MY FOOD PHOTOS SUCK! What can I do??? Have you ever said that to yourself? Well my amazingly talented friend Joanne from Birch Bay Creatives and the blog The Salty Pot is here today to share some tips that will help you take your photography skills to the next level!
First and foremost, I’d like to give a HUGE shout out to Jennifer for letting me hijack her blog in order for me to get something off my chest. My name is Joanne Andrea and I’m a photographer who is passionate about everything food, be it recipes, food photography, or food blogging.
Let’s talk about food, blogging and photography.
Are you one of those type of bloggers I’ve spent a lot of time talking with who try to do it ALL? Do you want recipes on your blog but aren’t happy with the quality of the images you end up with after you’ve spent all that time, shopping, making, plating, shooting, and then editing your photos? Are you at the point where you making recipe content for your blog a dreaded experience and you feel like your food photos suck? Well, you amazing blogger, the solutions are HERE ☺
For those who are doing their own photography, let me suggest something. Most of the time, it’s not the camera, it’s you. I know, I know, don’t poke my eyes out quite yet! Let me tell you a secret…… The biggest thing about food photography, or ANY photography, is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. It’s the same with any skill, the more you do it, the better you become. I realize that piece of info doesn’t help you right now. So here’s a few things you can do right now to improve your images.
1. THE CAMERA BODY: If your camera has a removable lens, then it will do the job you need it to do, AS LONG AS YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT. Trust me when I tell you that reading the manual is the cheapest and BEST investment in learning photography that you can do. Seriously.
Look your model up on YOUTUBE and watch some tutorials on what it’s capable of doing for you. Learn what the EXPOSURE TRIANGLE is. The more you know about your camera and what it can do you for you, the better you will get. It’s that simple. Now, having said that, is there a difference in shooting with super high end expensive camera bodies versus an entry level camera body? Yes, of course there is. But unless you are shooting food images that need to be tack sharp when enlarged to the size of billboards, then an entry level or mid-range dlsr camera body will do just fine to make your recipe images amazing!
2. EDITING – EDIT your photos! If the dish you just plated looks amazing to the naked eye, yet muddy and lackluster in the images – EDIT! Photoshop and Lightroom are excellent editing software to have and are capable of doing amazing things. But Picmonkey, Ribbet, Befunky, etc., are free online editing programs that do excellent jobs on making your images look better. Simply lightening/brightening a photo does amazing things to the overall attractiveness of the image! People like bright, colorful food images! (Unless you’re a food photographer who shoots Chiaroscuro food photography / dark moody images… and in that case, you are way too advanced in your photography skills for this article ☺ ).
3. STOP FLASHING!! Please, for the love of all things good, stop using your flash. If you think there isn’t enough light in the room to shoot the plate, use reflectors! Move your plate next to the nearest window that has NO DIRECT SUNLIGHT coming in, and let the light cascade over the food. If the light is coming in the other side of the plate, get something as simple as a white piece of paper (the bigger the better, poster board is PERFECT), and bounce the light off it, onto the dark side of the plate, brightening it. NEVER use flash for ANYTHING food related. It removes the natural depth (curves and valleys) of the food and make it looks flat on the image. It also changes the natural color of the food and gives it harsh reflections that are not pretty.
4. PROPS – Props are my addiction! I have a large collection but I shoot food for a living, but you don’t need many!! Honestly, in the very basic collection a variety of starter/appetizer sized plates, in different shapes will do the job. There is never anything wrong with simple, plain props. Why do you think restaurants usually serve food on white plates? Because it makes the food POP and keeps the food the focus. If you set up the food on a smaller plate, the plate looks fuller, more “bountiful”, and it’s MUCH easier to fit in the frame to shoot rather than dinner sized plates.
Buy some colorful place mats, table runners, and napkins that can either compliment or contrast the food you’re shooting. Having a copy of a color wheel helps immensely. It makes it easy to see what colors compliment or contrast each other so you can use it effectively to make your food stand out. Keep props simple in the beginning and as you advance, you’ll start naturally incorporating unique and interesting pieces to use in your images.
Lastly, and most importantly, what if you’ve done it all, and you STILL feel like your food photos suck? What if you’re finding you just don’t have TIME to come up with the recipe, shop for the ingredients, cook it, plate it, photograph it, edit it, and then write it up, post it, promote it, …. And still have a family life???? Aaarrrggh!!! So much work, so little time!!!
