Behind the Scenes of a Bento Photo

by Wendy Copley on July 6, 2011

Toddler Bento #126

Occasionally, people ask questions about how I take photos of my kids’ bento boxes so I thought I’d give you a little behind-the-scenes glimpse today.

Are you ready?

OK…here it comes!

Ta daaaah! My photo studio:

Bento Box Photography

State of the art, huh?

There are a few things I’d like to point out about what you see in this photo:

  1. Natural light — See that big window to the right? That’s the #1 most important thing in this photo. If you want to take nicer photos — particularly food photos — natural light is pretty crucial. Unless you have a fancy set-up — which I don’t — using artificial light on food photos will result in muddy, unappetizing colors. So plop your plate down next to a window before you take your pictures!
  2. A bounce board — You see how Wyatt is holding up that white board? The light from the window was really bright the morning I took this, so I pulled out the board to help soften the shadow that was cast to the left of the bento box. Bounce boards are also useful when the light is weak because they can bounce light back onto your subject to lighten darker areas. I have some huge sheets of white foam core that I pull out sometimes when I’m taking photos but on this particular day I just grabbed the kids’ drawing board because it was closer.
  3. Scrapbook paper background — I placed a piece of scrapbook paper under the bento box as a background. I’ve gotten lazier about using paper for backgrounds in the last year or so and I often take the photos directly on our wood table, but I took the time to use a piece of paper for this photo. When I use paper I usually take a minute or two to consider the color of the bento box and the food inside and choose something that has coordinating colors.
  4. Clutter — You can see that there’s some clutter on the table (breakfast dishes, toys, etc.) but I make a point of clearing that out of the photo frame. Top down photos make it easy to exclude background junk from photos which is why you see so many of those on my blog.
  5. Bento supplies — If you look on the right side of the photo you can see my bento storage. That green bin in the middle holds most of my bento box collection. The top box holds bento accessories and over flow boxes. I have another smaller bin that holds cookie cutters too.
  6. Cute kids — Wyatt and Augie are usually just out of the photo frame when I’m taking my bento photos. I often enlist Wyatt to hold the bounce board for me and sometimes Augie pulls food out of the lunch box and eats it between shots!

So there you go — now you know all my not-so-secret secrets.  If you’ve got any questions I’ll try to answer them in the comments below.

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  • Love the low tech setup! It looks like mine (I have foam boards too), but I use a tripod for ease.

  • This will be such a great post for you to look back on when the boys are grown *gulp* and for them to see that they were a part of your creative endeavors! Oh my goodness, I need to make more dresses/shorts/lovies while mine are still so little!!

  • Anonymous

    This is really fascinating! I love seeing how simple your set-up is, because your images always look like you have a fancy studio of some kind. I plan to feature this on CRAFT tomorrow – a great addition to our Photography theme this month!

  • Making a food photo look appetizing is such a challenge to beginning photographers. Yours always looks great!  Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • Thanks so much!

  • Thanks, Diane!

  • jasmin juvanteny

    I love this – well, I love all your posts, really, but this one with your photo assistants is just extremely sweet.

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