Food photography is tough to get right, but having a few good books really helps. One that has helped me most is Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young. Check out my review below, plus take part in my GIVEAWAY to WIN a free copy of this fab book!
When I started as a food blogger, I had NO IDEA how much food photography was going to be part of my life. I had imagined, rather naively, that I could just take a quick snap of my dinner (in the dark, with the lights on, using the built in flash), upload it to my blog (with zero editing), and that would be that! It didn’t take me long to realise that food photography is a HUGELY important part of food blogging and that I seriously needed to up my game.
And since those rather shaky beginnings I have learnt A LOT.
These were the sort of photographs I was taking when I started blogging…
And these are the sort of photographs I am taking now…
In fact, I learnt so much in my first year that I turned it into a blog post: 10 Things I’ve learnt about Food Photography from my First Year of Blogging.
And since then I’ve gone on to learn even more (there will definitely have to be a follow up post after my second blogiversary about all the things I’ve learnt about food blogging in my second year!)
I have really worked on my photography, by attending courses and scouring the internet for food photography tips, but probably the most helpful thing I have done is read food photography books. My favourite two by far have been From Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin, and this one I’m sharing with you today: Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young.
Plus, because I love you all so much, I am hosting a GIVEAWAY to WIN a copy of this fab book! Find out how to enter at the bottom of this review.
But first let me tell you all about it…
Who is Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots by?
The book is written by Nicole S. Young – a full time photographer specialising in travel, landscape and photography. She also has a fab blog full of great photography tips.
What is Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots all about?
This book is very comprehensive – it starts with the basics of food photography: from choosing a camera, lens and other equipment, to taking a photograph in manual mode and getting the exposure right.
She also shares her advice on lighting, food styling, composing a great shot and sharing photos on your blog and social media. There is a whole section dedicated to each of these areas.
The book has a really comprehensive section on using Adobe Lightroom. I don’t yet use Lightroom, but if and when I do, I will be coming straight to this book for tips! She shares everything from getting started with Lightroom, to organising your photos in lightroom, editing and exporting files. And, although I don’t use Lightroom, I still found quite a lot of her advice about organising and editing files really useful.
My favourite section, though, is her last chapter, which is called ‘Behind the Scenes’. In this section, Nicole shares exactly how she approaches a photo shoot from start to finish. It goes from her initial brief, through choosing props and styling, to lighting setup, actually taking the photograph and finally editing in Lightroom. I cannot state enough how valuable it is to see how a professional photographer approaches a photo shoot – and there are also loads of behind the scenes photos, which are fascinating and super useful!
Are there any special features?
Yes, at the end of each chapter Nicole sets a series of challenges related to the material you have just read. If you are the sort of person who likes putting what you have just learnt into practice, then this is perfect. It is also a great way of getting your head around the key points of the chapter.
An example of one of Nicole’s challenges would be at the end of Chapter 3 – Styling and Props, where she challenges her readers to ‘make it messy’ – adding crumbs, drips, berries or seeds to a picture to make it all a bit more messy. Those who follow my blog will know I’ve been working hard on this challenge!!
For example – my Oat, Almond and Banana Pancakes…
Or my Moroccan Lamb Traybake
Another great feature of this book is that every photo in the book has notes around it, about the decisions Nicole made about that shot, AND super usefully, the camera settings she chose. Here’s an example:
Who is Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots for?
This book is a great book for anyone who needs to take photographs of food. It is not written specifically for Food Bloggers, but food bloggers will benefit enormously from the book.
It would also be useful for anyone who needs to take photos of food for another purpose – for example if you own a restaurant or another type of food business and need to take shots for social media or promotion, or just if you love taking snaps of your food for fun – or to share on your social media accounts, but want to take really good ones!
It is pretty much geared towards people with DSLR cameras, so if you are not looking to invest in anything more than a basic compact camera, or your phone, then this might not be the book for you. It definitely assumes you are reasonably serious about getting better at food photography and want to spend a bit of time and money on it.
Are there any negative aspects of this book?
Not really, though as I mention above, it is best suited to those with DSLR cameras or those who are looking to buy a DSLR camera in the near future.
It is quite technical, but don’t let that put you off! When I first read the book, about a year ago (when I was looking to buy my first DSLR camera ), A LOT of this book went straight over my head. I recently re-read the whole thing from cover to cover, taking notes, and so much more of the book made sense, and consequently I got a lot more out of it.
