My Lessons

30 Days of Better Food Photos

02.9.2014

#30 --- Decide Your Goals for Next 30 Days

  • Step 1 – GAINING KNOWLEDGE - Step 1 of this cycle is gaining knowledge. Learn about food photography and find resources to gain knowledge.
  • Step 2 – TAKING ACTION - But just gaining knowledge is not helpful. You also need to transform that knowledge into action. How will you do that? 1) The fastest upcoming opportunity to take action is DMBLGiT (Does My Blog Look Good in This) relaunch. 2) The facebook group will continue to operate but will be exclusive to 30DBFP participants. We will be introducing monthly challenges on this group later this month. So keep an eye out there.
  • Step 3 – GET FEEDBACK - The last and important step of this cycle is to get feedback. Taking action and not achieving result will only push you in a wrong direction faster. So take feedback. But take feedback from not your friends – they will too nice. Don’t take feedback from family – they probably don’t know what you do with that food thing ;). Take feedback from photographers you know and respect. Take feedback from fellow photographers.
  • Task 1 – Define Your 30 Day Goal. Step 1 – Identify just one area that you would like to improve in next 30 days. Don’t be generic, be very specific. For example don’t say “I would like to learn how to style.” Say ” I want to learn how to style a soup”. Step 2 – Share your one goal for next 30 days.
  • Task 2 – Get on LFP. Step 3 – In facebook Lesson 30album, share your best photograph from this course.
  • Task 3 – Get Feedback. The last task for today is to choose one photograph that you would like to get feedback. To get the most benefit, submit a photograph thoughtfully. Give as much information as you can to get the most out of this feedback exercise. Submit your photograph and enter the details about it.

Ma goal for next 30 days is to create at least 10 professional and adjusted food photographs every day. One subject every day - different camera angles, DOF, styling, garnishes, props, backgrounds... I would like to learn from that more about my preferences and style. Compare those pictures and see what is good and what I need to improve. And the best photo share for feedback.

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01.9.2014

#29 --- Learn Simple Post Processing


Of all the tools you can use in post processing, there are few that you should absolutely know how to do. Here are those three adjustments.
  1. Adjusting exposure – Learn how to change exposure, technically different than brightness, but some tools use it interchangeably.

  2. Adjusting white balance – White balance is important setting in food photography. Color of food can make food unappetizing when the color is not exactly same.

  3. Removing dust and other noise – Dust is something that invariably gets in the camera and can destroy the entire photo. Dust sometimes gets on the camera sensor or can be on lens as well. Yes clean your sensor and lens, but also learn how to remove this in post processing.

  • Step 1 – The very first step for today’s assignment is to decide your post processing software. I use and highly recommend Lightroom. It simple and intuitive and love using it.
  • Step 2 – In your selected software, learn how to change white balance. Read help or go to software website to learn more about editing white balance.
  • Step 3 - Choose a photo to experiment this with. Set white balance to 5100Kelvin, save the photo. Change the white balance to 3500K and save. Now change white balance to 6000K. save the photo.
  • Step 4 – Post all these three photos and original photo in Facebook Group.
  • Step 5 – For some of you, this will take less than 5 mins to complete. For others who are not so experienced, it may take much longer. Please leave a comment below and give me feedback about this assignment. Was this too basic lesson? Or too challenging?

As I am Mac user, I love work with Aperture. I prefer to work with this tool that with Lightroom, especially with organising folders, ratings, key wordings, filtering etc., which I really need for my stock photos. Unfortunately it will be closed in next years :( So I am waiting what's next.

This task was easy for me, because I work with adjustments on daily basis.

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31.8.2014

#28 --- Week 04 Wrap Up

  • Task 1 – Progress Update - Start this assignment by updating your progress. Tell us how this week was and what you did and did not do.
  • Task 2 – Weekly Discussion - Just like last week, this week again, we have a topic for discussion. The goal of weekly discussion is to help you learn from your fellow participants.
  • Task 3 – Your Photo of The Week - This past week I am sure you’ve taken lot of photos. The last task this week is to upload your best food photo from this past week in this facebook album.

My best photo of last week. I love the dark mood, simple object and his balance and harmony and also place for adding a copy. I am very satisfied with this result.

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30.8.2014

#27 --- Start Deconstructing Food Photos


Today we will start reading the photograph. Feeding your brain on a regular basis is important. Studying great food photo helps you learn several aspects of it in one photo.

As you look at food photographs the goal should not be to just flip the pages and think “yummy”. I hope in last four weeks after discussing several aspects that make a food photo beautiful, you are able to read these photos in a more detailed way than just saying “yummy”.

Reading the photo helps you understand the decisions that photographer has made while creating the photo. How do you go about actually reading a food photo?

When you are starting to read the photo, make sure there are some questions that are on the back of your mind. So let’s start with the questions. Take a look at the list of questions below. Not all questions will apply to everyone and rather than explaining this, let’s take a look at 10 questions. This should give you a good start:

  • What is appealing about this photograph?
  • Who is the main character of the story?
  • What do you think is the story?
  • Can you identify the direction of light source?
  • What props do you see in the photo?
  • What can you tell about harmony of the photo and its balance?
  • How is the space used?
  • Can you identify the camera angle and where was camera relative to the food?
  • How is the background?
  • What can you say about the location of the food photo?
  • These are some questions that you can ask when trying to read the photo. Using these answers you should be able to develop a good understanding of how the photo changes when any one element of photo changes.

