So I’m jumping into the middle of my current 3 part series on ways to maximize your time as a food blogger and photographer to talk about this week’s post where Eva and I shot and styled a dark chocolate cake with lavender-infused ganache & buttercream . I feel like I say this every time, but honestly I think this post is an all time favorite to date. I remember telling Eva on shooting day that all the elements, textures and colors we were working with are an absolute favorite combination of mine.
- Any time that you work with aesthetics and colors that are already naturally pleasing to your eye, you’ll find an abundance of creativity and inspiration. Everyone is drawn to specific aspects of design, and when you find that, run with it. You’ll find that the outcome is long lasting.
This shooting day was extra fun because Eva and I co taught the last class of her online food styling and photography course live from her kitchen. We spent two hours online with several of her students and had a wonderful time interacting, answering questions and all over just having a great time together. I found it inspiring spend part of the afternoon with fellow bloggers and food photographers located all over the world.
By the way, if you haven’t heard, Eva and I are co hosting a workshop in a few weeks here in Portland! If you can get here, it will be well worth your time and we’ll have so much fun learning together! Material covered will include hands-on styling and plating of dishes with an emphasis on greenery & spring flowers, adjusting internal camera settings and their effects on the image, lenses and their focal lengths, manipulation of natural light, as well as an hour long post-processing session in Adobe Lightroom 5.
More information on this event here and make sure to sign up during the early bird special, only available through February 25th.
So I found the styling of this shoot in particular to come quite naturally as we worked together. Looking back, it seems the reason behind this is simply because the recipe that Eva developed called for various types of ingredients that were all full of texture; you maybe have already guessed what element I’m referring too, but just in case you haven’t, it’s the thing that we all love and can’t live without ; chocolate!
When I arrived on set, I didn’t have a plan or pre set idea on how to style the shoot, or any direction in how I would focus my shooting for the day. I go back and forth on this by the way; sometimes I have a vision in mind prior to shooting, but sometimes it’s all spur of the moment. I have found value in both ways and I’m comforted by that because sometimes the schedule doesn’t allow for the time required to set this whole master plan in motion.
- Creativity at the fullest comes to life in of moments of inspiration as we are moving into developing a concept, often times without a carefully prepared plan. The end result is sometimes surprising, but always, you’ll find that creativity came to life in a new way when you take that risk without having a calculated result.
So the first creative idea I had was sparked by looking at all the different types of chocolate the recipe called for. We had every variety you could think of so naturally, why not capture an ingredient shot showcasing piles of chocolate?
Before we even started prepping the cake, we grabbed a few dishes, all along the same type, color, and texture and laid them out. We then started filling these plates/dishes with every type of chocolate. I grabbed a beautiful linen blue and white towel to add as well, and the color ended up being gorgeous next to the dark, rich chocolate tones.
Then we started moving dishes around, looking in the frame of our lens’, adjusting as needed to get the right angle and such (don’t worry, I’ll get into the technical side of styling and using aesthetics down the road in a future post, so more on that later).
We then transitioned into preparing/ baking the cake, of which this part of the process was left un captured. We saved the shooting for the before and after which I think was a great choice for this one.
- Sometimes you’ll need to choose where your efforts are best spent on a shoot. For instance, you won’t always want to capture the whole process unless the focus of your blog is to provide step by step instructions for your readers.
I knew that the end result would be just gorgeous since we were shooting a chocolate cake, and since I only have a limited amount of photos I can share within one single post, I knew that saving my camera for the before (simply the chocolate shots) and after shots would be the best choice for this recipe and shoot as a whole.
Lastly, I’d like to show an example of where I got a little extra creative in my shooting angle for a specific shot. I find myself always exploring new ways to capture something, as I easily tire of the same shooting angles and outcomes. I think that’s a great quality to have as a stylist, in being able to see things in a new and exciting way every time you approach a set or recipe.
- Keeping things fresh and new is a great quality and is helpful when shooting for different companies and brands so you’re able to accurately reflect their work in a way that’s desirable for their audience.
Below you’ll see 5 different examples of how I moved my frame and chose a different angle each time, giving my 5 completely different results:
1. This shot is a near 45 degree angle, and you’ll notice I included Eva in a portion of the frame as to add some interest. By doing this, the viewer is not only looking at the cake being sliced, but is able to feel more apart of the experience of her cutting the cake.
Notice also that her right hand is the focus point in the image. Another option that would have completely changed the image and provided experience would have been to focus in on her face, allowing for the rest of the image to be blurred, creating a more personal experience for the viewer.
2. This is also a near 45 degree angle, but you’ll see that I’m now more behind her, capturing an image that expresses more of an insider’s view, as if peaking in. The knife here is beautifully in focus, drawing your attention to the action of slicing that piece that we all obviously want to devour!
3. This is a great overhead shot. I’m now above Eva on a chair, looking down over her head to capture the slicing from above, allowing also for the cake and candle to be in focus. You’ll notice that I’m only inches away from my last capture, but here it provides a completely different result for the viewer’s experience.
4. Here you’ll see I’m capturing the slicing at a closer range, still maintaining a near 45 degree angle. The focal point is focused more towards the front of the image; the space before the actual cake, including the sliced portion.
I really love the complexity of this shot; there’s a lot of interest happening here but it’s not too much. The backdrop is blurred just enough thanks to using a 1.4 aperture, providing a really nice shallow depth of field. You have the personal addition with the hand coming in from the right, and the sliced piece in the front of the image. I think this all works together really well.
5. Lastly, I just have to say, this image below is the winner of this photo shoot. Honestly we captured so many amazing images, but this one just feels magical to me. It’s probably because it’s quite different than your normal food photography capture. Everything just works… the visual interest, the open space above Eva, the table spread with beautiful things, her leaning in…I don’t know about you, but it simply draws me into an experience.
Remember what I said above about being able to constantly move around and think of your environment in new ways? This is where this really paid off. If I would have stayed focused on “the cake”, I would have missed the visual interest captured from afar. I hope you enjoy this shot as much as I have!
For more on this shoot, including loads more of incredible photos, make sure to check out the coordinating post found here, where we make Dark Chocolate Lavender Cake with lavender infused ganache and butter cream.