It is surprisingly difficult to make delicious food look delicious in photographs. Despite my best efforts, my photographs looked badly lit, flat, unappetising, colourless and shapeless. Sad times. So I did my research, learnt my way around the latest software, collected props (love that bit!) and discovered how to manipulate light and colour. I completely transformed my photography into the bright, bold style you see before you. It suits me. If you’re struggling with your photography and things aren’t looking quite right – not quite as dreamy and Food-Gawkery as you hoped – then give some of these resources a go. Discover your signature style!
Adobe Creative Cloud
It took me a long time to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud – I have used free resources (nefariously and non-nefariously) for all my digital life. But with Adobe remarketing its photography software on a reasonably priced subscription basis, my time had come.
Coupled with a little Skillshare training in Lightroom and Photoshop (more on this below), I am now a half-competent digital editor. And you can be too! The entire Creative Cloud suite is a little too much for my needs, but their photographer package (Lightroom and Photoshop) is great – the highest standards of photo organisation and editing for the most professional digital work.
With the WP/LR Sync plugin you can also connect your WordPress website to Lightroom and publish directly from your photo editor. Create SEO-friendly titles, ALT text and filenames in Lightroom and see those labels applied in your WordPress media library. Make edits to image size, appearance and labelling, then sync those changes with your website. A fantastic system for those who like things streamlined and well organised.
Graphics Tablet + Pen
Skillshare + Lynda
One of my very favourite things about the internet (and I’m old enough to remember life both before and after it) is the educational possibilities. If you are so inclined, you can learn how to do pretty much anything. There are videos, tutorials, step-by-step directions with images, audio – learning in all kinds of ways, from all kinds of teachers. It is brilliant!
Of course, there are plenty of free, high quality resources available – I myself try hard to produce content that people can learn from. But for me there is a qualitative difference between the resources scattered around the internet and the more professional training resources that are available on sites like Skillshare and Lynda. If cost is a factor, Skillshare is the more affordable option and first three months are essentially free.
Essential blogging skills
- brand your creative business
- work with colour and graphic design
- plan and execute professional food photography
- use Lightroom, Photoshop and other digital software
- work better with your DSLR
- market better with social media
- create beautiful e-books
- write more effective marketing emails
- and more!
My favourite courses
Plate to Pixel
This book revolutionised my food photography. Plate to Pixel takes you through every aspect of food photography with a heavy focus on manipulating natural light. This was the big change for me – learning how to use light correctly to show off the luscious textures and colours of food. Helene Dujardin took me by the hand and led me through all the possibilities and how to bring them under my control.
She also addresses styling and props – where to get them and how to use them. Composition and colour. What to do when the natural light really and truly has run out. And how to process, edit and organise your photographs after capture. Plate to Pixel completely and utterly transformed my photography and it is now one of the aspects of blogging that I love the most dearly. I cannot recommend a better place to start.
Pentax K20D DSLR + Vintage Lenses
I hear in the food blogging world that it’s either Nikon or Canon, but my Pentax DSLR has been serving me well since 2007. No doubt there are more up-to-date offerings available now, but treated right this camera still takes beautiful, clear, colour-rich images in huge, high quality resolutions. To replace it would be a shameful waste.
I sometimes work as a freelance journalist, typically supplying editorial photography to go with my articles. This means there are times when I only have one chance to get a shot and I might not be able to get out my tripod, reflectors and lights. For that kind of photography I turn to my Fujifilm X100T – another secondhand buy. This camera is Fujifilm’s modern reworking of the Japanese cameras of the film era – carefully made, beautiful design, pleasingly functional. It is fantastic in low light – ISO technology has come a long way since my Pentax DSLR was made – so I know it will get that shot when I need it. I shoot DNG (this camera can be used fully manual) and the pictures that result are very high resolution with rich, bright colours. It is extremely compact and light – small enough to tuck into even my most modest of handbags. There is really no excuse not to take it everywhere you go.
One of the best features of this camera – and one that makes it great for food photography as well – is the possibilities for depth of field. The camera has both low f-stops (f1.7) and very fast shutter speeds, so even in very bright sunshine you can take shots with dreamy, blurry backgrounds that isolate your subject and just make everything look better. As I mentioned, those super high ISOs make it equally great in low light – situations that are often a problem for my DSLR. At the flick of a switch, you can see the effects of your camera settings – very useful for making live adjustments. There are countless other technical features, but these are the most important for me.
This camera has become a modern photography icon, with all kinds of photographers swapping their heavy DSLRs for this light-as-a-feather offering. I like having both. This camera is not cheap, even secondhand, but the earlier models X100 and X100S (that are also highly recommended) can be bought much more reasonably on Ebay. While you cannot tether this camera in the same way as a DSLR, you can send image previews to an iPad so you can see them on a bigger screen as you shoot.
Lowel Ego Pro Lights + Reflectors
I live in Leeds in the north of England. It is a liberated, jolly, friendly city with plenty of good food and cocktail happy hours (I am a woman of simple needs), but the weather isn’t brilliant. It’s not all doom and gloom – there are days and days of brilliant, life-affirming sunshine where I run for the nearest dale and commune with nature while it’s playing nice. But there certainly is gloom. And darkness. And rain.
Mantona Tripod + Overhead Arm
This Mantona tripod is a great compromise if you’re looking for something more professional, but can’t stretch to a high-end tripod, such as Manfrotto. It has ball head attachment for the camera, which means it can be angled in every direction and a quick-release plate you can leave on your camera. It is extremely sturdy with strong clips and these fasteners can also be adjusted to your own tight/smooth preferences. The legs extend quickly and easily, and they can be set securely at any height, with rubber feet help keep it secure. The centre column (which holds the camera) can also be turned completely upside down if you want to take floor-level macro images. Lastly, this tripod is also compact when packed (50cm) – small enough to fit in a small airplane-friendly suitcase – a necessity for comfortable travel with my photography gear.