List of food photographers:

  1. Matt Armendariz
  2. Penny De Los Santos
  3. Aran Goyoaga
  4. Lara Ferroni
  5. Beatrice Peltre
  6. Helene Dujardin
  7. Teri Campbell
  8. Katie Quinn Davies
  • Step 1 – Pick two photographers from the list above and visit their portfolio.
  • Step 2 – Pick just one photo you like from each photographer
  • Step 3 – Share which two photographers you picked in the Facebook group.
  • Step 4 – Share you results. Share the deconstruction process you followed. What were your observations?

I picked up these two photographers: Beatrice Peltre and Teri Campbell.

TERI CAMPBELL

  • What is appealing about this photograph? dark mood with vivid colors
  • Who is the main character of the story? red onion on background
  • What do you think is the story? fresh vegetable from the garden, preparation of lunch
  • Can you identify the direction of light source? from the right side
  • What props do you see in the photo? fresh herbs, wooden board, black pepper spices
  • What can you tell about harmony of the photo and its balance? nice game with light and colors, red and green and dark
  • How is the space used? perfect
  • Can you identify the camera angle and where was camera relative to the food? cca 45 degrees camera angle
  • How is the background? dark wooden board, black background
  • What can you say about the location of the food photo? home, table

BEATRICE PELTRE

  • What is appealing about this photograph? bright light mood, softness, freshness
  • Who is the main character of the story? four goat cheese circles
  • What do you think is the story? early morning, fresh homemade cheese from the countryside farm for breakfast
  • Can you identify the direction of light source? both sides
  • What props do you see in the photo? white amazing designed knife, napkin, fresh herbs, twine
  • What can you tell about harmony of the photo and its balance? centred balance
  • How is the space used? it is centred image, two pairs of different kind of cheese
  • Can you identify the camera angle and where was camera relative to the food? overhead camera angle
  • How is the background? soft white napkin
  • What can you say about the location of the food photo? home, table
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29.8.2014

#26 --- Take Sketch Shots - Bad Food Photos


You are in the middle of cooking something, something that is time sensitive. And while you are cooking, you see a beautiful photo opportunity, what do you do? Do you make a photo or let it go? Often the food subject was placed artfully and the photo would have been great with some lighting, food styling and prop styling. But because of lack of time when these situations appear, these photo opportunities were lost and often forgotten.

It changed with the concept of sketch shots. Sketch shots are not final shots, they are not even presentable shots. These are like your personal notes only taken with a camera/cellphone. These are not to be shared on your blog. Definitely not on the portfolio.


The goal of creating a sketch shot is to take a photo quickly because you don’t have enough time to spend on getting a good shot. So do the best you can, like adjusting the white balance or creating a great frame etc, but do it fast and take the shot. Take as many as you can.

You don’t need a DSLR, use whatever you have. The goal is to capture the idea and come back to it later.

Once you’ve captured sketch shots, the next step is then to develop these shots using techniques that we discussed earlier in the challenge like deciding a story, defining the story elements, creating a shot list, thoughtfully styling and then capturing the photo.

What most people skip and don’t do it is to go back and create these shots more thoughtfully.

Sketch shots can not just be of in process or prep stages. But they can also be of food that is ready but you just don’t have time to photograph it.

  • Step 1 – Today, observe with the intention to capture a sketch shot. Capture at least one sketch shot.
  • Step 2 – Decide how you would like to develop this story. Think about what we’ve discussed in the challenge before and the decisions we’ve discussed above.
  • Step 3 - Decide a date when you will take this photo and schedule it on your calendar or whatever tool you use.
  • Step 4 – Post your sketch shot in facebook group. Then share what is the photo story and the decisions that you have or will make.

This is my sketch shot of preparation of food. I was baking my delicious dessert. I already wanted to capture this kind of picture long time ago, but I never did it. Because of lack of time, bad light conditions, awful background and props etc. you know... so many excuses... :) But Neel is great as always and he brought the idea to do it finally :) So, here is my snapshot - sketch shot and I will take the similar, but professional picture soon.

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28.8.2014

#25 --- Take A Photo And Add Copy


One of the elements of composition is use of space. Space in terms of art and frame is separated into negative space and positive space. Positive space is defined by the space that the object/food subject occupies. Negative space is anything around the food subject. However, negative space doesn’t work if placed abruptly. Negative space works only if photo “feels” cohesive.

If you are a food blogger, you can create photos with negative space and leave them as is, or add recipe name in the negative space.

In magazines as well space is used with the intent of placing graphics or placing copy. In those cases, photographers carefully compose the frame with copy in mind.

  • Step 1 – Just like before, today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days. This will give you an easy way to measure your improvements.
  • Step 2 – Using negative space, take a photo with large negative space. Take 4 photos at least – one with space above your subject, one with space below your subject. Next space to the right and space to the left. You can try more photos by changing your frame orientation.
  • Step 3 – Add Recipe Title or Story Title on your photo.
  • Step 4 – Once you do step 2 and 3, upload the best photo/s in Facebook Album for Lesson 25.

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27.8.2014

#24 --- Create A Not To Shoot List


The idea is very simple. Since you have decided the story, you know what mood or concept you want in the photo.

If the goal is to create a traditional or rustic or royal mood, then using a plain white plate with white background will not work. Those plates and background are more modern or bright looking story so they won’t work in this case. write down the options that you won’t use. Is there a certain plate that’s in your closet but won’t even bother bringing it out? Is there a background that you use a lot but it won’t be helpful in this case?

