Ideas for Photo Fun With Water & Food Coloring

“Wow! Oh my gosh! Cool!”

This is what your friends will say when they see your gorgeous photos of food coloring in water.

These shots are not only incredible but surprisingly easy! And with our setup tips and ideas you’re gonna get the most vibrant and unique results possible.

Just don’t get so mesmerized by all those dancing colors that you forget to take the shot!

Make Photo Magic with Food Coloring


beforePhotographing food coloring in water is super fun. The colors are fantastic, and no two shots are the same!

But before you dive in, we have a few tips to get your shot just right.

Bright Lighting

Set up somewhere with great light so you can avoid using flash. Use a fast shutter speed to quickly capture the many different shapes your colors will make.

beforeWhite Backdrop 

The best way to get a clear shot of your colors is to place your glass right up against a white backdrop. This can be a wall, a sheet, or even a piece of paper (which is what we used!).


The movement of the colors may confuse your auto-focus, so switch to manual. Stick a pencil in the water and use that to set your focus before dropping in the coloring. Use a tripod to keep yourself steady.

Got all that? Then let’s get started!

#1: The Classic


Talk about hypnotizing! This shot is classic for a reason. Just drop in your food coloring and wait for the magic to begin.

Keep It Cool 

Use cold water so the food coloring spreads more slowly. This is especially helpful when shooting solo. You don’t want to miss anything on your way back behind the camera.

Red and Green and Blue, Oh my!

Drop your colors in one right after the other or wait a couple seconds between each one. There’s no wrong way to do it, so experiment and have fun!

#2: “Floating” Figurines


All you need is some wire to create the illusion of a floating friend in the water. Add in your food coloring and watch the two collide!

Wait, wire? 

Yup! Check the jewelry section of your local craft store for some thin but durable wire.

beforeWrap one end of the wire around your figurine’s leg. With the other end, bend the wire into a circle shape that’s the same size as the bottom of the glass.

Fold the wire so the straight piece sticks up with your figurine in the air. Insert the wire with your figurine into the glass. Fill with water. Voila!

(No dinos were hurt during the making of this shot.)

#3: Oil and Bubbles

beforeWho says food coloring has to slowly float through water in order to make a cool shot?

Try putting it in oil instead. (No water needed.) You’ll end up with a completely different but equally awesome effect!

Mix It Up

Drop your food coloring into a glass of oil. Rather than dissolving, the droplets will sink to the bottom of the glass.

Stir the oil around to get the food color moving. The droplets will quickly re-settle to the bottom, so hurry and get back behind the camera as soon as you stop stirring!

#4: Flower Power


We recently showed you four fun ways to photograph flowers. Well, here’s another one to add to the list!

Seriously, who knew flower shots could get even more pretty?

Keep the Stem 

If you try to submerge the flower without its stem, it’s just gonna float to the top of the glass. Instead, keep the long stem intact. You’ll be able to bend it within the glass so that the flower stays put under the surface of the water.

Keep the petals pressed up against the glass. Once you pour the food coloring in, it will move around the flower in really cool new ways.

Taking it further


  • Want to get some neat smoke shots without setting off the fire alarm? Just convert your food coloring photos to black and white!
  • We’ve had photo fun with food coloring in the past. In case you missed it (or just wanna do it again) check out our tutorial on how to make abstract art with food coloring and milk.
  • If you’re loving all these surreal lookin’ shots, then you’re definitely gonna enjoy our super simple steps for oil and water photos, too!