food photography needs to stand out. In an oversaturated world of yummy images, it’s important to be one step ahead. How food is styled and photographed can heavily reflect on the amount of interest from the viewers.

Food photography is arguably one of the most challenging types of photography out there. However, there are many tricks of the trade to ensure the food looks tasty enough to whet the viewer’s appetite.

Back drop

The backdrop is ultimately what creates an atmosphere – the complete meal should tell a story. The right backdrop can add context to the meal, the creators brand and even the flavours. Picking textures and colours that compliment the food is vital.


This can totally depend on the food. You need to consider the size, shape and height of the product before hand. What aspects are you trying to emphasise? For example, a plate of langoustines might work well from above on a beautifully patterned plate or surface, where as a rustic, homemade burger may need shooting from lower to see the good stuff beneath the bun.


Lines and layers work well. Ingredients and props that relate to the food are always effective.


Sometimes the product shows everything you need to know. A clean white or black backdrop can emphasise the food and draw the viewer attention straight to the subject. On the other hand, simple food may be brought to life with vibrant, coloured backgrounds and props.

Have a look through our food photography portfolio to see the above tips in action and then go and pig out! Happy eating.

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