  • Step 1 – Decide your subject you plan to use for this exercise.
  • Step 2 – Read your story from Day 2 and read the elements of the story you decided on Day 8.
  • Step 3 – Take 2 mins and focus on what you don’t want in the scene. What are some obvious plates and backgrounds and other things that won’t tell the same story. When you start creating a photograph, use this list to stay on the story and focus on what you want to communicate.
  • Step 4 – Once you have a list that you feel is complete, write two things on a piece of paper – 1) what is your subject and the story 2) What is on your NOT to use list.
  • Step 5 – After you have completed that, take a photograph of the paper and upload it in Lesson 24 Album on the new Facebook Group.
  • Step 6 –Now tell us this – have you used a list like this before? After completing this exercise, what do you feel would change?

My story from Day 08 was about tea time for a couple with some snack. Today I changed some things and also created my not to shoot list.

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26.8.2014

#23 --- Sketch Your Shots


Sketch the photo that you have in your mind on a piece of paper. Creating a sketch helps you visualize the frame before you start creating the photo. I’ve found it specially helpful for prop styling. By looking at the frame on the sheet, you can visualize the position of props and how it will impact the photograph.

Clearly identify your main characters, your supporting or secondary characters and what you consider extra that are essential for the story but are not required.

As you sketch your food story on a piece of paper, identify these characters. This will help you decide how prominent or not, you would like them in the frame. You can also make a decision about the position of these characters as well as lighting, focus and distance from the lens.

Think about what your story is about?

Is this about a traditional dish that is served to an individual or is the dish sitting on the dinner table?

What props will you need to support your story?

Now using this information and ingredients, you should start the sketching process.

Sketching should start with you deciding whether you want to frame horizontally or vertically.

Once you’ve decided this, now the question is where to place your main character? Once this is done, next move to secondary and then the extras.

Go ahead and now start experimenting. Don’t worry if you cant’ sketch. This is not a drawing competition. This is a tool for you to understand and visualize your compositions in advance.

Move the main character, place props and try different arrangements.

  • Step 1 – Decide your subject you plan to use for this exercise.
  • Step 2 – Decide the characters – main character, secondary character/s and extras. On a piece of paper write it down.
  • Step 3 – On this paper, create vertical and horizontal frames that represent frames of your photograph.
  • Step 4 – Sketch how you would fill the frame. Add main character, secondary and extras.
  • Step 5 – Once you have completed that, take a photograph of your sketch and upload it in Lesson 23 Album on the new Facebook Group.
  • Step 6 –In couple of lines, share your experience. Was this the first time you sketched your photo? Have you done this before? After sketching this on paper, what was going in your mind? Take few minutes to analyze this. Share with others and read experience of other participants.
  • Step 7 – Optional - If you have additional time and can do it, take a photo based on your sketch and upload it in Lesson 23 Album on the new Facebook Group.

I decided photograph the ginger today. And here is my sketch for this. At first I wanted vertical shot, but when I saw it on computer, I changed it to horizontal one and I think it is much more better now. I have never sketched my shots before...it is interesting idea...and also there is more fun with preparing my final picture. Thanks Neel.

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25.8.2014

#22 --- Create A Shotlist


Starting today you will learn how to prepare for your photo shoot. The next few days are about planning and preparation. Time is critical when photographing food. Planning helps you save time when you are working with food subject.

This list of shots, more commonly known as the shot list, includes all possible combination of camera angle, depth of field, prop arrangement, food styling, framing and everything else about food photography that you would like to capture during the shoot.

Will you like an overhead shot? What about a shot with silverware in it? One without any napkins? Another from a different angle? List all of these down on a piece of paper.

This will help you not only when you are ready to shoot, but also before the shoot you can use the list to make sure you have all the required props.

  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days.
  • Step 2 – Take five minutes and make a list of photos you would like to create for your subject. It is okay to go crazy.
  • Step 3 – Now start with the first photo idea on your list. What all elements do you need to accomplish this? Do you have props you need, or lighting? Note these things and move to the second photo. Do the same exercise and capture the elements for all remaining photos on your shot list.
  • Step 4 – Take a photo of your shot list and upload your shotlist photo in Facebook Album for Lesson 22.

This is my best photo of today's photo shooting.

I decided to photograph fruit dessert panna cotta today. So, my SHOTLIST consists of:

  • My story is about sweet delicious dessert in late afternoon
  • I have to look at my props, tools, garnishes and think about what I need for my story. My choice is to use some napkins, silver fork, glass, fresh fruits, cake, chocolate and fresh mint
  • Angles… as I am not so good in overhead shots, I need to try this one at first. And later another camera angle between 0-45 degrees
  • Food styling - I have some idea, but it will looks like this: styling, photography, analysis, correction, styling again ... etc. etc. etc. ... until I am satisfied :)

My photos I want to make:

  • overhead shot with napkin, silver fork and garnish, everything sharp
  • 45 degrees camera angle the same scene

I see one problem here, the dessert is white and my plate too...I have to fix it next time :)

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24.8.2014

#21 --- Week 03 Wrap Up

  • Task 1 – Progress Update. Tell us how this week went. Again, be detailed and thorough. This first assignment is for you to understand and communicate your progress and challenges.
  • Task 2 – Weekly Discussion. In the comments on FB, tell us about your food styling assignments. How did food styling assignments go? What questions about food styling do you have?
  • Task 3 – Optional – Your Best Food Photo This Week. Your next task is to share your best food photo you took this week (as part of this course) and post it in the facebook album.

