Julie Anne Rhodes
I wasn’t bad in front of the camera, but it was a running joke in my household that I was hopeless behind it. My first vacation with Nick I took a few rolls of film. None of the pics came out in focus, so he bought me an auto focus camera. Next holiday I took another roll of film, or so I thought. When I went to have the film developed it turns out there was none in the camera… oops! Nick then proudly presented me with a foolproof camera that told me when you “need film” or “need flash”, and things started looking up. Tatjana came along, and I quickly became a great family photographer. The trick? I learned to take hundreds of pictures to get a handful of great ones… a theory I applied to get this cool photo recently…

Sometimes the best photos happen by chance, so take lots

I’m still at the bottom of the learning curve when it comes to food photography, but I am slowly getting better as I learn from trial and error, and the tips that my heroes have shared along the way. My first major breakthrough came when I learned how to set my camera on macro.

Hallelujah for macro

While I save my “toads” for my dream camera equipment (I’m still using a point and shoot in a house that suffers desperately from lack of natural light), I am voraciously reading up on the subject. In fact my camera wish list comes directly from Smitten Kitchen. Their photos alone make me drool like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, and I found this article tremendously helpful. Here are a few of my other inspirations:

First up has to be my favorite food stylist Denise Vivaldo at Food Fanatics Unwashed. I assisted her in a master food styling class a couple years ago. Within five minutes I realized I could never be a food stylist (you need the patience of a saint). It was, however, mesmerizing to watch Denise and cohort Cindie in action. A bit like being Merlin’s apprentice with all the tricks, slight of hand, and magic it takes to make food look scintillating on camera.

Freshly torched and painted raw “roast” chickens


I highly recommend joining foodblogforumfor any foodie, but especially for food bloggers. This article by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen really helped me get a better feel for food photography in action. A visual blow by blow lesson on “how to” and “why.”

Flip Cage

I also found this handy dandy tripod called a “flip cage” from the Gary Fong Store there. I of course opted for the pink. The mini tripod keeps the camera still while taking the shot, plus it’s not only portable, but doubles as protection for your camera.

Coming to grips with natural light thanks to Joy the Baker

I deliberately only look at the photos, not the recipes at Joy the Baker, because if the recipes are anywhere near as good as they look, I’d be doomed to shopping plus sizes for the rest of my life.

Tastespotting is great site for coming up with new set decoration ideas, because you can look at so many varying approaches at once and decide what works for you or not. And my latest inspiration came in the form of a book, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson of 101 cookbooks, given to me today by fellow personal chef Jesse Minor. The pictures are so colorful yet muted at the same time. I immediately hobbled home to check her blog out, and yes, the pictures there are breathtaking too. Thank you so much Jesse!

The budding photographer

I’ve got my work cut out for me to achieve anywhere near the likes of the accomplished stylist and photographers mentioned here, but I am looking forward to the challenge. Who are some of your favorite photographers, and what tips have you learned?
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  • June 14, 2010
    10:50 pm

    hey jules… i'm a professional photographer so if you ever want or need any help or tips let me know. I adore reading your blog! My favourite photographers … too many to list them all but up there is olivia parker, francesca woodman, sally mann, keith carter, the late great richard avedon and francesco scuvullo. No where NEAR the full of my list.You can check out my work at www.laurasavidgephotography.com.

  • June 14, 2010
    10:56 pm

    Were you boiling olives in that first pic? I love the crushed red pepper close up! You're doing great, keep it up, maybe that's your second calling, the first being in front of the camera cooking!

  • June 15, 2010
    12:04 am

    Love the red pepper picture. That tripod looks very cool, I may have to get one or put it on my Christmas wish list.I used to feel bad about using up a roll of film and only getting a couple of decent pictures out of it but then my sister showed me an artical about a wildlife photographer. This guy said that he would take hudreds of shots just to get a couple that he considered to be good. Getting a digital camera was liberating for me. It is a nicer point and shoot so I feel I have a lot to work with as I learn but one day I would like to have a digital SLR.

  • June 15, 2010
    12:55 am

    Thanks photogoddess69… I may take you up on that offer. Funny Laura… it was red, white, and purple new potatoes. It was the steam and trickle of water I though were cool.Yes, mysteriousways1… lots of pics to get the great ones, but then that is why digital is so convenient. At least you don't have to develop tons of bad ones to find that great one.

  • June 15, 2010
    12:55 am

    Well it certainly makes me feel better that even the best have gone through growing pains shooting pics of their wares, lol! For the life of me I simply cannot get good shots of my jewelry. Forget toads, I have gila monsters!!! Jodi Silverman Zulueta

  • June 15, 2010
    5:39 am

    est no fail camera is a Nikon in my opinion. My digital SLR is beautiful – continuous shutter shooting, automatic or manual focusing and a decent price for an SLR, $500. I'm partial to film photography over digital but as you say, it takes hundreds of photos to get some decent ones – even for me, as a photographer. The trick to photography is to take your time, don't let anyone rush you into taking a "quick snap" because you need time to focus the camera properly and get good prospective on your piece, even if the camera has automatic focus, the lighting angle may not be the best. May I say your food photography is stunning, I would have assumed you were a photography pro, Jewels!Liz Lane

  • June 15, 2010
    9:19 am

    I used a 35 mm when I was teen and then the digital revolution happened. I was happy with my point and shoots for a long time. And I, like you, learned to love the macro. Well, I've decided to up my game and finally got an DSLR and low and behold I take really good photos again. I also hate using flash as it often distorts real colour or makes it look fake. I made sure to get a camera where the ISO could be adjusted and I could shoot in low light without a flash. Love my pictures now. As with all photography, the more you practice the better your photos are!

  • June 15, 2010
    4:49 pm

    That red pepper shot was perfection. Did you manipulate the focal length or did your camera automatically create that stunning depth of field? Mine will do macro but the depth of field isn't all that great without me playing with it manually. It's the only thing I don't like about my camera.I don't know what I'd do without the macro setting on my digi camera! I'm almost ashamed to admit now that I minored in photography and majored in Graphic Design because I've had to go through a process of relearning now that there's digi cameras, and for a while there I was a lousy photographer while I went through that learning curve. I've recently taken a class through lynda.com to learn how to use photoshop to enhance my photos too! I love photoshop!

  • June 15, 2010
    5:12 pm

    Interesting Liz. I have a Nikon 35 ml with regular kit lens and telephoto. I think the lenses are interchangeable with the SLR's, so it would make sense for me to buy the Nikon SLR, but all the foodies keep mentioning the Canon as being the best, and I have tried my cousins which I love. What do you recommend?Kimberly that was just my macro lens on my Canon point and shoot. It is a great camera for point and shoot… good depth, but not quite solid enough for the pics I hope to take.

  • June 16, 2010
    10:59 am

    My husband is definitely in the Canon camp with you. He has the small point and shoot Power shot SX210 and now would like to get the SLR Canon 550. I think the model number and name is different in the US.

  • October 19, 2010
    9:20 am

    Nice work you have done food photography is working well..home jobs

  • October 20, 2010
    7:33 am

    Glad to see your post.home jobs

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