A Love/Hate Relationship - Food Photography - The Ramblings Of A Fledgling Cook Blog at Allrecipes.com - 324190

The Ramblings Of A Fledgling Cook

A Love/Hate Relationship - Food Photography 
Mar. 23, 2014 7:56 am 
Updated: Mar. 25, 2014 8:11 pm

(But with worse lighting)

After debating a bit, I figured it was time to come to terms with something that drives me absolutely crazy. I have had DREAMS about this, it bothers me so much. Food photography - the bane of my existence here on AR. Every day I log onto Allrecipes and am immediately flooded and in awe of all the beautiful and delicious looking photos of food I come across. I admit, well over half of the time, a photo is why I cook a meal. I love checking out the ingredients and reviews but let's be honest - if a photo is good enough, sometimes that's all I need (not to mention it's sometimes the first thing that catches your eye!)

 So why does this bother me you ask? Two reasons:
1. I loooove photography. I love everything about it and the fact that something so simple can impact someone so much. For this particular subject of photography, I will also add I absolutely love food. I love looking at it, reading about it, cooking it and most importantly - eating it! I'd like to say I'm not a half bad cook (most of the time.) It doesn't always look the greatest but it normally turns out pretty tasty.

Now, the second reason, which will add some context:
2. I am NOT a good photographer. No where even remotely close to one. I can take a photo of a person or a non-edible subject no problem. Those aren't too shabby. My food shots, however, can incite laughter before awe in almost any situation (mind you, with food, there should be no laughing!)

I've had a camera in my hand since I was 7-8. Last November, I splurged and bought myself my own Christmas present - a Nikon D5200. I know I didn't need one of that size but after years of very cheap point and clicks (all of which wore slap out in a couple years' time) I wanted something a little nicer. After getting it, taking a few shots and realizing hey, it's not a magic camera, the photographer has to get better too - I hopped online.

I work online for a living so I figured that would be my best bet vs. reading a book. Maybe I could focus a little better and actually get something done - no mindless browsing of cat photos all day for me now (don't lie, you look at all the funny cat photos too.) I read tutorials, set up practice shoots, pulled out my 12+ year old art programs for editing and even sacrificed my toaster to the all mighty food photography deities (actually, it finally bit the dust but I digress.) After 4 months of playing around, I'm actually delusional enough to tell myself I'm getting there (I can't be a pessimist ALL the time) but I still have a long way to go. Staging still scares me but at least my dishes don't glow anymore.

I've had tutorials and fellow friends tell me change your aperture, stage your photos to compliment the color scheme of your dish, use RAW shots for editing, buy a new lens, throw in a purple spotted monkey with polka dots (ok, maybe not that last one but sometimes that's what it all sounds like to me!) This year, my *only* New Year's resolution I have is to learn how to decipher all those tips I have tucked away, learn how to better operate this blasted thing and get some decent shots out of it. After all these years, that's all I want. Is that too much to ask?

So, in fashion with my older blog posts, if you took the time to read this far feel free to leave some input (I like discussion, so sue me.) If you are a food photographer (whether it be amateur, professional or somewhere in between), what is one tip you can give to an aspiring food photographer (let's pretend I'm not referring to myself here)? 

Look forward to hearing from you! I shall leave you with a before and after. 2009 vs. 2014. Try not to laugh too hard, I am trying!

2009 - Nothing better than white...on white. Reminds me of a white bunny during a snow storm

2009 - But...what is it?

2014 - One of my favorites, although the cheese makes me angry

2014 - Them berries and that shadow...

