on photography…

I get lots of comments, compliments and questions about my food photography.  To this I say, THANK YOU!  Photography is a passion of mine and there is nothing more flattering than having others notice your passion and comment positively about it.  

My interest in photography began when I was a little girl.  I grew up with a father who was an amateur photographer and always had a camera in his hand. We even had a dark room in our house.  I got my first camera when I was 10-ish, and was always the girl documenting all events with my friends in middle school and high school.  I took a class to learn more about manual photography and developing and even started a photography business with a good friend our senior year.  

I rebelled against digital cameras for years, still prefering to take all of my social photos and architecture model shots with my Minolta SLR camera.  I finally gave in and my father gave me my first digital camera my second year of college, a Kodak 3 mega-pixel point-and-shoot.  It was used for my social shots out with friends, but for my detailed architecture photos nothing beat the SLR…I was still hooked on film.

The digital SLR has come a long way since then, and I am now lucky enough to own a Canon EOS 5D.  It has completely sold me on digital, although I still dream about picking up a vintage Polaroid camera sometime, just for fun.  I have several lenses for the DSLR, but for my food shots I typically use a Sigma 35-70mm.  We also have a Canon Digital Elph SD850 that I use when I am away from the house.  It takes great shots and is much more portable than the DSLR.

I’ve compiled a few tips that I keep in mind when photographing food for the blog.  But to start,  I AM NOT AN EXPERT!  I simply have a love for photography and several years of practice.  There are many other sites out there that could give much more technical how-to’s than I ever could, and I recommend that you do some research if you are truly passionate about learning more.  A couple of sites that I’ve enjoyed looking at:

orange

practice practice practice!  

I know you’ve probably heard it 1000 times, but that is truly how I learned about light and composition.  You have to experiment with different settings on your camera and different lighting configurations in your home to figure out what works best for you.  Photography educators recommend keeping a journal, although with the digital age I don’t know if its necessary anymore since most cameras store information about camera settings used for particular shots. But if you’re like me and learn through recordation, start a journal.  Try different settings and record each small change you make, noting which pictures use which settings.  There are no excuses to not practice and experiment now that everybody has digital cameras…there’s no waste!

sweet-potato

composition.

I’m very careful with setting up my photos when I take them.  I probably take 20 different photos for every 1 that turns out how I want it.  I try to keep the background simple, focusing on the food and keeping clutter out of the shot.  Try lots of different angles to get the perfect one that will showcase exactly what you want to show.

oats

Whole-dish shots aren’t always necessary.  Sometimes a picture of just a portion of the dish is enough.

yogurt1

salad-2

Color and texture are important.  Boring-looking food will mean boring photographs.  A sprig of fennel or parsley, a dash of ground pepper or a drizzle of dressing can take a photo a long way.

squash-soup

soup-2

Prep shots are fun too, and help to bring some variety to the blog.

cookie-prep

dates

brussels

light.

Daylight is always best.  I love the weekends when I can take my photos during the day.  During the week I have to take a lot of my shots in the dark and I have some pretty sophisticated equipment that helps me out.  For a point-and-shoot camera, (which are great!  I have one that I use often) the best bet is to keep the flash off because you don’t have much control over it.  Bring in lamps that you can use over your food.  You want to try and light the food evenly so you don’t get any major shadows (which will happen with the flash from a point-and-shoot).  If you want to experiment with the flash on your camera, try putting a piece of white posterboard on the opposite side of your camera and flash, to help bounce light back onto the opposite side of your food.  This should help with the harsh shadows.

This shot was taken with just the daylight from my window.

scones

The night before I took this shot with just the light from my dining room lamp…not pretty.

scones-2

Now I have an external hot shoe flash for my DSLR camera that is directional, meaning that I can point it away from the subject of my photographs and bounce light off of the ceiling or a wall for better lighting.   It makes evening shots much easier for me…

cookies

photoshop.

I try to use Photoshop as little as possible, but I do use it.  My camera takes huge photos, so I have to reduce every one that I take.  I also will “auto level” the shots not taken in daylight or when I’m not happy with the general color.  This usually helps, but can’t completely make up for not having the right lighting when you actually take the picture.  I always try to compose my pictures when I take them so that I don’t have to crop them in photoshop when I’m done.  The less time I have to spend on each shot the better.

Here is an example of a shot before and after “auto-leveling” in Photoshop.

biscuits-2

biscuits

inspiration.

Look at other great photographers and practice trying to emulate the things they do.  Don’t copy their backdrops, props or styles, but you can learn a lot from looking at the different angles and compositions of other artists’ photographs.  Check out some of the “visual inspiration” blogs and websites listed on my blog.  Some of the mouth-watering food photography that I aspire to?

I hope this was helpful!  Feedback is always welcome…if you have any tips that you would like to mention, please comment!

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35 responses to “on photography…

  1. I love it! You really are so talented and this has been so interesting and helpful to read! I look forward to seeing many more pictures from you!

