Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Current Food Photography Styles and Trends: A Cake Case Study


When BlogHer asked Anita Chu and me to speak at this past weekend's annual BlogHer Food conference (in Seattle!) about current food photography trends and styles, it didn't take me very long to settle on this challenge: take one single subject--a cake, in this instance--and shoot it using the many different styles of food photography that are present on the blogosphere today. This experiment arose naturally from my (and Anita's) academic proclivity for controlled scientific studies: holding the subject matter, the photographer, and the camera equipment constant, how does varying the other elements in the photograph--the approach to light, the framing, the styling, the props, etc.--change the stories and emotions a photograph can communicate and evoke? That is, how can we use photographic style to tell unique stories about the food?

As part of our presentation, Anita and I scoured the food-blogosphere and collected a handful of work we thought was representative of the different styles found out there today. We also looked at the history of food photography, and the changes in styles and trends that the field has undergone since food photography's beginnings in the 1940s and 50s. Style, we determined, is made up of a conglomeration of many elements--propping, lighting, etc.--and each style develops (and had developed over time historically) for a specific purpose. To understand the purpose behind style choices allows us as photographers and artists to be able to use features of each style intelligently and to help develop our individual visual voices as well.

Because I don't want to infringe on copyright, I can't share the first two parts of our presentation here (you should have come to BlogHer Food!), but hopefully this ca{k, s}e study will make up for it. Discussion of the styles comes first; then, some lighting and technical details follow after the jump. For larger image views, clicking on the photos should take you to fullscreen. (Please be forewarned, this is a monstrously long post.)


In the course of our research, Anita and I identified six major groups of food photography styles prominent on the blogosphere (and partly in print) today, with some variations and sub-groups within each one: (1) product, (2) journalistic and straightforward, (3) bright and propped, (4) lifestyle-inspired, (5) bold and clean, and (6) chiaroscuro. Of course, these style classifications are painted with very broad strokes, and the styles have within them a lot more subtlety than we could ever hope to cover in an hour's talk. It's important to understand that these groups aren't as much categorical and distinct as they are part of a continuous range--everything is related, and we saw inspirations and influences carried from one style to the next and the next. But, as a helpful guide, here are the six (with two variations) of our food photography style groups.

[NB: the photographers mentioned herein are only a small sample of the talent that's out there on the blogosphere, and it was impossible to include everyone. Also, these photographers are all more than capable of a wide range of styles, but we tried to categorize them using the most representative recent work on their blogs.]


{1 | Product}

Product photography isn't quite as prominent a style on the food blogosphere, but it is important to mention since a vast majority of the photography of food is still for adverts and uses product photography. The purpose of product photos is typically to demonstrate the product and to sell the product, so clean, glossy images with minimal distractions are important for the focus on the food.

Characteristics
glossy images
all-white or black backgrounds, sometimes with mirrored surfaces
usually studio-lit, with minimal shadows
careful and clean styling

In the above image, a large slice is cut out of the cake to expose the layers inside. As the stylist (and photographer), I thought this would be important for a product photograph, because--as one audience member pointed out at our BlogHer Food discussion--in buying a cake, you don't want any mystery in what you're buying. The cut-away slice and the bright lighting grant the viewer full access to what the cake is all about, inside and out (by the way, in case you're wondering: it's a delicious coconut chocolate raspberry cake, for which I will post the recipe in a few days).


{2 | Journalistic and Straightforward}

The style of journalistic and straightforward photography grows out of reportage: its goal is to be educational, to reveal the back-story of how the food comes to be, to show how the food is when unadorned and as you would find it in the real world. Saveur is chock-full of this style of food photography. On the blogosphere, Jen Yu of use real butter is someone to study when it comes to this type of straightforward, documentary style.

Characteristics
documentary style
use of overheads to show process
action shots
little-to-no extra styling, minimal propping
strong, clear light

In my version of the journalistic/straightforward style of this cake study, I chose to make an in-process photograph of Anita stacking and frosting the cake layers. One reason to use this style of photography on food blogs is so you can demonstrate the process of cooking and inspire the reader to cook as well: the attitude of "I want you to try this recipe, so I'm showing you that it can be done!" rather than just showing a finished product.


