Confessions of a Wannabe Food Photographer

Hidee ho, partners!

Ok, I apologize for that one, but you’ll see where it came from in a minute. I hope you are all having a nice, relaxing Sunday. I thought I’d pop in today and share some behind-the-scenes photos with you guys…along with some confessions about what it takes to get my most prized pictures on the blog. Please, enjoy…and feel free to laugh at my expense!

Pancake Photoshoot

It’s no secret, I can be VERY resourceful when it comes to shooting my food (Haha! See?…shoot? Bang bang? Yes, I’m a dork!)…

Makeshift Tripod

Here we have the days BEFORE Santa brought me a shiny new tripod…set up in the floor of my living room in front of my back door (open with no screen door I might add) when it was like 40 degrees out…and as for that pretty green fabric?

Thin Mint Pancakes Photo Backdrop

Well, let’s just say that’s not the first time I’ve raided my closet for props…

Samoa Pancakes Photo BackdropHey, I can’t own a placemat in EVERY color! “Cough cough” even though I have about ten  white ones in different patterns “cough cough”! ;)

Blueberry Cobbler Protein Pancakes

Yep, that is ALSO a shirt…one of my favorites actually!

French Toast Oats - www.kissmybroccoliblog.com

But that? THAT is a scarf! :D

Granola Photoshoot

Sometimes the fabric UNDER the food isn’t really the question…

Photoshoot Backdrop

I can’t decide if this is an all time low…or HIGH! (haha, get it?) :lol:

PB&J Granola Shots 1

And let’s not even talk about the number of pictures I take! Actually…LET’S! I mean, this IS a confessional post! On average, I take anywhere from 60 to 100 pictures during each photo shoot…playing around with different setups, dishes, or backdrops. For my most recent PB&J Granola, I actually had TWO photo shoots because after looking through the pics I got the first day, my perfectionist self wasn’t  happy with the close up shots. So yes, I set it all back up…AGAIN…and was almost late to my dentist appointment! 8O

PB&J GranolaPB&J Granola Spoon

And speaking of shots…I need one…ah HA! Just making sure you’re paying attention! But seriously, once I have ALL my pictures gathered up, I run through them and delete the out of focus shots and the crooked shots and the shots with cat hair in them (ugh, that’s what I get for shooting on the floor!) and then try to make the life-altering decision of… which birds-eye view shot I like best!

PB&J Granola BeforeAfter

And then, THEN I finally get to editing! I’d like to add that that drizzle of peanut butter down the side of the jar in the background was purely accidental, but omg, doesn’t it look fantastic?!

I don’t have a fancy schmancy photo editor like Lightroom or Photoshop…I actually just use the one in iPhoto…call me cheap, but I think it works just fine. Then I upload my FINAL selections (which can sometimes take over an hour to narrow down) into Pic Monkey to add my watermark.

And if I add a label, well then we have BIG decisions to make…

PB&J Granola PicMonkey Labels

Seriously, HOW can something so easy be SO FRICKIN’ HARD?!?!

While I could go on and on about garnishing chili with apricot-flavored yogurt, running to the store JUST for a lemon to use as a prop, OR garnishing with chopped spinach instead of parsley…I figure those are more on the food STYLIST end of things and well, I should probably keep a few secrets to myself…err, I mean…oh damn! ;)

Now it’s your turn, what do YOU confess today?

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71 Responses to Confessions of a Wannabe Food Photographer

  1. Hey girl! I love your posts – they always make me laugh.
    Lately I have been wanting to improve my food photography, and this was really helpful! You pictures are awesome! :)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Awww, thank you, Caitlyn! And I’m SO glad you liked this! I’m hoping I can get another one up sometime next week more in the direction of set up/editing…be on the lookout! :)

  2. Cat says:

    Love seeing behind the scenes! It almost breaks the illusion – I thought talented food photographers like yourselves were half human/half magician. Now I know it’s all smoke and t-shirts ;)

    I have much to learn!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      “Smoke and t-shirts” Ha! LOVE IT! Ugh, if ONLY I had a few magic tricks up my sleeve….or if only I could sit down with Mother Nature and give her my schedule! ;)

  3. lindsay says:

    wow! teach me your ways! i have a light box and have yet to use it! EEK!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh girl! Now is the best time since it’s so hard to get enough daylight hours! Do you have the lightbulbs for it? I got daylight bulbs from Lowe’s with some clamp lights to hold them and they work great!

  4. Ohhhh can I ever relate. Yes to ALL these things. Well, except for using clothing as props… I’ve never done that, but it’s actually brilliant. My food photo process is actually a drawn out, day long affair. From set up, to shooting, to choosing (seriously probably the hardest part!), to editing… argh! I hate it but love it at the same time.

