Photography: 10 Food Photography Tips

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Do you find yourself getting frustrated looking at food photography on Pinterest wishing that your food photos would look just as good (if not better) than what you see as you scroll through the site? Are you running out of ideas for your food photos? Have you wanted to enhance your food photography skills but are not sure what to do next? Food photography can be tricky ... but I'm here to share some tricks of the trade with you.

10 Food Photography Tips

1. Composition

Before you break out your camera, give some thought into how you want to compose the food photo. Do you want to do an overhead photo? What type of mood do you want to set with your photo? How much of the food will you need to get a great photo? Do you want to photograph the recipe deconstructed? You'll want to map out your ideas so that you can set the scene efficiently.

2. Textures

I'm all about textures. As you can see from my food photography, I prefer rustic, farmhouse props that help tell a story. I think that the rustic props add so much depth to a photograph due to all of the textures that they bring to the scene.

When you're thinking of the composition, analyze what fits with the food that you are photographing. Take for example a bowl of soup. To me, soup is comfort food so I would want the photograph to exude comfort. When thinking about composition, a rustic bowl and spoon, a stone plates to set the bowl on, and frayed napkins would definitely come to mind. I would want to make the scene as comforting as possible while also showcasing the food.

Simply put, the more texture, the better ... as long as the texture makes sense in the story that you're trying to tell in your photograph.

3. Utensils

You need to make food photographs approachable. If you eat the recipe with a fork, include a fork (or multiple forks) in your scene. If you're photographing soup as described above, include a spoon in your scene. Utensils are a great way to add texture all while making your photograph look very inviting.

4. Ingredients

Instead of taking ingredient photos, I like to use the ingredients as props. Items like chocolate chips, fresh herbs, and colorful spices are a great way to add texture and depth to a scene. The ingredients also help showcase what was included in the recipe. As you're preparing the recipe, be sure to set aside a few of the ingredients to use as props.

5. Shapes

I love to use repetition in my food photography to help with the theme. Having a bunch of different shapes in a food photo can create chaos. Instead, think about the shape of the food, recipe, or serving dish and try to replicate that shape subtlety throughout the entire scene in order to make items in a photograph flow without being a distraction.

6. Lighting

Use natural light. I cannot stress that enough. I never use artificial light when photographing food. No matter how many tricks someone might have up their sleeve when it comes to recreating natural light, I just don't believe in it. Keep an eye on the natural light that comes into your home. Also, you never want to use harsh natural light. In other words, taking photos when the sun is bright will make photographing food a difficult task.

The prime time to photograph in natural light is usually during the morning or evening hours when the natural light is soft. If you have to photograph food in the middle of the day, then use a sheer curtain to help soften the light.

In my old house in the city, I didn't have a lot of natural light that came into the home since I lived in a rowhouse that backed up to an alley. I had to get creative when it came to finding good natural light. We had a workbench under a car port in our backyard. A lot of the food photos that I have taken for this site have been taken on that workbench. The light that came into the car port was just enough to achieve the mood that I was trying to accomplish in my food photography.

Find your natural light and create your mood. Remember, photography is all about capturing light so use the best light possible.

7. Background

You'll notice that I like to play with backgrounds in my food photography. I usually use old baking sheets, fabrics, and backdrops while taking photos of food. So many people have commented on the brick wall in my food photographs, saying that they wished that they had such a nice brick wall. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's possible. How? Easy. All that you have to do is hop onto Etsy and purchase backdrops that will last for years. Ink and Elm is one of my favorite shops on Etsy. I have purchased a brick wall, as well as multiple wood plank walls. The backdrops are so realistic. Plus, instead of having to store real wood planks, all that you have to do is roll up the backdrops and store them.

8. Props

I love to include rustic, farmhouse props in my food photos because they add so much depth, character, and texture to photographs. For more information about food photography props, please visit this page.

9. Crumbs

That's right. I said it. I'm a person who needs everything in its place. However, put me behind the camera when I'm photographing food and I'm always creating a messy look in my food photographs. Cooking can be messy. Eating can be messy. Food photographs can be messy. Use crumbs to your advantage. Adding crumbs to a food photograph is a simple way to add dimension.

