I am just going to assume that most of you reading this are food bloggers. After all, who likes to read food blogs more than food bloggers do?
Awhile back I realized that a lot of people in my life don’t understand what I mean when I say that I’m a food blogger. Sure, they know that I play with my camera a lot and think about food, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Mostly in the name of equipment.
Since the holiday season is approaching, I thought I would help all my fellow food bloggers out. Are people constantly asking you what you need or want for Christmas? Just forward them this list. There’s bound to be something on it that you desperately need, or that would just be plain fun to have.
And, please know that I was NOT asked to promote any of these items. These are simply things that I use and adore and wanted to share with you. So here goes…
1. A DSLR Camera and Travel Case
Don’t get me wrong here, I started with a point-and-shoot camera and I certainly couldn’t live without my iPhone, but if you don’t have a DSLR yet, this might be the time to upgrade. I’ve had my Canon Rebel for over three years now and I love it. The rebel is a wonderful all-around camera for food photography and if you buy a decent 50mm lens, this is pretty much the only equipment you need especially if you are just getting started.
My other tip when it comes to cameras is to get a decent travel case. Most of us don’t need a gigantic camera bag; instead, you need something small and portable that makes it easy to take your camera to restaurants, farmers markets, or on-the-go. Over the summer I purchased the Case Logic Day Holster. It’s big enough to fit my camera and an extra battery, but it’s small enough that I can carry it on my shoulder all day and it doesn’t feel too heavy. I love using it when I travel as well as for daytime use around the city.
2. Tasty Food Photography
Alright so maybe you already have a DSLR or are thinking of getting one, but are nervous about learning how to use it. Believe me, I’ve been there. I was pretty overwhelmed when I first bought my camera and I think it took me about a year to learn enough through trial-and-error to finally feel confident. Last year I discovered this amazing ebook written by Lindsay of Pinch of Yum called Tasty Food Photography. It has changed my life.
What I love most about Lindsay’s book is that it’s written specifically for beginners because she is a self-taught photographer and knows what it’s like to start at the beginning. Her book teaches you practical tips in a step-by-step fashion so it’s easy to learn and implement. There’s no fluff and she definitely covers everything you need to know from the basics of using your camera to photo editing and even props and composition.
And, Tasty Food Photography even comes with video tutorials! If you’re a visual person like me, sometimes it’s easier to learn when you can see someone demonstrating rather than just reading about it. If you haven’t seen her book before, it’s a fabulous resource – whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for new tips to spice up your photos!
My two other favorite books about food photography are Plate to Pixel written by Helene Dujardin and Will Write for Food by Diane Jacobs. In my opinion, all of these are mandatory if you’re a food blogger.
3. Placemats, Napkins, and Dish Towels… oh my!
Alright, now let’s talk about the fun stuff: props. You know you’re a food blogger when you go over to someone’s house for dinner and all you can think is “wow, I really want to shoot with that placemat.” Yes, I have had this thought before.
In my experience, you want a variety of placemats and napkins because different colors and textures can add a lot to photos. I really like natural-looking placemats that add a lot of texture behind photos (like these tweed woven ones) or ones with fun prints (like these).
If you’re just starting your napkin collection, I recommend buying two sets: a white set and a set with fun colors. I also love using white flour sack towels or patterned dish towels in photos and you can usually buy them in a set with various patterns (like this one) so you have multiple backgrounds to work with.
If you already have a DSLR and like using natural light for photos, the next piece of equipment I would recommend is a decent tripod. One of my biggest challenges during this time of year is getting decent light (thanks, Seattle) so awhile back I invested in a Manfrotto aluminum tripod with a rotating ball head. The great thing about shooting food is that your subject doesn’t move and having a stable tripod will allow you to use a slower shutter speed (allowing more light into the camera) while still maintaining crisp photos.
5. Artificial Lighting
Last year I finally bought myself a decent artificial lighting system because Seattle is so grey for most of the year and I was tired of only being able to take photos at 10 am on a Saturday. In the past I’ve tried many DIY options made from lights at the hardware store, but the funny thing is that this lighting kit is actually cheaper than the DIY options and it’s amazing! Of course you can’t replace the beauty of natural light so I try to use natural daylight as much as possible, but this time of year having artificial lighting can be really helpful.
6. Salad Plates
Over time my plate collection has grown and now my kitchen cabinets are bursting with fun options. However, I wish I had known in the beginning that salad plates are best for food photography. Salad plates are smaller, thus, take less food to look full and abundant and are the perfect size for my shots. If you don’t already have salad plates, get yourself some standard white salad plates and, perhaps, a fun colorful set with cute edges (like these ones).
7. White poster board
You can’t say that you’re a food blogger until you own multiple pieces of white poster board. I’m pretty sure it’s a rule. Poster board is essential for gently reflecting light onto the food and you can also use it as a background if needed. You can buy white poster board at any craft store, office supply store, or online and it’s helpful to have a few on-hand because these can get greasy or dirty over time.
These are a just a few things I adore and use often, but I’d love to hear from you too. Leave a comment below and share some of your favorite food blogging equipment! And, what are you asking Santa for this year?