Is it essential to own a macro lens to do professional food photography? – Q & A #1

Food Photography of Strawberries

As a professional Food Photographer, there are times when you just have to have a macro lens.

For the very first Food photography Q&A question, in hopefully a long series, Marie-Christine Beaudet, asked:

Q – Is it essential to own a macro lens to do professional food photography?

A – In a word, yes.  It’s not that you have to always have a macro lens in order to make beautiful food photography, but when you’re a professional, you have clients.  Clients may ask you to do an extreme close up and if you don’t have a macro lens, you may not be able to give them what they asked for.  Sure, you can usually “crop in” from a shot where you got as close as your lens allowed, but you loose quality and you loose face. (if the client is there)  Being a professional means that you are ready for almost anything that the client may through your way.  And it’s pretty much expected that food photography involves getting in very close to the food.  If you’re not able to do that, the client will most likely think that you’re not “very professional”.

Another thing you may not realize about a macro lens is that, when you’re in really close, you get a really cool effect “fall-off of focus” that you just don’t get when you crop in on a photo.  There’s really something special about it that you have to see to believe.

You won’t need a macro lens on all your shoots as a food photographer, but you will need it on enough jobs to make it a mandatory part of your equipment kit, and if you don’t have it when you need it, you’ll look pretty amateurish to the client.

That’s really one of the things that separate a professional from an amateur.  If a client asks for something “reasonable”, a professional can “get it done”, while an amateur will struggle and sometimes fail.  If you fail a client, you probably won’t get another chance at working with that client.  Clients are hard to get in the first place, so you want to keep as many as you possible can.

So to answer the question – “Is it essential to own a macro lens to do professional food photography?”

My answer is, yes, it is.

And just as a little additional info, this is my favorite macro lens.  Besides letting you focus very closely, it allows you to control the “plane of focus”, which is amazingly important sometimes… Read more about my favorite macro lens here…

Nikon_85mm_f_2.8D PC-E_Micro_Nikkor_Lens


Thanks for visiting the Food Photography Q & A Page.  If you have a question you’d like to have answered by a professional food photographer and you think that other people on this blog might be interested too, please ask me your food photography question, and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.  BTW – I tend to prioritize answering the questions of people that subscribe to my mail list… (hint, hint… :o)



  1. Marie-Christine Beaudet · November 8, 2014

    Thank you, I will send this to Santa!!

  2. Michael Ray · November 8, 2014

    I hope Santa is RICH!!! :o)


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