  2. Awesome post, thanks so much for the tips! Your photography really is beautiful!

  3. Wow, thank you so much for the mini tutorial! It’s v. true I’ve been envious of your photography:)

  4. Gorgeous post! I have the Canon Elph SD850 too, but my gosh, my pictures could never look like yours!

    It truly is a talent and an art. Do you have any of your pictures hanging in your home? What is your favorite thing to photograph, is it food?

    I’m going to share this post with the hubs…he is a photo buff too!

    Have a good Sunday!

  5. Thank you for all of that ! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I too (thanks to my Daddy) became extremly interested in photography at a young age, it is trial and error and playing with things often times. You are very talented! 🙂

  6. Thank you! I am a huge photography nerd as well, so I totally loved this.

    I am looking to get a new lens, but I am not sure what to get. I have a 50mm that I absolutely adore, but I am not sure where to even look next. I’m thinking the 35mm-70mm might be perfect. What do you suggest?

  7. Your photography tips were very helpful – thank you so much for taking the time to write this post!

    Your photos really are magnificent, and I’d say that your blog in my inspiration to take better shots of my food.

    Thanks again!

  8. You need to conduct a “photography how-to” class, Andrea – your tips are beyond wonderful!!

  9. Thank you for the tips and websites! And lovely blood orange 😉

  10. great post, i always adored your photos. need to invest in a better camera…

  11. That was a great tutorial. I’m always trying to find ways to make the pictures I take more interesting.

    I especially agree with your tip about the colors of the food making the photos more interesting. You always have a very colorful mix of things in your bowls and it just enhances the tremendous photos you take!

    Thank you for all the wonderful information!

  12. Thank you SO MUCH for these tips! I not only find them extremely interesting but helpful too.

  13. FANTASTIC TIPS! Seriously this is a wonderful post for everyone to read!

  14. You do take wonderful pictures. I am slowly trying to get better now that I convinced the boyfriend to pull our his fancy digital and give me some help. We do need to work on the lighting issues in our apt.

  15. Thanks for the tips!

  16. Thankyou for that inciteful post on photography. I love taking photos, although I don’t consider myself anywhere near your level of expertise. I love looking at other peoples photos too, so thanks again for showing your wonderful photos.

  17. thanks for all the tips I need all the help I can get!!!! Your are a great teacher:)

  18. the tips are great! I love fiddling with composition to make something dull look bright and interesting.

  19. Thank you so much as I think you take the most amazing food photos! Truly…they’re beautiful.

  20. I love your photos! You’re definitely talented in photography! I wish my pictures could turn out like yours~ ;]

  21. This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  22. cleanveggiex3

    thanks for this post.
    seriously though, your pictures are breath taking!
    i love them!

  23. What a great, great post!

    I learned so much – it was also a good reminder of how much lighting affects a photo.

  24. thank you so much for all the photog info … and for giving us more photos to drool over. you really are a phenomenal photographer and SO need to be working for gourmet mag or something along those lines 🙂

  25. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing what I would call your “expertise,” even if you are too modest to admit it 😉 Your pictures are stunning!

  26. Your photographs are one of my favorite parts of your blog. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  27. Pingback: weekend recap « bella eats

  28. I forgot to comment on this yesterday so I just wanted to thank you for this post. I actually spent a few hours on Saturday reading about food photography. I think natural light and lots of practice are key. I need to find time to learn my camera so I can get the most out of it. Anyways, thanks! 😀

  29. Great tips! Um, and it also helps if you read your manual, which I still haven’t done yet!

    Can’t wait to check on the links you provided. Thanks!

  30. This is a great post. I don’t know that I have the energy to mess around at present but I flagged this post. There are literally NO blogs with photos like yours. You are so one in a million and I love it!

  31. Your photos are the best I’ve ever seen!

  32. Thanks everybody! I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, and hope it will be helpful to you!

    sarahannmatheny – yay! we’re camera twins! 🙂 Hmmm…favorite thing to photograph. Food is definitely high on the list, but I also love photographing nature, architecture, friends and family. I guess I like it all! We have some photos that both the hubb and I took in Costa Rica hanging in our home, and we’ve talked about doing a food collage in the kitchen with some of my new shots, which I’m excited about. 🙂

    Nicole – you’ve just reminded me that I have a 50mm lens as well! I need to pull it out and play with it, I think it would be great for food photos. I actually mis-typed when I said that I use a 35-70mm, its actually a 24-70mm, and its a great general lens to keep on the camera. I would recommend it or a macro lens (which will be my next purchase!)

  33. Pingback: SmarterFitter Blog » Blog Archive » Food Diary: Fast and Delicious Indian Chickpeas

  34. Hey!

    Yeah, I usually use the 50mm prime for my food shots. Only because it lets the most light in. I hate using a flash, and unfortunately, my kitchen doesn’t have a window in it, so I have to depend on the flourescent lights to get my lighting. blech!

    Great post!

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