Plate to Pixel

I recently ordered a copy of Helene Dujardin’s new book, Plate to Pixel

If you’re not familiar with Helene’s beautiful food, recipes, and world class and simply awe-inspiring photography, you’re missing out and you must check out her blog, Tartelette.


In her book, Helene covers everything from camera setting “lessons”

to composition in food photography

to lighting, props, food styling, arrangement, and so.much.more.

In the past, I’ve reviewed other books on food styling and food photography:

Food Styling: Books, Props, & Photo Quality

And Food Styling: Pretty & Not So Pretty Pictures

And I had Matt & Adam’s amazing event: Real Food Styling & Photography Workshop

Please read this post if you have any interest in food photography, photography, or even just food!

The event was so profound, that it changed my life as I posted about here.

But back to Helene’s book, I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are only going to buy one book on food photography, or dare I say photography in general, this is the one book to buy.

Helene’s examples, lessons, knowledge, and expertise that she shares on everything from camera settings to natural lighting discussion to how to set up your shots to how to make your food photography tell a story is all just splendid!

She pays extreme attention to detail in each and every word written in this book.  She conveys some difficult concepts simply and thoroughly, but without dumbing them down or glossing over anything at all.

Each and every chapter is like a photography lesson and I have been having lightbulb moments going off left and right as I read it.

The book is almost 300 pages and because of the sheer amount and volume of very detailed information, I will get through all 288 pages sometime this millennium.  I am taking my time with it; reading a few pages, putting the book down for a few days, letting it soak in, while practicing with my own camera and food.   And repeating.

Thank you, Helene, for writing this book!  I know from talking to friends and reading post after glowing post around the ‘sphere about this book, it’s helping so many of us.

Interested in a few recipes?

Here is Helene’s hummus recipe

I have 4 ingredient vegan hummus with really awful photography but the recipe is still a winner.

And Helene’s blackberry pie recipe

We can all dream and aspire to create images like that one day, right?

I try to emulate her shots, style, composition, and just everything she does when I am photographing my own food lately.

But I better break out my Dark Rum Caramel Sauce and go to town because I have a lot to learn and caramel sauce makes learning and studying more fun.

It’s either caramel sauce or Magic Eight Bars I’m thinking!

And I think you all should check out Helene’s book.


From my last post, Messy Cook, it sounds like some of you are messy.  But there were many of you who are neat freaks like me.  Good. Nothing wrong with not wanting to dirty every dish and bowl you own and getting a little high blood pressure attack upon seeing things in a state of messy disarray and wanting to clean it all, immediately.  Well, that’s the story I tell myself at least.


1. What’s the last book that really left an impression on you, and why?

I admit that I don’t read many books anymore.   I would like to say I do, but really, I don’t.

I love reading blogs and reading articles on the internet and just surfing the web and going to various webssites as needed because everything I want to know is a click-click-click away.  I get a bit bored with most books after having so much info at my fingertips, and so readily available.  Thus, it takes a lot to hold my attention with a book and for a book to make a lasting impression on me.  But Helene’s book has succeeded on all fronts.

2. What’s your biggest challenge with photography and your photos?

For me, when I’m shooting food, it’s making the food look as good in the pictures as it really was in person.  The camera can strip away things leaving them looking flat, dull, or with really horrible composition even though in person, it really was pretty.  Finding the pretty is a huge challenge for most everyone, I’d say.

Making my food pictures beautiful in terms of composition and what to include or not include in my setups and shots is always a challenge.   For instance, I ask myself, should I include that spoon and napkin or does it make the shot look cluttered?  If I don’t include it, the shot may look sparse with too empty/negative space.   Determining what belongs in a photo and what doesn’t is a challenge.

I did a post on my tips and tricks for getting the best shotI’m sure it’s laughable for Helene, but many of you told me it did help you.

At the bottom of this post is my takeaway message on my food styling and food photography from my workshop

And in this post I address the fact that just because you have an amazing camera, you won’t necessarily have amazing images.  Conversely, just because you have a point and shoot, you can still take awesome photos.  All a fancy DSLR is going to do is make the resolution and quality of the final image better; but a crappy photo is still a crappy photo, just in higher resolution with a DSLR.  You have to work on making your pictures better, not just pining away for a DSLR!  That won’t solve your problems unless you practice and work on improving your photography skills.

And my biggest challenge when shooting Skylar is making sure she doesn’t stick her tongue out at me!

P.S. Thanks for the  entries for the Bamboo Travel Skirt Giveaway.