This is my best photo of this week in my opinion. The last week I've really struggled with the overhead shots looking good. I need to more practice in this area. So, maybe this is my favourite angle for pictures. I like the using of the napkins, very open possibilities how to use it and it can create nice drama on photo. I think there is a good balance and harmony. And also this is my favourite plate:)

Again, my favourite angle. And here you can see also some garnish, which makes the picture really amazing.

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23.8.2014

#20 --- Assemble Your Minimal Food Styling Kit


Better food photos require better food styling.

Essential Tools for Your Food Styling Kit

  • Tweezers – use this tool for picking up really small items and placing them.
  • Cotton Swabs – these are used to clean small spots on the plate or dish. You can also use them to push food or wipe the plate for removing liquid.
  • Paper Towel – for whole bunch of different uses.
  • Squeeze Bottles – using sauces in plating your food? Squeeze bottles made out of plastic are a good tool in your kit that gives you great control on sauces, syrups and other paste-like ingredient.
  • Brushes – some foods look better when they are brushed with just a little bit of cooking oil when appropriate. Brushes can be used to do that. Water is sometime also brushed on certain foods if they become very dry.

Other Tools for Your Food Styling Kit:

  • Skewers
  • Scissor
  • Straws
  • Toothpicks
  • Spritzers
  • Cutting Board
  • Twines
  • Syringes
  • Step 1 – This assignment is not about your subject or your dish. Today you have to find tools that already exist at your home that can be used for food. Hunt in your home and gather what’s available.
  • Step 2 – Arrange the food styling tools that you have gathered.
  • Step 3 – Take a photograph of your new food styling kit.
  • Step 4 - Tell us what food styling tools did you find at home. What tools did you order or want to order?
  • Step 5 – Upload the best photo/s

I have my tools stored in a drawer in my studio. Are specially designed for photographic purposes.

I like this picture from my classmate, organized tools. :)

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22.8.2014

#19 --- Style Your Food With An Expert


So to begin, you will do some research on how your food subject has been styled in some outstanding food photographs. If you find it, study that and understand how food styling has been done in this case. Is it minimalistic? Is the photo very moody?
  • Step 1 – Just like before, today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days. This will give you an easy way to measure your improvements.
  • Step 2 – For your subject, you will do research in LFP on Pinterest and check if your subject is covered on it. If you don’t have a subject, go to Step 3. If you do have your own food subject inLFP on Pinterest go to step 4.
  • Step 3 – Since you are step 3, this would mean that your subject is not in LFP on Pinterest. So you’ll need to search on Pinterest and find one or more pictures that are photographed by amazing photographer.
  • Step 4 – Once you have found that photo, you need to analyze what food styling elements are used and note them down. Do a thorough analysis of elements used and note them down.
  • Step 5 – Bring the food out and take the photographs without looking at the notes.
  • Step 6 - Now refer to the notes that you have taken and style your food subject as what you have learned. It is okay if you can’t style this perfectly. One styling is done, take photos of your food subject.
  • Step 7– Just like previous assignments, compare photos from step 5 and step 6. Does the photo look any different? Is one of the two better?
  • Step 8 – Upload your best photo/s in Lesson 19 Album on the new Facebook Group (Do not share food photos that don’t belong to you in this group, you can share link to the Pinterest photo you liked).

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21.8.2014

#18 --- Start With Simple Food Styling


Garnishing is the easiest way to style the food. Once you have food subject prepared, you can add some nuts or herbs, whatever recipe can accommodate. Some Ways to Garnish Food for Photography:
  • Chopped Nuts or seeds
  • Creams
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Herbs
  • Spices like cardamom, cinnamon powder etc.

A decoration is something to make food look better but is not edible. A garnish is an edible object that you put on or near food or drinks. Such as parsley or lemon and so on. Actually the only difference between a decoration and a garnish is the food which it goes on. a decoration goes on anything sweet such as a cake. it is true that some decorations are not edible but that is because pastry chefs or such use inedible objects like beads. a garnish goes on anything savoury. Since a bead or an umbrella like that does not look good on say a steak you use foods like parsley which so happens to be edible. (garnishes are often green)

One caution on garnishing – Don’t overdo it. If you overdo garnishing, it will steal the show from the food subject and that’s not what we want.


  • Step 1 – Just like before, today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days. This will give you an easy way to measure your improvements.
  • Step 2 – Set up the scene and bring the food and get ready to take a photograph. Do not add any garnishing at this point.
  • Step 3 – After step 2 is done, take a photograph without any styling garnish.
  • Step 4 – Add garnish. Use any one of the five above or any other you can think of.
  • Step 5 – Take photographs with these garnishes.
  • Step 6– Just like previous assignments, compare photos from step 2 and step 4. Does the photo look any different? Is one of the two better?
  • Step 7 – Upload the best photo/s on Lesson 18 Album on the new Facebook Group.

My garnish. Fresh steak with cheese and vegetable.

