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5 Tips For Perfectly Capturing Delicious Pies On Pi Day: A Photographer'S Guide

Learn how to capture the essence of your favorite pie with your camera.

1. Use natural light/ lighting guide

Natural Lighting

You want your Pie (food photography) to look the best it can, one way besides making it is to get good lighting. Natural lighting against a window or a diffusing light will allow the pie to get some awesome looks. This allows any hard lighting to be reduced onto the surface of the pie. Additionally you can put a cloth or a white piece of fabric to diffuse the light even more.

Consider going outside with your pie and shooting in a natural environment, – like grass, table tops, outdoor appliances. You will have the ability to take photos with both hard and soft light. You may also consider the different times of day to take photos during this as well if you are shooting outside.

Natural lighting outdoors can be great for a sunny day or a well-lit dim day. However you should avoid taking photos outside when it is dark or when there is bad weather. Lighting during this time will be suboptimal without external lighting– also the photos may not feel the same. Take this advice with a grain of salt (or sugar).

Indoor Lighting

Indoor lighting can also do the trick if the weather isn’t right. The most abundant light available to you may be LED, Fluorescent and incandescent lights to take photos of your pie for national pie day.

LED and fluorescents will almost always make your image and your pie more blue and green in hue. These may be more common in commercial kitchens, bright and well lit kitchens and the like.

Often this is the opposite of what you want to accomplish if you are considering something warm and homey. For a warm and homey feel consider incandescent lights or yellow/orange hued lights.

A guide to capturing the beauty of pies with your digital camera.

External Lighting

Lastly external lighting can be used to light your Pie’s. These may be in the use of external flashes, secondary lighting setups and the light. Flashes may include built-in flashes, external flashes, speedlight. The best light in a situation like this would be built-in flashes, speedlights , continuous lighting and studio strobes. Built-in Flashes will be the most common. This will be great front facing lighting for your pie. It is important to have ANOTHER light source for these if the images are not turning out how you like. The flash may not be able to cover both the subject [pies] and the background.

External flashes can work with other lighting. You can place them around the pies to create definition or to emphasize something. Think of Silhouette Pies.

Continuous lighting and studio strobes may also be used for commercial photos if needed. You can set your lights up so that the subject, background and anything else can be lit in a well balanced way.

Tips for taking beautiful photos of pies that tell a story.

2. Style the pie

Let's say you have the lighting down— now how do you go about styling everything else? Here are a few ideas of how to style your pies.Before you start baking your pie it may be worth it to pick up packaging or extra ingredients to use for your photos. You may of course have extra ingredients as well to use for leftovers.Think of the type of pie you are making and decide what you need.

Common American Pies may be Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie.Common Canadian Pies may include Butter Tart Pie, Saskatoon Berry Pie, Common Puerto Rican Pies may include Sweet potato pies, guava pie, pineapple pie, Coconut pieHere are some prop ideas for the final shoot - Adding ingredients like fruits, adding sugar, or silverware.

How to photograph pies like a pro, with advice on lighting, composition, and more.

Ingredients to use as props

Apple Pie - Brown Sugar, Flour Bags or grains, Cinnamon grains
Pumpkin pie- Pumpkin, Milk, Ginger
Cherry Pie - Almonds, Cherry, Butter

Butter Tart- Butter, Brown Sugar grains, Eggs, Vinegar
Saskatoon Berry- Saskatoon Berries, Sugar, Flour

Sweet Potato Pie - Milk, Sugar,Eggs, Butter
Guava Pie, Guava Paste- Cream Cheese, Milk
Pineapple Pie - Pineapple, Sugar, Eggs, Milk
Coconut Pie - Coconuts, Butter, Eggs

You can add these ingredients to the side or at an angle to the actual pie. Just remember to bring a wipe so that you can easily clean them up.Also consider using human subjects as a prop. We will get back to this in the last section

A guide to taking mouth-watering photos of pies and other desserts.

3. Experiment with angles

There are different ways and positions to take photos of a pie. Start with the basics and work your way up to the ones you may not know how to light. This is generally how I work projects through lighting what I know to more complex ones after you get the hang of what the final subject is.

  • Think of directly shooting the pie from eye level. This you see the side of the pie, you may not see many details in this type of shot.
  • Do a shoot in Point of View or POV perspective of someone average height looking at the pie. Often these will be angled shots where the actual pie may look distorted from how it actually looks. This gives a general perspective of the pie
  • Shoot face down on the Pie.Have your camera directly above the pie. Often the hardest part of this shot is making sure that you aren’t in the frame of the photo AND that the lighting is not obscured. In this case the higher that you can get above the pie the better.
  • Close Up Shots of the Pie.It may be worth using a lens like a 100 or 200 macro lens to get fine detail in the pie such as the juices or the crust.
  • Shoot at an angle. This can intrigue interest in the pie. Make it look different!Shoot Upside down - totally different than what you are used to but a different angle nevertheless
  • Tips and tricks for taking stunning photos of delectable pies.

    4. Create depth with the pie

    There are different ways of creating depth with a pie. Some examples are using props in between and behind the pie, getting a lens that can do this or moving at a different distance then the pie.

    Depth can be shown in a photo through the aperture or depth of field. This will show one part of the image that is in-focus and sharp, while the other part will create bokeh or blur.

    1. Using props in between the pie and behind the pie can show depth and scale at the same time. Consider placing a prop to the side, infront or directly behind the subject (the pie).

    2. Consider buying or putting on a lens that has the ability to get closer to the subject or blur the focus. Lens like the 100mm or 200mm macro lenses are great for getting sharp close up images of pastries like pies. You may also consider a cheaper and affordable option like the 50mm macro lens in your camera system.

    3. Movement between you and the subject (the pie). Moving farther or closer to the subject will allow you to create depth. Zoom and prime lens will be able to help you with this.

    5. Add the Human Element

    My favorite part of the whole shoot! Consider bringing in yourself, a friend or model to help you shoot! This can be a great way to show that element of who baked it, who is the recipient.

    In this portion, think of the facial expressions. Depending on the mood that this pie is in will tie into this. If you are happy you have a pie, use smiling expressions, laughs and the like. If you are sad about the pie, use melancholy expressions, frowns, disapprovals. If you are angry about the pie use frowned eyebrows, direct points. If you fear pie, avoid eye contact with the pie, defend your hands against the pie. It may be worth hiring or working with an agency to get a parts model to help you out with holding a pie. Parts models uniquely help with maybe just photographs involving the hands.


    This article went over how to take photos of a pie (food photography). If you learned something from this check out the link below for more. Happy PhotoShooting.

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