65 comments on “Plate to Pixel”

  1. This looks like a great book– I keep meaning to buy a food photography book…and I need to put a little more effort into my pictures sometimes!

  2. I would love to take nicer pictures of my food, because I often feel proud of my “chef” skills. However, I am often up late at night, which doesn’t allow for great natural light. I also don’t have a fancy camera to take pictures!

    Maybe if I someday get my own apartment I could at least have a nice setup to take pictures, with a nice plate or something!

  3. I’ve had my eye on that book for a while, but it’s always nice to read a positive review. I think I’ll have to take the plunge and buy it soon.

  4. I guess I don’t have a practiced eye. I just checked out Tartelette, and I can’t see that her photography is any better than yours.

  5. I’ve been looking at foodgawker and tastespotter a lot lately and drooling over everyone’s photography compositions…I’m inspired to include other things in my photos besides the actual food I’m writing about. This post came at the right time — I opened it up when i was thinking about how to photograph my next recipe!

    food photography, when well done, will always make me swoon.

  6. I just wanted to say hi! I’m new to the blogging world and I just came across your blog, and I will definitely be reading from now on :).

  7. Im SO glad you wrote this review because this very book has been sitting in my amazon cart for a while now, as I’ve been researching different food photography books and trying to come to a decision. I kept coming back to this one though as it’s had some awesome reviews, and your review just finalized my decision! I can’t wait until it arrives, it looks like an amazing and informative read.

  8. There’s nothing like a REALLY great photo of food. I am amazed at some of the pictures I’ve seen on different blogs – they’re so inspirational.
    Averie, you’ve taken some great ones as well and I look forward to seeing more (I know that great camera bag will help, too)!

  9. I absolutely LOVE Helene’s book! I ordered it pretty much as soon as it was available on Amazon, because I adore Helene’s work and her spirit and willingness to share her knowledge.

    I have loved everything in Plate to Pixel, especially the food & prop styling. It’s inspiring to browse through all the photos that she has included in the book and to think about how I can improve my own photography.

    • and can you believe we missed her at F & L last year? My friend Marla said it was amazing to be with her but of course we have plenty of awesome teachers at F & L this year :)

      • Ugh! I know! I’m kicking myself because I didn’t know about F & L last year till registration was already closed. Taking a workshop with Helene is on my goal list to complete in the next year or two. *fingers crossed*

        I am still crazy excited about F & L though, we will have some fantastic teachers!

  10. That is an awesome book – I will have to get that!

    My biggest photography issue…I need a new camera :)

    Brooke Annessa

  11. THe props get me everytime. I just don’t have the patience for it. I used to, but lately, I just snap away and hope for the best. Maybe I’ll just start calling it my “simple” and “spartan” look; that makes it sound intentional and not lazy.

  12. Looks like a great book, averie. Your enthusiasm is contagious: I just want to run out and take photos! My challenge is how to be artistic with a point n shoot camera. I find books always motivate me – whether they be running, yoga, “improve your life” – whatever. Always fun to try new ideas!

  13. I love Helenes blog- stunning photos, and her recipes always sounds wonderful! One of my all timde favorit blogs!

  14. I just recieved this last night as a belated birthday gift! It is awesome! The pictures are beautiful and so helpful! I skimmed it quickly and can’t wait to read it more thoroughly later

  15. sigh….
    what else can I say?
    I’m gonna get it – it’s beautiful – I’m always inspired by lovely photos – they are like soul medicine for me.
    I suck… I’m still working on the focus part LOL
    THANK YOU for sharing!

  16. That sounds like an amazing book! I need some definite work on my photography skills! I’m really going to look into this Averie, Thanks for the review!!

  17. I have this book (and LOVE it!), and I read and look at it all the time… and I was thinking your rum sauce setup looked similar – totally forgot to say anything – that is awesome :)

    glad you got the book too – not surprised you got it and love it too! :)

  18. Thanks for the book review/recommendation. I’d love to pick this up. I’m having so much fun playing with food photography recently.

  19. I love your apple/rum sauce and magic eight bar pictures in this post! Beauditul. And thanks for telling us about Helene — I just went and read her latest post and everything she talks about is EXACTLY like what I am experiencing here in Provence. I am SO glad you shared her blog with us!:)

  20. Thanks for sharing! It never even dawned on me that there would be such a thing as a food photography book. It looks beautiful and inspiring. I’m always half-way through a bunch of different books. Currently in a pile next to my bed: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra, My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow and Blogging for Dummies.

