I got an email from a fellow food blogger today, asking for tips on food photography. I’m pretty new to the scene, but I’m happy to share what I’ve learned so far.
Because this is something I’m passionate about (“this” meaning food, cooking, baking, eating, food styling, and food photography), I have plenty to say on the topic. This will be the first post in a series, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
So. Let’s begin with the beginning, shall we?
I think I’ve always loved taking pictures of my food. But “always” really only dates back to Chanukah 2004, when my parents surprised me with my first real camera.
I was in seminary at the time, and they had sent it to Israel a month earlier with a friend. I kept the wrapped gift in my closet until the appointed night, when I opened it with my three roommates after we lit our menorahs. I was so excited that I cried.
The photo folders on my laptop from 2005 are filled with over-exposed, cluttered, out-of-focus, or otherwise awful pictures. Awful…but priceless.
Like this one.
Um, what? Does this mean that I not only ate a bright pink tuna wrap, but that I also wanted to capture the moment for eternity?
And did I eat it in the dead of night?
And was that neon orange toothpick really sticking out of the wrap at a 90 degree angle?
Thankfully, things were looking up by 2010, when I snapped a picture of this bread bowl at Beit Ticho in Jerusalem.
Yes, it was awesome. I love that place.
These days, I take photos of my cooking all.the.time. And I’m happy to report that they’re generally a lot more like the bread bowls of 2010 than the tuna wraps of 2005.
But here’s where I’m going with all this:
Tip #1: You don’t have to be a professional to get great photos…but you do have to practice.
I never went to culinary school, and I never took classes or attended workshops on food styling or food photography. I never even read a book on food photography, though there are a bunch I’d love to own.
But I practice. I experiment. I play around.
I’m not the super artsy type who wakes up in the morning, brimming with 12 new ideas for creative, fun, delicious photos. But I push myself to keep thinking up new ways to show off a dish.
Like with muffins: Everyone makes muffins. Every food blogger has muffin posts. I realized around the time I posted my fifth muffin recipe that I could legitimately create a muffin section in my recipe index.
But how many times can you photograph muffins sitting on a table, or a bunch of muffins on a pretty serving platter? Bo-ring.
I was mulling this over the day I baked a fresh batch of oatmeal chocolate chip muffins.
And then I realized something fantastic.
The muffins were the same size as the oversized polka dots on the pillowcase I had borrowed from my neighbor.
Would this photo have been even better if I had ironed the pillowcase first? Yes, come to think of it.
Do I own an iron? No.
This is fun. Let’s do it again! Stay tuned…