Give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack.
My answer to that? Easy. Invest to return. Take a good long look at your time and energy costs. If creating recipe content takes a large chunk of your work time when you could be posting more, promoting more, sharing more, pinning more, etc. etc., consider purchasing recipe content for your blog and make better use of your time. Most Recipe Content Creators are going to save you time and provide you with quality recipes and eye catching photos that will bring more traffic where ever you promote.
I create recipe content and I have a Facebook group where I sell my work for bloggers like you. I love what I do, but I suck at book keeping for it. I can DO it, but it takes me SO DARN LONG to do it all that it’s worth it to me to hire someone that does it for a living. Meanwhile, I can create more recipes, make more money, and be more successful with both my business and my life.
So at the end of the day, if taking the time to learn your camera and incorporating these tips (along with others that you read on the net), help improve your work and bring more traffic, BRAVO!!! That’s so awesome! (Incidentally, if you have any questions or need any help with your photography, please contact me and I’d be happy to help you out.) But, if you find that your time can be better utilized on your blog by doing other tasks, or spending more time with family, there’s nothing wrong with buying content from a creator. We can’t do it ALL, but by working smart, we can HAVE IT ALL.
We all have to start somewhere! So if you feel like your food photos suck, Joanne is your “Go To Girl”! In fact I’ve used her a number of times myself (I hate editing!!). I’m so thrilled that Joanne agreed to share some of her brilliance with us and I am hoping I’ll be able to convince her to come back with more awesome tips in the future!
Just Trixie says
Oh boy did I need this article! 🙂 I’m getting better but finding the right light at the right time is such a pain! I’m adding white poster board to my shopping list right now! Thanks a bunch.
The white poster board really helps! Bouncing the light off the board onto the food is a perfect way to brighten those dark shadows. Even a little person wearing a white tshirt and standing next to the food will help!
Chandra Italian Belly says
Hi! Visiting from the family joy blog hop! Great to have found this post. I’m always looking for ways to improve my food photography. I gave myself a pat in the back for knowing what the exposure triangle was ?. As for editing, apart from lightening/darkening photos or changing the hue, I don’t do much else. Any suggestions on how to edit better?
Hi Chandra! I’d love to help you out with more ideas, why don’t you sent me a quick email, and I’ll send them with you. Also, feel free to add any more questions you might have about food photography in the email and do my best to answer them!
Sandra Garth says
These are great tips thanks so much!
You’re more than welcome! If you have any more questions, give me a shout and I’ll do my best to help 🙂
Life Breath Present says
Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been trying to work on my photography a bit, so this was a nice little reminder of things to do and tricks to use! 🙂
I”m so glad it helped! If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll help any way I can!
Kimberly | My Frugal Farmstead says
I have a question about photo editing that I’ve been wondering about for awhile. Does it matter significantly the order you do things when you edit? For example, will it yield noticeably different results if I correct my white balance then sharpen vs if I sharpen first then correct the white balance? If so, is there are a rule that helps determine what order to edit in?
Honestly, those adjustments (white balance, sharpening, etc) are all separate and unique adjustments, so I don’t see how they would have an effect on each other. That being said, when you edit enough time, you develop a work flow that works best for you. For instance, after I do all of my adjustments, sharpening is the last one I do, always. No reason for it really, it’s just a part of a workflow that I have developed and prefer. If you were adjusting color within the image, then yes, I would correct your white balance first, and then adjust the rest of the colors if need be. I hope that helped, if you have any other questions Kimberly, drop me a line!
Nicole (@momfindsout) says
This is something that I always struggle with and want to get better at. Thanks for sharing your tips and encouragement. Thank you also for linking up at the #HomeMattersParty this week!
Great Tips! I always try to improve my photos.
Thanks for sharing at Turn It Up Tuesday!
Great tips, ones that I’ll actually use! Thank you for sharing at the Creative Muster Party. PINNED!
Dad Whats 4 Dinner says
I am always looking for ways to improve my photography and these are some great tips. I just built a photo table with a black background and a pull down white shade so I can change the mood. It also holds my light boxes. I’m thinking about selling the tables as a kit. Not sure how much interest there might be, but it works for me. Thanks for sharing with us a Throwback Thursday! Pinned!
No more sore says
Nice tips and tricks. I am very poor with my photography skills but your tips make me think that I can be better if I follow these simple rules. I will trying these the next time I bake something!