Early on in the process of creating my book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, I decided to take all of the photos myself. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. During the past year I have become a food stylist and photographer, in addition to a cookbook author, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Doing the photos myself gave me a lot of control over my schedule, and forced me to stretch those creative muscles in new ways.
In short, taking the pictures for my book was a great deal of fun.
But it wasn’t easy. In my quest for information on food photography best practices I found that there was very little information on the subject – just a handful of books. While there are many photography magazines on the bookshelves, they cater to portrait, landscape, wedding, and action photography. Articles on food photography are few and far between.
But I have learned a great deal from doing this project, and am happy to share it with you. Today, I want to focus on my photography studio.
The most important point here is that I realized I needed a space that I could call a studio. Prior to that I was rearranging furniture in the kitchen every time I wanted to shoot. It was tedious and impractical. I picked the sunniest spot in the house – and luckily it was vacant. This was my oldest son’s room, now used as a guest room. I pushed the bed against the wall and purchased a table that I placed by the window.
The most critical component of photography – even more important than the food itself – is the light. I took down the curtains, pulled the blinds all the way up, and ditched the wooden grids off of the windows so I could get a pure stream of light. My camera is most often placed as you see above, with the window to my left, but I do sometimes shoot with the food backlit.
I purchased a large light filter that I can move around, depending on light conditions, but usually keep as a filter right by the window (and I move it around as the sun moves). I also purchased some white foam boards to bounce the light off of. (I only use natural light.) This is the angle I shoot from most frequently – it’s like a light box, and I love the results!
The table I purchased from Ikea is adjustable up and down, and makes a great tabletop on its own, but I often put other surfaces on top to vary my “tabletops.”
For a long time (and during the shooting for my book) I had my props (I’ll talk more about props in a future post) in boxes all over the floor, but I got tired of tripping over them and searching for what I wanted. Recently I decided to makeover the closet so I could store all of my equipment and props, and I am very happy with the result:
Where do you take your food photos? What is your setup like?