{3 | Bright and Propped}

What we're calling "bright and propped" is perhaps the best known and most familiar style in the current food blogosphere, with its roots in the early white and airy Donna Hay photographs of the late 1990s and early 2000s, though it has developed quite a bit since. It's a style that evokes a bucolic and idyllic atmosphere by using brighter but softer light and fewer shadows and by incorporating elements beyond the food in a variety of props, more background details, and staging. As opposed to some of the other styles (e.g., product, bold & clean), there is more of the scene available to these photographs: they show off a way of life in addition to the food. Photographers in the food blogosphere who exemplify this style of work are Helene Dujardin (Tartelette), Aran Goyoaga (Cannelle et Vanille), Mowie Kay (Mowielicious), Bea Peltre (La Tartine Gourmande), and Lakshmi Wennäkoski-Bielicki (Pure Vegetarian).

Characteristics
soft, diffuse light
use of colors and patterns
airy, happy images
precise, delicate staging
full framing, with foreground and background elements
vintage, rustic props

The "bright and propped" image of the cake above features more feminine details in the styling and a more light-hearted feel to the whole image, with the polka dots and the repetition of the heart pattern. My intent as the photographer was to create an airier, dreamier feel with the bright backlight. A BlogHer Food participant commented also that the three-quarters angle at which the cake is shot makes it seem more dainty and far less imposing. It looks more approachable and friendly than, say, the more imposing product photography image of the cake in {1}.


{4 | Lifestyle-inspired}

As food magazines and publications like Gourmet and Time Life gained popularity in the 1960-80s, there was a rise in lifestyle-inspired food photography, where a narrative behind the food becomes important: what's the scene? the context in which the food is being eaten? the story behind the dish? Gourmet (may it rest in peace) was, after all, not only a food magazine but "the magazine of good living," and part of defining that "good living" was defining the lifestyle of which the food was a key element. In the current "instant" age of sharing, there's another jump in the incorporation of lifestyle in food photography. We have an urge to document and share the moments in which we're enjoying and eating the food, so details from beyond the plate are sneaking into the frame, and there is a much more casual feel to the staging and styling of the food. We are also seeing film-like sensibilities to many of the photographs in this style, perhaps stemming from the same nostalgia kick that is driving our current instagram obsession. Photographers on the food blogosphere that shoot in this style are Tara O'Brady (seven spoons) and Nikole Herriott / Michael Graydon (Forty-Sixth at Grace), and lifestyle/portrait photographer Alice Gao (lingered upon) also shoots beautiful lifestyle-inspired food photography these days.

Characteristics
more context to the food
larger apertures with wider angles to bring more into the frame
more negative space
film-like contrast
casual staging/styling

In line with the narrative aspect of the lifestyle-inspired style, I wanted to create a vignette of a birthday celebration in this cake photograph, so I tried to capture the cake (and smoke from the candles) at the moment Anita blew them out. (P.S. It actually was Anita's birthday a month ago, so while a wee bit belated, Happy Birthday, Anita!) While the focus is still on the food--this is food photography after all--, there is more to the image than just the cake. This sort of lifestyle approach, I find, humanizes and really personalizes an image, adding a genuine quality to the food--like, you know someone is going to eat that cake as part of a happy celebration. Such a story behind the food can help inspire readers of the recipe to try the cake as part of their own celebrations.

(Special thanks also to Jacqueline Jaszka of A Happy Day for the post-processing of the above photograph.)


{5a | Bold and Clean, #1}

Unlike the lifestyle-inspired or bright/propped styles, Bold and Clean focuses intently on the food, with few distractions from the main subject in the frame--basically, a minimalist/utilitarian approach to emphasizing the beauty of the food. The idea is, as photographer Nicole Franzen (La Buena Vida) wrote to me to describe this (her) style: "[the] Food should stand out for itself." By keeping the rest of the image very clean, the eye is immediately drawn to the food, and it makes the viewer focus on the interesting details within the food itself rather than relying on a scene to create more interest.

Within the Bold and Clean family, I tend to make a distinction between two different approaches: one that features slightly more dramatic lighting and cleaner, minimal backgrounds (5a | Bold and Clean #1 above) and one that uses brighter and bolder color schemes as a backdrop to the food (5b | Bold and Clean #2 below). These two different approaches evoke different emotions in the viewer, and each (sub-)style works well for and reflects the voices of the photographers who tend to use them. Bold and Clean #1 tends to be more serious, with an austere respect for the food. Photographers in the food blogosphere who shoot in this style include the aforementioned Nicole Franzen (La Buena Vida) and Sarah Bolla (Lemon Fire Brigade).

