BlogHer Food Interviews: Pro Food Photography on the Fly

BlogHer Original Post

This particular BlogHer Food '13 interview made me simultaneously hungry and inspired to pick up my camera. So often food bloggers have such amazing photos that I figure they must spend hours upon hours not only cooking but photographing and editing. The panelists of our Pro Food Photography on the Fly shared a few tips about keeping it easy (and real) when I asked them this question:

Would you kindly share one of your "On the Fly" photos with us and share how you achieved that look? It might inspire attendees to realize they can achieve great photos relatively easily!

Sommer Collier gets back to the basics when she's crunched for time.

When I'm in a hurry, I don't like to fuss with excess props. I simply focus in on the key element of the photo, using one or two props with a lot of interest, like an old worn-looking tray or a sleek modern dish.

I set up my shot next to a window with light streaming in from the side to create drastic shadows. My hope in making these choices for a quicky shoot, is to provide noticeable texture, contrast, and drastic shadows that make the photo intriguing without all the extra: dishes, glassware, herbs, garnishes, or fabrics.

In this photo, I felt my old rusty baking sheet offered a lot of character to the photo on it's own. So I used dark dishes to pick up the tarnished pattern on the baking sheet, then took close-ups of the food to show the texture of the rice. I thought they it turned out pretty well for a 5-10 minute photo shoot.


You can connect with Sommer via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Panel moderator Christine Pittman points out that you can successfully photograph leftovers. (NO WAY! WAY!)

Oh this Brussels sprouts gratin photo! Let me tell you!

I’d made this gratin twice before and both times I wasn’t able to photograph it before we dug in. I’d wake up the next morning and find myself with meager ugly leftovers not worthy of the time it takes to set up my equipment.

The third time:

I woke up in the morning, got the kids off to school and then glared at my ugly half-eaten casserole. I knew I couldn’t shoot it in that dish so I mounded some onto a plate.

A mooshy pile of green and brown. Ick.

I decided that it needed to be contained. I put some into a ramekin, topped it with a bit of cheese and breadcrumbs and put it under the broiler.


My gratin was smaller but looked just as lovely as it had the night before. So lovely in fact that it was the first of my pictures to ever be accepted onto Foodgawker. Let’s just say that my camera and I now know how to swiftly defeat a mooshy leftover casserole.

Christine's Gratin

You can get to know more about Christine via her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ accounts.

Samantha Seeley shares a tip to take some of the guesswork out of your camera when you're in a rush to capture still-warm food.

This photo is of a failed recipe for pecan pie topped brownies. I still wrote a blog post about it because I think the image came out great and I wanted to share it. I took the photo right after they were out of the oven so the pecan topping still had the appearance of warm goo (for lack of a better word) and not just a dried pecan topping. This image was taken with natural light coming into the room on the right side and I used the Av setting on my camera. Av stands for Aperture Priority and without getting technical, it basically allows you to choose which aperture you’d like and the camera does the rest of the work for you (While you still have control over ISO and your White Balance)

I quickly placed a mug filled with tea behind the brownie with a piece of red bakers twine. I knew I needed a lower number aperture setting to get the shallow depth of field I was looking for (background blur) and that is why I opted to use the Av setting so I didn’t have to fumble around with manual and adjust every setting individually.

Samantha's Brownie

Samantha can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Sylvie Shirazi reminds us that fresh produce does more than taste good; it looks good too!


When considering food photography on the fly, don’t forget the ingredients. While the finished dish is crucial, don’t overlook the importance of including shots of what goes into your dish.

The options for photographing ingredients are endless; for example, fresh produce is an incredibly photogenic subject. Although the same basic elements of design apply, less styling and minimal preparation mean faster shots.

In the case of some of the images below, I was shopping at the local farmer’s marker when I noticed the variety of colorful produce on display that day. I realized that there were shots here I could possibly incorporate into a post at a later date and grabbed a few items with the purpose of shooting them for future use. Having images ready to use when putting together a post is another time saving tip.

Tip: Look in your fridge or your local market; there’s a photo on the fly waiting to be taken.

Sylvie's Food Photos

You can connect with Sylvie via Twitter or Facebook. You can also go be inspired by her separate photography website.

The Pro Food Photography on the Fly session takes place on Friday, June 7, 2013 during the 3:00-4:30 time slot. Here's what you can expect:

You know how to do things right and take every step from scratch, but don’t always feel like you can spare the time. Learn how to triage those steps to get the best results. Make meager leftovers look abundant with quick styling tips and speed up your shoots with the best automatic camera settings to take stunning and stunningly easy food photos.

If you have any burning questions for these smart panelists, feel free to pop them into the comments below. You might help shape their presentation -- or learn something before you sit down to listen to them speak!

Not registered for BlogHer Food '13 yet? You can register now and join us in Austin, TX this June!


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land.


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