    PS – I usually use iPhoto too. I have Photoshop, but find that iPhoto does the job just fine.

  5. I definitely need to step up my photo shoots. I just point and snap and edit it haha. One of these days (when I get my own home) I’ll have to set up an area! I love the idea of using shirts (and SCARVES!) for underneath the food! GENIUS!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh yeah, it makes a BIG difference when you can have a dedicated space for your photography…helps with the motivation too since you don’t have to take the time to set everything up every time!

  6. LOL! How cute are you friend! I’m so bad about setting up my photos if I want to blog about a recipe. Usually, I just snap a picture with my iPhone and DIG.IN! …and this is why I’m NOT a food blogger. ;)

  7. Oh, anything to itself! I very much like good photos of food, and I am often upset that it is impossible to me as… Now it is clear AS you put a lot of work to force my saliva to flow down on the keyboard. It is surprising!

  8. Oh goodness…just reading this exhausts me a little bit ;). No wonder my photos are just sub-par ;). YOURS, however, are fantastic!! I think you should do a tutorial post on how you set up your shots/lighting/etc.!!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Awww, thank you so much, Hannah! I’m definitely getting some thoughts together for a few more posts on this! I hope to get one up next week sometime! :)

  9. You are so damn resourceful!!! I used the iPhoto editing for a long time but now that I’ve switched to photoshop I’m not sure I’d be able to go back. Mainly because the fonts you can use is so much more extensive than picmonkey. But in terms of editing the color and sat iphoto definitely does the trick!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      The color and saturation editing is probably what I love most about it. I’ve tried to use the one in PicMonkey, but it never seems to come out right. I just want to say girl, that your pictures (and since you mentioned it, the fonts that you use) are ALWAYS so eye-catching and beautiful! I’m like SUPER behind in your posts (broccoli bombing coming soon, I promise), but I caught a glimpse of your peanut butter blondies the other day and my mouth seriously DROPPED!

  10. Your pictures are always amazing. I loooove taking gorgeous food pictures but it takes so much damn work! And now that it gets light at 7:30am and dark at 4:30pm, my only chance for taking nice food pics is on the weekend. I need to get on that.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Yep, that’s my problem…I go to bed at 7am and I usually wake up around 4pm…womp womp! Since I’m usually out and about on the weekends, I have ONE day (Friday) where I can usually get some picture-taking done. Now if only Mother Nature could get the memo and make every Friday a sunshiny day! Haha!

  11. I honestly had NO IDEA of the process involved in food photography. To be honest, I sort of just thought that some bloggers had a magic gene that made them able to take jaw-dropping pictures, and I was just lacking it. You DEFINITELY are super talented, but thanks for the behind-the-scenes. :)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you, Emma! And oh man! IF they do, then I’ve seriously gotta find out where to get one! Hmm, maybe eBay? ;) Or even if I could just have a magic sun that would shine whenever I wanted it too…yeah, that would work!

  12. Ahhh you make me want to be a better food photographer…but clearly I need to put more effort into mine, because wow – I had no idea it was such a process!

  13. Can I say that also your behind the scene pics look perfect?? How do you do it??
    I love this. And I can SO relate. Now my problem is that my probs are full of chocolate sauce or ketchup or almond butter or whatever deocration I use for the food, lol. And I never thought of using clothes, that’s genius!!
    Actually last weekend Sandro had to run through the DIY store for 2 hours to find new lights for my lightbox. And when we came home I disappeared behind my cam (to take 100 shots of my homemade protein bars). Poor men-friends of food bloggers…. :-)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Awww, poor Sandro! Hopefully you at least let him have a few nibbles after you were finished…and I’m talking about the BARS!! ;)

      FYI, at any given moment, there is ALWAYS some sort of food particle stuck to my camera! Haha!

  14. Using shirts and scarves are backdrops are GENIUS! You are brilliant my friend. Confession – I’m still working on my food photography skillz big time and sometimes I just get super impatient with lighting or bad photos or whatever when I’m taking photos and put bad ones up on the blog. Meh, it happens. The food still tastes good, right? ;)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      True. And hey, it always gives you an excuse to reuse the recipe again in a later post…that’s what I plan on doing with a handful of my old recipes that I really love but feel no one would ever make because they look like turds! Lol

  15. Every time I think I am doing better at photography, I find out I have so much more to learn! This reminds me that I need to set up the aluminum light bounce thingy still!

