PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Note: This page is a very basic rundown of some of my photography tips. It will be updated with links to individual posts as they are written. But for now, read on and email me if you have any questions about food photography or need recommendations. (cafejohnsonia@gmail.com)

//GETTING STARTED//

I didn’t start out to take pictures of food – I was much more interested in architecture, nature, and people. But when I started blogging and sharing recipes, it became a natural progression. Now it’s my full-time job and I love it!

Start where you are now. Figure out what your strengths are and nurture those. Find your weaknesses and practice, practice, practice! They will become strengths eventually. I still practice for hours a day.

One thing that really helped me early on was to take a food photography workshop. It made me realize how much I thought I knew…and didn’t. Ha! It was a great place to start and gave me a lot to think about. Workshops hosted by professional food photographers like Aran Goyoaga, Todd Porter and Diane Cu, Helene Dujardin, or Meeta Wolf are worth the money. There are many more workshops out there hosted by photographers and stylists, but I highly recommend these.

Follow your favorite photographers on their blogs and social media. Start a Pinterest board with photographs you like and use them for inspiration.

The important thing, most of all, is to start somewhere. Dig your heels in and get to work. It might be a sharp learning curve, there might be mistakes (or if you’re me, many, many mistakes), but you’ll learn as you go.

//THINGS TO THINK ABOUT//

*Telling a story – think about what the recipe means to you and the emotions you want to evoke when people look at your picture. Is it a breakfast recipe? Is it your grandmother’s famous pie? Match your props, backgrounds, and surfaces accordingly.

*Look for good light. Light is probably the biggest factor in a good picture vs. a bad one. Find areas in your house, or outside, and work with the light.

*Learn how to use your camera. Great pictures do not necessarily come from great cameras. They come from great photographers. A fantastic lens doesn’t hurt either, but you’ve got to know how to use your equipment bottom line. That’s where that good ol’ practice comes into play.

//MY GEAR//

I started with a very basic DSLR and have upgraded several times over the last 8 years. I know shoot with a full-frame Nikon D610, but I have kept my D300 as a backup camera and still LOVE it.

Note: these are affiliate links

Nikon D610 body
Nikon D300 (back-up camera)
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Nikon 105 mm f/2.8 (macro)
Nikon 50 mm f/1.8
Nikon 50 mm f/1.4
Nikon 28-80 mm f/3.5-5.6 (kit lens, only use for wider angle shots)
Camera straps
Tripod – Bogen Manfrotto 3001 S with medium ball head with dual retractable tread
Lateral tripod arm from Manfrotto
Sandbags (for anchoring tripod)
Photo editing software – Lightroom 5 and Photoshop Elements 12
Camera bag (similar)
white and black foam core – for bouncing or blocking light

//PROP SHOPPING//

IKEA – linens, bowls, plates, flatware
Crate and Barrel – jars, linens, bowls, glasses
World Market – linens, bowls, glasses
Etsy
Ebay
Thrift stores – everything!
Antique malls – flatware, cutting boards
Garage and estate sales
Asian markets – small bowls, chop sticks
West Elm
Anthropologie

//BACKDROPS AND SURFACES//

A lot of the surfaces and backgrounds I use are ones that I’ve made myself. It’s easy to find large pieces of wood at the hardware store and paint them. These are the surfaces I use for photography right now:

chalkboard – see how I made it here
old wood
luan boards from hardware store
bead board
marble slab
square tiles
pallets
wooden tabletops

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