Every Friday I dedicate my post to as aspect of blogging, photography, or cooking that I am learning to improve my blog.  See my first post on Food Photography Basics: 101 links.

What a week, Tuesday I had my first real post make Foodgawker.  It wasn’t the best thing I have submitted, but I threw it in there to give it a shot.  It made the cut, and I was astounded.  Over 1000 hits went to that single post (and I’m normally thrilled to get 600 hits a day).

Homemade Cherry Larabar

Homemade Cherry Larabar

I’m not sure if I retained any readers, but I was certainly aware of the power of the “Food P0rn” sites.  Especially because most of my readers come from my beloved Finding Vegan, which is my favorite food p0rn site.

In case you were wondering, I submitted the same picture to Tastespotter.  It was rejected for composition.  I’m told that composition is just their catch all for “we couldn’t find anything wrong, but we just didn’t like it”.  The most important aspect of these sites is that they are judged by humans.  And humans have different tastes.  Your perfect shot may not be of a food the judge likes.  There are professional food photographers that cannot get pictures posted. A couple interesting blog posts about getting accepted on the site and rejections someone actually gets are: Tastespotting Editor’s secret advice on getting pictures accepted and Pardon My Crumbs’ TasteSpotting Rejections (seriously, if she’s being rejected for those what hope do us mere mortals stand)

I do however worry about submitting too many rejects to these sites.  Especially when most are being rejected for “composition”.  Does anyone know if previous rejects affect future acceptances?

Either way, today’s post is about dressing up your food for photography sake.  A well styled food picture separates the people blogging about the food they ate and the food bloggers. Believe me it’s been a long hard road for me.

Agave black bean brownies

Agave black bean brownies

Consider for example the touch that these flowers add to this brownie (this was my earliest attempt at food styling by the way, don’t judge too harshly)

Accessorizing the shot can also turn a kinda boring looking dish into an exciting one.

Chayote, chili and corn

Chayote, Chilies and Corn

My Chayote side dish was a little pale.  I spiced it up a little by placing some strips of hot pepper right on top and setting up the rest of the scene to look like I was having a Mexican fiesta.  Maybe it’s not my most popular post, but I’m happy with the images.  I don’t think chayotes are a big attention grabber anyways.

While I was writing the draft of this post, I came across a post that I think has incredible food styling. Check out La Spelonca Vegetariana‘s mismatched pepper lids on Raw Spicy Coconut Avocado Soup in Bell Pepper Bowls.

While I don’t have a post about food styling, some other bloggers do.

Oh She Glows has an excellent post on using props in food photography.  She even has some before and after shots of before she accessorized and after.  I love this tip:

A good rule of thumb with Food Styling is to remove one prop before shooting. You know the saying that you should remove one piece of jewelry after getting dressed? Well, the same applies here

Green cauliflower dip

Green Cauliflower dip

Taylor Takes a Taste has a tutorial on how to create backgrounds for food photography.  This is something I mean to do.  I keep using my large collection of dollar store placemats, the beauty of my backyard, and my bricked front stoop as my background.  I need to come up with something that looks a little more like an antique.

 6 Bittersweets featured a guest post by a professional prop stylist.  It’s not in a list style and is a little wordy.  But it has a great deal of fantastic information. To give you a taste of how great the post is, here’s a quote:

You want them to be drawn into an alternate universe, get lost in the photo and forget about everything else! Props should create a world that is consistent stylistically with the recipe without overpowering the food.

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Mock Tuna Salad in a Cucumber Boat

It’s not a normal blog but Digital Photography School has a great article called simply enough, 10 Tips to Improve your food photography.  My favorite tip is #5, “emphasize the yum”.

Recipe Girl has a post going over some of her styling props and accessories.  The post is titled if you are into food photography and styling, I really need to paint some boards to go with my collection of place-mats.

I’m sure there are plenty of other posts out there about how to style your food.  I’m sure some are better illustrated than others.  The best tip I have seen for getting your picture onto the food p0rn sites is to search for similar recipes that have been accepted and get an idea for what has been accepted in the past.

The blogosphere is abuzz with this book as well: From Plate to Pixels.  I haven’t read it, but apparently it’s a great how to guide to food styling.  If anyone wanted to buy it for me, I wouldn’t complain ;-)

Are you actively working on your food styling when you post blog posts? Know of other resources that should be on this list?


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12 Responses to Food Photography Basics: Give it some Style

  1. anda says:

    Hi Miriam and thanks for the compliments and link. I also got my first two posts up on Foodgawker yesterday and a lot of traffic is pouring in. It’s a bit scary – in a good way.
    I also had my posts up on Tastespotting but not the one with the bell peppers. That one got rejected for composition. I think a lot of it is the fact that the pictures we submit must be 250×250 and it’s quite hard to frame food like that. However, I always think to myself “yes, these clicks are good but sometime in the future I will have to exist and prosper without the help of the food p0rn sites.” Good luck!

  2. Allie says:

    Congrats on the Foodgawker acceptance! I saw you there :D And great post, I’m off to read all the links on food styling. I’d love to improve my photography skills (although that means I’d have to be more patient and less HUNGRY before just diving in), and there’s some great stuff here. Your food always looks amazing, by the way. I’d be accepting it all :)

    • Miriam says:

      Thank you so much for the compliment. I have to admit it’s hard to hold off sometimes on eating the food before photographing it. The other problem is that the food looks so good and appetizing that I want to eat it all and immediately.

  3. It’s quite hard to not take these rejections personally. I see some very average pictures being accepted and some great shots being rejected. Yesterday one of the blogs i follow had ‘very’ over exposed, burnt out picture and it was featured in FG and TS! I was pretty shocked.
    But… I personally learn a lot from these sites. I watch how others shoot something, the lighting people use, the props people use and try to incorporate them into my shoots.

    • Miriam says:

      Yeah I think that there is definitely some favoritism played out on those sites. It is really disheartening sometimes, but like you said, trying to get on the sites has me focusing more on improving my photography.

  4. Clarice says:

    Hi Miriam Two things: 1) Could you add a link for comments at the end of posts? 2)I think next Friday’s post should be about how you’ve taken a four month old blog and grown it to something that is getting so many hits a day.

  5. congrats on your foodgawker debut! I actually just had one on there for the first time too- I gave up awhile ago because they didn’t post any submissions of mine and for some reason, decided to give it another shot. I always think your food styling looks great- thanks for all the links with tips!

    • Miriam says:

      I should be taking tips on food styling from you. So many of your pictures are great. You must have a few on FG and TS now. Since that acceptance I’ve pretty much been stonewalled (composition on everything).

  6. […] on food photography, learn your camera’s settings, try to emulate picture setups you admire. Give your food some style. Learn how to manipulate your images using photo editing softwares (the free one with Picasa is […]

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