    And I LOVE picmonkey. Even recently took the dive to spend $4 a month on the premium service!! Could spend hours upon hours on that dang site!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      “Every time I think I am doing better at photography, I find out I have so much more to learn!” < - Um, yeah…totally me! But then I also think back to when I first started blogging and realize that at least I have a BIT of a clue now! Haha!

      Omg, I was just playing around with some of the premium features on PM the other day and found a whole LOT of things I didn’t even know were there…time suckage ensued for hours afterwards! ;)

  16. Hahaha I love this because I’ve totally used t-shirts and scarves as placemats too. You put so much work into your photoshoots though – damn! I’ve been trying to take better photos, but I just don’t have your patience. I need you to teach me your ways!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Patience…oh gosh! Well, some days I’m better at it than others…and that’s usually when I’m shooting food that’s easier to “snack” on! Haha!

  17. Lyric says:

    I loved this post because it gave me some tips! I really need to work on my food photography..

  18. Maria says:

    That is some true dedication there. I lack the patience it takes to set up and take food photography. If I cannot snap (or rather, snap and eat), then I’m not bothering to break out the camera. This is why you will succeed :)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Haha! Well, I’ll confess that the photo shoots with food that I don’t plan on eating directly after go far more smoothly than say my pancakes…where I feel like I’m about to gnaw my arm off the whole time! 8O

  19. I love this little peak behind the lens – it always looks better on the edited version than in real life. We do some strange things for the right shot. :)

  20. I love this! your pics are so beautiful, I really need to learn to take good pics of food.. I usually just use my iphone! but I take so many too . oops!

  21. Haha now I don’t feel so silly. You should see the crap I do for a picture…Like today standing on a bin, on my tip toes, trying to get a pic of the stuff I have set up on a cutting board over my sink…I look ridiculous. I want you to come and set up a pic scenario in my apartment with my weird ass window lighting :)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Haha, oh my gosh girl! Please don’t break your neck all in the name of photography…who would I have to tag in all those IG pictures?! ;)

  22. I love seeing the behind the scenes to your photos that ALWAYS look amazing! I need to step it up and build myself a light box. Our new house has horrible lighting which is making food pictures impossible… It’s on my “honey-do” list for The Hubby :-)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      You are TOO sweet, Giselle! Thank you! And I totally know how you feel…my old house had SUCH better lighting than this one! I can’t even take pictures in my kitchen because I only have one measly little window above the sink! womp womp!

  23. Tatum says:

    Wow! Awesome tips!! And for cheap too.. thanks girl! The shirts are such a great idea, I purchased a couple fancy dish clothes the other day when really this whole time I could’ve raided my closet. WOOPS!

    Confession: I always take my pics by the same window for the best lighting, and usually i stand in the most awkward positions on my stool like a moron. My boyfriend has learned to ignore this hehe.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Aww, you’re welcome, girlie! I’m glad you liked them! Definitely get creative around your house…shirts, scarves, blankets, shower curtains…nothing’s off limits! ;) But please be careful on that stool! Hahaha!

  24. No wonder your shots always look so awesome. It was cool to see behind the scenes of how you do it all.

  25. Love this post – makes me feel a little better about the fact that my peanut butter never spills so artistically out of the jar, and my spoons don’t tumble down so symmetrically. I will admit I didn’t realize how much work went into all these gorgeous photos of “casual snacks” I see on blogs. Most of my “here’s my breakfast” photos have spoonfuls of oatmeal conspicuously missing and a cat’s tail poking in at the corner. But I wouldn’t have the patience to set everything up when I could be digging right in.

    More importantly: WHAT is the chocolate sauce coating the top photo of pancakes?!?!? It’s making me drooool. (Clearly your photo skills are very effective.)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Haha! Well, I’ll definitely admit that it’s FAR easier to have a photography session with a snack like granola (which I can eat while snapping) versus a plate of pancakes (that I just sit there and drool over)! Sometimes, the photography session ends when I just can’t take the wait anymore…I don’t even care if I know that I’ve got good shots first! Lol!

      The chocolate sauce is super simple! It’s just cocoa, water (or almond milk), and a little stevia (or you can use another kind of sweetener). The recipe is in this post: http://www.kissmybroccoliblog.com/2012/09/09/mint-chocolate-chip-protein-pancakes/ Obviously, I just used like 5 X the amount for these cakes! ;)

  26. Haha I love this post. I can totally relate. Lighting is so important, so I’d probably take pictures with the door open too if that helped! I had to stage photos once while at work because I made the salad there for a party. I used another lady’s food as my background and used the light from the kitchen window, on the wooden kitchen table. To be honest, I LOVED the wood – I always shoot either on my table, which is white, or in my lightbox, which is white. Everyone thought I was crazy, but then they insisted on seeing the pictures and liked them!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Haha! I know the feeling…I’ve gotten a few weird looks from people when I’m shooting stuff, but then, once they see the pictures afterwards, they’re all like, “ohhhhh I get it!” I am obsessed with using different wood backgrounds…anything from cutting boards to my living room floor! I’ve actually been browsing through some tutorials I found on Pinterest for DIY photography boards so I’m thinking that might happen sometime soon!

