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  • Writer's pictureSarah Graham

Food Photography: Before & After (Cookies, Muffins, & Tortes-OH MY!)

I have decided to share some before and afters with my audience to show just what some good lighting, styling, creativity, and technical photography skills can do to a subject.

I like to work with natural light streaming in through a window. The best window in my house happens to be the office window and I use a white tri-poster board to reflect the light back in to the set so it softens the shadows from being too harsh. It also creates neutral white "walls" in the background of the images if I need them.

I have all sorts of linens, props, and backgrounds available to style the shoot with, although you will see a bunch of them repeated in my images on my website. See if you can spot them reworked in varying ways : ) This is where my main creativity comes in to play. Then, there's a second and third round of creativity in the shot angles, followed by the editing and cropping process.

Here are some recent before and afters:

I knew for these shortbread cookies that I wanted to experiment with flour sprinkled around the cookies. Turned out pretty good don't you think? Look at how many different angles and set ups I was able to show with a simple stack of cookies! Plus, you can always get a better connection if you pull in an ingredient from the food and use it as a side prop in the image (the flour sprinkles, the strawberry, the blueberries below).

My inspiration for these muffins was the crochet placemat accompanied by the crochet trimmed basket. I've been wanting to do some big fluffy blueberry muffins. So I decided the crochet would give the muffins a nice homey, just baked by grandma feel.

I also got to play with my new light diffuser. See the big circle in the window? It makes light coming in more soft and even. Don't tell me you don't want to reach right in to this photograph and take a big bite of these fluffy, crumbly muffins!

For this stack of strawberry cheesecake cookies, I decided to set up shop by the front door since it was nice outside. I opened the door to let the sunshine in. I also decided to try shooting using a tripod for the first time with my food photography. I learned how to connect my phone to the camera's wifi so that I can control the camera and take pictures using my phone instead of the camera buttons! It actually made it go much faster and allowed me to take less photographs to have to go through later. I could focus longer on the angles, light, and clarity before snapping a picture.

I used a piece of shipping paper from a box, cut it into a square, crumpled it, and placed it under the stack of cookies. The twine adds an earthy, home-baked touch. Notice the crumbs and half eaten cookie and how it makes it look like I'm in the process of finishing off a different stack of cookies that were next to it. Showing the inside of the food makes it more appetizing too and shows how someone else has already dug in to the deliciousness! I am in love with the final images of these pink cookies!

I saw this peanut butter torte at the grocery store and knew it would make an awesome subject! I immediately knew I wanted to put it on my cake stand and extend the chocolate drippings over the sides. I also knew I had to pull out an ingredient to add as accessories around the subject, so I got more mini Reese's cups and peanuts to lay around the torte. Do you see the syringe full of chocolate syrup? I needed thin lines of chocolate and this worked perfectly to add more. Voila! A much more detailed torte that looks home-made : )

Look at this thing of beauty! It is such a plain set up: plain cake stand, plain napkin, plain dark background, but man does it allow the torte to really stand out! One thing I know for sure - chocolate sauce is better when it's dripping!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some behind-the-scenes and before and afters of how my food photography images come to life. I will post more before and afters as they become available.

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