Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

by Alli

A few months ago I asked a question on my Facebook page that went something like this, “What would you like to see me blog about?” Several people mentioned that they would love to see what goes on Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger. You asked for it, you got it!

Behind the Scenes of A Food Blogger

Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger begins with creating delicious recipes, menus, beautiful DIY tablescapes, blog post ideas, etc. It also means cooking up a storm (as grandma used to say), prepping food for photos (food styling), deciding the backgrounds to use and actually taking photos. I’ve taken up to 50+ photos for one blog post. If it’s a party post, I take even more.

Oh, and it also usually means a totally destroyed kitchen. I need a sous chef and someone to clean up my messes. Cleaning up is the one negative thing about blogging.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at my Cherry Margarita Mocktail set-up. By looking at the blog photos, you’d never know I took these on the deck in 70º weather during the holiday season. You can barely see my step ladder for taking overhead photos. (Sometimes I use a for-real ladder to get high overhead shots). I’m up above the roof of my house when I use the big boy ladder.

Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger - An Alli Event

The end result:

Cherry Margarita Mocktail featuring Cherry 7UP® - Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

Speaking of party posts, when I first started blogging, I set up a particular party, took lots of photos and when I downloaded the photos to my computer, I hated every one of them.  I didn’t like the lighting (what lighting?), I didn’t like the setup. I didn’t like anything about it. So, if at first you don’t succeed . . . The very next day I redid the entire party by setting it up outside and the photos were perfect.

Apologies to my husband, my sister, my cousins, daughters, and sons, but natural lighting is my best friend. There’s no way you can compete. But keep trying.

Here’s another behind the scenes look. It was taken with my camera phone. Don’t judge. 

Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger - Props

Here’s the end result:

I've got an easy, DIY Tuscan Tablescape & Shrimp Fra Diavolo in under 20 minutes.Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

Here’s another behind-the-scenes shot taken while I was in the middle of setting up in front of a window.

Behind the Scenes of a food Blogger

Finished product:

Finished Product - Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

Helpful Hint: When filming outdoors, I use trays to carry the food, props, etc. so my 10 trips from the house to the porch are trimmed down. Here’s a tray full of Tiramisu Parfaits and props.

Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger - Trays come in handy!

It’s so easy to grab my phone and take a behind the scenes pic. I was about to start cooking for my Italian Dinner Party Ideas and Recipes.

Cooking Session - Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

Here’s a look at my equipment, my setup, etc.

My Camera

My husband is 1st runner-up (after natural lighting) in the best friend category. After using my daughter’s Nikon D80 for almost 2 years (I still love that camera and she will always have a special place in my heart) I had a sudden realization that she would be getting married in the spring and leaving me high and dry in the camera department. So, after months of researching and changing my mind a few times, I threw out some strategically placed hints here and there about the camera (and lens) I wanted. And Santa, I mean, my husband delivered.

The camera I use now is a Nikon D750. It’s the girl of my dreams! Where have you been all my blogging life? I admit that I was intimidated at first and wondered if I had bit off more camera than I could chew. I mean, this is a put-on-your-big-girl-panties camera. Then I took a deep breath, watched a few youtube videos and I’m good to go . . . for now.  (Psst: I still have a lot to learn.)

No offense to my Canon friends, but I’m just a Nikon girl – always have been, always will be.  And you would not believe how this thing shoots in low light situations. Goodbye noise, grain, whatever. See ya!

I loved that old D80 and the lens, but I had to take just about every shot outside. If it rained, I was up the creek without a paddle and I have been known to dash outside between sprinkles to get a good shot. It was raining when I shot No Tequila Just the Sunrise.

No Tequila Just the Sunrise - Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

Lens

My husband also bought me one lens to go with my new camera. I do want to add more, but, hey, it takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day! I haven’t a clue as to how he knew my favorite lens was a Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G. I guess he overheard me say it 1,000 times a day. Wink. 

I do have some more lenses in mind, but this is a great start and perfect for food photography. So, I’m good for now – until my birthday, anniversary, etc.

Tripod

I had rather hold my camera than use a tripod any day of the week and twice on Sunday (southern speak). When I do use a tripod, I use a Manfrotto 294 Aluminum Tripod Kit with Ball Head with Quick Release. I consider this an entry level Manfrotto and it serves my purposes. I mainly use it when I have to dial down the shutter speed below 60 so that the photos won’t be blurry.  I haven’t used it at all with my new camera. 

Lighting, Etc.

I’ve relied on a Lowel EGO Digital Imaging, Tabletop Fluorescent Light Unit many times over the last couple of years. It’s really the only lighting I have for now and it serves its purpose. It’s out of stock at the moment. 

To bounce light and get rid of those dark shadows, I use white poster board, white canvases and Neewer Portable Translucent, Silver, Gold, White, and Black Collapsible Round Multi Disc Light Reflector. I have a tripod stand for it, too. 

There was a time when I knew absolutely nothing about photography and I would buy the cutest dishes for plating food and paid no attention whether they were shiny or matte. Matte is better! Nor would I pay attention to props. Props should never overshadow the food.

Helpful Hint:  The food should always be the star.

I’ve read several books on food photography/staging food, and I’ve taken several photography courses. I’ve graduated from PicMonkey to LightRoom (I still use PicMonkey for some stuff – gotta love the monkey) and learned to use small plates (makes food look big), mostly white dishes and how to pose food so that it doesn’t look bland or one-dimensional. (Brown food looks better on blue plates).