Characteristics
strong focus on food
tighter framing
minimal props and clean styling, with a mix of more modern props
solid backgrounds
balance between light and shadow

In making this photo, I wanted it to be clean and focused on the food but to be distinct from product photography where everything has to look perfect and glossy. Instead, the shadowing on the left of the cake, the knife ready for cutting, and the candles that have just been pulled out of the cake make for a less "manufactured" look (as someone in the BlogHer Food audience put it) and sets a bit of a scene even for a minimalist photograph. The porcelain cake stand, the marble, the white wall background, and the straight-on angle of the photo make the presentation of the cake feel more formal, as if the cake were prepared for a special occasion, as compared to the Bold and Clean #2 photo below....


{5b | Bold and Clean, #2}

Bold and Clean #2 shares many of the same style characteristics in the "Bold and Clean" family as #1, but it tends to be more light-hearted and fun (and commercial, if you will), incorporating more bold colors around the food. For this style, photographers in the food blogosphere include Matt Armendiaz (Matt Bites) and Terilyn Fisher (spoon fork bacon).

With the styling and the bolder colors in the photograph above for this styling, I intended to take a more "everyday recipe" approach to the cake. While the photograph in Bold and Clean #1 makes the cake look as if it's intended for a formal occasion, this photograph in Bold and Clean #2 is more casual: the photograph communicates that this is a cake that you might want to try for a kid's birthday or for an everyday dessert whereas the other Bold and Clean photograph shows a cake that is perhaps reserved for a special anniversary or celebration. Even though there is a stronger focus on the food in this style, it's still possible to use it for different purposes, depending on the story you're looking to tell.


{6a | Chiaroscuro, #1}

"Chiaroscuro" (one of Anita's favorite words!) means, in Italian, "light-dark." It is a painting term from the art world that's used to talk about a clear contrast between shadow and light in an image: think Carvaggio and some of the Dutch Masters' still lifes. I commonly hear this style referred to around the food blogosphere as "dark photography," but I have to say that "dark" is a term I truly dislike for this type of style (and from now on, I refuse to answer any questions posed to me about "dark photography"!). The main reason for my dispreference for this term is that it's a misnomer: unlike "bright" styles, where there are actually very few shadows, these chiaroscuro styles actually have bright spots. In fact, more often than not, the light areas of these images are just as bright as the light areas of "bright" images. The difference instead lies in the contrast between light *and* dark and the greater use of shadows throughout the entire image. So let's all use "chiaroscuro" from now on, please?

The Chiaroscuro style uses the contrast of light and dark to throw selective focus on the food, and allows the photographer to really control what the viewer sees and notices. Perhaps even more so than some of the other styles, this one in particular creates much more moodier images. What I personally love about it is that the photographs don't give up all of their secrets to the viewer immediately: the shadows create mystery that forces you to really study the photograph, first looking at what's highlighted by the light and then what's hidden and lurking in the shadows. Anita notes that this is a style that calls back to the early days of food photography in the 1950s and 1960s when images of food were treated almost like painted still-life images.

Like the Bold and Clean styles, I find myself making a distinction between two types of Chiaroscuro food photography, one that is more low-key and marked by somewhat lower contrast images (6a | Chiaroscuro #1 above) and another that is marked by higher contrast images where the brights are really bright and the shadows melt into almost pitch black (6b | Chiaroscuro #2 below). For this first sub-style, Andrea Gentl / Gentl & Hyers (Hungry Ghost food + travel) make some of the most beautifully subtle and moody images I know of. There's also Sarah Ryhanen (Saipua), whose blog is about flowers not food but is too perfect for this style not to mention.

Characteristics
use of light and deep shadows for dramatic focus on subject
moody images
strong tonal contrast creates a sense of tension and mystery
corresponding propping: dark, textural, organic, lush
painting-inspired

For the question "What story does this photo and style tell?", we received the most number of answers from the BlogHer Food audience for this photo. One person said it made them think of late night snacking; for others, it was about a romantic moment. For some, the photo evoked a rainy afternoon; when Anita saw the photo for the first time, she told me it reminded her of a scene in a painters' studio. This wide variation of stories exemplifies the lure of Chiaroscuro images: the light scraping the surface of the cake and the teacup hints at a setting with tea and cake, but the rest of the story is left up to the imagination of the viewer--the message almost being "Try this cake for yourself to solve its mysteries."


