Sneak a peek into a pro food photographer's kitbag

Food photographer Yasmin Albatoul reveals her tools of the trade for mastering mouth-watering shots.
An overhead shot of Yasmin Albatoul's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses, and cooking props. Shot on Canon.

Food images are never just about food.

There's a special artistry that goes into food photography. It's about the quality and the appeal of the image, but it's also the appetite that image creates for all who see it. Capturing food continues to be as popular as ever, from flavour-filled recipe books to the images filling our social media feeds every day. But with the ever-growing market, it's becoming harder to stand out among the sea of cheeseboards.

Yasmin Albatoul, a Canon Ambassador and self-taught food photographer, is known for her eye-catching visual storytelling around food.

But how does she achieve these next-level food photography shots in her dreamy, dynamic, and colourful style? Let's take a peek into her kitbag to discover the tools of her trade.

Food photographer Yasmin Albatoul, working on a tablet, sitting at a table covered with white linen, digitally altering the word pasta using a cotton bud to draw on the tablet's screen, with a plate of plump tomatoes, a bowl of eggs and condiments by her side. Shot on Canon

Throughout the creative process, Yasmin often enhances her compositions further by editing and adding elements on her tablet.

Yellow curly noodles, sauce and sliced onions falling into a pan suspended in the air in front of a teal background with the word pasta framing the top of the food.

Using various props and tools, Yasmin creates striking and distinctive images that frequently leave viewers pondering over her creative process. Taken on a Canon EOS R5. © Yasmin Albatoul

Who is Yasmin Albatoul?

Born and based in Batna, Algeria, Yasmin turned to YouTube tutorials and online articles to learn how to use her first-ever camera, the Canon EOS 600D. (Her camera of choice now is the Canon EOS R5.)

After discovering an affinity for food photography while studying at university, Yasmin used Instagram to share her photography with the world and, as a result, grew her following to over 105k followers.

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A photographer's mind is a complex and creative one. They'll often tell you about their fascination with the craft and the joy of seeing the final result. When Yasmin cooks, for example, she often thinks first about how her delicacies would look captured on camera rather than how they would taste.

Due to the process of food photography, and the time and effort it takes to get the perfect shot, Yasmin often doesn't get to taste-test the culinary creations she captures. Ingredients may have been altered, and dishes may have been sitting out for extended periods, but for Yasmin that doesn't matter: it's about the love that goes into creating a beautiful image, not having to eat the food itself. And as Yasmin tells us, sometimes the image tastes better than the real meal.

A light dusting of icing sugar falls onto a square of coffee cake topped with a slice of strawberry on a white scalloped plate, with a glass cup of cream tea on the side, laid on a green background with scattered coffee beans. Shot on Canon.

Once Yasmin has her shot set up and her equipment ready, she proceeds to capture a series of images, often interchanging elements, while maintaining the overarching theme. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 1/160 sec, f/10 and ISO 160. © Yasmin Albatoul

A white scalloped plate holding a small lemon meringue pie next to a glass of cream tea laid on a green background scattered with coffee beans. Shot on Canon.

Unveiling Yasmin's food photography kitbag

As much as the magic of photography lies in the the artistic vision and skill of the photographer, choosing the right kit is essential for achieving the perfect shot. From what focal length you choose to how you manage light, each piece of equipment plays a part in creating the ideal image. As we look through Yasmin's kitbag, she takes us through some of the key equipment she uses and explains how each piece helps her do the job.

Camera: Canon EOS R5

Of course, we'll start with the most important item: the camera.

"I use the Canon EOS R5, which I absolutely love and is, of course, a big upgrade from my EOS 600D. I feel like this model in particular enables you to highlight the sharpness and the details, which is crucial when you're shooting food photography.

"Many restaurant businesses require images to be blown up and printed for menus and posters, as well as other forms of advertising they may do. Having a high level of detail without compromising the quality is important for this purpose. This is something that can't truly be achieved with a smartphone camera."

Food photographer Yasmin Albatoul gazes into her Canon camera on top of a tripod while holding a plastic cup and clutching a wooden chopping board. Shot on Canon.

Yasmin uses a tripod alongside a Canon EOS R5, providing her with the flexibility to set up her shot, make adjustments to settings, and refine the arrangement without affecting the framing, ensuring that each shot is consistent throughout.

Food photographer Yasmin Albatoul gazes into her Canon camera on top of a tripod while holding a plastic cup and clutching a wooden chopping board. Shot on Canon.

When capturing food with a central focal point, pay attention to the props you use in the background. Yasmin often opts for subtle additions so as not to over-complicate the composition. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 100mm F/2.8L Macro IS USM lens (since succeeded by the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM). © Yasmin Albatoul


Yasmin's signature style of food photography often involves food being thrown or suspended in the air. If you're thinking about this kind of photography, then you're definitely going to need the stability of a tripod. The Canon EOS R5, Yasmin's favourite camera, also has in-body stabilisation, so if you do shoot freehand you can still get away with slower shutter speeds.

"What people may not realise is that you're not shooting just one picture. For any image involving motion, you normally shoot 10-20 different images using the High-Speed Continuous Shooting functionality, which on the EOS R5 enables you to shoot up to 12 shots per second.

"These photos are then later put together in Photoshop or a similar piece of editing software, but using a tripod ensures you get a stable image."

Overhead view of a plate of small nests of spaghetti topped with slices of mushrooms and green leaves on a dark green plate with a colour chart sitting in the bottom right corner. Shot on Canon.

