Four Professional Food Photographers Tell us How to Get the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Photos

Photo by Lou Manna. Used with permission.

Photo by Lou Manna. Used with permission.

With America’s Thanksgiving almost upon us, it’s ony obvious that you’ll be getting photos of someone’s turkey in your social media streams. Creating the photo that stands out amongst the herd though has to do with, well, literally creating it. Simply capturing the moment sometimes isn’t enough. And for that, we turned to four well known professional food photographers that we’ve interviewed previously.

Here’s what four professional food photographers have to say about how to get the perfect Thanksgiving turkey photos.


“When first photographing a Turkey, make sure you pick the angle that makes it look most like a classic cartoon turkey with the legs pointing away from you at a slight angle. No amount of painting tricks, pouring hot oil, herb placement can change the inherent problem that a Turkey shot at the wrong angle looks grotesquely ugly and like an alien from another planet. Get the angle right and your job becomes immeasurably easier. ”

Howard Shooter, check out our interview with him.

“Use household items such as aluminum foil, makeup mirrors and white napkins to reflect the light source into the shadow areas of the photo and capture more detail. To soften the light source, try diffusing it with wax paper or a sheer white cloth to achieve more detail in the bright portions of the photo. Be prepared to shoot as soon as the food is ready so that it looks fresh, moist, hot, etc. Lightly brush the food with vegetable oil to add shine and highlights.”

Lou Manna, check out our interview with him.

Photo by Shea Evans. Used with permission.

Photo by Shea Evans. Used with permission.

“Even though I’m a food photographer, Thanksgiving for me has always been more about the people than the food. So in photographing your family’s prize turkey this coming Thursday, consider making the connection of the people to turkey, maybe a cropped torso shot of someone’s hands holding the plate with the turkey while they take it to the table (window light is great for this), or a close shot of the hands of the head of the household with carving knife slicing it for everyone, or maybe an overhead shot of the turkey, while guests pass sides and slices of turkey to each other around it.”

Shea Evans, check out our interview with him.

“It’s all about the skin. If you monitor the color of the skin above all else your turkey will look great. Slightly undercooked on the inside also keeps the bird plump and juicy looking.You can also use a heat gun, not a blow torch, to even out the skin color. Plump. Brown. Perfect.”

Andrew Scrivani, check out our interview with him.