Food & Light: Photography Tips

Food and Light started promptly at 8:00am.  I was up at 5:50am and went for that run which actually energized me for the morning session and the rest of today.

Our teachers: Jen, Todd & Diane

Matt & Todd

I was sitting in the back row next to Elana of Elana’s Pantry. She is the sweetest, kindest, and most friendly person.  Truly just a sweetheart!

Loved her!

Everyone was excited to learn.

But we all had to really put our thinking caps on because our first morning session and lecture was from Jen on camera settings.

Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, controlling depth of field.  Pretty much it made my head spin.

I am not a numbers girl.  And camera numbers and settings make me especially cross-eyed and really tax my brain and take me back to 9th grade algebra class wondering if these concepts will ever click for me.

Algebra finally clicked by the end of 9th grade and camera settings and numbers are beginning to click after reading about them over and over, for months and months.

Like most people, I shoot based on trial and error rather than on studying the numbers and knowing how shutter speed and depth of field and ISO settings all integrate.

However, knowing and understanding the fundamentals and knowing what the numbers do and how they effect your photos is really powerful.

I suggest reading anything you can online about these concepts.  And read from many different sources.   Google it.  Someone will explain it in a way that will click for you.  Also in Helene’s book that I reviewed here, she does an excellent job of going over these concepts.

After Jen’s presentation, Matt gave a lecture and here are a few of my lecture notes from his presentation:

Camera Angles

Vary your camera angles in a series of shots

Shoot top down, 3/4 and straight on

Flat food shoots well from top down

Top down shots often give a very graphic composition

Food with height shoots well from straight on

Straight on gives height and drama


The best photographers tell a story with their shots

A visual story keeps photographs interesting

Fake it if you have to!

After Matt’s lecture it was time to start shooting.

I was ready to get up and just dive in.

The food table with everything from radishes to fresh flowers to peppercorns to desserts.

Guess what I chose to shoot?

You guessed it: cupcakes!

I chose, plated, and styled, and accessorized the cupcake

And then shot it.

The pink sugar sprinkles were the icing on the (cup)cake for me <— pun intended

And after that, we broke for lunch.

It was an intense morning.  I learned tons.

It will all continue to sink in as the days (and weeks and months) pass.

But for now, my internet connection is painfully slow and so I am going to sign off and explore a bit of Boulder in the evening before it gets too late.  We start again bright and early tomorrow!

I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures of the early morning Boulder run I did.  Yes, it’s super pretty here!  I won’t lie, I love San Diego and the beach and ocean will always be my true love, but it is so pretty here!


1. What are your photography challenges?

I have these photography tips posts, too:

Food Styling: Books, Props, & Photo Quality: It’s not just your equipment that matters
Food Styling: Pretty & Not So Pretty Pictures
Plate to Pixel: Book Review & Photography Tips

2. When you’re in lectures, do you take a lot of notes or do you just try to absorb what you can and not stress out about writing it all down?

When I was in school, yes, I stressed out about writing every single word down that I possibly could.

But for lectures like this, there is so much information, and there are no “tests” and I didn’t try to write it all down.  I remained mindfully present, wrote down some key pointers, and worried less about writing it all down and more on just listening and absorbing.  In a few weeks I may wish I had written more down!  But they are sending us the Powerpoint slides so I’m not too worried.

Reminder to enter the Giveaway for the Healthy Cookies & Brownies

52 comments on “Food & Light: Photography Tips”

  1. Glad you’re having fun! I would love to learn everything you’re learning there…and I hope to make more time for photography learning this year.

    The last few conferences I’ve attended have offered audio recordings (and sometimes video) of the sessions, so I’ve just purchased those and only taken notes when something really jumps out at me. Otherwise, I just listen and absorb. It’s more enjoyable that way!

  2. Ahhhh, I’m SO jealous of the awesome photography workshops you’ve been attending!!! Your photos are phenomenal!

  3. Totally impressed by your dedication to this! Think you will go far with the food photography.

  4. Oh, gorgeous pictures! What a fun workshop. :D

    I’m definitely a note taker! I write down everything, as it helps me stay focused. Otherwise, I tend to drift off and lose attention. ;)

  5. My photography challenges are 1.) not having a decent camera 2.) trying to figure out how to take pictures at night and 3.) basically not knowing what the heck i’m doing ;)

  6. Thank you for these awesome tips Averie! Your food photography is fantastic and inspiring. It’s an entirely different genre than I am accustomed to. I shoot underwater photos, and this has its own set of challenges.
    -Shutter delay/speed – Fish move fast! My current camera is not up to par in this department.
    -Exposure – different water depths and times of day produce rapidly changing lighting and color
    -Image Cataloging – I’m woefully behind.

  7. Oh my gosh, I need to attend something like this. We have classes in the city here, but they aren’t very good… and definitely not focused on food photography by any means. I’m so happy you’re sharing these tips with us. So awesome!

  8. I was absolutely a speed note-taker. I wanted to get as much info as possible. I actually loved the biology teacher I had in college because he printed out PowerPoint slides for everyone with key parts missing. So you still had to take notes, but the majority of the work was done, so I could actually sit back and enjoy the lecture without stressing that I was missing anything.

  9. I would LOVE to take a photography class!! Numbers make me cross-eyed too… my brain likes simplicity :)
    Boulder is beautiful but I lived near Denver for about a year and didn’t like it very much. I missed the west coast too much. Born in San Clemente and grew up in Mission Viejo and I think my heart and home will always be in SoCal…

  10. Sounds like you are having a great time and learning a lot.
    So cool that you met Elana from Elana’s Pantry. Hers was the 1st Gluten Free blog I ever read, and it is still one of my favourites.

    When I was in school I tried to write it all down. Now I write down key points. I still don’t like to rely on the slides that are provided in case their bullet points or choice of wording doesn’t click with me. Also, I learn my writing and doing.

  11. I’m also one of those people who takes photo’s for the “feel” and not so much for the numbers. Maybe that’s why we shoot 200 pics while they can shoot 2 for the money shot! hahaha! I’m so bad with that stuff but practice makes perfect!

    And the cupcakes was a total no brainer, as were the pink sprinkles ;)

  12. Soooo fun to relive F & L through your eyes. Such a wonderful & unique opportunity huh!

  13. Pingback: Food & Light: Photographing Challenging Food & Personal Assignments

  14. Pingback: Food & Light in Boulder, Colorado — Food & Travel Photography Blog | Atlanta Food Photographer | Dash of East

  15. I take a LOT of notes when I am in lectures for school (or anything).

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