Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 Time Saving Food Photography Tips

Running a blog is a time consuming endeavor. As I'm sure many of you know, running a food blog is especially tricky. There's the cooking, the photographing, the writing, and of course, the eating! Because I lead a somewhat busy life, I've always tried to find more efficient and time-saving ways to blog about food because lets face it, our lives are not getting less busy!

Like many of you, my recipe posts tend to be dishes that I make for dinner or breakfast, which means that I usually don't have hours of time to photograph the dish. I cook, photograph, and eat.  Working this way is not necessarily my favorite---knowing that my food is getting cold while trying to photograph forces me to rush through the process.  Because of this the quality of my photographs tends to suffer.....that is until I developed and implemented these time-saving tips!

1.  Setup your lights, table setting, and camera before you start cooking.  Once food is ready simply place on the plate, click the shutter and eat.

2. Make extra of whatever your dish is and photograph AFTER you've eaten your meal.

3. Develop 5 standard compositions and reuse these over and over. Change the type of plate or color of napkin to add variety.

4. Organize your image folders by month. This cuts down on locating files when trying to submit to sites, etc.

5. Photograph the whole dish, pot and all, rather than a single serving plate...This way once your done with dinner, all you have to do is photograph the Lasagna pan in the dish.

6. If you have the space, dedicate an area or tabletop to photography. Leave everything setup so that the shooting process takes less time from start to finish.

7. Keep your batteries charged and always have an extra! There have been countless of times when my battery wasn't charged and my shoot took longer because I had to wait!

8. Shoot tethered to your computer. Tethering your shoot means that your camera is directly connected to your computer. The computer actually controls the camera and once you click the shutter the image automatically downloads to the computer...no more downloading images! Here is a link to Sofortbild free software for tethering.

9. Simplify the props, napkins and styling of the photograph for speedier shoot. Less is more!

10. Use food substitutes to re-create a dish after you've devoured it. I've used plain cream to re-create eggnog because we gobbled it up before I had a chance to photograph it. Be creative!

Do you have any time saving tips?


  1. I'm right with you until number 10!

    Whilst this may well be a trick used by professionals, one of the things I like about food blogs is the idea of seeing images of the real food, as it actually looked.

    I sometimes base my decisions on whether to follow that bloggers recipe on their images of the dish.

    So I really don't like the idea of faking it. I realise I can't ever know but... I think there's an element of trust and, for me, this would be breaking it.

  2. Kavey..very interesting point regarding #10. Will have to mull that over a bit. Raises some very interesting questions I think.

  3. I'm with you all the way... As a new food blogger (since August 2009) I figured these out the hard way and got them all except for tethering.

    One primary time-saving idea that might come before #1 is to THINK first before you start shooting. By thinking about my props and angles and backgrounds before taking out the camera, I save valuable time and fumbling during the actual shoot. I realize this is a look like your point #1, but I think that 'thinking' is sometimes and under-rated component of any project. Sometimes we are too much in a hurry to stop and think... but it can save lots of catch-up time in the end.

    ... that's my $.02 for today.

    Love your blog cuz it stays sharply focused on its subject. ;)

  4. So glad I found your blog and clicked on FBU. This is terrific, just what I needed.
    Life is so fast paced that I can't seem to manage everything. So grateful that you figured it out and am willing to share!

  5. Danny,

    This is a three part comment!

    I must tell you that I found your blog this evening and have spent the last 2 hours reading all of your archives. Even though I have not photographed much food in my five years of blogging,I do strive to produce the best possible images that I can. As a creative stylist who deals in home decor with a vintage influence I am always trying to improve my photography skills for my blog readers. I found so many wonderful tips that I can use in my own niche blogging world on your site. I will be a faithful follower and may even try my hand at food photography:)

    I do have a question for you; One of the reasons I have been looking at food photography is how some images are crisp and bright with a white background. Almost like a high key effect. I love shooting with natural light and have tried to achieve this by using a wide aperature and over exposing just a touch. Do you have any other tips that I could try?

    Lastly regarding your above post~ This may seem pretty basic but, have a spare CF or SD card available. Nothing worse then shooting a ton of images only to find your card has been damaged and you don't have a spare.

    Thank You,

  6. Thank you all for the wonderful comments!

    Helene, excellent point! Edward Weston called this "visualizing" the photograph BEFORE shooting it.

    Carol, I can't believe I forgot that one! Yes, having an extra card is a must!

  7. Helpful food photo tips. I can relate to #2. It happens often enough, the best intentions to shoot the photo just as the dish is ready to serve.

    But it takes some discipline, especially when you're hungry. Preparing an extra dish to shoot after the meal is not a bad idea. Although sometimes dishes will lose some of their brilliance after the food cools off.

    Thanks for the good information at this site.

  8. This is awesome, Danny! Just found your blog through this link http://joelens.blogspot.com/2009/09/for-love-of-food-bloggers.html and I ran into yours.

    I have to say your blog is what I would love my food blog aspire to be. Very informative, fun and lots of great food photos!! However, I didn't know where to start in order to fulfill my long term goals behind my food blog... so I have to start from somewhere, right?

    And here I am, reading one of your great food photography post tips! Thank you!

  9. Thanks Denise and Andy! Glad you find my posts helpful!