Photography is an essential part of a good blog post. Have you even gone to a blog that maybe had a great recipe, but no pictures? It’s easy to skip over those blog posts, because there is nothing there to easily spark your interest. Good photographs are one of the most important parts of blogging, especially when we’re talking about food. You may have some mighty tasty recipes to share, but if that dish doesn’t look appetizing, it is hard to imagine how it will taste. We eat with our eyes first! I feel like I’ve finally got a handle on this blogging thing, but I still wonder if people are actually reading my posts. I try to keep it entertaining, but even if everyone visiting My Daily Morsel is scrolling right through the stories, I know for a fact that they are looking at the pictures.
Photographing your food can be intimidating and frustrating, especially when you are first starting out. So I put together a list of five food photography tips that I wish I had had as a new food blogger.
Number 1: Plan ahead. Not only do I usually plan what recipes I am going to feature on the blog each week, but I also plan how I am going to photograph them. Think about the angles that you are going to shoot from and how you are going to style the food. What props are you going to use? What colors will complement this particular dish? If you really get stuck, take a look at pictures from other blogs or cookbooks and draw inspiration from them. If you’re feeling crafty, Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil has a great demo on how to make your own DIY distressed wood photo backdrop. I have two of these boards in four different colors and they have been a life saver. Various fabrics and scrapbook papers are also great. All of these give you an opportunity to make sure that all of your photographs don’t start to look the same.
Number 2: Get the right equipment. The first few months working on my blog, I was convinced that the small ray of light coming from my little kitchen window was more than enough to take a good picture. Sometimes natural light is enough, but just to be on the safe side, I invested in one of these Lowel EGO Digital Imaging Fluorescent Lights. This really helps to create the effect of natural light. Once I started using these lights, I immediately began to see a huge improvement in my photographs. You can see the difference between the two pictures above.
I use a Canon Digital Rebel XTi camera for all of my pictures. I didn’t know anything about photography when I started My Daily Morsel, and to this day I’m still not sure what the majority of the buttons on my camera do. I actually started out using my uncle’s camera from work when he didn’t need it. The fact that I am still camera-illiterate is one of my main reasons that I love this Canon 50mm lens. I use it to take the vast majority of my pictures. It is super easy to use and I love it because it creates a soft, blurry background while keeping the main object in focus. Occasionally, I turn to this Canon EF 25II Extension Tube so that I can snap a few shots close-up and personal. The picture of my Mediterranean Orzo Salad was taken with this extension tube.
Number 3: Do your research. Unless you are crazy talented, good photographs don’t just happen. I found Helene Dujardin’s Plate to Pixel extremely helpful. She shows you just about everything that you need to know about food photography, from the technical aspects of your camera to food styling. As silly as it sounds, I have found Food Blogging for Dummies to be a great tool as well, for more than just photography. It includes basic information on how to grow your blog, but my favorite part is the chapter that shows you how to photograph foods that are notoriously difficult to work with.
Number 4: Submit those pictures that you have worked so hard at to some food photography websites. I submit my photos to sites like FoodGawker, TasteSpotting, Tasteologie, and Food Porn Daily. I also submit to Healthy Aperture and Dessert Stalking when appropriate. It takes a while to learn what certain sites like FoodGawker are looking for in a photograph. Your personal taste may not always match up with what they are looking for.
Number 5: Practice, practice, practice! As helpful as books and tutorials are, you have to practice to get better. I can’t stress this enough. There’s just no getting around it. Sorry. Everything takes practice, and even then, you are not going to be perfect overnight. I accepted that fact long ago. I know that planning and struggling to get even one good picture can be frustrating, but I promise that it gets easier the more you practice!
One thing you should remember is that, if you’re working with food, you already have an advantage. Food is a beautiful thing to begin with, so half the battle has already been fought for you.