Diffuse natural light brings out the best in food. If you’re picnicking on a cloudy day, you’ve got it made in the shade―literally. If you’re indoors, set up near a window or switch on some lights. Use sidelighting when you want to shoot from above and emphasize texture. If you want to make the overall effect more even, try using a reflector on the opposite side to fill in some of the shadows. And when you’re aiming for all-out foodie drama, go for backlighting.
One method for ensuring an attractive plate portrait is to light it the way you would a face. Whether you’re using sunlight, accessory flash, or strobe, your primary goal is to illuminate your subject without creating glare. To scatter sunlight, put diffusion paper over a window or just use a sheer curtain. If you’re going with artificial light, accessories such as umbrellas, softboxes, or beauty dishes will help soften the effect.