Ice Cream Photography Tips

Ice Cream Photography Tips

Ice cream photography is the most challenging type of food photography. In addition to time-consuming preparations and food photography tricks, you need to constantly work at a very fast pace, so that your ice cream doesn't turn into a shapeless puddle. In this article, I will give you 25 ice cream photography tips that will make you shooting easier and professional.

25 Ice Cream Photography Tips

How do you take photos of these frozen desserts that melt quickly well? Ice cream photography is a rather complicated type of food (product) photography, which often confuses beginners. That's why I have prepared 25 ice cream photography tips and creative ice cream advertisement ideas that will help you make everything perfect the first time.

1. Think Everything Over in Advance

ice cream photography composition

Start planning your photoshoot beforehand and decide on its mood. Make a rough sketch of how you wish to capture your ice cream so it is easy to select the props you are going to use. If possible, freeze glasses, cups, spoons, saucers, small trays and even marble slabs. If they fit in your freezer, hide them there for several hours or, even better, overnight so that the next day, they help you keep the ice cream cold for a little longer.

2. Let the Ice Cream Melt a Little

berry ice cream photograph

While taking your ice cream out of the freezer, be careful not to touch it with your fingers, otherwise, there will be fingerprints on it. Wait from several seconds to several minutes for the ice cream to melt a bit so it becomes more natural, allowing you to take perfect ice cream photography.

3. Use Large Light Sources when Working with Sauces

sauce ice cream photograph

I warn you not to select small light sources while illuminating ice cream covered with sauces, for instance, hot fudge. Surfaces similar to hot fudge like caramel or strawberry sauce are super shiny and you should be mindful of this while choosing lighting. Large light sources, such as softboxes, are more appropriate for shiny sauces.

4. Be Creative

creative ice cream photograph

Take photos of ice cream not only in beautiful bowls or glasses, but also in saucers, waffle cones, loaf-cake pans, paper cups, marble plates or even on parchment paper.

5. Stick to the Chosen Theme

themed ice cream photograph

Remember the story you want to tell and choose the props that may improve the mood of your picture. For instance, if you are shooting ice cream commercials, the mood may be modern and minimalistic, timeless and elegant, rustic or colorful and playful for children. Background pictures, fabrics, cutlery and colors should match the same mood.

6. Don't Forget About the Harmony of Style and Object

harmonious ice cream photograph

Depending on the photographed ice cream, the style and color scheme could vary. The most common colors for ice cream shots are natural and bright ones, as you typically wish to convey a relaxing, vibrant summer vibe. In case I have to take pictures of a chocolate ice cream, I will decide in favor of a dim background and props.

7. Give Preference to Indoor Shooting

indoor ice cream photograph

I would certainly advise shooting ice cream photography inside. Lighting on the outside comes from every possible angle, which results in a flat picture. Directional lighting from the back or side is an optimal variant. Nevertheless, you may still produce beautiful lifestyle pictures in the street if you shoot people with food.

Are you going to take pictures of ice cream with fruits? Read these fruit photography tips to take yummy and fresh fruit photography in your home studio.
 

8. Hire a Food Stylist

stylized ice cream photograph

To achieve really high-quality results, I suggest hiring a specialized food stylist. Working with real ice cream means operating quickly and planning ahead. Food stylists are skillful masters when it comes to working with real ice cream. They may generate those prominent and mouth-watering pics of ice cream that all of us imagine.

9. Give Visual Interest to Ice Cream

textured ice cream photograph

Use frozen or fresh fruits, nuts, fresh herbs, chocolate chips, biscotti or cookies to add texture to your ice cream. This ice cream decoration will also help you better understand how it really tastes.

10. Use Paper Towels

neat ice cream photograph

Speaking of sticky hands, don't forget about paper towels. If you are engaged in ice cream photography, things can get messy very quickly. You don't want that stickiness on your camera when you are taking pictures. Therefore, keep paper towels or a cloth within an easy reach to have everything clean.

View more to learn what other food photography props you can use for appetizing ice cream photography.
 

11. Think Over the Possible Concerns

strawberry ice cream photograph

Proper storage and correct preparation of ice cream are compulsory if you want to achieve high-quality images. Any problem may extend the shooting for several hours or even days. But the worst happens, if the ice cream is spoiled after styling. Then many hours of work, as well as the money spent on the organization of ice cream photoshoot, will be wasted.

12. Prepare A Lot of Ice Cream

flatlay ice cream photograph

For shooting, it is essential to have plenty of ice cream at your disposal and ensure that it is more than enough, even if it involves renting additional freezers. You might need to get multiple dishes or containers, particularly during ice cream photography. In case you have selected a specific bowl, you will need several spare ones. One is needed for changing, replacement and lighting, while the stylist will be dealing with another one. You should provide the stylist with an extra bowl, if he/she asks. Unless you have a pair of bowls, the photo session will be considerably slower.

