Aug 012012

For years, our business had a web site with a blog on the side. Our site was professional, informative, and well, not exactly cold, but not warm and engaging either. Bored with our static online presence I was looking for something more dynamic. It was time to give our blog center stage. But that meant I was going to need a continual stream of interesting photos for our new show and tell format.

So I was on the hunt. I read every web site and article I could find on cameras and food photography. I finally decided on an older model Canon EOS 550D with a 50 mm f/1.4 lens. The price was right and the added features of the newer models were not needed for what I was doing.

lamb chiliBut who would have guessed there was so much involved in still life photography. I think my photos are getting better or at least I hope they are. I find I am naturally starting to think my way through how I want to style a dish as I am cooking. But when the time comes for the photo shoot, there is still so much to consider. What dish shows off the food best? Does it need accessories to better cue the viewer about hidden ingredients? Is the light right or are the shadows too dark? Oh, darn, is that frig in the background too distracting? The list seems to go on and on.

So I have been practicing by taking photos of all the dishes we make in the kitchen for the farmers markets. These won’t necessarily be added to the blog but I can use them as marketing tools.

The shoot the other day included Three Bean Lamb Chili, one of my favorites. This dish is full of great ingredients including a stout beer. My kitchen window has the best light, so I snapped the shots there and then ran to the office to download the photos. It had been a busy day so after a quick look, I returned to the kitchen and finished cleaning up. It wasn’t until later that I sat down to review each photo.

I had simply spooned the chili into the bowl, not really moving any of the ingredients around preferring a more natural look. Or so I thought. But then I began to really look at all the photos. How is it that all the tomatoes are on one side of the bowl and all the kidney beans on the other? I mean, how is that possible! It’s hardly noticeable from the front shots, but my favorite shot, of course, is an overhead picture that clearly shows my blunder. Ugh!

three bean chili

It wasn’t a total loss, as I’ve unquestionably learned the most from my less than successful photos. For example, never, ever rush. Take a breath if necessary, and just enjoy the moment. And always take an extra minute to focus on each of the different elements of the photo.

Who knew there would be so much to see thru the lens.

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 Posted by at 12:00 pm

  6 Responses to “Food Photography: Digital Heartburn from a Bowl of Chili”

  1. I love your recipes and the way your blog is laid out. The only problem is I can’t find where to follow your blog. I thought your photos of the chili were awesomei

    • Uh-oh! That’s no good. You can follow by email or by RSS feed. The link for email is in the right column right below “welcome.” The RSS feed link is in the right column at the very top, above the “welcome.” Any feedback or suggestions on where I could place this information to be more user friendly? I know how frustrating it is when you want to subscribe and can’t find it.

      Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by. I am a big fan of your blog as well!

  2. O yes I’ve tried to hurry a shot more times then I can remember only to come to that same conclusion. Hurrying doesn’t work! That said; I think your chili looks awesome, as that is possibly one of the hardest dishes to shoot!

    • Simone, you are too kind. After reading all the tips and tricks for food photography it appears that most of what I cook can be categorized as the hardest dishes to shoot! LOL! Thanks again, it means a lot. You are one of my favorite food photographers and bloggers!

  3. Great post! Not only is photography difficult in general, but I find food photography very hard. Partly is lighting for me. Our house is very shaded {wonderful during the summer heat} so taking indoor shots is extremely hard. Then there’s my husband, following me around the house as I try to find the perfect place to photograph his dinner plate before he eats…… I find it funny, he just rolls his eyes. :) I love your site and added it to my blog!

    • Oh, my gosh! Thanks for the huge laugh! Are you sure you don’t live in my house. My husband’s patience is definitely being bought with sweets since starting this blog! ;-)

      I’ve been thinking about getting a flash to direct up to the ceiling. Lighting is a constant struggle. And unless I fix dinner at 8am my light fades very quickly.

      Thanks for the kind words! Big fan of your site as well!