A while back I bought a book. This book has changed my blog’s life. My photography and food styling skills have improved almost ten-fold. You might have noticed. There has been a lot more character lately in my photographs- more propping, better positioning, enhanced compositions. Not to mention the lighting has been better and the shadows less severe. Angles and focus have all improved too. I still have a long way to go but I am at least on the right track now.
The magical, blog-changing book: From Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin of Tartelette. She has taught me so much and if you are looking to improve you food photography and styling skills, I can not recommend her book enough. She makes the concepts easy to understand and provides a vast amount of photos to illustrate her points. I ordered the book on my kindle because I didn’t want to wait for it to arrive… not the best idea. You can’t see the photos very well that way and after all, that is the whole point of the book. So just be patient and get the hardcopy.
This particular recipe she gives in the book as an example of how she uses different components of the recipe itself to build the composition of a photograph. For example- the ingredients are tortillas, sweet potatoes, black beans, and a sauce made of cilantro, lime, and cumin. To begin the styling process it is important to think of which of those ingredients you’d like to choose to highlight. I decided upon the lime, cilantro, tortillas, and then because I could, the extra sweet potato and black beans. So the only real thing I didn’t touch upon was the cumin. But basically, just by looking at the photo I have assembled you can see almost all the main components of the recipe. And by arranging them in a nice composition the meal looks rather appealing.
Now let me touch a few other quick points she brought to my attention:
- You can create better flow within a composition by shooting vertically.
- A 45 degree angle usually produces the best shots, but over-head and eye-level shots can produce great photos too.
- For fresh herbs, let them sit in a bowl of cold water while prepping the set-up. This will keep them crisp and firm which will show in the photograph.
- Side light and back light are easier to manipulate and produce better shots then front light (which is what I used to shoot with before I knew better).
- The use of a silver screen for reflecting, white board for bouncing, and translucent white fabric for diffusing can be SUPER beneficial when manipulating light.
- Natural light is best.
- The goal of a food photograph is to give you the desire to eat the subject. It should not be staunch and un-inviting.
- Thrift stores and antique shops are the BEST places to find props!
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ⅓ cup greek yogurt
- 1 Tb lime juice
- 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
- pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp cumin
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2-3 dashes of hot sauce
- package 8″ multigrain tortillas
- 1 large sweet potato, small dice
- 1 (15oz) can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- Make the Dressing: Finely chop cilantro and mix into yogurt in medium bowl. Stir in lime juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt. Set aside in fridge.
- Cook the sweet potato cubes in a pot of boiling water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
- To assemble, gently stir together cooled sweet potatoes, beans, and scallions in medium bowl. Place desired amount down center of tortilla. Top with dressing.