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photography is srs bsns.

A couple weeks ago, I saw a tweet encouraging people to sign up for a food photography workshop being held by the Austin Food Blogger Alliance on October 9.  Since I just moved here, I thought it would be a good way to meet fellow local bloggers and learn some things about photography.  Of course when the day (last Sunday) finally came around, I got nervous and almost didn’t go.  Yep, I’m super shy and a room full of strangers is something that I tend to want to avoid.  The fact that this would have been my first ever food blogger event added to my uneasiness.

But I went, and guess what?  I met fellow local bloggers and learned some things about photography, and had a good time doing so!


The event was held at Aviary Lounge on South Lamar which was a unique cross between wine bar and home decor store.  Marco, the owner, had set up stations with platters of interesting meats, cheeses, breads, and fruit for us to photograph.  I was one of the first few attendees there and introduced myself to Ginny of Ginny’s Kitchen and Crystal of Kitchen Serendipity, aka the first food bloggers I’ve ever met!  (note: I didn’t actually know any of the bloggers online beforehand.)  About 20 people total showed up, including the pros leading the workshop: John Knox, Matthew Lemke, Don Mason, Loren Root, Peter Tsai, and Marshall Wright.   In small groups, each was to address certain topics like lighting, equipment, editing software, and food styling.

funny bread

Here are some of the things I learned from Peter along with fellow point-and-shooter Michelle of Foodie is the New Forty!

Lighting: Whenever I can, I take pictures by windows during the day, but often the side not facing the light is darker, of course.  If you hold up something white like poster board on the windowless side, it will reflect the light and better illuminate your subject.  I was aware of this, but had never actually tried it because, um…I don’t know?  It really does make a difference!

Peter also showed us how using flash for photos in daylight can really make an image pop.  Here I’ve been shunning my flash, but he’s totally right!

without flash with flash

Zoom, Zoom: Both Michelle and I had been mostly “zooming” by getting up close to our subjects.  Peter showed us what a difference actually zooming makes: it can get unwanted objects out of the background and also not doing so can distort images due to the curvature of the lens.  I’ve been playing with with my zoom a lot lately!

caper berry, unzoomed caper berry, zoomed

Thrifty Equipment: Michelle had one of those double-headed book lights which seemed to be a handy, cheap, portable light source for low-light situations.  Bonus: you can move the heads around for multiple light sources…and if you’re a musician like me, it totally doubles as a stand light!

Peter had a portable tripod that I tried out, which is something I’ve been meaning to get.  When you’re mainly taking pictures of food, something small that can sit on the counter is perfect.  Searching Amazon, this teeny one is only $2.59!

bread truck!

I’m so glad that I went!  There is still so much for me to learn even with my little camera, so I’m not yet lamenting the fact that a DSLR is way out of my budget. Right now I think composition is the most challenging thing for me, and I also need to get better at taking/using fewer photos (*cough*) and learning to tell a story with them.

Thanks to all the pros for their help, to Aviary Decor for hosting, and to Jennie of MisoHungry for organizing this event!  I’m looking forward to future blogger functions.

food styling inside Aviary