{6b | Chiaroscuro, #2}

This second sub-style of Chiaroscuro is characterized by a greater contrast between lights and darks than Chiaroscuro #1: light areas are just as bright as those in properly bright images. Because of the contrast, this type of Chiaroscuro is even more so a nod to (Caravaggio-style) painting and art, where the lines between light and dark are well-defined. The result is a treatment of food as almost museum-like art. You'll find many examples of Chiaroscuro #2 in the pages of this blog (and in sated!), and Hannah Queen (honey & jam) has been making images this way recently.

Photographing the cake this way highlights its grandeur: the cake on a tall pedestal with flickering candles suggests someone very important's birthday, perhaps. One audience member noted that the draped fabric is reminiscent of art and not of how one might find the cake in everyday life. Personally, I think I gravitate towards this style just because of my overly-dramatic personality: I like to give everything far more importance than it might deserve.

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The most important take-away from this study of current food photography trends and styles is that developing style and voice in a photograph requires really thinking about what the purpose of your image is. With so many elements out there to work with--light, photographic technicalities, props, styling, and on and on--, understanding how to put all of these things together to serve a singular idea is key. Photography trends and styles are circular and come and go, driven by different purposes and social desires (as Anita and I found from our quick study of the history of food photography), so finding personal voice is all about experimenting, choosing the elements that resonate with you personally, and keeping in mind the "why" behind what you choose.

We'd love to hear your thoughts about these styles and of these photographs in the comments/discussion below!

After the jump are lighting setups, technical details, and some comments about how I set up each of these photographs. If you excuse me getting on my soap box for just a moment, I want to say how much I believe that technical details are only important insofar as learning and mastering them allow them to become second nature and stop getting in the way of you making images that really communicate your intentions. Mimicking someone's lighting or f-stops or exposure isn't going to produce a good photograph if you don't understand the intention and purpose behind that image and behind what you are trying to say when making that image. For this, nothing will make up for or replace hard work, lots and lots of practice and experimentation and failures, and some good, old-fashioned deep thinking.



(All photographs are by me. Ideas on and discussion of food photography and photographs herein are based on collaboration with Anita Chu.)

Read on for lighting setups....


[ISO 500, f/6.3, 1/80]

A friend of a friend borrowed my studio lights and never returned them (if you're reading this--I want them back!), so I had to fake the product photography photo with natural light the best I could. Normally, I would want to use studio lights and a lightbox for a photo like this one. By 'studio lights,' I don't even necessarily mean anything fancy: two high-powered work lights in the daylight spectrum from the hardware store will suffice, with each one set on either side of the cake. In lieu of lights, I used a bright sunny day, reflectors, and cranked up the light sensitivity on the camera. I also chose a smaller aperture because I wanted more of the cake to be in focus for demonstrating the product.


[ISO 250, f/5.6, 1/20]

For this photo, I used a slower shutter speed to capture the motion blur of Anita frosting the cake. Motion blur is a technique commonly used in journalistic photography (crack open any Nat Geo, for instance), and the addition of movement makes the image more spontaneous and less static.


[ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/125]

This is a fairly straightforward backlit photo; in general, backlit raspberries are fun to shoot because you get a little bit of translucence in the berry, which can really light up the image.


[ISO 200, f/3.2, 1/250]

Anita is lit from the side here (the sun was at a somewhat unusual angle, so the photo is a little less side-lit than I might have liked). The reflector helps to illuminate the side of the cake that would be a bit too dark without a reflector.


[ISO 320, f/3.2, 1/200]

I chose not to use a white reflector here because I wanted to have the darker shadows and gradient from bright light to somewhat darker from right to left in the photograph. The shadows help to add some depth and sophistication to the cake and raspberries.


[ISO 500, f/5.0, 1/100]

Another fairly straightforward backlit photograph. Note that the offset framing of the cake, where part of the cake bleeds out of the photo is fairly typical of this style of photography. When I made this photo, I had in mind Terilyn Fisher's style in particular and saved space in the upper right-hand corner for the addition of design elements that she typically adds for her blog recipes. Planning ahead for negative space is useful if you know that you'd like to incorporate design into the image; otherwise, it's too easy to end up crowding the photo.


[ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/40]

I made this photograph in my garage because elsewhere in my house isn't sufficiently dark. The light source for these types of Chiaroscuro photographs has to be sufficiently limited and touch just the right areas of the subject that need to be illuminated.


[ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/160]

High contrast Chiaroscuro photographs can be more easily made in my normal shooting space because the bright parts of the image demand light as much as any other "bright" image. I would not normally use a white reflector here, but the light wasn't very strong when I was shooting, and I wanted a bit more curvature of the cake to come out in the final photograph.

79 comments:

  1. Thank you so muche for this tips!
    I'm always trying to improve my food photography for my blog.
    You are a great inspiration!
    Keep up with the wonderful blogging!

    http://tapasnalingua.blogspot.com

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  2. This is a brilliant post & makes me wish even more that I'd been at BHF to hear your talk! 

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  3. Well, that was fun to read and ery informative. Thanks so much for sharing! The food photography on anybodies blog is so important.
     

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  4. As a new food blogger I find this article very useful and I must thank you for it. Now, I do have some inspiration and description of different styles so that I can improve mine. I feel that this article should be read by all new food bloggers so their beginning would not be so difficult. I definitely need to print it and use it as my encyclopedia to food photography.
    Regards, Daria.

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  5. I love this feature! Different and really interesting to see the different styles explained.  Interestingly, I wonder where the future of food photography is headed? Studio lighting making a return away from natural lit scenes?

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  6. Really interesting. I think I've somehow managed to span all of those styles during my food photography journey!!

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  7. Great meeting you in Seattle! This is an awesome post! well done! 

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  8. Extrordinary job! To classsify all these types of photography and the techniques also :). You're extraordinary :)

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  9. Thanks for this very interesting post ! I'm searching my style in food photography and wondering if I should show different styles of pictures or just my favorite one, on my blog

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  10. This is truly an amazing post Stéphanie (and Anita!), thanks A LOT for sharing your thoughts! I don't know what else to say: I am flabbergasted!

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  11. stephanie. this is awesome. so much information. thanks so much for sharing!

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  12. Stephanie (& Anita), I really enjoyed your session this past weekend at BlogHer Food! I came away with new knowledge of photography styles and tips - thank you!

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  13. Excellent post!  Thanks for sharing lighting techniques and diagrams.  It's very helpful to see how the different styles were achieved.
    I would add a sub category to your Bright and Propped category:  rustic and earthy.  This style emphasizes organic  props, appears more naturally styled, and includes a lot of rustic textures.
    This post has inspired me to create my own cohesive style (I'm all over the board from commercial to rustic).
    Thanks for sharing and giving us something to think about.

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  14. absolutely fabulous article.  I read every word and agree with how you wrote it all out.  I think the blogs that you chose are wonderful examples of each style.  Super job!

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  15. What a wonderful post - the bts pics are really helpful.
    Thank you for taking the time to do this. x

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  16. Great, great post! :) Loved it so much!!
    What about post-processing photos? I have so much issues there... and RAW photographing, uf!! Photo number 4 is so, so beautiful, how do you learn how to post-process photos that way?

    Again, wonderful job!

    a.

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  17. Wow Great post!
    Thank you so much for sharing all those little secrets!
    It's very inspiring. http://emiliegaillet.blogspot.com/

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  18. WONDERFUL!! I read your session at the BogHer Virtual Conference but they didn't show the pictures. I'm totally goin g to bookmark this. I'm working on my style, and I've dabbled in all but the dark side, which I thought I didn't like, but I love it here! 

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  19. I loved this post!  The analysis of the different styles was very interesting, and I especially liked the 'behind-the-scenes' shots of how you achieved each style. 

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  20. This is such a fabulous post! I read every word. I love seeing how a simple (well, not exactly simple...) cake can tell such different stories depending on the lighting and styling. This is so helpful for someone just starting out in food photography. Personally, I love the chiaroscuro style (I've been calling it "moody"). And no one does it better than you!

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  21. Bookmarked this one! Thank you thank you for putting this post together! Love this analysis. Its so easy for me to create in a bubble or take on other people's styles cause it seems the "it thing" or "it look"but what's great about this is that it's all about experimentation and discovery and finding what fits you and putting your own spin on it rather than just adopting the current trend. Looking forward to trying something new!

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  22. Superb post. Thanks!