10. Position

Not only do I mean the position of the food and ingredients, but also the position of your body and eye. More specifically, how you capture the food on film. From overhead shots to side shots, what angle will best capture the scene that you have created? Instead of taking the same angle over and over again, get creative and change your viewpoint. Are you always taking photos from the side? Stand over the scene and get an overhead shot. You'll be surprised and pleased with the results. Plus, different angles means different ways to style the scene. The opportunities are endless.

What is your favorite food photography tip?

Photography: Finding Food Photography Props

Saturday, October 11, 2014

One of the questions that I get asked often is, "Where do you buy your props for your food photos?" My answer? All over.

When it comes to food photography, I love the rustic, farmhouse look and I usually peruse stores and shops (both in-person and online) that have a tendency to carry items that fit my style. I prefer to purchase items that I can use often, have a lot of texture and character, and will add dimension and depth to my food photos.

My biggest advice to you is to determine your photography style and start collecting props that will:
  • Avoid an expiration date (you don't want props that will get old photo after photo)
  • Enhance your food and complement your recipes
  • Add depth and interest without overwhelming viewers and taking away from the recipe
  • Improve over time (wear and tear adds a story to photos)
  • Be nice to your wallet (you don't need to spend a lot of money on props to have the look that you want in your food photos)


Where to Find Food Photography Props

1.) Etsy

Etsy is by far my favorite place to find food photography props. If you search in their kitchen or even home décor section, and use search terms such as "rustic" or "vintage," then you'll come across all sorts of treasures that are cost effective.

2.) Antique Shops

As I mentioned earlier, I'm a big fan of rustic, farmhouse props and there's no better place than an antique store for props that are like my style, right? At these stores, you'll find utensils, cake plates, regular plates, cooking tools, etc.

3.) Bargain Stores

Whenever I stop at Marshall's of TJ Maxx to buy home décor items, I almost always stop by the kitchen section to see what I can find. Sometimes I have to do some digging and get creative but I have been very lucky coming across great prop finds.

4.) Specialty Stores

Shops like World Market, Crate & Barrel, and Potterybarn always have great items for food photography. They might be a bit more expensive than the bargain, antique, or thrift shops but you can always check out the sale/clearance sections to score a great deal on quality props.

5.) Home

Do you need backdrop? If ever I need to change up my backdrops, I take out a cookie sheet, do overheard shots on top of our workbench, find a brick wall, etc. Do you need accessories for the photo? Search around your home ... you're bound to come across books, fabrics, decorative paper, etc. that will help add dimensions and stories to your food photos.

Photography: 5 Ways to Capture the Moment

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'm a firm believer that a photograph tells a story. Look at the object's face, surroundings, lighting ... How old is the person? What is he or she feeling? What do you think he or she encountered that day? Why is that person in that place at the moment? Take for example the following photo.

Where do you think I was when I took this photo? Do you think that I knew that girls in the photo? What do you think they are celebrating?

When I was walking the streets of Dublin, Ireland, I walked into a town square and was taking in the beautifully built structures that surrounded me ... and that's when I saw them. A group of school girls were giggling, celebrating, and so in the moment with each other. I quickly clicked the shutter button on my camera and captured a moment in time. From the bike to the buildings to the girls, this photograph reveals so much about Dublin to me.

On another night in Ireland, I was walking the streets during the evening hours and found myself in a cute little town with a few pubs and boutique shops. I was coming up to an art/knick knack shop and that's when I looked in the hallway of the shop and saw a story playing out in front of me.

From the rundown runner to the haphazardly placed frames to the man with the white hair ... you can tell that this store has so many stories to tell and has seen its fair share of characters and art pieces.

When I walked into another boutique, I found myself surrounded by wool scarves, hats, mittens, and sweaters. I was awestruck by basket after basket of colorful threads, as well as row after row of beautifully woven wool items. While taking everything in, I turned and saw a woman at the cash register who was preparing the wool.

These products were real. This woman was the creator. The items in her store were unbelievable. I had to capture the moment. As she concentrated on the task at hand, I pressed the shutter button and captured a moment during one of my favorite stops along the way.

5 Ways to Capture the Moment

What's the beauty in capturing the moment? Everything. Here are five tips on ways to help you capture the moment.

