We aren’t quite the typical food bloggers I would say. As much as we would love to have an amazing decked out home studio to photograph our recipes, our needs are a little different at this stage in our life.
We enjoy an adventurous lifestyle of often being on the move, seeing new places, and experiencing new things. I guess you could say we are somewhat "digital nomads", and our food blog is what makes it possible!
With that being said, a food blog isn’t a passive income - we need to stay active and continually updating old content, create new content and market it all! This can be a challenge when you’re on the move and needing to stay lightweight and minimalistic.
In this post, I’ll show you the gear that we currently use to shoot photos and video for our recipes. It has taken a few years, through trial and error, to get to this point - and so far, we’re satisfied with our travel photography kit. It may not be as well equipped as a home studio, but these are the sacrifices that need to be made for our way of living, and it serves us well.
Our kit is not only great for food photography on the move, but it can apply to many other photographers' needs such as portraits, products, vlogging, and other creative uses. It’s simple, compact, lightweight, versatile, and best of all, AFFORDABLE!
Our Compact Food Photography Lighting Kit For Travel:
Let’s dive in to see what we're working with!
1. Foldable Soft Boxes
These are a modified version of DIY light boxes. They started out as solidly constructed units with 2 LED bulbs directly wired-in. It was big and bulky, but served its purpose. There was no way that we could travel with them, so we had to think outside of the “light” box.
We tore it down, removed the top and bottom panels, cut them down to a smaller size, and hinged them so the side panels could open and close.
The end result was a flat laying design that can be deployed quickly with a diffusion material clipped to the front. From there we drop in our awesome Litra Torch LED lights and it’s ready!
Choosing lights for food photography is no easy task. There are lots of options WITH lots of options. Size, price, brightness, color accuracy, quality, color temp, etc. It all play a role in finding the right light to use.
We originally planned on purchasing cheap LED video panels off amazon. They would get the job done, but we really needed something more versatile while traveling.
We came across Litra through Instagram, and the LED lights they offered looked really appealing to me. Long story short, we ended up with 2 Litra Torches to add to the kit.
Let me tell you….these lights are tiny, yet robust powerhouses. The lumens are excellent and I couldn’t believe how bright and even the light was.
Having lots of light is important, but what is more important was the color accuracy. The “house” LED lights in the original light boxes were not meant for professional lighting, whereas the Litra Torch absolutely IS!
Other than using these for our food photography, they have been great around the campsite, power outages, and so many other uses. I always keep at least one of them with me in my EDC kit (Everyday Carry).
For a 15% off of any Litra purchase, use our discount code is: BOOST15-LIVING-CHIRPY-LITRA
Other items that complete our traveling studio are included below:
- Mini Tripods - to hold the Litra Torches
- Professional Travel Tripod - for the camera.
- Selfie Stick - attached to the tripod ball head to extend an iPhone over the food for flat lay process videos.
- Phone Mount - To attach the iphone for the system above.
- Vinyl Backdrops & Rags - Visual elements for the composition of the photo.
Camera Gear For Food Photography
I used to shoot with Canon, but switched over to Sony Mirrorless in 2015. These are amazing cameras that perform as good or even better than DSLRs, but in a smaller, travel friendly package.
This is perfect for our travel kit and perfectly complements the compact requirements for our food photography.
My current camera is a Sony a6300. It’s an APS-C or “cropped” sensor 24MP mirrorless camera. I did not buy my camera gear specifically for our food blog being that I have been a photographer for many years before we started. But all the gear I use is exactly what is needed to capture the beautiful shots for our site.
By the way, If you are are interested in buying some gear, I would highly recommend going with Sony (or alternatively Fujifilm). You can pick up a used Sony a6000 for an affordable price and have a fantastic camera to get started. If you have a bigger budget, you can step up to one of the other models like the a6100, a6400, a6500, or a6600. Alternatively, you can spend more and go with the full-frame sensor of the a7 series.
My suggestion to you is, don’t worry so much about having the newest or most expensive gear. What you want is to have the most versatile and functional gear. An interchangeable lens camera is always going to give you the most options. Along with that, you should pair it with a nice PRIME lens or two. These are fixed focal length lenses that are usually sharper and produce nice background blur due to faster or “wider” apertures.
Best Prime Lenses For Food Photography:
The two main lenses I use for shooting our recipes are a 30mm f2.8 and a 56mm f1.4. A 50mm (full frame equivalent) is said to be the ideal lens for shooting food, and should probably be the first lens to consider. After that, an 85mm is the next choice for a tighter cropped shot and even more silky smooth background blur to separate the background from the subject.
Since I use an APS-C crop sensor camera, the 30mm is actually a similar focal length to a 50mm on full-frame, and the 56mm is similar to an 85mm.
This is the configuration that works for us, and if it has inspired you to take food photography more seriously, then great!
Another resource I highly recommend is a book by Nagi Maehashi (recipetineats.com) called The Food Photography Book.
It has loads of great info to take food photography to the next level, and its one of the first books I read when I wanted to improve my food photography.
Other than that, just practice practice practice! And be critical, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. And most of all, enjoy!!