I imagine if I re-read this book again in a year’s time I will get even more out of it. I will definitely be re-reading the Lightroom chapter when I finally get round to using Lightroom!
I suppose the only other negative is that this book is not specifically written for food bloggers and therefore some of the advice is not really practical for the constraints that many food bloggers work under (very little time, small children getting in your shot, no dedicated workspace etc.), but that is only a very small negative. With an ounce of common sense you can work out how to adapt the advice from the book to your own situation.
What are the best food photography tips from the book?
I have learnt so much from this book since I bought it over a year ago, so I thought it only fair I shared just a few tips I have learnt along the way together with a few examples of where I have used that advice in my photos on Easy Peasy Foodie.
- Use a 50mm lens (or above) and a wide aperture to get that blurry background (regular readers of Easy Peasy Foodie will know what a fan I am of fuzzy backgrounds)
- Place a glass of water in the background, blurred out, to balance the shot (really handy when you haven’t got much time and want to take a quick photo – without getting out the entire contents of your fridge)
- Use smaller plates, bowls etc. than you would use in real life (sounds silly, but it actually looks so much better!)
- Use a range of different textures and textiles to add interest to the shot (I’m still not great at this one, I have a whole drawer of fabric I hardly ever use…but occasionally I get it to work!)
- Place items in the background in the corner of the shot (really handy tip, so easy to do and looks great)
- Don’t fill every nook and cranny of the shot with props – embrace the negative space (good to remind myself of when I am stressing about props and garnishes!)
- Sometimes putting the main dish in the centre of a shot is OK, especially if the scene is busy (if you know about the rule of thirds, this feels all wrong, but actually in a busy scene this really works, otherwise the focus can get lost)
- Use groups of 3 – e.g. for garnishes, crumbs, drips or even the main elements in the shot (you see this so often in foodie magazines, it really is very pleasing on the eye and, again, a really easy one to put into practice)
- Use utensils in your photos (I often forget this one, but when I do I realise how good it looks and kick myself for not doing it more!)
- Take photographs from more than one angle – eye level, three quarters and overhead (I have been doing this one for a while now and it is invaluable for providing variety in my blog posts – plus sometimes by experimenting with angles you inadvertently stumble across ‘the shot’)
This book sounds great! How can I get my hands on a copy?
Haha – funny you should ask. You can either buy a copy of Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots on Amazon OR you can WIN a free copy in my GIVEAWAY!
All you have to do to enter is write a comment in the comments section at the bottom of this post and visit my Facebook page, then complete the Rafflecopter widget to say you’ve done it. If you want to, you can get extra bonus entries too! Just follow the instructions in the widget below.
Help! I’ve never used Rafflecopter before…what do I do?
Rafflecopter is a little widget that allows me to run a kind of raffle on my website, except instead of entering by buying a raffle ticket, you enter by doing things such as commenting, following me on Twitter and visiting my Facebook page.
For one entry, all you have to do is answer this simple question: What is the best food photography tip you’ve ever been given? Then for a further entry, simply visit my Facebook page.
And don’t forget to complete the Rafflecopter widget to say you’ve done these things or they won’t count!
Once you’ve done this, the Rafflecopter will unlock all the other ways you can enter, but don’t worry – you don’t have to do them all (though I’ll love you forever if you do 😀 and remember, the more entries you make, the more chance you have of winning!) When the competition closes, the little widget will work its magic and select a winning name at random. I will then contact the winner via email to arrange for the book to be sent to you.
If you have any trouble at all, please ask via the comments below and I will do my best to help you. Good luck!
The Small Print
The prize is one copy of Food Photography – From Snapshots to Great Shots, by Nicole S. Young, Second Edition, Published by PeachPit Press
There is only one prize and there will only be one winner
There is no cash alternative
The winner will be selected at random by the Rafflecopter widget
The prize can only be posted to a mainland UK address
Once the prize has been posted, Easy Peasy Foodie cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage to the parcel during transit
Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget only
The Rafflecopter giveaway will close at midnight on Wednesday 22nd March 2017
The randomly selected winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours of the giveaway closing
The winner will have 7 days to respond, otherwise a new winner will be drawn
The giveaway is free to enter