Leonard Tjoe Guide to Food Photography

Food Photography tips
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In this interview, Leonard Tjoe shares alot about his guide and approach to Food Photography. He teaches how to improve and develop your food photography.


  • How it were all started
  • How to develop an eye for photography
  • What is the foundational elements to improve your photograph
  • How to make photos that have soul
  • How to tell a story with your photo


First of all, Leonard Tjoe is a self-taught photographer based in Jakarta, Indonesia and has been photographing food for more than a year that he cares to admit. A couple of years ago, Leo started to buy his own camera and shares his things about food. With followers more than 5k, he takes a strikingly original angle on food photography.


His pictures have share an intimacy and emotion through its simple, subtle lightning and strong colors. His approach to food has offers the dish look more complex. He often favors classic angled for plated food as well as a range of commercial photography.


His work has appeared as an advertisement content for numerous clients such as Poropopcorn, Mr. Crabby, Matchachi.id, Republic of Burger, Nanauniquestore, O’ Healthy Choice, King Kong Express, Loue baking.co and many more. Contribute as one of #GWStarving member, Leo continues to capture delectable yet mouthwatering shots on his page! Keep reading..


We have prepared Leo a few questions, so here we go….


  • Hi Leo, first up, what’s a good food photograph to you?

mr crabbyAnswer : To me, I like picture that is dramatic and able to tell a story. I have this personal love with Bokeh effect too (mostly coz of the blurry side). But a good food photograph should be visually interesting, strikes a mood and I think this one is very important; you gotta make the pic to make the viewers feel hungry and want to lick the screen hahaha.



  • How do you feel the era of food photography has changed in last few years?

Answer: My personal view about food photograph is still the same. It should always be inviting and able to makes the food really yum. But I guess now the era has changed. It has become a lifestyle. Nowadays, people really like that kind of concept where some ambiences of the place were taken too in the frame. It did successfully gives more vibes yet alive. As you can see I’ve also applied that concept too in my photograph.


  • What would you say are the biggest mistakes being made by food photographer?

loue baking.coAnswer: Every photographer has always had its own understanding of art, that shouldn’t be judged by other. However for me, the biggest mistakes is on the editing process. Never let anyone define your artwork from where you came from. There is always judgments, but always believe in your passion and taste. Oh and never stop trying!



  • Which parts of the food photography process do you worry the most?

matchachi.idAnswer: I never good at editing, so it always been a challenge for me. Although it may sounds simple, but that is actually the turning point because it’s where the viewers see the end result.






  • What are your most and least favorite types of food to photograph? Why?

Answer: I’ve just liked to shot everything, so there is nothing that sticks out as the most or least favorite types of food. But, I’m totally into food product photograph; it is usually the request that make the food difficult to shoot! The pressure is always about making the food looks appetizing. Sometimes, it is really hard to produce a good shot when the food is non-photogenic food in my eye hahaha and I have to frame it from the right angle. Oh I like to plated my dish as well.


  • What are you favorite lenses, and do you have a preferred aperture for food?

Answer: I always use macro lens for any kind of photograph.


  • Do you have any tricks that you use to make the food look a certain way?

poropopcornAnswer: I have no special tricks at all in taking a photo. I just observe what the food is and basically keep my mind focused on which angle to take to make sure the viewers want to lick the food of the picture I took hahaha ;p





  • Beside natural lights, what professional lightning equipment do you use?

Answer: None. Natural light is always work for me and they are the best!


  • Do you draw out your ideas before photographing them? How do you come up with your compositions?

nanauniquestoreAnswer: I drew out what was on my mind only when it comes to endorsement or photo competition, because I want my picture to tell a story. My compositions is based on what the product is all about and from that, I tried to emphasize that on the frame.





  • What’s the one object that has nothing to do with photography that you insist on having with you on photo-shoot?

Answer: My phone of course! I can’t live without my phone lol. And hmmm.. when the weather decided to get really hot and sweaty, all I need is just tissues! Hahaha.


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Tips from Leo to future foodgrapher out there,


  • Believe in yourself

  • Always reacts to what u see in the moment and use everything natural as much as possible

  • A good light will always create an awesome food photo

  • Editing and color is the second important element that improves your food composition

  • Angle plays an important part too. Note: if your food has height, don’t use overhead. Side shot are great for food with height.

  • If you happen to photograph a dish that is not plated well or visually unappealing, you can plates the dish of course. It is okay to remove from the usual composition then re-composed it a little differently.

Well, thanks Leo for taking the time to chat and willing to share your magic hand secret on great food photography J All photos on this post are courtesy and copyright of Leonard Tjoe himself. Check out his page @leonardtjoe.






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