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Photography lessons from the world of food blogging

  1. Few things photograph the way you think they will. A photo can only take in a tiny portion of the whole kitchen and won’t reflect all the peripheral details that contribute light, interest and colour when you are looking at the whole scene. Case in point: coffee cups, mess and some scribbled notes.

    Mess and scrawl

    I saw boho-creative-chaos. Not sure if that’s what you get too.

    A snapshot won’t capture all the context: a picture of a squashed clove of garlic next to some coffee grounds won’t reflect all your ambitions, won’t give the strangely-sexy smell, won’t capture the complex emotional background that has lead to you to try and photograph those things. You probably don’t even realise that the reason you want to take a picture is because you’ve got a dim memory of your grandpa carrying garlic cloves in his pocket and then that time he jammed his finger in the drawer while making coffee and he wanted to cry but laughed it off and that’s how you feel now that you’ve burned the garlic in the pot (not pictured). See? Emotional context.

  2. Sandwiches are really hard to photograph well.
  3. Cameras do not like:
    • steam
    • getting butter on them
    • being dropped on anything
    • being dropped in anything.
  4. Beautiful food does not necessarily make beautiful photos. Case in point: figs in sugar syrup at a rolling boil. In real life, this was a gorgeous, steaming, rolling tumble of shades of pink with tiny slivers of light green from the fig skins. Once photographed:

    bubbly-bubbly-bubbly-splash

    Still looks kinda cool, but it’s not what I was looking at.

  5. Long, slow cooking will prompt you to take a million photos: you will have to sort, cull, crop or adjust all of them. This extends total cooking time by approximately 180%, so be sure to factor that in when you’re planning to invite people over to eat.
  6. It is not worth ruining your camera to get the perfect shot of, say, a star anise floating in the foam of simmering port.
  7. Trust me, something's happening in there...

  8. It is not worth ruining your recipe to get the perfect shot of, say, the exact moment the onions caramelise.
  9. Friends will be very understanding if you ask them to hold off eating until you’ve got the perfect shot. That doesn’t mean you have to do it every time.
  10. Nothing you cook is going to look the way you think it will — and that’s why cooking rocks so hard. That’s why food blogging is so damn fun: you see other people’s stuff, you think “I wonder what happens if I try that?” and away you go. Your personal taste, your cookware and the limits or your larder are all going to change how your cooking comes out and what it looks like — and that is so cool. We don’t do this because we want uniform cakes. We don’t do this because we want cookie-cutter cookies. We cook because it’s fun, and it’s fun because it’s always unique, different and exciting. That’s what rocks so hard. And then some of us take photos and blog about it. And that rocks pretty hard too.

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