Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cake Teaser and Food Photography Tips for BEGINNERS

I cannot believe that my title says “photography tips.”  I am nowhere near an expert on photography AT ALL.  Seriously.  I am definitely an amateur. 

When I started this blog, some of my first pictures were taken with my BlackBerry.  Oh goodness.  Those were b.a.d. bad.

Then I “upgraded” to using my little Kodak Easyshare Point-and-Shoot.  I got frustrated because my photos never looked like those that other food bloggers would post! 

I started to wonder if it might cost me $1000 to get a good food photo!  Even though I REALLY want a DSLR Camera (and now I want a bounce flash to go with it—thanks Rebekah) I just need to wait and save up a bit before I get one. 

After lots of terrible photos (and I still do take some terrible ones) I learned that you can sometimes get good results with a digital point-and-shoot camera.

So here are my tips for those of you who like taking pictures of food and don’t have a DSLR:

1.  NO.  FLASH.  Seriously.  When you take a picture of food, nothing ruins it faster than a flash.  It will ruin the colors of the food and it will also make the food look UNappealing, which I am guessing you would not want!  So listen.  NO FLASH.

Easy Chili

This photo was taken with flash.  Let’s be honest.  It looks like witch’s brew.  Ewwwww…


2.  Use natural light.  Do you have a window in your house that gets good light?  Take your plate of food over to that window.  Now, you don’t want bright, direct sunlight.  Just good light.  I take a lot of pictures on my breakfast table because there is good light over there on Saturday mornings.

Quinoa and Eggs

This photo was taken in natural morning light at our breakfast table.


3.  Build a lightbox. Sometimes, there just isn’t any natural light when you need to take a photo.  So in this case, you may want to build a light box. 


Click here to visit my post and find out how I built mine.  I followed directions written by other bloggers/amateurs.  It has helped me tremendously.  I had tried submitting photos to Food Gawker and Tastespotting, and I never got anything accepted until I built the light box.  I think it cost me under $20 to build mine.  That’s not bad!


4.  Sometimes food looks better when there’s a bit taken out of it! 


I never would have thought this, but when I took this picture of my breakfast sandwich, I was like, “Whoa!”  I’ve noticed a lot of pictures with bites missing and they look great!  This is especially true if your food has a filling or inside that is gooey or delicious.


5.  See if your camera has attachable lenses than you can buy.  When I bought my Kodak Z740 5-6 years ago, I bought it because it had great optical zoom.  I used it for a while, and then I set it aside for a less bulky camera.  However, when I wasn’t getting the pictures I wanted,  I started doing some research and found that my Z740 actually had attachable lenses I could buy that were not that expensive!  I was able to purchase a kit with: macro lens, telephoto lens, wide-angle lens, filters (UV, Flourescent, Polarizer) and lens cleaning kit, camera bag, mini tripod, and regular tripod for about $110.  That is a GREAT deal.  The tripods weren’t the greatest quality, but the lenses were great!  ESPECIALLY the Macro lens.  LOVE it!  I did purchase mine through 47th Street Photo in New York and the kit arrived very quickly and I was very happy with the Opteka lenses. 

6.  Even if you can’t get specialty lenses, you can adjust the settings on your camera for better results.  First, see if there is a “close-up” setting on your camera.  It often is represented by a little flower icon.  I also have the option of taking pictures in Macro or Infinity mode.  Choose Macro!  This allows you to focus tightly on one object and let the background blur just slightly. 


See how the chicken breast and lemon is really sharp and the edamame is blurred a bit?  That’s the Macro setting.


7.  Not every photo is perfect when you take it.  It’s OK to cheat sometimes.  Sometimes you need to edit a little—to crop an image or lighten… whatever.  If you are looking for something that doesn’t cost a lot of money, download Picasa.  It’s a free download and it can do all sorts of things. 


Here’s the original.  (Am I so cute drinking my coffee?)

100_8032 b

I added a “soft focus” here.  Aren’t I dreamy?


And now…

I want to leave you with a little “teaser.”  Yesterday I baked a cake to take to a party tonight.  It’s a Dixie-Style Dining Recipe… and ooh… it’s delicious. 


Stay tuned… story and recipe coming soon!


  1. These are great tips, Liz! I have been anti-flash for quite some time now. I always want to tell people (especially at the aquarium!) to turn their flash off. Also, have you tried That's where I do all my editing. They have tons of edits for free, but I upgraded to the $25/year plan that lets me use all the tools. I think it's great for what I need, and SO much cheaper than Photoshop.

    I can't wait to hear about the cake!

  2. I want a bite of that cake!!

  3. Love this! Look at you go! And I need to get to Picasa. I have the worst picture ever on my blog right now. Ha.


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