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20.8.2014

#17 --- Create Harmony And Balance In Your Frame

  • Step 1 – Just like before, today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days. This will give you an easy way to measure your improvements.
  • Step 2 – Recall the details that you documented on Day 8. Or if this is a new subject, go ahead and complete Day 8 exercise for this new subject.
  • Step 3 – Based on Step 2, decide what elements/props will you use in the photo.
  • Step 4 – Arrange the props. Do the best you can to visually balance the scene. Assign “visual weights” and balance the frame.
  • Step 5– Again, compare these photos just like you did in previous assignments. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed earlier. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story?
  • Step 6 – Upload the best photo/s on Lesson 17 Album on the new Facebook Group.

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19.8.2014

#16 --- Do The Dishes


White plates are distraction free, they don’t conflict with the food and are versatile. White plates can be used in almost all food settings. If you already have a white plate what next? My next color was a lighter blue and green. Usually pastels and light colors work best for many photos. But again, dark plates will work too. After color, consider the material of plates too. I have used ceramic, plastic, acrylic and even disposable plates. Scratches are a big problem on plastics and acrylics and at the same time they can look a bit… uh cheap. You can safely make this decision to never buy those multicolour and multi-pattern plates for food photography.
  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days. But also remember choose something that can be plated easily.
  • Step 2 – Use any plate you think would be the best for this photograph.
  • Step 3 – Now change the plate and take another photograph.
  • Step 4 – If you have other plates that are different in color, pattern or shape, take photos on them.
  • Step 5– Again, compare these photos just like you did in previous assignments. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed earlier. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story?
  • Step 6 – Upload the best photo/s on Lesson 16 Album on the new Facebook Group.

I tried changed some dishes and in this story I like the first glass dish the most.

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18.8.2014

#15 --- Use Napkins To Add Layers And Drama

  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days.
  • Step 2 – Set up the food subject as you like, without any napkin in the scene. Take a photograph.
  • Step 3 – Now depending on your story, add the napkin to your photograph. Napkin could be fabric or could be paper towel. It could be a formal dinner napkin or something else.
  • Step 4 – Take a photograph again.
  • Step 5– Again, compare these photos just like you did in previous asignments. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed earlier. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story?
  • Step 6 – Upload the best photo/s in Facebook Album

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17.8.2014

#14 --- Week 02 Wrap Up


Similar to last week, today’s assignment is focused on making sure that you are able to let the lessons from this week sink in. We will pause a little today and make sure you have time to catch up. Today’s assignment does not require you taking any food. Today again, you have three specific tasks – updating your progress, weekly discussion and selecting your best food photo.
  • Task 1 – Progress Update. Remember the purpose of this task? The goal is to pause and record what you have learned and tell yourself what needs to be improved. Ready? Start your progress update on Neel's website.
  • Task 2 – Weekly Discussion. In the comments on FB, tell us about your lighting equipment. If you use natural light, have you thought about using artificial light?
  • Task 3 – Optional – Your Best Food Photo This Week

So, this was really nice week full of great courses. I think I can understand deeply the importance of story telling. At not only that. There is also big importance to support this story with the right lighting and create the right mood, while using the right props styling. To use appropriate background to underline my story and use correct white balance too.

What can I say? Everything is about practice, practice, practice and study :)

I use mostly strobes (Falcon Eyes) to lighting my scene and some reflectors and other equipments. I dont use natural light because I have only south/west window there, not too much light during the early morning.

I do not have so much props as I wish to have, but I can still draw by light beautiful pictures and this one is one of my best pictures this week. I love the blue mood and styling.

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16.8.2014

#13 --- Organize Your Props


Have you ever been to a professional kitchen? or a world class manufacturing facility? These and other professionals in many industries practice a philosophy called “Everything in its place and a place for everything.” For example, to have all the dishes in one area, kitchen napkins in other, flatware/silverware in the third location. This way you can clearly see your options for fabric and what dish will complete the story.
  • Step 1 – Today, the first thing you need to do is count all the different props you have. Where ever they may be stored, those need to be brought in one place and stored.
  • Step 2 – Decide how you want to store them? By type or by color or some other way?
  • Step 3 – Arrange your props according to your decision in Step 2.
  • Step 4 – Optional – Once everything is arranged, take a photograph of the arrangement and upload the photo/s of the arrangement on Facebook group.

Some of my props in studio...but I have lots of stuff in my kitchen next door.

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15.8.2014

#12 --- Select The Right Background


Background has many characteristics. It has color, texture, pattern and reflectivity, to name a few. Several types of backgrounds can be used in your food photos. Often these backgrounds are available in your own home and you don’t need to buy any material. Here are some commonly used backgrounds: Paper, Fabric, Foam board, Wooden boards, Baking sheet, Flooring material, Stones...

How to Select the Right Background

First and foremost, the purpose of background is to support the photograph. This means you need to decide few things about the background. Here are those things:

Background Color – Decide what color background do you want? After using that color, how does the story you want to tell through a photograph change?

Background Pattern – Is the background free of distractions? Or are you planning to use a polka dot table cover that will act as a background? What will keep the focus on the story you want to tell?

Background Texture – Texture provides a unique character to the food photos. We all have seen photos with old decayed backgrounds. How does that make you feel?

Contradicts or Complements – Does the background overall support the story you wrote? or does it contradicts? If your story is about an fresh morning and a early morning breakfast, will choosing a dark grungy decayed background support that story?


