Food photographs are widely used as instruments to estimate portion sizes of consumed foods. Several food atlases are available, all developed to be used in a specific context and for a given study population. Frequently, food photographs are adopted for use in other studies with a different context or another study population. In the present study, errors in portion size estimation of bread, margarine on bread and beverages by two-dimensional models used in the context of a Belgian food consumption survey are investigated. A sample of 111 men and women (age 45–65 years) were invited for breakfast; two test groups were created. One group was asked to estimate portion sizes of consumed foods using photographs 1–2 d after consumption, and a second group was asked the same after 4 d. Also, real-time assessment of portion sizes using photographs was performed. At the group level, large overestimation of margarine, acceptable underestimation of bread and only small estimation errors for beverages were found. Women tended to have smaller estimation errors for bread and margarine compared with men, while the opposite was found for beverages. Surprisingly, no major difference in estimation error was found after 4 d compared with 1–2 d. Individual estimation errors were large for all foods. The results from the present study suggest that the use of food photographs for portion size estimation of bread and beverages is acceptable for use in nutrition surveys. For photographs of margarine on bread, further validation using smaller amounts corresponding to actual consumption is recommended.