4 Pro Tips for Telling Stories Through Food Photography While Traveling

Necessary for all humans, no matter the age, religion, or location, food is something that we all can connect with — a reason that food photography is so popular. While everyone can snap photos of meals and drinks on their smartphone, if you are looking to take your food photography skills to the next level, you are going to want to start curating a story for each of your food photos.

Storytelling is what distinguishes a fantastic food photo from an average one. It is what engages viewers, what connects them with the image, and how you can communicate with them. If you want your food photographs to have meaning, you need to have a storytelling component.


In order to create that story, you need to know the focus of the tale, the setting of the story, and what you want to communicate with your viewers. Perhaps you want to express a feeling, generate an emotional response, or highlight an unusual texture or distinctive flavor.

The story will be different for each series of photographs, but comprehending what you desire to say is undoubtedly the first step.

Additionally, here are four pro tips for telling stories through food travel photos.

  1. Find ways to bring the viewer into the action.

On a daily basis, viewers encounter a wide range of images. In order for them to connect with your photograph and to care about the story, a viewer needs to feel as though they are part of the story. One of the most successful ways to do this is to imply action in the photo.  

Perhaps you could include a hand holding a plate of pasta out to the viewer or a bartender pouring a traditional drink. For a food travel photo, you may demonstrate a professional sushi chef rolling a sushi roll, or a chef cooking Korean BBQ.

Having action in the shot shows a “work in progress” which is not only intensely captivating to viewers but also helps them to envision more fully the entire scene you are showing. Having action in your shot brings the image to life which adds further levels of understanding to the story.

  1. Search for ways to create unusual visual contrast.

The story you are trying to tell a viewer isn’t simply about the one dish. Your photo needs to also signify the time of day, the temperature, the location, the vibe of the restaurant, kitchen, or food truck (in other words, all of the other elements that are surrounding a food travel experience).

Unusual visual contrasts is one way to not only make your food photo stand out, but also to signify what is different and interesting about what you are shooting. Especially when shooting food photography while traveling, the contrasts you use in your photos (arrangement of food, colors, etc.) can help to demonstrate some of the other aspects of the culture.

  1. Props can always assist you in explaining your story.

Another way to create visual contrast is with the props you opt to include. On the one hand, you never want to insert props that are distracting for your viewers or that take away from the hero of your story (the food).

That being said, when used expertly, props can assist you in communicating your story by adding dimension, personality, and other clues to the setting and meaning of your story. Props can provide further insights into a culture or a history of a dish. They can give hints to when this food is consumed, how it should be prepared, who eats it, and how it makes them feel.

Just make sure you are maintaining a balanced composition and are being considerate regarding how the props interact with the food and meaning.

  1. Understand the basics of photography.  

At the end of the day, you can’t shoot any meaningful food story if you don’t understand the basics of photography and don’t know how to utilize your camera.

Practice makes perfect, but you still want to invest time in learning how lighting, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO all enhance your photos. Use natural lighting as much as possible and build up your confidence so that you can shoot in manual mode, which will provide you with a lot more control over your photograph.

In fact, shooting in manual is the only way to fully dictate the story you are telling.

The Moment

The beauty of photography is that you can’t always plan for when everything comes together to expose a story. Especially when traveling, you can’t ever control all of the aspects necessary. Instead, you have to practice your craft so that when the opportunity presents itself, you are ready to go.

Never miss an opportunity to snap photos and to increase your abilities. Often, when you are least expecting it, everything will come together and the story will be captured.

Do you take travel food photos? How do you prepare yourself for the moment? Let us know in the comments below!


Barry Morgan is the creative force behind BM Photography. His passions are photography, food and family, although not always in that order. He believes you should love what you do, to do exceptional work. Cooking was always a family affair in his home so naturally, once his passion for photography took root, he was drawn to food photography. BM Photography now works with hundreds of clients, turning their tasty dishes into mouthwatering visuals.