Monday, December 7, 2009

Enhance Recipe Posts With Step-By-Step Photos

Enhance Recipe Posts with Step-By-Step Photos

Step-by-step photos are a really fast way to add visual interest to your recipe posts. Adding these types of photos especially help your readers if the recipe calls for a special technique or process. There are a few elements to keep in mind however because although it’s easy to do, when done wrong step-by-step photos can really detract from your post.

Only Use When Necessary

Step-by-step photos should only be used when a process, technique, or cooking stage needs to be clarified or visualized. These types of photos help to show your reader how a particular step is SUPPOSED to look. The photos become more informative rather than just decorative. When beating egg whites, what does ‘soft peaks’ look like? When making pastry, what do the different steps look like? What is my dough supposed to look like before kneading? Etc. Etc. Having photos that answer the above questions will help your reader more successfully execute your recipe.

Only Show Key or Important Stages

One of the most common mistakes with step-by-step photos is that photos that do not ENHANCE the understanding of the recipe are included. Again, the purpose of the photos is to add informative information about a recipe. Adding ten close-up images of your bowl while you beat the egg whites is not adding any important information therefore can become distracting.

Instead, try to only add photographs that show distinct stages in the process. A basic structure to follow is to show the beginning, middle, and end. To augment that every time the process changes, or every time the food undergoes some transformation (beating, chopping, boiling, reducing, etc.) take a photograph of the result.

Don’t Forget About Lighting

With step-by-step photos I’m less concerned with making a gorgeous shot but I do still want it to be lit properly. The point of the photo is to enhance the informational aspect of the recipe so lighting the step is crucial since I want the photo to be clear and visible. I have a small clamp-light with a daylight balanced fluorescent bulb that I use to clamp to shelves or above my stove for these types of shots. I wrap the entire lamp with layers of white tissue paper to soften the light. Make sure to read my previous post on how to set up lights for tons of information on how to do this.

How do you do step-by-step photos? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


  1. Do you recommend full-size step-by-step pics or just thumbnails that lead to larger pic?

  2. Great ideas, and I agree, lighting is so essential.

  3. Do you find many photos slows down the load time of your page?

  4. Nate-n-annie, it all depends on the design of your blog. I like to keep all of my pics the same size, although I often include smaller pics inside the recipe instructions to more fully illustrate...I'd say follow the logic and design of your blog so the pics don't seem out of place.

    Linda-Kitchen Therapy, This might be an issue if you upload TONS of pics, but I don't imagine it to be a huge problem...there are lots of variables that determine page load speed and amounts of images is definitely one of them, but I wouldn't worry about it too much (especially if you keep the file sizes low)

  5. I just posted a step-by-step recipe today and had to majorly edit to show just the "essential" steps. I completely agree that you can get so into it that you want to show every last little detail of the recipe, when it's actually more beneficial to show just the major steps!

  6. I just discovered your blog Danny. What a great resource. Thank you! I use multiple pictures in my posts because I enjoy the artistic component of having a visual. I've added step-by-step pictures in past when appropriate to,as you wrote, demonstrate what a step looks like.