photos by cassandra mcd.
I decided to try to learn food photography by watching YouTube vid and using only natural light. It was my solution to being able to practice photography during the long, cold winter months when I’m hunkered down at home. I also thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get me into the kitchen and trying some different recipes. I don’t enjoy cooking that much so I wanted to make it more enjoyable.
It worked. I joined, then Gastropost, a foodie community, that had weekly food missions that we could participate in for a chance to get our photo featured in the weekend National Post newspaper. That was pretty fun. I got featured several times and found myself looking for new recipes on a regular basis. Gastropost sadly ended last year but it was fun while it lasted.
Not that long ago, I was involved in a weekend project where I got to make and shoot a few different “simple recipes” for a friend. I had a full test kitchen going on and I will never do it again! I underestimated the amount of work involved. Also as a natural light shooter, I only had a small window of decent sunlight to get the shots done so I had to work fast. It was still fun and I have some photos and lessons learned I want to share with you, starting with 5 simple tips for planning a food photoshoot in natural light.
5 Natural Light Food Photo tips for Beginners:
- Know your limits: Limit what you plan to shoot. Try only a couple dishes in one shoot, especially if you are not a hardcore planner (I’m not) and you may want to experiment with plating and try different setups
- Planners Win: Pre-plan your shoot – Pinterest is great for styling ideas
- Get it together: Organize your props and put them in a reachable spot. The more prepared you are the less amount of time and precious sunlight you’ll waste. I speak from experience!
- No Fillers Please: Never use flash, never! if it starts getting dark, you are better calling it a day.
- Leftovers are good motivation: If you are just learning, like myself, one tip is to think about if you can freeze the food or keep leftovers for lunch or dinner. This serves as an excellent determining factor in what I choose to shoot!
I’m sharing my photos of a simple Stuff Mushrooms dish photographed in natural light, using an old beat up Canon Rebel T1 with the 50mm lens that cost about $100.
Hope you enjoy this and get inspired to shoot something for your blog or social media or…cook something yummy!
1 lb fresh mushrooms, medium sized
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
½ tsp dried oregano leaves
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
- Brush or wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth. Remove stems from mushrooms. Set caps aside. Finely chop mushroom stems.
- In a medium bowl, combine chopped stems and all remaining ingredients.
- Press mixture firmly into mushroom caps, mounding on top.
- Place on a sheet pan with shallow sides.
- Bake at 350F for 18 to 23 minutes.
- Serve warm.