  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days.
  • Step 2 – Set up the food subject as you like, if possible, like you set it up yesterday. What background did you use yesterday?
  • Step 3 – Before starting to take photo, wait. Take 10 mins to survey your home and note anything you find in your home. Share your list in the comments section below and tell us if you found something surprising.
  • Step 4 – Take a photograph with the same background you’ve been using.
  • Step 5 – Now change the background and take another photograph.
  • Step 6 - Repeat Step 5, until you are exhausted of options on background. (At least make an attempt to find four different backgrounds.)
  • Step 7 – Again, compare these photos just like you did yesterday. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed earlier. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story? If none does, that’s okay too.
  • Step 8 – Upload the best photo/s on Lesson 12 Album on the new Facebook Group.

I used some of my home backgrounds, which I have collected. In this story the 1. and 4. fill the best, I think. There are some wooden boards (blue, brown, white, grey) and some bright and dark textiles.

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14.8.2014

#11 --- Correct The White Balance


Did you see any difference in the color when you used different WB settings? How often have you used WB setting to correct the color before taking the photo?
  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days.
  • Step 2 – Set up the food subject in a way that the source of light is on one side. Take a photograph using all the principles we talked about in last few days.
  • Step 3 – Now, start by changing the WB to cloudy. Take a photograph with this mode.
  • Step 4 – Next change WB to Direct Sun or Daylight. Take couple of photos in this WB mode.
  • Step 5 –Repeat step 4 with fluorescent WB mode. (remember that you are taking the photo in same light source, but only changing white balance setting in your camera). In total change the WB four times and take a photo each time without changing any other settings.
  • Step 6 – Again, compare these photos just like you did yesterday. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed yesterday. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story? If none does, that’s okay too.
  • Step 7 – Upload the best photo/s on Lesson 11 Album on the new Facebook Group.

Today I took these shots. I changed my camera settings of White Balance to Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, AutoWB, Fluor.Warm and Fluor.Cold. Today is almost bright morning just a little bit cloudy. I have delicious blueberry's breakfast and my mood today is soft blue. I love blue. As you can see, the last picture is the best for my story.

I usually use in my studio strobes and other light sources which are similar to natural daylight. What exactly means that there is around 5000 kelvin temperature. And I also use a Grey card and if there are still any problems, I fix it on my post-processing. So, my best final photo is today with shade white balance.

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13.8.2014

#10 --- Modify Light For Better Food Photos


There are three ways to modify light. Reflectors/Bouncers, Diffusers and Blockers.
  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days.
  • Step 2 – Set up the food subject in a way that the source of light is on one side. Take a photograph using all the principles we talked about in last few days.
  • Step 3 – Now, start with reflector. Find a reflector – something like white foam board. Or foil. Place this directly opposite to direction of light and see how shadows change. Take a photograph.
  • Step 4 – Next move the reflector from being directly opposite to at an angle. Take a photo. Change the angle again and take another photo. You can change the angle in vertically as well as horizontally. At every change, see how the shadows change. For this exercise, the goal is to increase the amount of light in the scene.
  • Step 5 –Do step 3 and 4 with a diffuser (trash bag that is). Take photo when you change an angle.
  • Step 6 – Now compare these photos just like you did yesterday. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed yesterday. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story?
  • Step 7 – Upload the best photo/s on the new Facebook group

Back to my story about tea... It is early morning again. But today it's a rainy mood day. As you can see, I setup my scene, modified light and here is my result.

The first photo is just with back light. The second photo is with reflectors in the front of the scene and also on both sides of the scene. There are some ugly highlights there with lost structure of metal prop. So I decided to block some light from upper left side with black board and those highlights disappeared. And here we are, my best photo with modifying light is the last, third photo.

Final image with some more DOF and colour adjustments.

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12.8.2014

#09 --- Light Your Food Photo


So how do you decide what type of light to choose? Go back to what story are you trying to tell? In some cases, light can play a really important role. If your story is about two people having breakfast, you better get that morning light. If your story is about picnic (or outing) and the sandwiches, hard shadows may be appropriate and hard light would work. Light sets the mood of the story. So depending on your story, you have to choose what type of light you want.
  • Step 1 – Today again, select the subject. Ideally use the same food subject, you have been using last couple of days.
  • Step 2 – Set up the food subject in a way that the source of light is on one side. Take a photograph using all the principles we talked about in last few days.
  • Step 3 – Move yourself (or the light source) so that light source is in the background. Take a photograph.
  • Step 4 – If you can find a harsh light source (direct sunlight), take a photograph with that source. If you use on camera flash, take a photo with flash turned on.
  • Step 5 – Now compare these photos. Recall your story and the specific elements we discussed yesterday. Which one of these photos compares closely with your story? Tell us which lighting do you like in general?
  • Step 6 – Upload the best photo.

Today I decided to take picture of red onion again. I brought some more details to my new story.

There is more vegetable on the scene and my onion is cutting to the rings and small pieces with a knife. I used also my silver vintage bowl and similar background to it.

And what about light? I tried back lighting (picture on the left) and side lighting (picture on the right). I used an reflector on left side of scene.

I prefere the picture with back lighting because of better mood. I like that dark shadows, contrast, colors... It is about preparation of food in the bright morning in the kitchen.

