What goes into one image? Confession

The feedback that I have had, it looks like you like these kinds of photography posts. So, I try to listen to you and share what you enjoy. Okay, to be honest, I also enjoy writing about food photography. I can enjoy the cooking in the kitchen and I always don’t have to write down my recipes. Only once in a while when I feel like I can’t miss this one. Maybe next time you will see a recipe post again.

This time I’m going to share my workflow and explain a little bit what goes into one image that I sometimes share. The truth is that it’s quite a long process and like every other thing it usually takes time. However, I can’t complain. I love it! Even when sometimes everything doesn’t go the way I wanted I still try to enjoy it. At first, I might be frustrated, but later I tell myself that it’s another lesson.

Passion Fruit Smoothie Jar

  1. Plan

Everything starts with preparation. I have to have at least some kind of storyline in my mind to be able to shoot. I always need a plan. Sometimes it is just the process of making cakes and then trying to capture the moment of making the pastry or shaking powdered sugar on top of the pancakes.

I’m always gathering inspiration around the web and thinking about what should I cook or shoot next. A lot of inspiration comes from the books (look at my post here) or just playing around with food in the kitchen. I just love to experiment and try different flavor combinations (a great inspiration book for flavor combinations here).

Beetroot Salad

Like many others, I have a big list of recipes I would love to try next. To be honest most of the ideas probably never get used. However, at least I have something to do when I have the time for cooking. Sometimes I just got new ideas, and I quickly write them up to my notes before I forget them. There are times when I’m just dreaming or daydreaming about food. Quite often I go for a walk and realize that I should make matcha mousse?! Just combining different ideas that I have in my mind (you can read my post about recipe developing here).

There are times when I feel like I don’t want to do anything. I would rather sit in one place and just relax. When I feel like that, then I know it’s a perfect time to clear my mind and do some workout. I usually go for a run, do some yoga, HIIT or play tennis. Just to get back my focus.

It’s just crazy when you have something like 50 ideas on your mind. However, you obviously can’t put 50 ideas into one recipe and image. Well … you can, but it might be a little bit too crazy. After my workout, my mind is usually clear, and I can think again. I write down my ideas and make the plan. Just to organized my thoughts.

Nice Cream

  1. Shopping

When I have a clear idea, then I go shopping for the ingredients. Usually, I make a plan for the whole week and try to get all the ingredients at once. However, the plan might always change and I often have other crazy ideas that I most definitely need to do right away. Sometimes I just run to the store and buy some extra berries or flowers. Quite often I’m a little bit too lazy to run to the store and I just try to play around with the thing I have. Just to make sure that I get out of my comfort zone.

Lavender Cookies

  1. Cooking or Baking

Sometimes I feel like cooking or baking is a good meditation. You play around with food, listen to good music and relax. You just peel the vegetables or chop the tomatoes. Mix ingredients and try to make the magic.

However, sometimes everything doesn’t go the way I would love to. When the dish doesn’t come out the way I imaged, then I might get a little bit frustrated. Most of the time I don’t follow exact recipe and I just try to experiment. So, things might go wrong. For example, I still haven’t succeeded with the “healthy” meringue that I love. I tried. Not just once, but three times. The “healthy” meringue didn’t taste good at all (the one you may have seen is the soft one made with a blow torch and that tastes good. I was looking for crispy meringue). Eating it was impossible. It just wasn’t edible in any case.

  1. Prepare the scene

After cooking or baking is the obvious preparing the scene. Sometimes I do step three and four at the same time. For example, when the cake is in the oven. Again, I have to have at least some kind of storyline in my mind.

When I don’t have any ideas, then I just try to go with the flow. Quite often I used to get stuck in my comfort zone I use the same scene over and over again. When that happens, then I boyfriend usually tells me that it’s so boring (he is not active there but sometimes he secretly looks at my Instagram). So, I try to think of new ideas again. If nothing else works, then new backdrops will always make the difference (look at my post about backgrounds here).

When I prepare the scene, then I usually gather all my props that I would like to use in one place. I think about my color palette and texture. One of the best tools for color palette is Adobe color wheel that I like to use quite often.

  1. Shoot

Sometimes it doesn’t take long because it’s only a short preparation but other times its just many long hours of cooking and photo shooting at the same time. Finding the light and trying to shoot different angles to get the image I need. I usually like to try different angles with every dish. Some dishes look better with overhead shots (like smoothie bowls), some look better from the side. You just have to find the best angle and you will get there!

Like every food photographer, I try to make the food as tasty as I can. Usually, everything depends on the lighting conditions. You might have a great dish, but when the lighting is bad, it won’t work. My favorite style is clean and elegant with some twist from real life (such as rumpled linen and a little bit of mess). My photography goal is to tell a story about my adventures in the kitchen.

Usually, I use natural light. However, in winter time there is sometimes only about 4-5 hours of daylight in Estonia. There are days when the weather is just so cloudy that it is dark almost all the time. Firstly, I just ordered some softboxes, but I realized that it still wasn’t enough and I end up ordering the whole studio kit (find my resources here). However, I feel that I’m still in the learning process with the studio light.

  1. Cleaning

This one is my “favorite” part. I always manage to make a big mess in the kitchen when I get too excited. Especially, when I have to shoot quickly because (for example) the ice cream starts to melt. I try to stay organized and keep it clean while I do the cooking or shooting. However, sometimes things just everywhere when you are in the zone. At least I have a dishwasher. I couldn’t image my life without it. When I started to spend more time in the kitchen, I didn’t have the dishwasher, and it just took so much more time for cleaning. Now I’m thankful for my “kitchen hand”.

  1. Editing

The final part is just the editing. I usually use only Adobe Lightroom to have the last touch to the images and I try to make sure that the images in the camera already look nice so that I don’t have to spend endless hours fixing my mistakes. I think it’s the best editing software you can have and it’s my FAVORITE program. About seven years ago I tried Picasa or other free software, but now it’s only Lightroom. It seems to me that almost everybody is using Adobe Creative Cloud. I do need to pay monthly for this (about 12 euros per month), but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

I still try to learn more about photography and editing. Recently I have been taken some online courses for editing in Udemy or Lynda (some courses here or here). I have used Lightroom for many years, but I still found some new tricks.

 (8. Upload or keywording)

This step here depends on how I’m going to use the image. Sometimes I just need to upload some big files to the clients thought Dropbox, and with my slow Internet, it takes times. Other times when I use the images for stock, then I do need to do the keywording (I still save some images for the future and I don’t sell them at all. So they stay on my hard drive). In the beginning, I felt that keywording is an endless process. But soon I found some excellent podcasts that I like to listen while I’m doing this. Now some stocks such as Depositphotos are so helpful that they do the keywording for me and I can spend my time on other things.

That’s it for now! Only eight little steps behind one image, right? Just planning, shopping, cooking, shooting, and editing. Almost. 🙂 I think that a good plan is one of the best fundamentals for better workflow. Otherwise, I feel like I just wander around and can’t get anything done. I just like to be organized.

Free resources with my food styling tips and exclusive recipes! Well, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, right? Almost free, you have to give me your precious email. 🙂
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  1. I really LOVE your workflow. I’s quite similar to mine. And OMG your photos are amazing. I’m so happy I discovered your blog. I’ll be spending much time here reading. I’m into improving my Foodphotography.