How To Edit Food Photos in 5 Easy Steps!

Updated July 5, 2022
I'm sharing how to edit food photos in Lightroom in 5 simple steps! This simple guide will make editing in Lightroom a breeze for beginner photographers!

Welcome to part 4 of the photography series! I’m really enjoying sharing this content with you guys, so I hope you are liking it too!

Today I’m sharing how to edit food photos in Lightroom. I know editing in Lightroom can seem scary for beginners, so hopefully this post will make things a little clearer for you!

So grab a green smoothie, get comfortable, and let’s do this!

why editing your food photos is important:

Editing your food photos is a way of accentuating the colours and showing the food in its best light.

An unedited photo can often look dull and flat. Which makes sense, given that we have a 2-dimensional image of a 3-dimensional subject. Today we’re covering how to edit food photos so we can bring depth back into the image!

The goal of editing? To take our food photos from ‘that looks nice’ to ‘damn I want to eat that RIGHT NOW!’.

Take a look at the two photos below. Which iced matcha latte would you rather be drinking?

before and after of editing a photo of a matcha latte

Is Adobe Lightroom Free?

Today I’m showing you how to edit food photos in Adobe Lightroom for iPad. The best thing about this software? It’s completely free to use! There is also a mobile version if you wish to edit your photos on your smartphone.

Note that using Adobe Lightroom on your laptop requires a monthly subscription to the software.

If you are new to editing, the mobile/tablet versions are a great place to start as they have a lot of the features from the paid version!

How to edit food photos in lightroom in 5 easy steps:


The first thing we should always do when editing in Lightroom is to edit the tone curve. You can find the tone curve under the ‘light’ tab in Lightroom.

The tone curve allows us to change the contrast of our photo with more precision than just using the contrast slider.

For most food photos you want a subtle S-shaped tone curve.

By simply editing the tone curve, our photo already has more dimension and contrast than the original!


Generally, you want to increase the whites and shadows, and decrease the blacks and highlights. This helps to increase the contrast in our photo and give it more dimension.

Play around with the settings until you achieve your desired contrast. Sometimes I may decide to decrease the shadows if my photo is looking particularly flat.

How much you change these settings is dependent on the lighting in your original photo. Check out my blog post on food photography essentials if you’re looking to find the perfect lighting!

See how much contrast we can add to our photo without even touching the contrast slider?

Step 3: edit the exposure

The next thing we need to edit is the exposure. You may need to go back and readjust the settings in steps 1 and 2 if your highlights are now looking too blown out.

How bright you want the photo is dependent on your personal style. I like the bright white look but this may not be for you. Play around with the settings until you find something you like!

Step 4: edit the HSL panel.

This is my FAVOURITE editing step: the HSL panel! You’ll find the HSL panel under the ‘colour’ tab in Lightroom.

The HSL panel allows us to edit the hue (colour), saturation (intensity) and luminance (brightness) of each individual color in our photo. How awesome is that?

Fine-tuning the appearance of each colour is particularly useful when editing food photos. You can have a lot of fun playing around with the settings!

step 5: edit the details.

Our food photo is almost ready – we just need to edit the details now!

There are quite a few settings in Lightroom that you can play around with to change the sharpness of your food photo. You can find them under the ‘detail’ tab in Lightroom.

Generally I change the sharpness, radius, masking and noise settings.

The degree of edits you make here will depend on the sharpness of your photo. Check out my blog post on DSLR basics to find out how to take perfectly sharp action shots like this one!


You may have noticed that I haven’t included white balance in this Lightroom editing tutorial just yet.

I usually take my photos into Snapseed, another free photo editing app, following editing in Lightroom to adjust white balance and make any other minor adjustments or targeted edits.

This is completely optional – you change the white balance when editing in Lightroom if you wish!

What next?

I hope you enjoyed learning how to edit food photos! Stay tuned for part five (the final part!) of the photography series next week, where I’m sharing how to make a stunning photography portfolio.

Did you read last week’s post? I shared my top five places to buy food photography props on a budget. It’s not to be missed! You can also view the rest of the photography series for even more tips and tricks.

Please take a look at my photography portfolio if you are interested in working with me. You can also come say hello on Instagram!

Happy photographing,


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