Mar. 23, 2014 8:06 am
Faith, what a fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I'm also in the learning stages of food photography and sometimes it's a hit or miss project.
Mar. 23, 2014 8:16 am
Good grief, there may be hope for me yet. As I read your blog, all I could think was "this is me" with the exception that I don't generally take many photos, but some of my up close flower shots don't turn out half bad. My beginning photos are very much like yours! (And some still are.) I don't understand techno camera speak either! Thanks for sharing and giving this gal a little hope.
Mar. 23, 2014 8:18 am
BTW, how did you get your blog to look so nice? WordPress?
Mar. 23, 2014 8:35 am
Thank you, Brian! It is most definitely hit and miss (I'm apparently quite fond of misses but I shall keep on trucking!)
Mar. 23, 2014 8:38 am
Thank you, Magnolia Blossom! So glad to know it's not just me. I just see all these amazing photos and I'm all 'But why meeee' lol. My forte is computer related stuff - not photography! Thank you so much on the blog compliment! I type it up in Microsoft Word, uploaded my photos to tinypic.com and add them into my blog with HTML :) I'm slowly learning not everyone here does that - I always thought that was what we were supposed to do! I used to code basic websites for fun so I kind of carried that habit over.
Mar. 23, 2014 8:45 am
Well, welcome to the club. It is so hit and miss. Lighting is key and I have not found my 'sweet spot' in this new house yet. One thing I started doing for dinner pics is to set aside some food to play with later, when the lighting is better and I have more time. Trying to do a nice pic and serve a hot dinner is possible for me. The family starts getting a little grumpy.
Mar. 23, 2014 8:56 am
Yay for a club, I'm feeling better now ;) Lighting - how did I omit that from my blog? That is the most evil of the evils. I've been at my house for a little over 2 years now and still haven't found a good spot (I did have fun explaining why I was taking a plate into the bathroom, though.) It's so hard to find the right spot without running outside (and most of the time its too dark for all that.) My family amazingly doesn't mind me photographing beforehand (my oldest son will go get the camera while my husband and youngest son will just sit there and hover.) Maybe their shadows are causing the problem!
Mar. 23, 2014 9:04 am
I loved reading this and I feel you. My photos are a work in progress for sure. Just when I think I am getting the hang of it I find out something else I didn't know and should have.
Mar. 23, 2014 9:38 am
That's the truth. But the bright side is - as long as we're still kicking we'll be eating. So lots of opportunity to keep on trying :)
Mar. 23, 2014 9:54 am
This is such a cool topic. When I was asked to be an Allstar, I initially declined because of my non existent food photography skills. A few other Allstars leaned on me and I set out to improve my photography....but not without alot of ugly shots. Now I can take the occasional good shot and I marvel at the difference. BTW Just moved into a new house so will have to figure out my sweet spot.
Mar. 23, 2014 10:28 am
Awww, this is great!! I absolutely love food photography, and have some awful photos from my first days at it! You'll get there, just keep practicing and it'll click. Sometimes it takes 20 pictures to get one that looks presentable, but the fun is in the creative process. Glad you're part of the group :)
Mar. 23, 2014 10:28 am
Hi Faith! Lovely blog! I really like your progress from 2009 to now. I love food photography and have a lot to learn. I still don't get how to use HTML.
Mar. 23, 2014 10:58 am
Thanks, MG :) That was my biggest hangup with applying. I love to write, I love to cook. But the photography part spooked me. Still does but I'll keep at it. Good luck with finding your spot!
Mar. 23, 2014 10:59 am
Agreed, Jennifer. The casserole above - 36 shots. And that was the best one, LOL. It was fun but man was everyone looking at me like a nut! And ty, I am honored to be a part of it :)
Mar. 23, 2014 11:00 am
Hey, Lela :) Thank you! I was trying a different approach, I figured everyone else could get a giggle out of it. Not that I thought back then they were decent looking. I was pregnant, hormonal, starving and just didn't give a flip! HTML is easy but you have to have the right mindset to learn and memorize it (if that makes any sense.) I've considered making a one page website on the basics that could teach someone (or at least be a copy/paste haven) for them in 5 minutes or less. Just not sure if it would ever get used :p
Mar. 23, 2014 12:04 pm
I would absolutely use that website, Faith! I tried the bit you posted the other day for the pictures and it would have worked but for the incompatibility of the site with photos I edited on my iPad. Oh, and that is the other big issue for me, I take all my photos with the iPad. My camera seems to have snuck into my youngest daughter's bag when she went to college and stayed there. I have done most of my learning by study, I study bd weld's and BN and Jennifer' s and any other photo I find really good and try to figure what sets it apart. I will never have great pics but I can see where I have improved. Terrific topic, BTW!
Mar. 23, 2014 12:09 pm
My photos are always hit or miss, and at this point in my life, I'm ok with that. But when life gets dull (please...I would love a boring life for a while!), I'm going to learn how to actually use that DSLR I have.
Mar. 23, 2014 12:22 pm
@ Christine, I may set one up then :) If you want, you are more than welcome to send a link to the site you used and/or whatever URL/info you had for said photo. I bet anything we can get it to work! :D My best friend has turned to her iProducts as well for photo taking. My tablet is decent but always too dark and I don't have a smart phone so I force myself to use my camera. However, if it walked off like yours I imagine I'd be looking back at the tablet too ;) I'm gonna take that tip and study photos more - thank you!
Mar. 23, 2014 12:23 pm
@ Paula, haha, I know what you mean! Before, I never really cared what they came out looking like. But now I feel I must justify that price tag that took a few months to pay off :p But I agree, some down time would be nice to figure it all out!
Mar. 24, 2014 9:40 am
Sounds like I have finally found someone that can answer my question!!!!! Please provide percentages for the following dishes: Overall how many dishes only LOOK good? only TASTE good? both LOOK and TASTE good?????????? Also please provide recipes for dishes that both LOOK and TASTE good--actually, provide entire menus!!! :)
Mar. 24, 2014 12:38 pm
I don’t think you can ever watch too many tutorials, and if your friends are photography-savvy, you’re right to listen to them. I’ve been on the site for close to four years now, and there’s one thing I find so interesting. When I first started doing the photo voting and actually uploading some photos myself, there were just a few community members with consistently good photos. Now, every single day, I see wonderful photos from many different people. There are a lot of folks who have taken this seriously, and their photos continue to get better and better. I’m with you, I’m still very much in a learning curve on food photography. I upgraded to a nice DSLR this last year and am still learning how to use all of its features. I’m lucky that I have good weather most of the year, so I try to do as much outside as possible to take advantage of the natural light, but can’t always do that. I’ve found the back screened porch works best for me, but then the easterly morning sunrise can kill any recipes I make for breakfast. Hang in there, we’re all learning together. And I agree, a good photo is worth a 1,000 words!
Mar. 24, 2014 6:28 pm
mommom - Spam? Very odd if so.
Mar. 24, 2014 6:30 pm
lutzflcat - Thank you for the advice! You sound a lot like me (same situation.) I have a big back screened porch but thanks to the trees, the light barely hits it. I try to go outside when possible but between work and the awful weather we've had for the past few months, its a task to be able to do so. But I'm not giving up!
Mar. 25, 2014 5:21 am
Faith, your blog has given permission for a lot of us accidental photographers to come out of the closet! I have to take at least 20 shots, and sometimes more, to get to one I'm comfortable sharing! You have hit on the secret though--it's practice! No one is born with a skill, it has to be learned, usually through repetition. Great job!
Mar. 25, 2014 6:39 am
I'm another of those photographers with greater dreams than reality on the food court. However, I haven't been able to post a photo since last May....they've been accepted but sit in limbo, never actually showing on even my own screen, much less the photo pages. So I've given up and gone. merrily back to flowers, cows, and whatever else I can think to photograph. Nice blog!
Mar. 25, 2014 8:41 am
Faith, thanks for an amusing blog to start the day:)
Mar. 25, 2014 10:03 am
Of course, Bibi, I want company here :D I am so glad I could hit home with multiple people here, I swear sometimes I wondered if it was something you were born with, lol (much like singing - let me tell you, all the practice in the world, I still make our dog howl!) :p
Mar. 25, 2014 10:05 am
Yikes, Elle! Have you contacted support here about that? I bet its an easy fix on their end, if you ever have time, I'd suggest trying for the heck of it. Would love to see your photos and adorable kitty in your profile pic! :)
Mar. 25, 2014 10:06 am
Thank you, Lace! Y'all have made me feel so welcome to start blogging personal stuff again. I already have some other subjects I want to touch on. Soon
Mar. 25, 2014 7:16 pm
That was a fun read, Faith! I like your style of writing. I truly think your most recent photos are mouthwatering! :-) I would have to say that it really all comes down to good, natural lighting. But even without it, you can still make food look tasty - you are well on your way, imo.
Mar. 25, 2014 8:11 pm
Thank you so much CC - you are too kind! You made my night
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Faith N