Yasmin has a variety of Canon lenses in her kitbag, which allow her to vary the shots she takes, focusing on different elements and amplifying others. Taken on Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 100mm F/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/9 and ISO 100 (since succeeded by the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM). © Yasmin Albatoul

A golden fork entwined with spaghetti with a cut mushroom on top. Shot on Canon.


For a lot her photography, Yasmin uses the Canon RF 100mm F/2.8L MACRO IS USM lens. This macro lens is incredibly helpful for picking up those minute details often missed, or even invisible to the natural eye. When it comes to food photography, this can add a level of detail and interest that makes the image as whole more appealing.

"We can't stop using macro. It's so important and one of the trends that never seems to go away. The details are super important when it comes to food photography."

Those details are particularly important when shooting food, which as a small subject often require the close-up detail that macro lenses provide. Whether it is the dimples in a strawberry, the reflections in an apple skin or the fresh burst of a squeezed citrus fruit, bringing out the detail can make your image more dynamic, colourful and intriguing. Another way of drawing the viewer into the image is by focusing in on particular elements, and the creamy bokeh produced by the Spherical Aberration Control mechanism in the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM lens can also be very attractive for food photography.

If the shallow depth of field is not to your liking, or if you need the entire subject in focus, then you can compensate with focus bracketing. You can either do this in-camera (including in the EOS R5), or in post-processing using Digital Photo Professional (DPP).

Overhead view of a tablet displaying a macro shot of salmon next to a Canon camera and SD card laid on a stone floor. Shot on Canon.
A man using his hand behind a light reflector to cast a shadow in the frame as food photographer Yasmin Albatoul captures a food composition in the studio with a Canon camera. Shot on Canon.

If the shallow depth of field is not to your liking, or if you need the entire subject in focus, then you can compensate with focus bracketing. You can either do this in-camera (including in the EOS R5), or in post-processing using Digital Photo Professional (DPP).


When you're out at a restaurant, you may snap a quick pic before you dig into the meal in front of you. For a pro, however, lighting your subject is a more complicated process.

As Yasmin notes, restaurants aren't always open or available when natural light is best, so therefore using a flash is a must. Certain flash setups allow for a fast shutter speed, while also stopping down aperture to increase depth of field. Using a ring light, instead of a normal flash, can also help to achieve even lighting.

"Using a flash helps a lot to achieve the best possible photo. When I use natural light it's a good picture, but a flash always gives me an amazing result. It provides me with the opportunity to see the finer details and better sharpness, as well as additional colours. It also makes the image look a lot more commercial. Plus, it enables me to shoot anywhere at any time, outside of restaurant hours."

Thin ribbons of salsify tucked into a neat ball garnished with green leaves and dots of puree. Shot on Canon.

Using macro lenses is extremely popular among food photographers like Yasmin. Designed to capture extreme close-up shots, they provide extra detail and clarity, allowing you to isolate textures, colours, and details of the food for a more interesting image. Taken on a Canon EOS R5. © Yasmin Albatoul

A mound of thick sauce sitting on a small pool of chili and lime sauce garnished with leafy greens on a white plate. Shot on Canon.

Wooden sticks

Probably a less obvious part of the equipment, Yasmin always has a wooden stick in her kit bag.

"This may sound unusual, but it is something that I always carry with me. Food has the habit of being an uncooperative model."

Using wooden sticks enables Yasmin to hold food in place or even to suspend it to give the effect of movement. After capturing the shots, the sticks can be removed later in the edit. Don't forget - editing photos is an art in itself.

There are also a few other less expected items within the kitbag, which help to create the finished product. There are tweezers which are used to delicately move food around the plate where necessary, as well as a roll of tape to fasten food in place for the duration of the shoot.

There may be times where salad leaves or other food items are too long or out of place, so having a pair of scissors in the kit comes in handy to cut these to the perfect size and shape.

And for sauces, or for other liquids that are part of the meal, it's essential to have a pipette at the ready if you need to add in some drops.

A hand holding a skewer pierced with a piece of pistachio baklava over a plate while syrup drips down from above. Shot on Canon.

Incorporating a human element into food photography not only offers viewers a clear sense of scale, aiding in their perception of the food's size and proportions, but also provides context, which can add depth to the image's narrative. Taken on Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 100mm F/2.8L Macro IS USM lens (since succeeded by the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM). © Yasmin Albatoul

A hand suspending a piece of melted cheese with two wooden sticks above a bun topped with green leaves and fake white sauce. Shot on Canon.

Yasmin frequently keeps wooden sticks and other intriguing props on hand to incorporate captivating elements into her compositions. In this image, she's utilising wooden sticks, which she removes in post-production, to create the illusion that the cheese is airborne. © Yasmin Albatoul

Looking to do more food photography?

As we've dived into Yasmin's kitbag, we've learned about both the obvious and less obvious pieces that allow her to capture her sometimes gravity-defying images.

It's important to use the best kit you can get but, more than that, it's all about knowing what your creative vision is and how you can use the range of equipment to bring it all together. In the same way that Yasmin uses wooden sticks to hold food in place, there may be another item that will help give you that edge and take your food photographs to the next level.

Yasmin left us not only with the details of her kitbag but also a piece of advice for anyone wanting to delve into the world of food photography and begin their journey.

"My advice to all photographers is to stay curious and adopt a mindset of life-long learning. I am always still learning, whether it be about new lenses, new lighting or the like. And every time I learn something new it always adds something of value to my photography."

Want to find out more? Read Yasmin's tips and tricks to elevate your food photography to the next level.

Mabinty Taylor-Kamara

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