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  23. This post is fantastic; thank you!  I too have a food and drink blog with photography being center stage to the posts.  I'm using the 'trial and error' experimentation to maximize my photos using only natural light.  Your demo's of set ups is invaluable.  I appreciate the guide posts to expand what I'm doing!  Love your blog, have listed you to my readers as a 'favorite summer read' as well as have ordered a copy of Sated (have not yet recieved it but can't wait).  Thanks so much for this.

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  24. This was by far the BEST session at BlogHer Food. Thank you so much for sharing your artistry, expertise, and geekiness with us in this post!

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  25. This post is so great! I'm always trying to improve my food photography and posts like this are perfect. I really appreciate you sharing all of this information and I can't wait to try out the various techniques.

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  26. It's really a very interesting article! Especially the analysis of photographic style in the blogosphere. I would add one more class that begins to point the tip of his nose especially in the French blogosphere: "play with the food" category. You can take a look at these french blogs : Griottes.fr, Carnets parisiens, My little fabric... They are full of funny ideas !

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  27. Thank you for sharing this.  Writing is much easier for me than shooting.  Very helpful for aspiring food writiers!

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  28. LOVED this post!! thanks so much for sharing all of  this

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  29. What a phenomenal post, Stephanie!! Thanks so much for sharing all of your insights and research on all of these styles, it's a fascinating approach. So great to see you last weekend!

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  30. I love this post- Thank you so much for your generosity of sharing information. 

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  31. What a great post! It was so interesting to see how the same cake can look so different in the different settings and photography styles. I loved how you've shared the different lighting techniques for each photo. 

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  32. This is fascinating. A great look at the prominent styles you see on the best food blogs. Now, how to achieve them? 

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  33. Thank you so much for this! It was incredibly helpful and has given me a lot to think about. I'm still learning and discovering my own photography "voice," so this was cool to see what styles of photos I gravitated toward. 

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  34.  A well done research, Stephanie (and Anita). I like the analytical approach to the subject. A demonstrative presentation.

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  35. This post is incredible, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing your research!

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  36. Love this post Steph! I feel that I understand better, since I have always wanted to improve on my photography too. I will be sure to experiment further and learn from the mistakes. Thanks for sharing the tips.. take care now!! Cheers, Jo

    http://chicgorgeous.blogspot.com

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  37. Thank you so much for this post and all the wonderful explanations! I learned a lot, and also am thankful for discovering more great blogs I did not yet know, via your links. I blog about a pastry project, and started out interested, but not very knowledgable, in food photography. I hope my foodphoto-skills have grown, and continue to do so, throughout the project, and am very gratefull for good advice and inspirations.
    Thanks again, Camilla

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  38. This is honestly one of the best posts I have ever seen on a blog EVER. Incredibly helpful - you have demystified the whole food photography process for me. Thank you Stephanie!

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  39. thank you for this post!!

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  40. Great information and I'm so grateful for the links to other food blogs. There's so much inspiration out there! Thank you, especially, for the detailed instructions on the lighting methods for each style. I've learned a tremendous amount just from this one post.

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  41. Wow, the effort put into this post is glorious. Love how the same cake presents so differently in each style. Thank you!

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  42. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this post and how much I learned from it!! Have bookmarked it to read again and again!!!

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  43. I've already emailed you and Anita privately, but wanted to chime in publicly as well. This was a terrific session - well thought-out, and even better with the discussion you sparked with the audience. Like some of the other commenters, I've found myself doing most of these styles (I'm horrible at bright and propped), and it was really cool to hear not just the hows and the whys of each style, but everyone's reactions to them.

    This presentation/blog post could be the seed of a great book :-)

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  44. What an outstanding, informative post. As a beginning food photographer, I really appreciate the visual vocabulary you've provided, as well as having something to aspire to! 

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  45. AngiesonnenscheinJune 14, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    aaawwwwwww!!!!! loooove all your pics!!!!! angie

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  46. I attended BlogHer Food but missed your session. Thank you so much for sharing the content here! This is a huge resource for bloggers, and I learned so much from this post. 

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  47. wow. the types of photos, the descriptions, the behind-the-scene set ups - all of it, great job.  such a comprehensive post.
    i came here seeing Lakshmi from Pure Vege share this link on Facebook.

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  48. Superb post....very helpful. Looks like you worked really hard on this!

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  49. thks for a most informative post! it's definitely a 5-star post! i love yr blog btw.. and anita's too. keep up the great work!