  21. Very interesting on the book, maybe I’ll check it out. I have Food Styling: Books, Props, & Photo Quality, but have not had much time to study it. :-(

    1. Probably Kris Carr’s latest book for inspiration and a healthy, positive lifestyle.
    2. Time, I need more of it! My full time work schedule and blogging schedule is not leaving my much free time currently.

  22. Thanks for this review: I’m so glad that you have this book, it sounds like the perfect inspiration for your current journey. I have to say, your rum sauce and apples pic looked just as good as many of the pics preceding it! Stunning, in fact.

    Love the Skylar tongue-poke pic!

    I’m not a very visual person and I just take pics to anchor my story. So I don’t pay much attention to it. I also worry about storage space, so I set my camera to low-def and then even reduce further in iPhoto for publishing. Also, lighting is extremely hard in our cabin: this time of year, it’s light all the time and if there’s any sun at all, everything’s overexposed. In the winter, kind of the opposite problem. I really hope that the fact that my photos aren’t great doesn’t put people off the rest of it!

  23. Sounds like a really interesting book!

    I’m constantly reading. Memoirs, non-fiction, and thriller/mysteries fill my days. That’s not even to mention the amount of online reading I do. My mom owns a used bookstore so I’m constantly finding new authors to love.

  24. Ahhhhhmazing. I need a new camera, stat!

  25. averie ~ i’m always studying food photography, so this book will definitely now be on my radar!
    xx ~ kristina

  26. what a cool book! I love all of your photography, even the older pictures!
    My biggest challenge is lighting. I live in a really old apartment with frosted light fixtures- it’s really dim everywhere, and because I usually do most of my food prep in the evenings, I don’t get to take advantage of much natural light. I need to invest in some cheap foam boards and lamps!

  27. What a gorgeous book – everything is so enticing and inviting… you can literally taste it off the page. Thank you for your review.

  28. Hey! I just found your blog and am loving it! I absolutley love the food photography info/tips/book recommendations. I actually feel like i just stumbled upon something i never really knew about and am now dying to read all this different information and try it out for myself!
    I was wondering- do you wind up buying items to put in your photos? Such as a cute cloth napkin, or attractive plate? Or do you already have items like this in your home?

  29. Oh, that sounds like a fabulous book! Silly me, I never even realized there were food styling books out there. *blushing*

    I’ve added this to my amazon wish list! :D

  30. Food photography is just amazing!! I think food is at the top of my favorite things to photograph, along with nature!!

  31. Your pictures are just a daily reminder of how much I need to get my digital camera fixed. They’re all so pretty!!

  32. Your recent food photography is amazing!
    I’ve just bought Helene’s book and am really looking forward to it arriving in the post after reading your review.

    You maybe interested in this one:
    Kelle hampton is featured, her kids photography is lovely.

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  34. I absolutely LOVE Helene Dujardin’s blog Tartelette. She has hundreds of perfectly photographed pictures of the most amazing food :) She’s terrific.

  35. Super fun review girl!!

  36. I’ve had this book wishlisted on Amazon for awhile now. From the sounds of it, I think it’s time to pull the trigger!

    I recently finished Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. It’s written in a way that really exposes the connection between where our food comes from, the economy, our health, and numerous other factors without being preachy or scientific. Up until recently, I hadn’t been reading for pleasure. I forgot how much I missed it from my bookworm days as a kid!

    Right now my biggest photography challenge is inexperience. But I’m learning, slowly but surely! Photography doesn’t come naturally to me like biochemistry does, so it’s a bit of a struggle. But I’m loving every second of it!

  37. That book looks awesome! I’ll have to check it out. I never realized how difficult it is to photograph food until I started my own blog…making it look as good as it did in real life is definitely a challenge!

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  39. I love this book! It’s taking me FOREVER to go through but it’s so worth it!

  40. oh gosh! I juuuust ordered a DSLR book for my new baby but this is next on the list! I loved your review! Thanks Averie!!!!

  41. I find it hard to be creative with photos when I am rushed for time, or when it is winter. I like to photograph food outside, but I can’t do that in Saskatchewan the majority of the time! Summer is my favourite time to be a food blogger :-)

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  44. I think I should invest in one of these books. The Plate to Pixel one……do you need to have an SLR for it, or does it include general info for “regular” ol’ digital cameras? I just sent a sample of the book to my ipad….it looks great!

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  46. Ordered this book and just received it Averie!!!! Cannot WAIT to read it and learn more. I knew I had to get this after your many suggestions AND because I loooove your photos so much. :)

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