Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Sunday 6 April 2014

Playing with food - a food photography journey

I have been playing around with food photography for a couple of years now, practising at home, scrolling through foodie blogs and Flickr pages, and reading books. My husband says he always knows when I have been playing around with food photography on my day off because I cook him something a bit different for dinner.  I don’t exactly know how it all started….I think I can blame the Digital Photography School - Digital Photography School - and my Flickr friend “Lindyannajones” for her “still life” series where she invited people to post still life images for critique. 

One of my early attempts - 

 A couple of weeks ago I made these two dishes…………A Mediterranean pastry and a Pumpkin and Caramalised Onion Quiche - delicious.

 To keep reading and see more pics, please click on "read more" .....

The little Mediterranean tarts were an easy little recipe which came from a "Taste" book -Taste - they have some great looking recipes and fabulous food photography which is what attracted me to the book. 
Cut piece of frozen puff pastry sheet into 4 squares. Place on a piece of baking paper on a tray. Spread ricotta over the pastry. Top with thinly sliced roasted pumpkin, olives, pine nuts, fetta, fresh or sundried tomatoes, chives, parsley. (whatever you like really). Bake at 220C for 12-15 minutes or until golden. (But be careful, mine burnt a little around the edges!)

Last year I was asked to help at a food photography morning workshop run by our Photography Group, and I am going to be assisting at another one in May, but ever since I started practising food photography I have not actually attended a food photography course. 

A couple of weeks ago I rectified this by going to a one day “Introduction to Food Photography” workshop  in Perth with a friend from the Photography Group.  It was held at “Shoot” Workshops (Shoot Workshops) in Perth and run by award winning Perth photographer Bob Litchfield (Bob Litchfield)

I expected that there was a LOT that I needed to learn. But actually I was pleasantly surprised to know that I actually knew quite a LOT already! 
A few basic tips –

  • Hunger makes food sell. The image will help sell the food. It needs to be clean, eye catching, look fresh, accurate, vibrant, enticing, and make potential diners want to eat.
  • Work quickly to retain freshness but be creative and capture the essence of the food. Work one on one with the chief as they know how the food should look.
  • Try different angles. Limit depth of field to draw the eye to the subject. Sideline less interesting aspects of the food. You don’t need to photograph the whole plate.
  • Don’t clutter the image, keep utensils, mats etc minimal and supporting role only.
  • Use a tripod. 

The course made me feel a lot better about my skills and abilities. But photographing what you decide to cook is a bit different to photographing the food that the client wants you to photograph. 

I had a little taste of this a couple of years ago when a friend of mine wanted some food shots for a project she was working on 

 The sample food images we were shown at the workshop were mostly Chinese food – you know the type of thing you might see going into an Asian takeaway where they have pictures up showing you what you can buy.  

So because of this Bob advocated plain white background, white plates, minimal distracting background elements, and close up CLOSE UP images of the food. 

There is definitely a place for this type of food photography especially for “product” photography, and looking through my images I do often take very close up pictures of food.  

However I believe if you are photographing for a cook book or magazine I believe you need to include elements that tell the story of the food, the surroundings, how you might serve it, and something that shows the history of the dish perhaps.  I think story telling through images attracts potential cooks to buy the cook book or magazine. 

What I really wanted to learn about was lighting.  I prefer to use natural light, but you don’t always have suitable natural light for instance if you are in a restaurant kitchen. So a portable lighting system is a must.  But how much are you willing to spend? The lights we used at the workshop were over $2000.00 each!!!! I certainly cannot justify that, so I need to do a bit more research on a portable lighting set that is not going to break my budget.

Last week I was contacted by a lady that wanted a photographer to take images of cupcakes for her new business.  I am not a fancy cupcake maker, but in preparation for the photo shoot I made some cupcakes so I could photograph them.  And because she is probably wanting individual images of cupcakes decorated in different themes for her brochure, web site, etc, I can see that the white plate and the white background is probably going to work well.

But first the cupcakes in the tin.  For the recipe I went back to my old high-school cookery book - The Golden Wattle Cookbook - a staple for Australian wives and mothers from way back. My mother had one - I think it was dated in the 1930s or 40s. Yes you can still buy them. 