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About Me
Hello! I'm Faith, a 27 year old work from home mom to two sons (8 & 5.) I'm married to my best friend, Michael. We've been together for 10 years now. I'm not sure how he's dealt with me this long! I mainly cook for my family and a few close friends. I love them all for being my willing guinea pigs. I'm not the best by any means but I love to try anything new.
My favorite things to cook
Most of the stuff I cook could be considered comfort food. Not the healthiest method of cooking but if I can substitute something with a healthier alternative I'll do so. Growing up my family's weekly menu was pretty small. Venison, chicken, hamburger, veggies - anything my parents could hunt, grow or make. Growing up on a farm definitely had its ups & downs. A variety of food was not in the "up" category. I always wanted to try something new but their income said otherwise. We couldn't afford to try something we didn't like and didn't finish. Now that I can enjoy both homegrown and purchased ingredients, I am willing to try anything new that sounds good to my family and I.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Two sweet potato pies and a turkey are mandatory at Thanksgiving while white chocolate fudge and a ham is a must during Christmastime.
My cooking triumphs
Barbecue pulled pork, venison meatloaf & homemade butter biscuits.
My cooking tragedies
I will never forget the absolute worst thing I have ever cooked, a Manicotti dish. It was right after we got our own place back in 2005 and I was going to be brave and try something that wasn't Hamburger Helper or grilled cheese sandwiches. It had too much basil, the noodles didn't finish all the way and the sauce blackened at the end. We tried to choke it down but ended up getting takeout. Since then, I think my skills have vastly improved!
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