Welcome to The Everyday Project! A community of phone photographers, working together to grow our camera skills one week at a time. We have all made a commitment to not make excuses, but use what we have, with where we are, and search for the beauty in our everyday. And capture it. All photos in these posts are shot with my iPhone 4.
The first professional photography job I ever got was a food gig. I was always slightly embarrassed that that is what I was interested in, but I’ve found that when you are honest with yourself about what you love and where your passions lie, then you can have the confidence to go for things knowing you really have nothing to prove and everything to gain. Ironically, it has been the very fact that I like unique niches in photography that have gotten me some of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with over the past year. I still go to sleep at night pinching myself at the stuff God’s handed me that only He could’ve known about.
I believe that food is an art. A love language of sorts. Our culture is so fast-paced that it is harder and harder to find people who love to cook and make the time for it, but I genuinely enjoy it. It is not drudgery for me, but the dishes are. Ha! There are certainly the nights we have Raisin Bran for dinner and the weekends we pick up a Little Caesars pizza, but overall I’ve died to a lot of other things so that I can cook mostly from scratch in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be fancy. At all! But it’s a pretty big priority to me.
Food, in a way, is how I pass on my grandmother’s legacy. She was a southerner at heart, as my mom says, and even though she was quiet and shy, she was always hosting parties at her house and informal gatherings with friends. From the time I can remember, when I was at her big farmhouse, I would stand next to her as she cooked or clipped out recipes. And even though she’s gone, I still want to be her. And make her proud.
So I cook, in her memory.
Today I want to touch on a few things I’ve learned about how to make food look appealing in photos. I receive a lot of questions about my food photography…what lens I use and how I make food photos on Instagram look the way they look. First off, all of these photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 4, so trust me when I say it IS possible to work your phone camera to your advantage come dinnertime! Let’s get started!
CONSISTENCY: You need to find a place in your house that has good lighting and that you know like the back of your hand. I touched on this earlier in the series and if you haven’t read it yet, then stop here right now and go read it! Lighting makes or breaks your photo and this is especially true for food photos. My spot is on my kitchen table smooshed up next to a window. It casts the most perfect shadows and the light hits the food and all its’ various textures at the right spots. I shoot every single one of my photos in that spot and with the “Down Perspective” for Instagram. I’m not saying you can’t get another angle, it’s just that I’ve found this angle consistently works for me with food and translates very well on Instagram. So Ima sticking with it!
BACKGROUND: I’ve found that your background is a key element to food photography. Contrast looks amazing! I like to put white plates up against the dark finish of my kitchen table, or lay down some scrap pieces of wood that are white washed and use that as a lighter background for my photos. I also have a pretty beat-up cutting board that looks amazing as a background…all those knife marks in the wood. I swoon. Dark tile or marble looks reeeeeeally pretty as well, but I have none at the moment. Tablecloths are easy to throw down, or hand towels (shout-out to Anthropologie here!). Be creative. Don’t feel like you have to go out and spend a lot of money…just look around your house and think of easily movable items that you can use for a pretty backdrops in a pinch. I keep a basket on top of my fridge with a few things I like to use and that works really well.
FRAMING: I’m going to spend a whole week talking about cropping because Instagram is tricky in the way they automatically crop things in their darn square. But I want to lightly brush the surface with framing here. You want to think in terms of an invisible 9-square grid and place your subject in one of those squares. One of my favorite ways to frame is the bottom heavy approach I took above. Or you can mix it up and go top heavy…with your ingredients spilling down as shown here. You can frame your photo in the corner or on the side as shown here…
EMBRACE THE MESS: With three schooners who love to get their hands dirty in the kitchen with me, it is almost never perfectly clean around here! When I began following What Katie Ate’s journey of photographing and creating her cookbook, I fell in love with her imperfect/messy styling. Jams dripping out of jars. Honey running down the sides of pancakes. Flour smudged to the table. Melting ice cubes. It’s all so real life and with a little styling you can totally make the mess work to your advantage!
I really want to grow in this area and experiment more. It’s almost like abstract art…you think it’s easy until you realize there is a method to the madness. One method I like to use is taking all the components for a recipe and smooshing them to the center of my table and cropping around them. This photo below is still one of my all-time favorites from our kitchen…
Sometimes I take muffins and break them apart, scattering the crumbs all around. Sometimes I take one bite of a cookie and then photograph it. It’s all about telling the story. And if food could talk, it would tell us a lot of stories…I bet you.
GIVE CREDIT: I am a huge believer in giving credit where credit is due. When I first started blogging I had no idea what the protocol was for this, but in a conversation over email where I asked Sara Forte (Sprouted Kitchen) if I could post her recipe, she said she was flattered and thrilled I asked and assured me that as long as I link back to the original source for a recipe than the sky is the limit and bloggers/recipe creators will appreciate you spreading the love. This really helped me to see the value in networking and collaborating. It’s a win-win for everybody involved and you can make new friends along the way and support each other. There have been so many times I’ve gotten to “know” a fellow blogger or instagrammer because we share the same love of food and I’ve made their recipe and tagged them or linked to them for credit in my posts. Even large businesses. I’ve tagged Starbucks and Jamba Juice (my favorite places that cancel eachother out!) and Starbucks now follows me on Twitter and Jamba Juice follows me on Instagram and asked to repost my photo below…
Incredibly nice of them.
I hope this has given you a window into our kitchen and inspired you to put a little effort into creating beautiful food images.
This week’s photo challenge is to use your Go-To-Spot and photograph food. Get your hands dirty. Dig in a little. Think outside the box. As always, I promise you’ll surprise yourself! Hashtag your photos, #theeverydayproject. CanNOT wait to see what you come up with. This is totally my thing!
As always, if you love these posts and feel like you are learning, please spread the word! You can follow along with this ongoing series on any of these places….
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