Three Changes that Transformed my Food Photography

3 Changes that Transformed my Food Photography


Behold…

Spring One Pot Wonder Pasta

One of the first instances of my heinous food photos from the beginning of TBB. We’ve all got to start somewhere; this was my starting line. I had no clue what I was doing. I hadn’t done much research, I was using an iPhone 4, and had only been blogging for a few months. Let’s fast forward to now.

Crescent WafflesGet the recipe here!

Spaghetti with Eggplant and Ricotta SauceGet the recipe here!

This is where I am today. I am fully aware that I am not an expert, and I can tell you right now: I learn something new everyday. I am still “in progress”, but I think we can all agree my photos are a hell of a lot better than they were two years ago. Today, I’m going to give you some insight into the three biggest components of food photography that I wish I would’ve known from the start.

1. Let’s start with the camera.
Okay, I’m going to give you some tough love here. PSA for all bloggers: photos are so much more important than you may realize. Especially food bloggers. People eat with their eyes. You can use your descriptive imagery and impressive synonyms for “delicious” all you want, but if your food photos are fugly, nobody is going to want to try your recipes. I’m sorry, but it’s true!

I went about a year and a half using an iPhone for my blog. Let’s take a peek into the evolution of my photos, with the transition from iPhone 4, iPhone 6, to DSLR.

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iPhone 4

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

iPhone 6

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DSLR

I do believe that you can take good photos with an advanced smartphone. But if your blog revolves around food, an investment in a nice DSLR camera, in my opinion, is the best investment you can make. I saw a noticeable increase in my traffic once my photos were more appealing and sophisticated. Now, a change of device is not the end all, be all. You can have a fancy, shmancy camera and still have sucky photos. Like…

IMG_0775

This.

But, it is a big step in the right direction. If you cannot afford a nice DSLR or even the latest smartphone, this next tip can help you tremendously.

2. NATURAL LIGHT ONLY!
Okay, not only. If you can afford lighting equipment, go for it. There are also makeshift ways to enhance the lighting in your home for instances when, say, you finished making a recipe, it came out perfect, but it took so long that the sun already went down. But for simplicity’s sake, I’m all about that natural light. I struggled ever so much with my apartment(s) in college, but I’m lucky enough to now use a bay window in my house, in addition to a spot near one of our sliding glass doors. Find any space near a window and use that as your setup.

It’s important to understand the difference between types of natural light, as well. Hard light is the brightest; basically, sunlight on a day or time of day where there is not a cloud in the sky. Not the best option for food photography. Below is an example of a photo I took using hard light. This combination of brightness and shadows is not optimal.

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The type of light I prefer for my food photos is soft light, which is a combination of natural light and shade, usually from clouds. You can manipulate hard light by utilizing your window shades to achieve the soft light you’re aiming for. Additionally, placing a light sheet over your window or using photo boards (I’ll get to that!) work, as well. Make sure to turn off all of the surrounding artificial light in your area when using natural light.

IMG_1647Get the recipe here!

3. Photo boards will change your life.
Another cheap tip for better photos: invest in a few photo boards. Remember in grade school when you had to make a presentation on a board and present it in front of class? (I bet kids use iPads now, or something…) Well, we still use them, but for a different purpose. The backdrop for your photos is the third most important and easy-to-fix component for better food photography. I have a collection of white and black photo boards that I use for back drops and light manipulation.

TBBtoVC4

I love the clean, crisp look of a white background for photos. It makes the colors of the food pop, and the props you use to complement the food stand out that much more.

You can also put old, battered baking pans to use. I love the rustic look when using baking pans as a platform, as seen in the waffles and asparagus photos above. The latest addition to my collection is a marble slab I purchased at Homegoods for $12! Yes, people, Instagram and general food photography is not always what it seems. I don’t have beautiful, white granite countertops. I have a little slab of marble that, in my opinion, enhances my photos a great deal.

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There you have it. Three simple tips to better food photography. As I continue reading, researching and learning, I will carry on sharing the knowledge I obtain. However, these were the three tips that have helped me the most, so far, in my journey to better photography.

Additionally, these articles have helped me a bunch, too:

7 Photography Resources that Changed my Blog from In It for the Long Run

Photography Tutorials from Minimalist Baker

Food Photography Tips for Food Bloggers from Cookie and Kate

Ten Household Items That Can Improve Your Food Photography from Pinch of Yum

The Ultimate Guide to Breakfast On-The-Go

Comments

    • The Blissful Balance says

      Thank you Georgie! Yes totally, I’ve learned so much by teaching myself (as I think all bloggers do!)

    • The Blissful Balance says

      LOL totally! So frustrating. May have to start bringing an LED light like Gina had everywhere we go ;D

    • The Blissful Balance says

      It’s been by far the best investment I’ve made, not only for the quality of photos but also because I’ve reunited with my love of photography! It is 100% possible to have great photos with a smartphone though :) thanks for the love Natalie!!

    • The Blissful Balance says

      Yes totally!! I use my iPhone for 90% of my Instagram photos and they come out great (I think lol) thank God for a house with good natural lighting!!

    • The Blissful Balance says

      It’s really “interesting” (I use quotes because it’s actually cringeworthy LOL) to look back at all of my old photos. But it just makes me realize how much I’ve grown and learned through blogging! Seriously, I never thought a white piece of cardboard would change my photos completely!! Thanks, Liz! :)

    • The Blissful Balance says

      For real!! I am saving up now to try different lenses and am also reading Plate to Pixel to brush up on the technicalities!

  1. says

    I got my DSLR a few months ago as a birthday gift, after TWO WHOLE YEARS of iPhone pics when blogging. Why did I wait that long?!
    I have a running list of things I want to get to improve my photography, including:
    Backdrops
    Making (or buying) a food photography board(s)
    Artificial light
    Tripod
    Macro lens.

    Ahhh!!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Vegetarian scrambled tofu bowlMy Profile

    • The Blissful Balance says

      Artificial light is definitely on my list for when I start making an income (shit is esspensiveee). I have a tripod from Best Buy that was only like 20 or 30 bucks!

  2. says

    Thank you for your tips :)
    I have been running a blog for almost 2 years now and photography is a thing I still must put much effort in it. I will use your tips for sure :)

    XOXO from Barcelona!

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