I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and the question that I get asked the most (besides ‘do you really eat all that food??’, to which the answer is ‘YES, of course I do!’) is: Do you take your own pictures and how do you make them?
Well, I do make all of my own pictures, and in my post on watermelon feta salad I gave you a sneak peek behind the scenes. This time I’d like to give you a few blogging tips and tell a bit more about my favourite equipment, because they’ve helped me a lot in improving my photography! I’ve improved so much, that my pictures are now for sale on Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Society6, something I’m pretty proud of.
Let’s start with my camera, because it is sort of the love of my life (besides MrintheKitchen of course, who gave it to me). This Sony DSC was a very unexpected Christmas present last year and I’m still over the moon with it. It’s not a full DSLR, but it does allow you to set your own aperture, white balance and all the other things that help you make beautiful pictures. I can’t miss it for a day, and since I travel back and forth to Paris every week, it’s pretty practical that this camera is not as big and heavy as a DSLR. It’s really easy to handle, good news for everyone who’s not that tech savvy (like me…).
Because I’m not gifted with the steadiest of hands, I bought a tripod, also from Sony. I decided to invest a bit extra in a tripod that has a remote control, as I’m sure otherwise just pushing the button on my camera (even when on a tripod) will result in blur again. Another product I’m very happy with, though truth be told I do take a lot of pictures without it. Sometimes I don’t feel like a whole set up and just want to take a quick snapshot.
The cheapest things in my set up are plain white foam boards, they make a great background and also function to bounce back light and soften hard shadows. And I bought a handy reflector, a nifty thing with 5 different colors (black, white, silver, gold and transparant). I often use the white side to bounce light, but even more often I use the transparant one to filter harsh light. This really works magic on sunny days when the light is too bright to make pretty shots. These kind of reflectors usually come in a little bag, which is practical for storage and traveling.
As we are in November, and daylight is scarce (and sometimes it’s not even bright enough for pictures during the light hours!) I searched for an artificial light that could mimic real daylight. I read several positive reviews on Lowel Ego lamps. Unfortunately, they are hard to find in Europe, and so I’ve bought only the light bulb, which I now use in a normal lamp. When I surround it with lots of reflectors and pay attention to shadows and white balance, it produces pretty good pictures. Not as good as with natural light, but close enough to make blogging possible in winter!
If you’re starting with food blogging, I recommend you start with a good book on food photography. It is really hard to take a decent shot of a plate full of great food. Even the best of dishes van look disgusting and plain dirty when you’re not paying attention (remember Martha Stewart and her pics on twitter?). I can highly recommend Helene Dujardin’s book Plate to Pixel, I’ve learned so much from it!
And for my Dutch readers, Simone van den Berg wrote a great book on this subject in Dutch; Digitale Fotografie Foodboeken
And of course, your website!
Getting your own website is the most exciting part of all. Now, as a starting blogger you have two options, you can either start a free blog via wordpress or blogger, OR you can run a self hosted site. I think the latter one is the best option, and I’ll tell you why.
Yes, you will have to pay for a self hosted site, but the amount isn’t that high (I pay about 12 dollar a year) and you get to decide what you want to do with you with your own website. You have way more possibilities as far as layout goes, and you can run ads on a self hosted website (not unimportant as I’m sure one day you hope to make some money out of it too, albeit to pay for all the groceries!). My website is self hosted, but still runs on WordPress, and I think that’s the best of both worlds.
Now, as far as looks go, you need a design for your website. Wordpress offers a few free ones, called themes, that a are not bad at all. You can also hire a web designer to make a custom design for you, but if you’re like me, you don’t have the means for that (certainly not if you just start blogging). But, no need for despair, you can buy nice themes for a reasonable price, they’re pretty much plug and play, and allow you to have a professionally looking blog in no time. I’ve bought my theme on Themeforest, where you’ll find tons of designs for all kinds of websites and blogs running on WordPress. I’m running a theme from the developers of Meanthemes, still very content with it and their support system is very good.
I hope I gave you some useful tips fir your own blog or photography, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: I receive a small commission if someone purchases a product via the links in this post. I only recommend products I am truly enthusiastic about, and that I personally use too.