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The Insider Details on Chiaroscuro and Moody Photography with Anisa Sabet

The Insider Details on Chiaroscuro and Moody Photography from Anisa Sabet

If you haven't made your way over to the visual candy that is Anisa Sabet's  feed, then you are missing a world of delicious food and seriously moody photography. There aren't many people who do the dark style of food photography well, but Anisa seems to have cracked the formula on that one. Plus she came up with #toastietuesday which is something I think we can all get on board with.

We all know that epic content is the key to having a great Instagram feed and making you stand out from the masses. But entering the world of expensive cameras, programs like Photoshop and Lightroom that have a plethora of tools that seem too complicated or even just staring at that empty bowl and wondering how to fill it can be a bit daunting. If this sounds like you then keep reading because Anisa has some serious gems to share.


How did your journey as a food photographer start?

I started my food photography journey when I was taking an 18-month sabbatical with my fiancee (now my husband) in Chamonix, a little town in the French Alps. I started a blog to document my travels for my mum and fell in love with cooking again so started to share the recipes I made too. Being in France, I was experimenting with lots of French cooking and having a blast with it. The produce available in Chamonix was truly glorious. Every Saturday we would have a beautiful farmers market which we'd get our ingredients for the week. Saturday lunch was always traditionally French; fresh baguette, a selection of soft & hard cheeses, some cold meats, pickles and chocolate. It was absolute heaven.

Through cooking food, I kinda got a little obsessed with food photography and basically spent my holiday taking photos when I should have been snowboarding. Whoops!


The Insider Details on Chiaroscuro and Moody Photography from Anisa Sabet


Tell us about your epic style of photography, Chiaroscuro.

I immediately became obsessed with this dark and moody style of photography and the way artists used this to tell stories with their photos. I set out to learn how to create these types of images myself and wouldn't rest until I had. I still have a lot to learn but I try to take home a lesson from every shoot, so I can improve the next one.

I create my images by using dark backdrops, soft fabrics, rustic props and moody food. I actually wrote a post titled "8 Ways To Make Your Photos More Moody" which is in the Resources part of my blog saved exclusively for subscribers. Any readers interested in learning more about how to create moody photos should pop on over to and subscribe 🙂


Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration from many sources, from cooking magazines to Pinterest, and even TV/movies or art. I love looking at any type of food photos and spend as much time doing this as anything else.


Whose style are you currently crushing on from Instagram?


Zaira Zarotti at The Freaky Table @thefreakytable

Valentina at Hortus Cuisine @valentinahortus

Aimee Twigger at Twigg Studios @twiggstudios

Beth Kirby at Local Milk @local_milk

Eva Kosmas Flores at Adventures in Cooking @evakosmasflores

Linda Lomelino at Call Me Cupcake @lindalomelino

Carey at Reclaiming Provincial @careynotcarrie

Sam at Drizzle & Dip @drizzleanddip

What kind of shoots do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working for clients who know what they want and play an active role in the shoot. I find with shoots that involve a lot of collaboration always turn out the best.


The Insider Details on Chiaroscuro and Moody Photography from Anisa Sabet


What camera and lens do you use the most? Would you recommend those to someone entering the world of food photography?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV + 90% of my photos are taken with the Canon 100mm Macro 2.8L lens. I also do have the Canon 24-70mm 2.8L and the Canon 50mm 1.2L lens in rotation too.

The Canon 6D Mark II is an amazing piece of equipment that I can highly recommend to anyone starting out. I might also add that its important to spend a decent part of your budget on a lens. An excellent body will not be used to its potential with a kit lens attached.


Where do you source your backgrounds and props?

I actually wrote a post about this too! I source my props from lots of different places, mostly antique stores, Etsy, Ebay and chain stores that stock pieces I like. Readers who subscribe to my blog, can also get my post about my 6 favourite props and where YOU can get them!


The Insider Details on Chiaroscuro and Moody Photography from Anisa Sabet


What are three foods you can't live without?

I'm obsessed with ribs, ice cream, chocolate, pizza, pasta, burgers and toasties. I sound disgustingly unhealthy don't I? I also love a good salad. 


Your fave inspirational quote.


“Be happy in this moment. This moment is your life” – Omar Khayyam.


What would your number 1 tip for a budding food photographer?

Practice, practice, practice. There's no shortcut to becoming a good photographer. It takes a huge amount of determination, work and time. Every hour of shoot & editing time teaches you something that you can apply to the next shoot and so on. It can be really really daunting starting out, especially when you compare your work with the amazing work out there, but it's important to remind yourself, everyone started somewhere and no one starts out at the top (a quote by Beth Kirby of Local Milk). Be kind and gentle to yourself, you're not going to love every shoot you do, and that's ok, no one does. But there will come a day where you'll look at a photo and be proud, and that is worth the work to get there. 



The Insider Details on Chiaroscuro and Moody Photography with Anisa Sabet


So if you are interested in learning more about the world of moody photography, or maybe light photography is more your style, then you have to check out the workshop the Anisa and Sally are running on all things food photography. Spots are limited so DON'T MISS OUT!

Sasha Leong

With a passion for photography, writing and all things health, Sasha from Live Without Labels is all about living life free from labels that society gives us. She is currently in her first year of a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine and works alongside Sally from The Fit Foodie Blog.