Unless you're experienced in shooting with off camera lighting set ups, I recommend shooting your food photos in daylight. Food looks awful under ambient light at night, no matter how good it tastes, so do your best to shoot during daylight hours. I even turn of all the lights in the kitchen when I'm shooting food so I don't get any weird light seeping in. This can be inconvenient if you want to shoot a dinner meal that you'd usually make at night, but you're just not going to get good photos if you shoot them with the lighting that already exists in your house.
The top photos were shot indoors, at night, using the lights I had in my kitchen. The bottom photos were shot during daytime using only natural light. They have relatively similar styling, but the photos themselves are drastically different.
Do whatever you can to shoot with natural light. I used to live in a house that was tiny and dark, so I'd shoot all my food on the front porch. I probably looked like a crazy person to my neighbors, but it gave me way better photos than I would've achieved doing them indoors.
The left photo would've been much better if I'd included a garnish on the soup. The second photo shows a very similar looking soup, but the photo is so much more interesting because I garnished with some cheese, cilantro, and bacon!
Process shots don't have to document the actual process either. Determine what parts of the process are most photogenic and focus on getting shots of those. I like to shoot pouring a cocktail from a shaker into the glass, but it can take a few shots to get all the elements right. Don't forget to style your process shots too. Create a scene that tells a story. Because you're using still photos, you only get that one moment to tell a story. In baking shots I'll usually have containers of my ingredients where they're measured out, even though I wouldn't do it that way if I was just baking normally.
Like I said, I use the same location for all my shots, so in order to get some variety, I have some different backdrops that were super simple and easy to make. I have a light wood table that I occasionally use, but I also put wood planks on top the table to create alternative looks. One is a set of planks from our old fence, which gives a really nice rustic look. The other is a set of planks that is whitewashed for a bright, clean, white background. You could also use plywood, natural, painted, or aged/stained.
It takes just a little bit more thought and effort to take a food photo from boring to mouthwatering. You don't need super fancy equipment to create delicious images. It takes some practice to start figuring things out, but you'll start to learn what looks good and what works. Practice makes perfect! Keep on shooting!
top photo via benj haisch
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Natural stone jewelry is fast becoming my favorite thing to adorn myself with. I was never much of a jewelry girl, but now that I've discovered what kind of jewelry I love, I'm definitely becoming more of a jewelry hoarder. Growing up I was always fascinated with turquoise jewelry and I remember road trips through the southwest spent ogling all the amazing jewelry made by native artists at roadside markets.
Can we talk for a sec about how amazing that tablet sleeve is? Holy cow. One photo can't really show how awesome it is, so make sure to click through on that one to get a better look. In the past I used to get faux leather products because they were cheaper, but I always found that they fell apart pretty quickly. I've made a shift to investing in higher quality leather goods because they're built to last and the craftsmanship is so much higher, especially when you're buying from makers who are devoted to crafting an incredible product.
I've got tons of little canvas totes that I use for picking up our CSA from the farmer's market, but none of them are nice enough to carry around as a daily bag. All of these bags meld form and function perfectly and I love how you can tell they were crafted by artists. From the hand printed textiles, to the design, the attention to detail is apparent. I've been coveting a Year Round Co. bag for probably two years now (2 + 3), and they just keep getting better! They are located here in Tacoma and it feels like such a treat to have such an amazing company located right here in my town!
(top photo via black anchor workshop)