1.) Take in your surroundings.

Instead of zooming close into your object, take a step back. What I love most about the first image is that I didn't zoom in on the group of girls. Instead, I kept the lens far away in order to capture more of the moment. The buildings, statues, and objects in the background like the bike, help create a photographic storyline. If you zoom in on the group of girls, it's just a group of girls. If you zoom out on the group of girls, it's a story.

2.) Avoid posing objects.

If I would've asked the woman in the wool store to look at the camera and smile, I never would've captured her in the moment. Her working the wool helps to tell a story. Her posing with wool in her hand would just be a women posing with wool. Where's the story in that photograph? Actually showing the moment helps to show that she is the maker of the items in the store. She is the person behind all of the beauty.

3.) Embrace imperfections.

I'm a firm believer that not every photo has to be perfect. Take for example the photo of the frame store. The frames are a mess. The carpet runner is a mess. The moment is a mess ... but it's a perfectly imperfect mess which resulted in a beautiful moment. If frames were perfectly placed, the runner perfectly clean, and the moment perfectly organized, I think that the moment wouldn't share much of a background.

4.) Get to know people.

After taking a photo of the group of girls, I met them. After taking a photo of the woman in the wool store, I talked to her. A photograph is definitely a moment in time. What makes that moment better is getting to know the object in the photo to help attach a memory to a moment.

5.) Be courageous.

So many people are afraid to capture a moment because strangers might be in the photo. Don't be a afraid. Embrace your moment, hold the camera up to your eye, find the angle that will help tell the story, and press the shutter button.

Simple Pickle Side Dishes

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

From appetizers to side dishes to condiments, there are so many ways to take a boring, plain menu and make it flavorful and memorable. With only a few ingredients and simple steps,  you can serve up an appetizer that will awaken the taste buds, a side dish that perfectly complements the main dish, and a main dish that is full of flavor thanks to homemade condiments.

When you're at the store perusing the aisles trying to find the perfect ingredients for your next menu, you most likely stop by the produce, bakery, meat, and dairy sections. It looks like we're forgetting a section ... that's right, the pickle section. Did you ever think to open up a jar of pickles and get creative with your dishes?

The next time you're at the store and you're shopping for side dish ingredients, be sure to pick up a jar of the Vlasic Farmer's Garden products. The products are made with only fresh, locally grown cucumbers and authentic ingredients ... all of which emphasize that the simple things in life bring us the greatest pleasure.

Celebrating the authentic taste of #FarmToJar, Farmer's Garden by Vlasic wants everyone to experience the delicious fresh taste of honest ingredients, as well as hand-picked herbs and spices that make up the perfect premium pickle. I couldn't agree more. With only a few simple ingredients and steps, you'll have a flavorful side dish recipe that will please all of your guests ... especially the guests who love pickles.

Here are simple pickle side dishes:
What's your favorite pickle dish?

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Vlasic Farmer's Garden. However, all thoughts and opinions were my own.

A New Adventure in Photography

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My mind has been racing lately. I have spent a lot of time researching, self-analyzing, brainstorming, planning, and contemplating. I've put plans onto paper, threw away those plans, revisited the plans, deleted the plans, and returned to the plans again. I've hemmed. I've hawed. I've swayed. I've rocked. And, after a lot of questions and answers, I'm beyond thrilled to announce the big news. As you can tell by the new tagline, this blog will now be all about "simplifying life in the kitchen and behind the camera."

That's right. I love to cook. I love to photograph food. I love to share recipes with you. However, I have always felt like this blog was missing a huge piece of my true passion: photography. Yes, the food photographs shared my love of photography ... to a certain extent. But, I have really been wanting to share more.

Sharing in the love of photography with others, learning more about photography every time I pick up my camera, and teaching others about photography is an incredibly strong passion of mine. When people ask me for photography advice or tips, my eyes light up with excitement. When I discover a new perspective in photography, my mind starts racing. When I encourage others to pick up the camera with confidence, my passion explodes.

