Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brunch, Food Photography for Bloggers and Other Thoughts

This is a ham, tomato, strawberry salad with a berry vinaigrette. Mama's recipe
I haven't picked up my camera in months. When I cook, I have been using my iPhone to shoot. Though I have gotten some excellent shots, I miss styling and shooting with natural light. This summer I want to get the camera back out and enjoy the heavy feel of it in my hands. Here's a post I did on food photography two years ago for self-inspiration.

Originally published April 2, 2012

I made brunch for my family yesterday.

Brunch is by far my favorite meal. Maybe because it only comes at most twice a week for me, so it hasn’t lost attractiveness as the other meals we eat daily. I made three things, two of the three recipes taken out of "Gale Gand's Brunch!" cookbook that someone very special bought for me.

I made the banana and raspberry smoothie and a mushroom, tomato and onion omelet from the book.  The photographs from that session will be displayed throughout the post as I write. 

The book is simply yet beautifully put together. The photography in it though is really the star of this little gem of a book, and it was the reason the book itself was bought for me. 

Bear with me as I explain.

“African food is not pretty enough to photograph!”

I had an argument about this with a friend a few weeks ago when I told her I was really looking into learning and investing more in the food photography side of my blog. That was her response

But is she right? Our food, though very delicious, doesn’t seem quite as photogenic after all. In bringing it up with another fellow African photographer, he made a good point in that what is missing of photography of African food is the styling part.

“Any food can look good if styled right!”
my mother's omelet. I could only style and shoot it for so long because she was complaining she was hungry!
Think about it? Shepherds pie is NOT an attractive looking dish! But there are many cookbooks, magazines and restaurants who are able to make it look enticing within their pages.

So that’s where my mind has been on of late…the art and styling of photographing African food.  The people in my life are taking note.

Hence the reason Gale’s cookbook was bought for me. I was in William-Sonoma, (one of the few edens on this earth in my opinion) and special person and I were talking and breezing around the cookbook section. I picked up Gale's book and mentioned I loved the clean, honest, natural photography in the book. He bought it for me and told me that it should be my inspiration to keep improving.

The book and some of the great photography and in the book
I’ve sat looking and relooking through it since and finally decided that I need to invest in that part of my learning about African food. This Chef Afrik experience is not just about spreading information, but in doing so I am also learning about the presentation of food, which encompasses food photography.

I was also sent this AMAZING article on food photography for bloggers that I recommend to any blogger or foodie who is reading this. Written by VeganYumYum, it covers everything from buying a camera and lighting to plating and styling your food.

You should read more here, but these are the main points that I am going to start working on
1)      Props- I spent an hour at the really great goodwill store in my area picking up different colored plates and props to set up for my food photogs. Goodwill is a great place because you DO NOT HAVE TO BUY A WHOLE SET OF PLATES. And between 66c ents and $1.60 you can buy lots of unique colorful eclectic pieces which I did. I ended up spending under $30 for tons of pieces.
2)      Background- I loved her pointers on backgrounds with using artificial backgrounds. So I headed out to home depot (where I was a complete fish out of water) to buy spray paint and core form boards which I will be spray painting to use as backgrounds for my shots as she does here
playing with exposure and lighting here as I try figure out what aesthetic I like
3)     I don’t shoot with a tripod (womp womp). For all photographers out there, they know this is a no-no. I was recently robbed a few months back and my tripod was one of the things that left with the thief and I have yet to go pick one up (my original was about $150). But I can easily find a workable one for $30 so that’s the next thing I should do.
4)      A macrolens- Depth of field is such an important part of shooting, and my lens though adequate, does not do that appropriately. I am looking to buy a Canon 60mm 2.8 lens in the next few weeks
my raspberry and banana smoothie. I played around with presentation, lighting, exposure
The point of all this. Investment in yourself and goals are important. That is definitely something I want to do here with Chef Afrik. And I want to get good at it. The point being that African food can look as good as it tastes, and I am going to show you.

I'll prob being doing more posts on this with pics of the things I bought too.

Do you do any photography of your own? Any tips


LohiO said...

those are good tips. I would add master your camera. Learn the workings inside and outside. EVERYTHING! actually read the manual. it helps A LOT!

Also stay looking for inspiration. join websites like food gawker or tastespotting to see how other people are styling their food. You get inspiration.

manga mboa said...

You are soo right about the photography and the food; And it is true that any food can be presentable it is about creativity; And don't forget that looking nice and delicious does not mean TASTING GOOD. BELIEVE ME AT ALL! My sister one day was invited to a notorious chef restaurant; She told me that the food just looked like incredible like on tv or a book but when she started to eat it, She was shocked how it was tasteless; AND SHE PAID ALMOST 200 POUND FOR THE WHOLE MEAL SHE WAS VERY MAD.

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