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  50. This is so fantastic, and I love how straightforward and clear it is! Thanks so much :)

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  51. Awesome, awesome post. So informative and inspiring. I'm wanting to try all these styles out myself to really see the difference in my own work on the same subject. Thank you!

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  52. This is a terrific post. I've found myself scared to try food photography because I see what everyone is doing (well)- rustic wood background, herbs scattered about- and think, 'What could I do that would be at all different or interesting?' But you're right, experimentation is key. My favorite shot in this post is #4- I like that it's more personal (and the light blue plate is pretty with the other colors). :)

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  53. have been a silent reader for quite a while. but i must really say great job on this post. i found it a tremendously helpful and useful post on food photography. ive always not have much of a fixed style while composing my food photos - this post has inspired me to try exploring different techniques to style my shots. thanks much! :D

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  54. This is great! Thanks for posting it! I appreciate the photos of your studio setups, too.

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  55. Wow - this is a wonderful post! After reading it I realized I know nothing about photography. I'm overwhelmed but inspired!

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  56. This is such an amazing post. Thank you so much for putting all this information out for us to glean from! I am so inspired, and I don't feel as afraid to put a bit more effort into my photography the next go around Thank you!

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  57. I learned so much from you and Anita from your workshop at BlogHerFood last week. Thanks for posting this so we can refer to it.

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  58. this is fantastic ... there is so much to learn from you! i'll try that tomorrow... i bought the stuff i need for it today ! LOVE the photos and LOVE to cook and try the things you describe !

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  59. I'm a first time visitor to your site and what a post to land on! This is superbly done...really educational. I know it's one I'll be referring back to again and again. With regard to the chiaroscuro style, I would add that Katie Quinn Davies (What Katie Ate) and Coco (Roost) have some incredible examples of this style as well. Thanks for this truly inspiring and useful post!

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  60. Janneke DuijnmaijerJune 18, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Wow, this is such a great article!!!

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  61. Thank you for this awesome post! I am no photographer but I enjoyed reading about the history of food photography and the most popular styles today. I always love to learn about new stuff.

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  62. Wow. So nice to see this! thank you! And I'm so pleased to see a few shadows in the photos (my fave). And so nice of you to share the particular details of the actual shots. :D

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  63. I love the photos in this blog. Do you take all the pictures yourself? I am thinking about starting a dessert blog of my own. Check out my blog...it is about foreign languages. But desserts is something everyone loves, and something worth writing about. I would love to get feedback from you sometime.

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  64. This is such an informative post. I'm a beginner and this really helped me understand the different styles. I especially liked the "behind the scenes" photos. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  65. nice! very informative, especially in regards to what each type of photography offers that others don't. i'm definitely a fan of chiaroscuro style, i feel like it has a very mysterious, intriguing aesthetic. thanks for sharing! xoxo little-city.ca

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  66. So hugely informative. The lighting set-up shots are worth charging money for. Thank you so much!

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  67. Wow! It's been a while since I've read a blog post from start to finish with no skim reading in between, but I couldn't allow myself to skim this. I've recently started food blogging but have been interested in photography for a long time. Your post is absolutely fabulous. So informative and easy to understand! I wish I lived in the States so I could have heard you speak in Seattle (I'm from New Zealand)! Thanks again.

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  68. What a great post! ****Bookmark and share****
    Thank you very much!

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  69. What a great post. This is so helpful, and has also given me so much to think about in terms of approaching a photograph-to-be. Thank you!

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  70. yup, definitely Kate and Coco, too, but we didn't have enough room to include everyone in our presentation, so I've only included a select group here.

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  71. michele @ i-heart-bakingJune 25, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    WOW, this post is so eye-opening! thank you so much for sharing, i especially love the photos of the lighting setup, and reading about the thought process behind each photo!

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  72. Great post!. Beautiful and really useful. I am going to use some of your tips in my next blog post. Thanks for sharing

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  73. This was such an informative post! Thanks for all the details. I realized that a gravitate towards a particular style in my own photos, but it was nice to see you put words to it.

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  74. Such beautiful pictures, I so want to eat that cake now! I didn't realize how many different types there were and they have names-- I recognized a few that I tend to use a lot on my own blog and for my business. So glad to see it all layed out and will be trying a few different ones in the future :)
    http://small-and-sweetnoms.blogspot.co.uk/

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I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!

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