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While talking about photography with Julie the other day, I realized that I hadn’t blogged about a workshop that I had recently attended. The Austin Food Blogger Alliance held an all-day Photography Camp at the end of September. Sessions included discussion about gear, styling, editing, and more, so I definitely knew that I would learn a lot, much like I did at the last AFBA photo workshop. Choosing which sessions to go to was the hardest part!


Food Photography 101 was the first class I went to, and probably the one that I thought would be most beneficial to me. Melissa Skorpil‘s job is in one of the areas I feel least comfortable with: food styling. She walked us through how she sets up for a photo shoot, including the planning that she does beforehand. She said that she actually sketches out the shots that she wants to make. I usually have no idea what I’m going to do, and so thinking about this ahead of time has made me more efficient in the long run. I was also persuaded to finally invest in some black and white foam boards!

Jane Ko takes amazing photos with her iPhone, so I went to Phoning it In next to learn her ways. Her favorite photo-editing app is Snapseed, which made me happy and sad because it’s the app I use, but her photos are so much better! Snapseed can seem a little unintuitive at first, but it’s really easy to use once you get used to it. Her main new-to-me tricks include the Details (increase sharpness and structure to 20) and Drama (increase saturation) settings. Here is an example to show you how these affect photos (click for larger view):

photo comparison

1) unedited | 2) with my usual edits | 3) with Jane’s additional edits

The differences are subtle, but doesn’t the last photo almost look like it could be in a magazine?

My friend Mary Helen Leonard led the Photo Editing class, the last one of the day. She did a comparison of the most popular editing programs: Photoshop, Lightroom, Elements, and web-based PicMonkey. While I just use iPhoto and sometimes PicMonkey, it was helpful for me to see how each worked so that when I am looking to buy a program, I won’t be doing so blindly. They also seem more easy to use now than I thought!

I wish I could have attended all of the classes, but think that All About the Gear would have been another particularly helpful one since I’m hoping to upgrade to a DSLR someday. Luckily for everyone, Peter Tsai has posted his presentation, Which Digital Camera System is Right for Me?, up on his site!

And of course, this camp was centered around FOOD photography, so we were fed very well!


Zhi Tea had a great display to go along with the iced and hot teas they provided.


Raspberry Lemonade cupcake from Better Bites Bakery


My first ever lobster roll (!) from Pamela Jane’s New England Lobster Rolls

Also, Chameleon Cold-Brew caffeinated us in the morning, and Dinner Lab catered a happy hour at the end (they made the appetizers in the comparison photos!).

A very belated thanks to all of the fantastic teachers AND to Kristin Sheppard for the huge amount of work she put into organizing the whole shebang!