Food and Light: Reflections on a workshop

Two days with other people who like to eat, blog and photograph, not necessarily in that order? Bliss.

Fellow photographers at Food and Light 2011 Workshop

I still have much to process (both instructions learned and photographs taken) and wanted to record some initial impressions. Here are my 5 take-aways from the 2011 Food and Light organized by Jen Yu of use real butter, along with Matt Wright of WrightFood and Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple:

Radishes and turnips on very rustic board

1. Get some twine. Foods look fun with a little string wrapped around a bunch. Plus it adds movement and texture, which can help many dishes which are not that photogenic, like stew. But don’t put the string in the stew, that would be gross.

Freshly cut grapefruit

2. Aperture priority is the setting for me. I still have experimentation to do to fine tune to my camera, but I have a much better grasp on how to take my camera off auto.

Snickerdoodles and cinnamon sticks

3. Be authentic when telling a story through a food photography. In this cookie photo, I thought the cinnamon sticks were fun with the string around them (see #1) but they don’t necessarily fit in with the casual, chunky snicker doodle. A better story might have been a lunch bag, fresh red apple and milk box, and a bite out of the cookie, like I had just packed it for a school lunch. But I would not have taken a bite out of the cookie before packing the lunch. What kind of Mom do you think I am?

Chocolate tart with lavender

4. Build a prop box to make photo taking interesting. Check out local second-hand stores and troll garage sales. If your town has a lot of food bloggers (think Seattle or San Francisco) you may have to go far afield for props, or check out eBay. Don’t spend more than $10. And consider raiding your relatives’ unused family heirlooms. Just not when they are looking.

Radish with salt

5. When composing your photo, think about the rule of thirds and triangle arrangements. Don’t put the star of your photo right in the middle. And shoot flat foods straight down and foods with height from the side or straight on. Place items closer together than you may imagine; the camera compresses and pushes things together.

Water glasses

We also spent a lot of time talking about light, natural and artificial, and I have new ideas to explore about the best ways to use light in my photos. Fortunately, California offers a great deal of natural light and I have another few months of long daylight hours to take advantage and learn more.

I also need to organize my photos and look into photo-editing software. Lightroom and Elements, both Adobe products, are on their way now and I plan to spend the rest of the month configuring and beginning to learn more about these products. Diane suggests taking at least 5 photos a day, which I plan to do with Instagram and my iPhone. Practice, practice, practice!

Just some of the folks I met this week (list to be updated with roundup of F&L posts)

Chris of Nestle Kitchens
Karen of Off The (Meat) Hook
Karen from Buried Carrots
Tanya of Mummybites
Michele of Cooking With Michele
Manisha of Indian Food Rocks
Nicole of Arctic Garden Studio
Tina of Scaling Back.


  1. I need to take some photography workshops. You always get a lot of feedback and they seem to be so much fun! Great post 🙂

  2. Gudrun, it was so nice spending time with you at Food & Light! What a terrific and inspiring two days! I am still trying to get my mind wrapped around shooting manual, but I am practicing daily 🙂 I hope we can connect live again soon!
    – Chris

  3. sounds like it was a great class, I wish I could have gone. I was vacationing in Breckenridge and certainly could have made it. I’m looking forward to learning much more about food photography so I can improve the loom of my blog. Any pointers I learn from all of you I soak up like a sponge.

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