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11.8.2014

#08 --- Describe The Elements Of Your Food Story


Remember the goal – Your end goal is to clearly tell the story of a food dish and what’s going around this dish. This is the story you will capture in a photograph. Additional Clarification – This is storytelling using one frame of photo. This is not a story that usually blogs write about as part of introduction. We are capturing a story about the food and what’s going around that food when you are taking the photo.
  • Step 1 – Start with your story from Day 6. Do you recall it? Hopefully, you’ve written it on a piece of paper of saved it.
  • Step 2 - For this story, now we will take this to the next level and describe it in finer details. Let’s start -
  • Define where are you? Are you in a restaurant or street corner? In dining area or porch?
  • What time of the day is it?
  • Is this happening in a certain season?
  • Who all are around the food? Kids or Adults?
  • Are you eating/drinking something else with it? These are just few questions that you should ask.
  • What other questions would you ask for your subject?
  • Step 3 - Document all these decisions and save them. We will use these decisions in the remainder of this challenge.
  • Step 4 – In the comments below share 1) What questions you asked? 2) Their answers
  • Step 5 – Optional but Recommended – Make a photograph that communicates the story. Use ALL the details you’ve described as part of Step 2 to create the scene and make the photo.

The story from Day #06 was about drinking my favourite tea.

My questions for that photo:

  • Define where are you? Are you in a restaurant or street corner? In dining area or porch?

I am in my living room and have a good time for relax with a cup of my favourite tea.

  • What time of the day is it?

It is early morning.

  • Is this happening in a certain season?

It is hot summer time.

  • Who all are around the food? Kids or Adults?

I am at home alone. My lovely husband just went to his work.

  • Are you eating/drinking something else with it?

No, just drinking a tea.

  • What dish do you use?

It is nice prop from my photo-shooting stuff.

  • What would be the continuing of this story?

I created second part of the story. It is late afternoon and my lovely husband came back from his work. So, now we both have our hot favourite tea in our favourite daily using cup and glass. My tea is still herbal red Sudanese Hibiscus and Charlie's is his favourite green Morrocan mint tea. We are eating some healthy snacks and we are enjoying time together and talking.

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10.8.2014

#07 --- Week 01 Wrap Up


Today’s assignment is focused on making sure that whatever you’ve learned, you are able to internalize and digest it before we move forward. So this assignment does not involve taking a food photograph, but rather making sure you are taking the right steps, and day by day getting better. Today there are specific tasks each with a different purpose. Let’s look at them one by one.
  • Task 1 – Progress Update. The purpose of this task is to make sure you are spending few minutes and reviewing the progress you’ve made and the challenge you’ve encountered.
  • Task 2 – Your Photo of The Week. This past week you’ve taken lot of photos. The last task this week is to upload your best food photo from this last week.

When I look back on this week, I think the red onion from first day is my best photo. My biggest challenge is to style a photo and tell the story...The other two photos of cutting onion are from my today's work, I was trying different background for styling...they are trying to tell you some story about using onion in the kitchen. And it is of course not for my kitchen, because, I don't eat it :)

And i found another thing, I need to deal with. I dont know, what my style of photography exactly is. So I hope I will find it soon.

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09.8.2014

#06 --- Write Your Food Photo Story


In commercial food photography, main character of the story is usually the food. For editorial food photography, the type of food photography that most food bloggers use, mostly the main character is not the food. Most editorial food photos tell a bigger story. Sometimes it’s about the early morning breakfast and not just the pancakes. For developing the story for your own food photo, you need to decide the main character of the story. Is the main character of your story the dish, or is it really about the experience of the afternoon in the sun on the beach? Are you really telling me about the tea or is it about the experience of the afternoon? What is it about?
  • Step 1 – Select a subject from the list you created on Day 2
  • Step 2 – In one line, write the title of the story. The title should be very specific. Don’t leave it loose.
  • Step 3 – For this subject, decide what is the main character? Do you want the main character to be an experience or simply the food itself? As mentioned in the article above, is it the drink in a glass anywhere, or is it about being on the beach and enjoying the drink? On the paper, write down who or what is the main character of the story.
  • Step 4 – Now that you’ve decided that the main character, next step is about filling in details. If the main character is a cake, now you need to fill the details like, who is the cake for? Is it a full cake or a piece of cake? How many people are eating the cake in this story? It is just two people who are celebrating their anniversary?
  • Step 5 - Share in the comments 1) What is the subject? 2) Who or what is the main character? 3) What are the details?
  • Step 6: Make a photograph that communicates the story. Use details you’ve described as part of Step 4 to create the scene and make the photo. It’s okay to be unsure about this. If you don’t know how to do this or feel like don’t have the answer, try anyway.

Are you taking a photograph “of the subject”? Or are you making a photo “about the subject”?

Honestly, I have never think about this...why I take a picture of food. My answer was always the same...I want to photograph the beauty of food, that I love. to bring the feeling wow, I want to taste it, it looks delicious!

Almost all of my food styling images are commercial, not editorial. I often have a feeling, that something is missing there, I am not satisfied with props, styling etc... And maybe that's it! There is missing a story, the main hero and supporting stuff around. I definitely must to learn much more about it and dealing with this great challenge.


Story about morning tea

Every morning I drink cup of my delicious deep magenta coloured tea - herbal Sudanese Hibiscus. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. It can be consumed both hot and cold. This drink is also known as karkadé. No sugar here, because I don't use it. My hero (main character) here is the dried herbal flowers of tea on the table.

