Being a relative newbie in the food photography scene I decided this past weekend to attend a Food Photography Workshop presented  by Food Bloggers of Canada  with professional food photographer, Jackie Connelly.

Jackie Connelly is a Vancouver Island based photographer who specializes in garden, food and food lifestyle photography.  Her client list includes Pourhouse, the Glowbal Group, Terra Breads, Browns Social House, Au Petite Chavignol, among others.  She has also photographed the book Sugar Snaps and Strawberries as well as features for GardenWise Magazine.   She is also a member of FBC along with her sister, Tina.  Together they author the blog Willowtree – a food blog for people who are living with food sensitivities!

Jackie offered 2 classes, a Food Photography Workshop For Food Bloggers and the Business Aspects of Food photography.  I decided to attend both classes and I am so glad I did as I was able to gain some very valuable information, tips and advice.

The classes took place at Sugar Studios a naturally lit studio located on Powell street.  The space at Sugar Studio provided an ideal setting for our first class which included ample hands on opportunities to practice  angles, lighting, props and various tidbits of information on various food settings. Surrounded by natural light, white furniture and white walls it at times proved a little tricky for reflections and shadows, but nonetheless was a great space to practice our creativeness.   A little insider information Sugar Studios will rent out their space for creative projects at a pretty reasonable rate.

Food Photography Tips:

  • Always shoot in RAW: RAW is my friend so I had that covered, but for those wondering why its because it gives you a lot more editing power
  • Use a tripod: Up to this point with the food events that I had covered  I hadn’t used a tripod for my images as I felt that these events were so fast paced and busy that I couldn’t but after this workshop I will definitely want to try using one more often.  I noticed a big difference in my images particularly in the crispness.
  • Best lens for food photography are macro lens or 50mm lens:  I was pleased that my Nikon 50mm lens made the cut but I have been wanting a macro lens for quite some time.  Jackie is a nikon user and loves the 60mm macro lens, definitely something I am considering investing in
  • White Balance setting to cloudy:   I noticed right away a change in my photos when I changed my white setting to cloudy, the images just felt more natural and not as grey
  • Avoid using your flash at all times:  Jackie believes the lighting should be natural as a flash is generally too harsh for the food and can cast an orange glow.  This works for me as I never use flash but the most important information for me about the natural light was how to use it.   Moving around and changing my angles to cut down on the various reflections or shadows was interesting and challenging.
  • Use props or change your angle to handle reflections: Using props like table cloths or napkins or moving around to change your angle can help with reflections.  Basically don’t be afraid to move around
  • Don’t be afraid to overexpose your images:  I  learnt this tip from others who attended the class, although I never practiced this at the workshop (you can tell cause the tabletop looks grey instead of white) I am definitely interested in practicing this more

Here are some sample images from the workshop coupled with some of the useful information:

Tip #1:  When shooting stacks likes the cookies above or a hamburger,  shoot so that you are either straight on or even lower so that your almost looking up.  This will give the illusion that the stack looks bigger.  Also works well for shooting drinks

Tip #2:  when shooting plates like the one above it is best to shoot at an angle of 45 degrees.

The last of the 3 angles we learnt was shooting straight overhead.  I unfortunately didn’t get a lot of practice with this one as I was pretty obsessed with the cookies but you get some idea of what this means with the above photo.  It is best to shot overhead with things that are very graphic or geometric.

For shooting drinks there is a couple of tips that I learnt that I found quite useful.  1.  decide on an angle, for example the straight on angle works well for drinks as well as shooting drinks from an angle just below the surface the food is resting on – it will make the items appear bigger. 2.  pick your focal point, this could be the garnish,  ice, or detail on the cup.  For the above photos I was really into the bubble the raspberry made.

The Business Aspects of Food Photography

The second class was more set up as a Q&A and being relatively new to the food photography scene I had certainly asked my share of questions specifically as I have been wanting to take my photography to the next level one that I can a regular income from.

Here are some of the in’s and out’s I learnt:

  • Membership opportunities:  When you’re looking to move to the next level, there are great organizations, like CAPIC (The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators), to help you.  They offer resources and networking opportunities that can improve your work and open doors.  They even do portfolio speed reviews.  Food Bloggers of Canada is another great one to be apart of and the membership is free 🙂
  • Don’t use high pixel images on your website or blog:  This information was not something I was aware of but very useful as high pixels makes a site  slow.  This is something that I need to keep in mind for both my website and blog as clients will want to see something quick and not want to have to wait around for something to load.  I have been wanting to make changes on both to clean them up and have a more simple look, so this piece of information is good motivation to start that process.
  • What and how to charge:  Jackie suggested not charging by hour but to think about charging by project based on the level of complexity or level of creativity  for the shoot.  Need to keep in mind expenses (i.e. cost of travel, gear rental, accommodation), whether you will need a food stylist, usage charge and your creative fee
  • Showcase your clients: include a small client list of those that you have worked with on your  website
  • Figure out a business model and who your client base will be: This is probably where I feel a little lost but I am starting to get a clearer picture.  I now need to figure out who will be my client base, how will I get them as a potential client, introduce them but most importantly keep them.  My mind is just full of so many ideas 🙂

Thank you  Food Bloggers of Canada for hosting the first of what I hope many more workshops.  It was an honour to be apart of the first and a pleasure meeting a few of the members.  I loved how you kept the group to a minimum as it provided enough opportunity to work with each of the food setups as well as a chance to ask Jackie some individual questions.

Special thanks to Jackie for your words of wisdom, you are a true inspiration.  I left the workshop with a renewed confidence and  clearer idea of where to from here.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience 🙂

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