Redbud Heather of Inspire me Heather | Photographing a Food Tutorial Process

Heather's blog is aptly named Inspire Me Heather. Many blogs would like to inspire, many blogs create compilations of inspiring articles and posts, but Heather's blog is right on par with craftgawker for me when it comes for compiling great link posts. Heather does simple posts, with simple links to GREAT content. There isn't flabby links on her site...each link you click leads you to something you are actually interested in reading. It is rare that I don't click through all the links in her posts. Greenhouses, cloches, blogging, photography...the list just goes on and on.

She has featured A Nest for All Seasons before, but today she featured my business and photography blog; Allenaim Photography. {Thanks Heather!} There are 8 other photographers sharing great tips, so check it out HERE!

My post she chose to feature this week was titled "How to Photograph a Food Tutorial Process" and it walks through the steps simply and as concisely as possible (I hope!) The funny thing is...this post was supposed to actually be a food post, but I think the end result turned out pretty badly, so it turned into a photo post instead! :) Lemons and Lemonade, yes?

Enough's the article!

Previously Published on Allenaim Photography on January 18, 2011
Are you bursting with DIY ideas or recipes you just HAVE to share with your bloggy friends?  You should absolutely get on the ball and write a quick tutorial then!  I'm going to outline a few simple shots that will give you a basic tutorial below.  Enjoy!

1. Start with your inspiration. 

It could be a link to someones site where you saw the idea or recipe first.
It could be a photo of a single ingredient that inspired you or a BEFORE photo of your kitchen before its big remodel.
It gives readers a frame of reference and an idea of where you are going so they can decide if they want to keep reading!
In this case, it is a peek at the page of a cookbook. 
I used an open aperture to blur out some of the words and also photographed a tiny section of the page
to make sure I wasn't coming anywhere near breaking copyright rules.
I just want to give the reader a taste (figuratively) of where this whole thing came from.  

2. Show off your ingredients. 

Sometimes I just show the ingredients in a still life like this:

3.  Other times I like to mix it up with a little action:

If you are wondering how on Earth to photo food in motion, it is not as complex as you might think.  First, make sure you have enough light so that your shutter can snap fairly quickly.  If it can't use flash or move to another location close to a window with natural light.  Your readers won't necessarily care if you show them your ingredients in your kitchen or on a sofa table as long as you are giving them easy instruction and beautiful photos of the process.

Secondly, you get your focus set.   In this case, I held my arm in the air towards the camera, leaned over and focused the camera on the still shot.  Just press your shutter halfway down and make sure the little red dot or box focuses on the subject you want to highlight.  Then, start the motion SLOWLY (in this case pouring the flour) and press the shutter all the way down.  Do it at least 3 times.  Check your work.  If you are happy, move on.  If not, try, try again!  By all means, if it isn't working out, take a still photograph and move on.  There will be other action to capture :)

Are you wondering how to insert yourself into photographs like this?  Surely my arm is not that long to hold the camera while I'm cooking this far away, right?  You're right.  I am usually holding the camera taking self portraits while I'm pouring or stirring, but sometimes the action is a little bit too difficult to complete with a camera in your arm.  I was afraid I might spill these eggs and the bowl of flour on the floor if I wasn't careful, so this was a self timer shot.  They aren't as difficult as you might think.  The instruction might vary depending on the type of camera you have, but the instructions should be similar.  My example is from a Nikon D5000.

1.  Press the info button on the top of your camera. 
2.  Press the info button on the BACK of your camera (mine is towards the bottom on the left).
3.  Move your cursor up and down the list of options until you see "release mode".
4.  I select the "20 seconds" self timer option. 
5.  Focus your camera on your subject (by pressing the shutter halfway down).
6.  Press the shutter all the way down and get into place.  You have 20 seconds.  There should be a light flashing on the front of your camera.  It will flash several times and then hold for 1-2 seconds.  That is your cue that the camera is about to take the photo.  Start doing whatever action you want to illustrate.  Do it a bit more slowly than you naturally would to give the camera the best chance of being able to focus on your action.  A little blur is ok to show movement.  Too much blur will ruin the shot.