13. Keep an Eye on Ice Cream Temperature

complex ice cream photograph

Aside from having enough ice cream, you'll want to get it several days prior to shooting to ensure it reaches the right temperature. You might think it's a stylist's problem. But, in reality, since the temperatures of the freezers are set long before shooting, it's the photographer's responsibility.

For proper ice cream photography, you need two different freezers set to two completely different temperatures. If the ice cream is way too cold, you could have difficulty scooping and cutting it. In case the ice cream is too warm, it tends to melt too quickly in front of the camera. Solve this problem by storing "warm" ice cream in one of the freezers before the stylist begins working with it. Besides, a cooler freezer might also come in handy so that the stylist has the ability to place ice cream there to cool down before proceeding with the session. Set the "warm" freezer between 0 and +5 degrees (F), the cold freezer – to the lowest possible value, which is usually around -20.

Keep in mind that the temperature in a freezer filled with ice cream changes slowly, and stabilization may take several days. Ensure that the temperature is set in every freezer before your ice cream is delivered. If you neglected it, the temperature in the freezer will be lowered because the different between the ice cream and the real temperature would be unknown.

brownish ice cream photograph

Keep in mind that the temperature in a freezer filled with ice cream changes slowly, and stabilization may take several days. Ensure that the temperature is set in every freezer before your ice cream is delivered. If you neglected it, the temperature in the freezer would be lowered because of ice cream and the real temperature would be unknown.

14. Opt for One Type of Styling

ternary ice cream photograph

Of course, food styling involves preparation and staging food for photography in order to make it look as mouth-watering as possible in the shots. Depending on the purpose of the food shoot, the approaches may vary greatly. For instance, food might be photographed for editorials, commercials, advertisements or packaging. As for ice cream styling, there exist two main types – advertising and editorial.

15. Choose Editorial Styling to Emphasize the Composition

editorial ice cream photograph

In editorial styling, you may be as inventive as you wish. This gives the stylist more freedom in playing around with props, lighting and background compared to the advertising approach. Your imagination isn't limited by certain rules in an editorial ice cream photoshoot. As a result, the picture looks appealing. The photographer and stylist collaborate as a team to generate images that evoke feelings. The ice cream here is of minor importance.

16. Choose Advertising Styling to Emphasize the Ice Cream

advertising ice cream photograph

As for advertising styling, the ice cream advertisement ideas and general concept have already been created in advance by the customer. Your main task is to make the ice cream appear as vivid as possible, giving the overall picture secondary importance. Also, editorial styling allows for using fake ice cream in order to simplify the shooting process. If you're promoting a specific brand of ice cream, it should be real one. That's why it is important to specify the styling in advance.

17. Choose the Proper Ice Cream Photography Equipment

coherent ice cream photograph

It is essential to prepare thoroughly beforehand. Ice cream isn't going to wait for you and will melt quickly, and you will have trouble photographing it. In order not to lose valuable minutes, while the ice cream still has a presentable appearance, it is very important to prepare all the necessary equipment and props in advance.

18. Don’t be Afraid to Try Fake Ice Cream Props

Vanilla Scoop Fake Ice Cream Waffle Cone

scoop ice cream photograph

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Fake Chocolate Ice Cream Top Scoop

fake chocolate ice cream photograph

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Let me tell you about the peculiarities of food photography. Most food may be spoiled while it is placed under the light source. That's why a stylist has to find a sort of “stand-in” so that a photographer may arrange a desired setup and lighting. Food that looks very similar to the “original” food, but isn't so “fresh” is referred to as a “stand-in.” As soon as the photographer finishes setting up everything for the future shot, the stylist provides the “original” food. Then the photographer takes a test shot to see if something may be changed, as a stand-in and primary food shouldn't differ much.

For the majority of food, the fixes will take no longer than two minutes and the subject will remain fresh. When it comes to taking ice cream photographs, this period of time is shortened. A stand-in is supposed to look as identical to the primary food as possible. In this way, the necessary fixes can be done quickly and efficiently.

 
on1 photo raw photo retouchingbeforeon1 photo raw photo retouching after
 

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For the majority of food, the fixing will take no longer than two minutes and the subject will remain fresh. When it comes to taking ice cream photographs, this period of time is shortened. A stand-in is supposed to look as identical to primary food as possible. In this way, the necessary fixing could be done quickly and efficiently.

19. Use Mashed Potatoes Instead of Ice Cream

The mashed potatoes styled for ice cream will be perfectly suitable. This kind of a stand-in really assists in terms of focusing, setting up lighting and everything else related to ice cream photography, and keeping the adjustment time to a minimum. The ice cream photographer doesn't have time to compensate for improper stand-in, so the better it is, the better the photo will turn out. Nonetheless, if you don't have the time or desire to prepare your own fake ice cream, you may buy artificial analogs.