I could go on and on, but I’m slightly past 1,000 words and that’s way too many words for one post. How did you like a peek behind the scenes of a food blogger?

Any questions or comments? (I love a good Q&A)

Behind the Scenes of a Food Blogger

 

23 comments

Angelic Sinova April 4, 2016 - 6:24 am

I always love seeing another bloggers behind the scenes peek into what goes in to getting the “perfect shot.” Your end results photos are so gorgeous <3

Reply
Sweetima April 4, 2016 - 7:53 am

Thank you for sharing this! I really enjoy looking at other bloggers’ behind the scenes. Loved this?

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Zan April 4, 2016 - 8:33 am

I had a post similar to this that I wanted to post today but did not get it done. It is not totally a behind the scenes with food but great minds think alike. I have always wanted to do a behind the scenes post but obviously, I haven’t yet.I do many of these things too when I am taking for recipes, except the ladder part:) I hear you on the camera struggles. I am never satisfied with my photo qualities except when I take them outside. Many times, I skip posting recipes because of camera and lighting. So glad you have upgraded to a better camera. I love to throw out hints to the hubs when I need something new:)

BTW: Just this weekend I have been searching for the perfect camera. I decided it was time to make the plunge!!! Great minds think alike!!

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Chris Lewis April 4, 2016 - 10:05 am

I love seeing the behind the scenes. Sometimes it seems that it is so easy to take great shots, but this just shows how much time and prep goes into making a great food blog!

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Jenn @ EngineerMommy April 4, 2016 - 11:39 am

This is a great look at how much work is really required to get one good shot of food! It’s amazing how much time & efforts goes into styling, lighting, props, food, etc. Thanks for the product recommendations- I’m looking for a new tripod and that one looks great.

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Pam April 4, 2016 - 1:44 pm

People don’t realize how much work goes into getting those perfect food pictures they see on blogs! I have thought about doing a post like this to show people my styling and props and my usual set up.

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Mimi Green April 4, 2016 - 2:41 pm

This is was a great post, I moonlight as a part time food blogger but I need to step my picture game all the way up. My next home is going to have a lot of natural light bust beaming into the joint.

You do such a great job.

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Mary April 4, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Alli, thanks for the behind the scenes peek. I know my next big step is to improve my photos. I have bought or have been gifted the equipment but to tell you the truth, I’m a bit intimidated. I love how wonderful your shots are. It makes my mouth water… lol

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Jeanine April 4, 2016 - 8:21 pm

Love this. I’m always curious about the photos. Food bloggers have such gorgeous shots all the time I’m in awe.

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Brittany April 4, 2016 - 10:05 pm

Great tips! I hope to be able to master photography soon. The most important for me is bright and natural light and lots of white!

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Chantal April 4, 2016 - 10:45 pm

Love this! People don’t think about how much work goes into these stunning photos!

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rika April 5, 2016 - 12:31 am

I really enjoy your behind the scenes! This is a great article for any food blogger

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Franc Ramon April 5, 2016 - 1:35 am

You really should have a good camera for food blogs as you need to show more details in your food. You should also think of creative ways of presenting your food.

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Dawn gibson-thigpen April 5, 2016 - 12:34 pm

this is the first behind the scenes i have seen from a food blogger and i love it. your camera is amazing. i love your pics.

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Miranda (Anosa) April 5, 2016 - 2:48 pm

I must confess this has put me to shame as I dont really take nice pictures as a blogger and I am lucky to take 5 pictures for a post lol but loving the behind the scenes and i need me a camera soon

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Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy April 5, 2016 - 8:46 pm

I love this idea! I think you take such great shots! I have a Nikon, too. I’ve been thinking of upgrading to Canon, but I’m so afraid of the learning curve since I know my way around a Nikon.

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MJ April 5, 2016 - 9:27 pm

Love the behind the scenes Look. I have a party post on my blog that while the part itself was beautiful, the pics are horrible! All due to lighting. I keep thinking about reshooting it outside. I probably will.

I’m a Nikon girl too. I don’t have a big body yet but it is on my dream list!

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Jasmine Watts April 6, 2016 - 10:16 am

This is a great post and I really enjoy your behind the scenes! Your camera is amazing.

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Shirley Wood April 6, 2016 - 10:25 am

There is an amazing amount of work involved in getting great photos. I have so much more to learn. I also use the white board and a tripod. My camera is a Canon but I’ve never tried another brand. I have so much more to learn about great photos! Great lighting is key!
I love it when good bloggers share good tips!

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Rebekah April 6, 2016 - 1:36 pm

You work so hard and your pics are always stunning. I’m proud of you, Mom!

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Karyl Henry April 6, 2016 - 6:17 pm

I LOVE this! I’ve seriously upped my picture game in the last couple of months, but I still have such a long way to go when it comes to staging food. I really need to work on that. I had never thought about photographing outside until I heard someone mention it on the Food Network last weekend. So common sense yet I NEVER thought about doing it! Pretty sure I’ll be hitting the thrift shops this weekend to look for some inexpensive staging props. Thank you for the inspiration!

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Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai April 23, 2016 - 2:27 pm

WOW! What an awesome post. This is so helpful…I could have read a few 1000 more words! I too am a Nikon girl, but I’m still in diapers compared to you. I would love a new camera, someday, I’ll get there. 🙂 Thanks for these many wonderful tips, and I will definitely hit you up with specific questions.

~Lorelai
Life With Lorelai

Reply
How to Take Excellent Food Photos for Your Blog - An Alli Event August 16, 2017 - 6:01 am

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