4.  Change it up a little by going back to a still if you have something important to illustrate.  

I wanted to show what the dough looks like when it starts to clump and needs to be hand kneaded.

Sometimes focus is off.  Notice in the first photo of this series, the focus was on my shirt sleeve.  In this last photo, the focus is on the faucet.  That is ok with me once in awhile.  I could close my aperture more to get more in focus, but then I would catch ugly things in the background, so the blur is worth it to me.  As long as the photo is illustrating the motion AND is pleasing to the eye, I am ok if the focus is not exactly where I want it.  You might be a bit more perfectionista when it comes to tutorials.   

5.  One of the most important things is to get a photo of the final product 

Sometimes, I forget all about this and we eat the food before remembering to take an AFTER photo.  
Your reader definitely wants to see the end result, so make sure you give them a photo like this:

Now, contrary to the above statement,  if you are wondering why I am showing you a photo of RAW pasta dough, well, that's simple.  It did NOT work out well.  I wasn't able to roll the dough thinly enough by hand and the end product was not so great.  Therefore, you are getting a tutorial on how to write a tutorial instead of a tutorial on how to make basic pasta dough.  If you are curious, the process took about an hour (including a 30 minute wait time) and about 20 minutes of kneading and rolling by hand.  It was not fun, but my arm muscles did get a workout.   If I had a pasta attachment, it might be worth it.  It is NOT worth it this way.  The $1 box of spaghetti tastes much better.

Don't even get me started on the ravioli...

...which leads me to my last step...

6. Be Honest.  If something tastes great, rave about it.  If it comes out awful and took forever and was not worth it (see above!) , be honest and tell them!!  Alternatively, just don't share the tutorial.  If you teach people to make bad things, they won't trust you.  So be honest in your critiques and go on and on and on and on about the things that DO work out!  If you are interested in things that DID work, check out my FOODIES page in the NEST!

If you are interested in more tutorials and photography articles, check out Allenaim Photography or simply click on the for Photographers tab above!

Do you have a tutorial you would like to share?  I accept photo tutorials on Gardening, DIY Projects, Cooking and Photography.  If you would like to submit an idea, just email me at . 


Becky Jane said…
The other photographers are nice, but you are still one of my favorites!

Visiting from Twisted Scavenger…a new TWIST on blog hopping!
Thanks, Becky Jane
You are such a sweetheart! Thank you for the nicest write-up I have ever read, really!!! You TOTALLY made my day.....
Torviewtoronto said…
lovely post thank you for sharing
Wakela Runen said…
Thanks for the great tutorial. Now you got me wanting a new camera! Hmm... Maybe I will hint to the fam to get me one for my bday.
LisaWeidknecht said…
Wow, this is great! I'm hungry now.
Well the process is beautiful even if the end result wasn't very tasty. Thanks for the tutorial on tutorials ;D
grace said…
I've always liked your tutorials. You do a nice job.
Lisa said…
Well, I'm not a food/recipe sharing kind of blogger, but this was a great tutorial anyway!! My meals are not typically original enough to share, but I love reading posts about the one's that are!!

Amy Moll is a friend of mine here in Buffalo and sent me to your blog...what a fun site you have! When I have more time (aka, it's not 11:30 at night! I look forward to looking through some of your projects and ideas! She also thought that you were maybe heading to that blog conference in PA in October? Very cool!

Look forward to reading more of your ideas!
Fresh Mommy said…
Great post Amy!! Great tips :) Even if the recipe didn't turn out. Haha, I love your attitude!

Michelle said…
Thanks so much for the tutorial! I don't do cooking posts, but I think I can use a lot of your photography tips with my quilting.
Amy Renea said…
You are welcome!!! Hope it helps!