Growing up, I always loved to look at photographs. I would pick up a camera here and there to snap a few photographs. I couldn't wait to develop the photographs and place them in my scrapbooks. When I was in college studying journalism, I decided to sign up for a photojournalism course on a whim. I figured I loved photography and writing so writing through photographs would be something of interest to me. That was one of the best decisions of my life. That class not only taught me the ins and outs of photograph during the non-digital age (yes, I was often found in the dark room developing film at all hours of the day and night), but it also led me to study photojournalism for a summer in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. It's true ... I traveled around Europe for months telling stories through photographs. My life was made ...

... and then I returned home and tried to embrace photography while working a full-time job and finding my way through life. Fast forward a few years and you come to the start of this blog. Because I love food, writing, and photography, as well as connecting with family and friends, this blog was the perfect way to accomplish all of those hobbies in one spot.

Since I started this blog in 2009, I have enjoyed sharing tips, tricks, and recipes to simplify life in the kitchen. This blog has opened my eyes to the world of food photography and has opened photography doors for me that have been such a blessing. I have studied photography, practiced photography, taught photography at workshops and conferences, launched a photography website, and provided my photographs to clients. Now, I can't wait to share photography tips and tricks via my little corner of the Internet. Don't worry, I'll still be sharing recipes ... but just know that I'll also be sharing photography tips as well. I hope that you'll continue to follow me in this journey and enjoy "simplifying life in the kitchen and behind the camera."

Tons of hugs for all of your support. You rock.

5 Simple Nutella Recipes

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Raise your hand if you love Nutella. I mean, who doesn't love the most delicious chocolate hazelnut spread. Ever. Spread it on toast or drizzle it across baked goods, add it to your muffin batter or use it as a dip ... there are countless ways to enjoy this chocolate treat. Here are five simple recipes that use Nutella as an ingredient.

Have you ever had a cupcake flavored with Nutella? If not, here's your chance. From the cake to the frosting to the crumble topping, this cupcake recipe has it all ... and it's ready in a matter of minutes.

I always love pairing chocolate with fruit. This chocolate layered cake not only has that combination, but it also has homemade whipped cream added to the mix. This cake is easy to prepare and it's quite a showstopper.

The name of the recipe says it all ... in other words, it doesn't get much easier than that when it comes to cookies. These cookies are super soft and loaded with the flavor of Nutella. All that you need is a glass of milk and you'll be all set.

Yes, I went there. Sink your teeth into one of these ice cream sandwiches and your life will change. I'm totally craving one of these right now. Whether it's the summer or winter, this treat is the perfect treat for any occasion.

Pairing Nutella with pumpkin? Why not? Even though it's a pumpkin-flavored recipe doesn't mean that you have to wait until the fall to enjoy this treat. From the muffin bottom to the muffin top, this recipe is packed with flavor that will have you craving seconds.

What's your favorite way to enjoy Nutella?

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Nutella. I just really love the product.Why? Because it's delicious.

5 Simple Doughnut Recipes

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

There's the doughnut shop around the corner, the drive-through doughnut store, and the doughnut section in your local grocery store. What about homemade doughnuts? Have you ever tried to make them at your home? Here are great homemade and easy doughnut recipes to satisfy a doughnut craving.

Pair these doughnuts (pictured above) with your morning coffee and you'll have a match made in heaven. What's not to love about an apple cinnamon combo in doughnut hole form?

There's just something about pumpkin doughnuts that screams delicious. Try your hand at making these doughnut hole (pictured above). I promise you won't be disappointed. Warning: It's hard to eat just one.

Chocolate and toasted coconut on a doughnut? Sign me up. These baked doughnuts (pictured above) are a real treat ... and super easy to prepare.

Here's another baked doughnut recipe (pictured above) that will be friendly to your taste buds and your waistline. The crunchy coating will make your mouth water.

Uh oh ... did something say ice cream sandwich? Think cookie ice cream sandwich but switch out the cookies for doughnuts. Yes, I went there and it's just as good as it sounds. For more ice cream sandwich recipes, be sure to check out Delish's roundup of off-the-wall ice cream sandwich recipes. A huge thanks goes out to for featuring my recipe.

What's your favorite kind of doughnut?

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Delish. I simply wanted to thank them for featuring my recipe because they are awesome (Delish and the ice cream sandwiches, of course).
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