20. Choose a Proper Camera Body

Canon Rebel T6i

canon camera for ice cream photography

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Nikon D3400

nikon camera for ice cream photography

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In case you can’t spend more than $500, you should choose the Canon Rebel. This model has convenient touch and tilt screens. The maximum ISO is 12,800. The camera is equipped with a 24MP sensor and 19 focus points. If we compare the Canon Rebel T6i and the Nikon D3400, the latter is a remarkable DSLR for beginners. It boasts a 24MP sensor and 11 focus points. Its specifications are somewhat similar to the Canon model. However, the battery life is much longer. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi module isn't integrated. But you may send pictures to a smartphone through Bluetooth and SmartBridge application.

View more models of the best cameras for product photography that are recommended for food photography.
 

21. Take the “Nifty Fifty" Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

canon lens for ice cream photography

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Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

nikon lens for ice cream photography

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The 50mm lens, called “nifty fifty," is a great model for any photographer, brand and style, including ice creams photo sessions. For example, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is a compact, lightweight, inexpensive device capable of providing clear focus and stunning bokeh.

What makes the 50mm lens a generally "safe" choice for food photography (and portraits) is that it has a fixed focal range. It offers a "normal" perspective and field of view that is very similar to what we see with our eyes. This results in minimal and almost imperceptible distortion if you shoot the subject from a convenient distance.

Find the best lens for product photography exactly for ice cream pictures that will work well with your camera body and light you use.
 

22. Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 On-Camera Led Light

Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 On-Camera Led Light

ice cream photography light

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An ice cream scoop is pretty small. In order to illuminate a small object and emphasize its texture, a small light source is recommended. If you compare a tiny lightbox with a tiny ice cream scoop, the lightbox will be considerably bigger. A small light source throws quite a sharp shadow. It shouldn't confuse you, as this kind of lighting is necessary to highlight the texture properly. If you select a big light source, it will produce soft illumination and neutralize the texture. Find the smallest light source and your texture will be perfectly visible. Very often, the look of the ice cream is more important than the image itself. Then, you may first set up a small light source and proceed to a bigger one if necessary. Remember that the clearly noticeable texture ensures that you get an incredible ice cream photograph.

23. Use a Tripod

Manfrotto MTPIXI-B PIXI Mini Tripod

ice cream photography tripod

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The PIXI Mini Tripod, along with the Manfrotto LED Light Lumimuse, is an ideal match in case you are on the move and your task is to take a still life featuring ice cream.

Choose among these best mini tripods and find an affordable, compact, and high-quality one for your needs.
 

24. Remember about Speed and Efficiency

tabletop ice cream photograph

If you are wondering how to photograph ice cream, it is all about speed and efficiency. You may have a leisurely time dealing with fake ice cream, but as soon as the real one shows up in the frame, you have to act fast. Take a picture and adjust if necessary. If the stand-in was good and you set up the lighting correctly, you will probably only need a slight adjustment between the stand-in and the primary subject.

You must not sit idly by and discuss potential modifications with your art director for a long time while real ice cream is already on the set. Ensure that you make all the important decisions while working with the stand-in. If you unreasonably extend the time for taking a picture of this ice cream, it could melt, and the stylist will have to start over. As a result, the shooting will be postponed.

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You must not sit idly by and discuss potential modifications with your art director for a long time, while real ice cream is already on the set. Ensure that you make all the important decisions while working with the stand-in. If you unreasonably extend the time for taking a picture of this ice cream, it could melt, and the stylist will have to start over. As a result, the shooting would be postponed.

25. Use Photo Editing Freebies

Once you have taken the pics of ice cream, you need to give them a finished look. The best choice will be Photoshop or GIMP. The first one is the standard of quality, but it is very complex and costs money. The second photo editor has slightly worse functionality, but is absolutely free. To save you time, I recommend using free Lightroom presets for ice cream photographs that do most of work.

1. LR Preset "Contrast"


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Contribute to the mouth-watering quality of your ice cream pictures by altering the contrast and sharpening the scene. Using this preset in Lightroom, you may achieve the vibrancy of saturated colors in an image.

2. LR Preset "Matte"


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This preset may assist you in creating truly impressive ice cream photographs. Popular among Instagram food bloggers, it will increase the softness and add warm tones to the shot. It is worth noting that the final image won't look yellow, but the marvelous cool and neutral colors will be highlighted.

3. LR Preset "WB Contrast"


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Take advantage of this preset in case you wish to achieve a natural looking black and white ice cream picture. It can tweak lighting in a proper way, putting emphasis on the primary elements of an object.

4. LR Preset "Bright Yellow"


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If you wish to make a picture of ice cream appear harmonious, I advise you to apply this preset. It decreases Highlights and intensifies Clarity. As a result, the colors of the shots look more appealing and warm.

5. LR Preset "Magic"


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It is a truly magical preset for turning your ice cream pictures into eye-catching masterpieces. It modifies the volume of details by intensifying the shadows. Besides, this exceptional preset adds more light to the shot.


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Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.

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