Friday, May 31, 2013

Say Hello to Jessica, Our Last Guest Blogger!

I am so excited to introduce to you our last guest blogger of the month, Jessica, from Jessica Silvius Photography. Jessica and I have bonded over the years through our shared love of food and photography. She, being an amazing photographer and I being a fan of her amazing pictures. I am going to admit to you all now (not that you hadn't noticed already) that most of the photos on HNE are from my...cell phone...GASP! I know! I know! It's quite the injustice to the recipes I share with you, because I don't think it gives you a great idea of what the food should look like in the end. I am confident in the things I do well and I know where I tend to struggle, so I feel no shame in admitting that I've often wished that I could provide my readers with better photos of the recipes I leave here for you. That being said, I am pleased to announce that Jessica will not only be joining us today, as a guest blogger, but she is also joining the Her Name is Ed team indefinitely as our new food stylist and photographer! You are all in for a real treat because Jessica is amazing at what she does. I am so excited to see how this new chapter at HNE will go! I am such a big fan of Jessica's work (I actually just had my very own photo shoot with her last week!) and I know she is going to be such a wonderful addition to the team! So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jessica to HNE! 

When Eva asked me to guest blog I was super excited, and then panic struck... how do I attempt to explain this humungous topic while still managing to make sense and not write a novel?! So, I decided to approach the basics. Let me give you tools and food for thought to think of when approaching your own food photography - little tips and tricks that help to create effective images. 

A quick blurb on gear: The camera is not going to create the image - you are. That said, don’t go and blow all of your hard earned cash on the latest and greatest professional grade DSLR just for a few food pictures. Learn whatever camera you’ve got. iPhone? That’s fine! I will address the iPhone camera and its uses in 
  • Food photography needs to look appetizing! Food is the product and your image needs to sell it. The goal is to evoke the viewer to action - whether it be going to your restaurant, making your recipe, ordering your edible treats, or simply “pinning” them for future reference - you want your viewer to crave what you are sharing with 
  • Let’s keep it simple. Collections of multiple subjects are hard for anyone to compose well, so it’s best to keep your images clean and simple. Focus on your intended 
  • Lighting. Lighting is your best friend and your worst enemy. Beautiful lighting will make a beautiful image, where bad lighting with harsh shadows or blown-out highlights can ruin an image. Lighting is found both naturally and created 
First Let’s set up. Keeping it simple, I have my kitchen table next to the window letting in the sun. My plate is white with a simple detail around the edge. I am featuring cherry cheesecake with an awesome, thick graham cracker crust. I shot from the kitchen chair pictured. Half the time I was standing on it. Always feel free to move around your subject, it creates more interesting images.

For this first shot [ standing on the chair ] I composed my image looking straight down at the cheesecake. Perfectly centered images are generally uninteresting, so photographers rely on the Rule of Thirds. This “rule” requires you to imagine a tic-tac-toe grid in your frame of view and then you place your subject’s focus on one of the points.

Now to add some more creative techniques. Shooting with shallow depth of field essentially focuses on the image closest to you and then blurs out the background. A lower f-stop designates this technique on your camera. If you are able to set your f-stop, set it down to 5.6 or lower. If you your camera doesn’t have adjustable settings, no problem. At the end I’ll show you how to achieve a shallow depth of field with your iPhone. 

This image combined shooting at a shallow depth of field and adding artificial lighting to my natural window light. I flipped on my overhead kitchen light and placed an external flash unit in my kitchen to the left. [ No flash unit? Try a lamp or a flashlight ] This filled the image with more light and allows us to see the bite of cheesecake perfectly. Also, creatively by adding the fork and displaying a bite, we are still able to see our subject, but in the way it is intended to be used. We are showing the viewer how wonderful it is to eat. =)

Now let’s get a little more creative. Don’t forget that photography is truly an art form, use it to express the mood and feel you want your subject to evoke. In this case I was thinking about late morning breakfast, you know the time when you figure dessert is perfectly acceptable for breakfast because it has fruit in it? 

To create that feel and mood I placed my flash unit behind the cheesecake and stayed next to the window with the overhead light on. The flash created a fill light reminiscent of the bright sunlight coming through windows in the morning. Every image has a story, use creative techniques to create yours.

Finally some iPhone pictures. Instagram has revolutionized the “food pic”. I encourage you to not have just “another” Instagram food shot though! Yes, I use filters, I crop and I edit, but if you compose a well thought out image right off the bat, your food pictures will have much more impact. 

For this first iPhone photo, I tried using just the window light, but it was a bit dark for the iPhone, so I just flipped back on the kitchen light. Composed off center, overhead perception, no edits needed.

For this second iPhone photo I wanted to show you the great depth of field capability iPhone has. The last photo had a wide depth of field - everything was in focus. That is how most iPhone photos start out. So for this one I simply grabbed a bite and touched the iPhone screen where I wanted the focus, on the bite on the fork. This blurred out the rest of the image and puts the viewers focus on the tasty bite. I cropped this to fit the Instagram square, but you can avoid cropping images to squares by using apps like Squaready and Afterlight. 

I hope this has proven to be helpful, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to post in the comments below!

About me: I met Eva a few years ago though my significant other, Evan. They had been friends for years and years. Eva and her husband Mike, have proven to be amazing friends to Evan and I. We’ve had lots of fun together over the years including some pretty memorable dinner parties. I have a minor in photography from Northern Arizona University and a BSBA in marketing. I love it. I love to combine my business side with my creative side and sprinkle my love of food, wine, people and the outdoors in between. I moved back to the Central Coast of California this week from Arizona! I am so excited to be back and enjoy summer in SLO county. ☼♡

You can visit my website here: which includes links to my blogPinterest boards, Instagram and Facebookpage. In addition to food photography, I have fallen head over hills for portrait photography. If you would like to schedule a shoot, do not hesitate to shoot me a message! 
xo, Jessica

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