wineTurn the pages of your mom’s cookbook and you’ll be blown away by the mouthwatering recipes accompanied by superb photos of the foods being written about. A heavenly raspberry sorbet, served in a fresh coconut on a shiny black plate and playfully decorated with colorful edible flowers and lime slices – these kinds of shots, you know.

For casual shooters or even ambitious amateur photographers, taking great food photos can be an intimidating task. But you shouldn’t have to feel this way. This article shows you how to take food photos and achieve professional results with a little technical knowledge and a huge bolt of creative fun.

Get a good lens

If you’re going to purchase a DSLR, don’t buy a package that includes stock lens. Buy a faster standard lens separately. You’ll need a faster lens when there’s less light available or when you’re indoors. If you choose to have a point-and-shoot camera instead, make sure that it comes with a good macro mode. While it won’t help in low light, it will help you get a shallow depth of field that many food photographers like.

Get in close

According to renowned photographer James Baigrie, the food will look "heroic" by filling the frame with the food. All he is suggesting is to get in close. Use your camera’s macro setting to make a part of the food sharper. You can also reduce the depth of field by widening the aperture, allowing you to focus on the foreground details while keeping the background soft.

Use natural or available light

Many photographers look for soft light. Many of them avoid direct light as much as possible as it casts harsh shadows across the dish. Never use a flash when taking food photos as it flattens everything out, says photographer John Kernick. Using a flash can make the food all greasy and sweaty – which can be cool when you’re taking photos of BBQ or grilled foods.

If you’re indoors, say in a restaurant, you must choose a table next or near a window. If you can’t secure a seat on that area, choose one of the white balance settings of your camera. For instance, the setting a light bulb indicates compensates for the yellow tint that indoor lights cast.

Adjust the color balance

Many food photos taken by amateurs are filled with blue or orange cast that washes over the entire photo. This is especially a problem for those who shoot indoors using artificial lighting. You can clear this problem right up by learning to adjust the color balance.