  27. LOVE seeing the “behind the scenes” and your creativity to get the perfect shot!

  28. I still need photography lessons from you! You amaze me dear friend!

  29. Sarah Pie says:

    I love the behind the scene’s look, and I especially love how creative you get pulling things from your closet… I may have to do a closet raid myself in the coming weeks :)

    I put all my nerdiest confessions up today… gotta keep it real!

  30. Oh you smart girl! Why didn’t I think of using tshirts?!

    I confess that sometimes, I will sit in front of my little “Southern In Law” table, cross legged and eat the food I’m photographing just to get the perfect bite shot…… Or because I don’t want to get HANGRY and it’s a good excuse hahaha

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Haha! Oh girl, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve ABRUPTLY ended a photography session just because I was moments away from chewing on my camera lens!

  31. I love this post.

    Your pictures are amazing, in part because you got skillz but also because you put an incredible amount of work into them. I love the idea of using clothes; now I need to do through my closet and see what’s available. I still need to get on the light box thing too; can’t you just come make it for me?
    I haven’t been photographing my food much this winter because I can’t stand the horrendous lighting, although yesterday was picture perfect. It was slightly overcast, dry and only 30 degrees so I took a bunch of photos of a ton of different things. It felt refreshing being back out there, shooting away. Gah that sounds horrible. You know what I mean.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Ha! I know days like that! I usually end up with nearly 100 pictures of different things and then only use about half of them before they get “lost” in the photo library! If only I could control the weather…or not have to sleep when it’s daylight! Errrg!

      Gah, I should have brought you up a box when I visited. The hospital has the perfect sized ones for a lightbox that we get all the time. I promise it’s easy…even with my perfectionist standards. At most, it’ll take an hour. The only trouble after is finding a place to put it where it won’t be in the way (or where the kitties won’t try to crash it! Haha!)

  32. Love this – teach me your ways!! :)

  33. Brittany says:

    LOVE this!! I love that you use tshirts for colors, great idea. I really need to set up a photo spot like this so that I don’t actually go outside anymore! I just got my new camera today and cannot wait to play with it!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Ohhhh! Congratulations on the new camera! It’s so much fun to play around and learn about it…heck, I’ve had mine for over a year now and I’m STILL learning!

  34. I confess that my pictures will never look as good as yours.

    And I spent the hours after reading this post looking up cheap, DIY lightbox tutorials. :)

  35. All of that work you put in.. props to you! I get what you mean on being a perfectionist. Guilty is charged here! My parents always look at me weird when I take multiple shots of food at different angles. *sigh* They just don’t understand..
    Also, you’re very resourceful! I like how you use household tools and get creative.
    You’re food pictures are top notch and have my mouth watering! :D

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      “They just don’t understand..” < - Right? They never do! I get the WEIRDEST looks from my friends and family too…or at least the ones who never see the finished product up on the blog! ;)

  36. enSALADes says:

    haha! The story of my life…

    And while I am working on something I am already coming up with new ideas and I get tired just thinking about the selection, editing and posting!

    Thanks for the laugh. Have a good week-end!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh I hear ya there! Most of the time, BEFORE I even set out the ingredients for a recipe, I’m already trying to figure out how I’m going to style it! Lol

  37. WANNABE food photographer? Dude, the only wannabe I ever want to hear coming out of your mouth better involve telling me what you want what you really really want, so tell me what you want, what you really really want….;)

    Your pictures are amazing and it really shows your passion the amount of TIME and thought you dedicate to it! I hope those garments didn’t suffer any side effects. Although let’s say you got hungry and a smudge of peanut butter was left there. Wouldn’t be the worst ;)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Ok, this is BY FAR my favorite comment out of your little A-bomb! I should have KNOWN you would go all Spice Girls on me with this! Haha! And the sentimental side of it…awww, I’m gushing! Seriously, I really needed this…thank you, Arman! And don’t you worry, a bomb will be coming soon to a blog near you! Muahahaha!

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  40. Anandeeta says:

    Hey there!

    I love the name of your blog. You write what’s on your mind and the genuineness makes your blog so good :) And hats off for those awesome photography. I borrow my dad’s old digital camera for my photos. I really wish I had something cooler like yours :)

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