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08.8.2014

#04 --- Tell Your Story With Depth Of Field


Today you will learn how depth of field impacts storytelling. What story are you telling with your food photo? So how should you choose depth of field? You need to define what you are trying to communicate. Learn to make a conscious decision about depth of field. Don’t let it become an element you never actually think about. This one change will make you a more thoughtful food photographer.
  • Step 1 – Choose a subject that you want to photograph.
  • Step 2 – Set up the subject and whatever props/background you plan to use. Do not change this setting in the entire assignment.
  • Step 3 – For this subject, you have to take three different photograph. Photograph 1 – isolated photograph of the subject, but no props. Hint: Use as shallow dof as possible.
  • Step 4 – For photograph 2, your subject is situated/placed in the surrounding but is still the main focus. Use appropriate dof. Hint: Since subject is in the environment, use a little more depth than photograph 1, but not too much.
  • Step 5 – For photograph 3, the story is that the subject is one of the main items. How should your depth of field change? Hint: use dof so that everything in the frame is in focus.

I decided to photograph Camembert cheese from Netherlands.

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07.8.2014

#05 --- Frame It With Your Eyes


Let’s review all the decision related to the frame you as a food photographer need to make:
  • What should be included in the frame?
  • What should be excluded from the frame?
  • Where should the main subject be in reference to the frame?
  • Where should I place other elements in relation to the main subject?
  • Should the frame be vertical or horizontal?

  • Step 1 – Choose the subject from your list you created on Day 2.
  • Step 2 – Set up the subject and the props/background you plan to use. Do not change this setting in the entire assignment.
  • Step 3 - Get ready to shoot the first photo. Decide how you want to orient the frame – horizontal or vertical. Which type would you use and why? If the answer is I don’t know, that’s okay. Pick one.
  • Step 4 – Next decide where would you like to place the subject inside the frame. You can try placing the subject on the “thirds” as defined in rule of thirds. Or you could decide to place the subject on the edge or cut a portion of the subject by pushing it outside the frame. Again, chose one placement. If you can’t decide., pick any one.
  • Step 5 – In step 3 & 4 you’ve made decisions about frame orientation and where to place the subject relative to the frame. Now keeping these two decisions in mind, shoot one photograph. Only one.
  • Step 6 – Change the frame orientation and change the placement and shoot at least 5 different photographs.
  • Step 7 – Post the photograph from Step 5 and the best photo from Step 6

The first choice was to photograph colourful fresh raw fruits. I love the fresh colours and great light. All subjects are main subjects :)

The second choice for me was this homemade delicious low carb bread with seeds, butter, boiled eggs and salt. I tried different frames and these two are my heroes. My main subject in this case is bread. I don't use any specific rule for framing...I like intuition feelings. But I have to say, that Golden Section is my favourite rule.

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06.8.2014

#03 --- Finding The Camera Angle


Start in one position with a certain camera angle in mind, and than move around your subject or move towards the subject or move away from it. Explore the subject from different angles. Exploring your perspective and camera angle is part of the process. Finding the best camera angle for your subject is also an exploration. You have to work and explore your subject and find the angle that makes it look beautiful.
  • Step 1 – Choose a subject to shoot. Finish preparations and set it up on the surface.
  • Step 2 – Now decide the camera angle you would like to start with. Take a photo from this angle.
  • Step 3 – Now change this camera angle. Take photo from a new angle and repeat this until you have exhausted options and are satisfied with the outcome.

I used these angles on my photos.

This subject is definitely from the category "I don't like to eat". :D And I chose from them my hero (No.2, more closeup):

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05.8.2014

#02 --- Identify Your Subjects


For the subjects you have chosen, today think about what you want to communicate through the photo. What do you want a photo to look like? What feelings should this photo communicate? How do you want to feel about the photo?
  1. Pick simple subjects. As you are learning don’t pick something like a curry or chili that will make learning complicated.
  2. Pick subject that can be readily available. If you choose a subject like homemade cake, are you going to make one or buy one every day?
  3. Raw veggies and fruits make super amazing subjects.

I have decided to photograph the food in two categories. What I like to eat and what I do not like to eat (but I will prepare it for my lovely husband:)

So, here my photo subjects:

  • red onion
  • spicies
  • bread, butter
  • vegetable, zucchini, cucumber...
  • fruits, banana, blueberries, lemon…
  • vintage antique brass and pewter bowl plate

I will use the dark background, because on first day I chose all of my favourite images like that. My focus is to bring a great mood to image by using light and colors.

And of course, I would like to create these feelings: "Wow, I want to taste it, it looks delicious!"
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04.8.2014

#01 --- Study Outstanding Food Photos


Look at portfolios of your favourite food photographers. Your goal is to pick 3 photos of two photographers and explore what you like about them. Observe what you feel when you look at these photos. Note down the feeling. You don’t have to be technically correct, whatever words come to mind, write it down.

I chose these photographers:

  • http://www.helenedujardin.com
  • http://www.katiequinndavies.com.au
  • http://teristudios.com

  1. Green a purple salad from helenedujardin...fabulous light, colors and background.
  2. Sweet cakes with red raspberries from katiequinndavies...I want to taste it, fresh, colorful, great light and I like the connection with hands.
  3. Another picture of fruits on baking tin from katiequinndavies...I like that angle, light, vibrant colors, props, styling, composition, it looks tasteful.
  4. Fresh plums on dark background from katiequinndavies...I love that angle, contrast of soft light and dark background, beautiful silver props. Great mood and also I would like to taste it.
  5. Raw meat with falling salt from teristudios...Great action, capture the movement, amazing light, wonderful angle and composition.
  6. Sweet cream cake with black raspberries from teristudios... great light, styling...just yummy.
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