Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Food Photography Journey

Let's start at the beginning. My first venture into the food blogging world came during my divorce, back in 2010, when I decided to cook 100 Southern Living recipes within 12 months as a diversion. 

I started off as such a novice, taking photos with my BlackBerry. Here is the first photo that appeared on my blog, SL Recipe Challenge:

Two months into the challenge, my mother called me and said, "No one is ever going to take you seriously if you keep taking photos with your phone. Use your camera. I am begging you."

So, this was the inaugural camera shot:

When the challenge was over, I wondered about a new adventure. It was 2011, and I discovered Pinterest that year. I took my huge binder of recipes I had torn out from magazines, found them online, and pinned them. 

I also did the same with all of the recipes I had bookmarked on my they would be all in one place and hopefully I would actually cook all of these great ideas.

That led to this blog's beginning. I thought, how about I cook what I pin and tell others how the recipes turned out?

Here is the first photo from this blog (I had definitely improved over time):

I took a lot of time off this year after a death, but slowly started to cook again. Here is the most recent recipe photo from this blog:

Early on in my food blogging journey, I became Twitter friends with Stephanie Parker, aka Plain Chicken. We started following each other's blogs...she made some of my recipes; I made some (okay, a ton) of hers (she cooks just like I do). 

Even though we live in the same city, we only recently had the opportunity to meet in person, when she did a cooking demo at a local appliance store.

I had the chance to speak with her and expressed interest in how she managed to get all of her photos, even casseroles, to look so good. I admitted that I frequently took photos of my food cold the next morning to get a decent shot. The lighting at my house was also so dim (for quality photography) that I dealt with a lack of sharpness (read: so many photos were ditched because they were too blurry).

She sent me a message a few weeks later that she was going to host a photography session at her house, and I was thrilled. She sent over the list of supplies I would need to construct a proper light box, and a group of lovely ladies met for dinner, laughter, and learning.

So...want to see the difference having the right equipment and a good teacher makes?

First, we took a few "naked" shots, like this one:

Then, she suggested adding a spoon:

Finally, she suggested snapping a spoonful. Stephanie actually took this photo, and when I saw it, I kind of gasped. She said, "Right??!!! That's the money shot." 

So, now I'm all set up to take great pictures of great food. Stephanie made me promise I would get back in the cooking game and regular posts to this blog. 

Thanks, Steph...and stay tuned!

P.S. Special thanks to my BFF Jenny for her extreme patience over the past few years while I repeatedly made her wait to eat until I got the right shot!


  1. Your photography has definitely improved! Can't wait to see all your delicious food photos!

  2. So proud of how far you've come!

  3. So nice to meet you last night Jill! I love having friends that cook fabulous goodies! Looking forward to your next post.

  4. I love the cold-casserole-the-next-morning story. I guess that's one way to get better light. LOL! So nice meeting you last night. I'm looking forward so seeing which pins you cook!

  5. These are really superb work ! all photographs are really nice . Incorporate elements from the food you’re shooting or place appropriate condiments in the frame. Slice cucumbers thinly and place them on top of yogurt soup to lend it some freshness. Accompany Thai food with small bowls of sugar, chili, fish sauce, and fresh limes. Some ideas will work, and some won’t.

    Stock photography