 The photo above was taken with kitchen and window lighting, whereas the ones below were taking in my lightbox (light tent – mini studio) (small and portable) ...please do not judge me by my basic decorating….as I said I am not a fancy cupcake maker! What do you think?  These couple of pics cropped themselves when I did the mosaic in PicMonkey. You can actually see more of them in the original and I can't work out how to adjust it.

Please send me good vibes for a successful cupcake photo shoot this coming weekend!

There is also another type of light box which you can easily make with a piece of Perspex, a workshop fluro light and a box.  The light comes from underneath the items.  It is fun to play around with. 

But lightboxes are not just for food....

 I hope you have enjoyed this post about food photography and that I have inspired you to give it a try - you never know where it might take you. Do you take photos of food? Are you putting together a cookbook? What about when travelling? Food tells you a lot about cultures and traditions.

You might also like my previous blog posts - 

 Persimmons and pasta - learning manual settings

You can also see more of my food photography pics on my Flickr page - My Food pics on Flickr

There are lots of great food photography sites on the net. A couple of my favourite sites are - 

www.dariomilanophotography.com –  Dario is in Sydney Australia – and see Dario’s tips and critiques on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FoodPixels?hc_location=stream

My all-time favourite is Tartelette - www.tarteletteblog.com

Thanks for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Travel Photos Monday, Our World Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Travel Photo Thursday, What's It Wednesday, and Oh the Places I've Been. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World  
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been


  1. You have taken some excellent photos of food. How generous of you to share the tips from the course. hope you have lots of success at your nest shoot.

  2. Of course I enjoyed it, you always inspire me Jill, but I would have to give up all my other interests if I got more involved in photography.

  3. Great Food photos Jill, I'd hire you to do food photos anytime. Happy Shooting.

  4. A Wealth of information. I have no idea how to photography food but this is a grand start for me. Its advanced as well but good pointers to go by. Thanks for that Jill.

    Blushing... Im going to do some flowers today in natural light I think. Just for today keep it simple.

    I loved your post, the information , and your writing. Fantastic.
    Hugs across the Waters.

  5. Jill, you are great with Food Photography.. It must come very easy for you.. Wonderful tips and ideas! The food all looks delicious, awesome photos. Wishing you a happy week ahead!

  6. Your food photography is great. I love to take pictures of food, both of the dishes I prepare and of food in its natural state - fruits and vegetables, etc. I love the lightbox idea. Thanks for sharing your tips. I'm certain that the cupcake shoot this week will be a great success!

  7. Great photos... everything looks delicious...

  8. I think that you could be teaching those classes Jill, your images are always fantastic and I like how you display your foods, they add a warmth and charm and make one desire to have a tea, or brunch out on the patio...lovely. Your food items in this share all look and sound very yummy as well, very healthy kind of eating. Hugs for your week~

  9. Hi Jill, lovely to find your blog (thanks for commenting :)) I will look see after this and see if I can 'friend' so I can receive new posts from you. I can do with your photography tips! Love the food photography, the tip with the citrus slices on perspex very intruiging.

  10. I am salivating looking at all that delicious food so you have obviously done a good job photographing it! Keep up the good work.

  11. Food photography is an art of its own kind. Great to see your lovely captures. I have something similar in my blog.

  12. What a yummy post. You've made me hungry.

  13. Wow, Jill you so inspire me to want to do better at my food photography - well any photography really! I hope you get some workshops going in the winter, because I'll be up for them. Especially landscape and food - these photos have made me sooo hungry. Great stuff as ever!

  14. Oh I like food photographs! They are great, love the limes! And now I am hungry!

  15. A wonderful series of mouth-watering shots!

  16. I simply LOVE the last two shots!

  17. Good luck with the cupcake shoot, looking forward to seeing the results.

  18. So Delicious!!! Nice photos..
    my now post..

  19. Beautiful photos, the food looks delicious too...

  20. hi jill, i thoroughly enjoyed your post! gorgeous food photos. everything looks so delicious!

  21. As the weekend is now over, I am hoping that your cupcake photo shoot was successful. I should sign up for a food photography course sometime, or better yet, a basic photography class so I know what all my camera's settings mean. Your photos are so lovely, I just want to grab a spoon and fork to start eating.


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