Food Photography

Welcome to the newest series on Eat. Drink. Love., Food Photography 101! I know that I have a lot of readers that are also food bloggers and I often get a lot of questions about food photography. I thought it might be fun to do a little series where I share my tips to help make your food photos better! Even if you aren’t a blogger, I’m hoping those of you who are interested in food photography find this series useful as well.

First, let me remind you that I have zero professional training when it comes to photography. Everything I’ve learned has been self-taught over the last 2 1/2 years since I started my blog. That being said, keep in mind that a lot of the tips I am going to share are what I find works best for me. Other bloggers may use other techniques and have different photography styles and that’s okay and it’s actually one of my favorite things about the blogging community!

I thought I would start us off with a question that has a seemingly obvious answer, but we’re going to go over it anyway.

Why is it important to take good photos for my blog?

There are two big answers to this question and I am going go over each one.

1. To grab your readers and to keep them coming back.

When a new reader hops over to your site, you want them to keep coming back, right?! One of the best ways to grab a new reader is with good photography. You want people to say, “Oh man, that looks so good, I have to make it right now!”. You know the saying that we eat with our eyes first? This is absolutely true. Your photos are often the very first thing a person sees when they come to your blog so you want them to be your best work. You can tell me you made an amazingly decadent chocolate cake and you can describe how good it is in your post, but if you show a picture of a sloppy piece of cake with horrible white balance, this can turn people off and you don’t want that!

2. To increase traffic to your site.

This one is obviously related to the first point, but there’s more to it. When you have good photos on your site, you are more likely to get them featured on sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Other news or magazine websites like the Huffington Post or Ladies’ Home Journal will start to notice you and will feature your recipes on their websites. Other bloggers will feature you on their blogs. You may find yourself getting more emails from companies asking you to collaborate with them. As soon as I purchased my first DSLR, my traffic increased significantly.

Let’s talk about Pinterest for a second. Pinterest is consistently my number one source of traffic on a daily basis. Pinterest is important. Let me ask you this. The two photos below are both of my pasta aglio olio. If you were surfing around Pinterest, which of these photos would you be most likely to repin? The top or the bottom?

pasta-aglio-e-olio old
Pasta Aglio Oilio 2 mark

I’m going to go ahead and guess that you would be most likely to repin the bottom photo. The first photo has no styling, it was taken on a hutch in my old kitchen in front of random cookbooks with a cupcake cookbook up front. There was no natural light, I probably took it after it got dark. This was one of my earliest photos. I recently started doing a series called Flashback Fridays where I am cooking up recipes I posted during the first year of blogging and am taking new photos of the food. The second photo is a lot better than the first one. I styled it appropriately, I made sure to use the best light, and I had a better camera.

In sum, taking good photos for your blog is important. It can help you gain readers and grow your blog as a business. Producing good photos may take more time and money, but trust me when I say the effort can be so well worth it. And yes, it takes a lot of practice. But don’t worry, if I can do it, you can too!

Over the next five weeks, I will be posting about cameras (point and shoot vs. DSLR cameras), props, lighting (natural lighting, aperture, artificial lighting), styling, and photo editing.

My goal is to be as helpful as possible with these posts, so if there is something specific you guys want me to talk about, please sound off in the comments!