Food Photography Trends: Hungry For It?

With the rise of foodie culture, also food photography has taken a boom. Food photography seems to play a bigger role than ever in the images we see every day. Here some food photography trends 2017 and 2018:

Rainbow colours everywhere

Let’s talk about colours. Incorporating as many colours as possible into food pictures is one of the key trends this year.

Variation number 1: poke bowls. This traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad with its beautiful rainbow colours seems to be in every food magazine this summer. The how-to in short: put hot rice in a bowl, top it with cubed or sliced raw (and sometimes marinated) fish, add vegetables and some other green ingredients (like avocado, spring onion or seaweed) and finish it with a dressing of soy sauce or sesame oil. It might not surprise you that this dish is also known as Hawaii’s answer to sushi. By the way, in case you’re wondering what ‘poke’ means: ‘cut into pieces’. And if you’d like to learn how to pronounce it: this guy explains it in a pretty clear and funny way.


Food photography trends - poke bowl

Image by Tasha Seccombe, used with permission


Variation number 2 of the rainbow colour trend: Unicorn a.k.a. Mermaid Toasts. This is one of the food photography trends that is is rocking Instagram since a few months. It’s basically just toast with cream cheese but different. Adding (natural) ingredients in minor quantities might not change the cream cheese’s flavour so much, but it does change the colour. Think spirulina powder for blue cream, beetroot for pink, blueberries for purple and turmeric for yellow. Put those all together and you get… just cream cheese which looks cool on pictures. Instagrammers all over the world are loving it. Apparently not all people want to eat something that looks more or less how it’ll taste. (Or some people just know very well how to make a picture to go viral and make money of it.)


Food photography trends - mermaid toast - rainbow colours

Image by Adeline Waugh


Food photography trends: de/re-constructed

Somewhere in 2016, the deconstructed food trend popped up again. Some say this is all due to the UK edition of Masterchef, in which one of the contestants realised a so-called ‘deconstructed cheesecake’ in the studio location. John Torode, one of the tv chefs and jury member, defined the ‘cheesecake’ “a blob of cream cheese, on top of some nuts”. The unusual creation went viral, which oddly seems to have helped this trend spreading again.

When done well, photographing deconstructed meals can be interesting. But the issue with this trend is that it is here to stay a little too long, and a little too exaggerated. Not only on Instagram and other social media, but actually in the real world. There are many ridiculous examples online, but this depressing spaghetti (Italians please close your eyes when scrolling down) must be one of the lows. And then I’m not talking about the photography skills…

Food photography trends - deconstructed food - depressing spaghetti

Image from


Anyway. Back to real photography. The deconstructed food trend did not only lead to bad stuff. Photographer Greg Stoube made a pretty cool series of images poking a little fun at the trend by taking food that has been cooked first and then reconstructing it again it to resemble its original raw form. Stoube applied the ‘dark and moody’ food photography style and used beautiful lighting. Looks much better than that spaghetti, doesn’t it?


Food in motion

Animated gifs are nothing new (did you know they were in introduced in 1987 already?), but their use in food photography trends is more popular than ever. By bridging the gap between still photography and video they expand the potential for storytelling. Gifs usually show one or two elements in an action loop, while the rest of the image remains still. They can also be used to show stop-motion animations. Seeing a gif with food as the subject makes quite clear why the short looping videos offer deeper stories than still photographs. Viewing steam coming of a bowl of noodles almost makes you smell the dish (and hungry, that too).

Food photography trends - gif - noodles

Image by Daria Khoroshavina, used with permission


Motion can add another perspective or layer to the story you want to tell. Animated gifs are an ideal way to show how-to clips, for example how to ice a cake:

Food photography trends - gif - cake_compressed

Stop-motion video by Betty Sliu, used with permission

Animated gifs are also great to show a complete recipe: each step of the recipe can be shown in a different frame – like this Buffalo cauliflower recipe. Not all (food) photographers will embrace the gif format, but it definitely has some advantages. As gifs only last a few seconds, they are more mobile friendly than traditional videos: their size is significantly smaller and the process of uploading them is faster. The integration of gifs on the biggest social networks contributed to their revival and the increased exposure they’ve recently seen in food photography trends. Moreover, the auto loop increases the effectiveness of a message. This makes them a powerful instrument for brands to use for their content marketing strategy, to reinforce their message over and over again.

Want to learn more about food photography? The book Feast for the Eyes by Susan Bright outlines a chronological history of the ways in which food has been photographed, recorded and shared for over a century.

Interested in shooting food yourself? On you can find great photography studios for rent in Europe and USA. Search on ‘kitchen’ in the search bar, and you’ll find studios with beautiful kitchens for food-related shootings!