The Evolution of a Food Photo - Skillful Cook
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The Evolution of a Food Photo

Evolution of a food photo collage.

Just because I think it's funny, today I'm showing you the evolution of one of my recent food photos. It's for the eCookbook I'm writing and it's delicious and healthy and it's made in the crockpot and OH YEAH BABY.

Which reminds me, if you wanna know what's the dealio with the eCookbook and see some behind the scenes...

Skillful Cook VIP Team

join the Skillful Cook VIP Team on Facebook! It's really fun because, well, you guys have all been awesome. So newcomer, I'm welcoming you with a virtual side hug. And that was not awkward at all.

Okay, so back on track: today I wanted to just walk you through this recent photo shoot I had because when I really stopped and looked at this progression of photos in Lightroom, I was like, Lindsay. WHAT. What are you doing?! It's such a funny and weird progression. But yet so normal for me. Is it normal for you? This is why I like to start conversations about workflow and behind the scenes stuffsies, because then I can figure out if I'm normal or not.

The captions under each photo reveal what I would have been (er, was) saying under my breath as I was taking these shots. In the end it all worked out. In the meantime, well, you'll see.

So let's dive right in with this mediocre first set up.

Food in a white bowl.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Two blue bowl with spoons.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with green beans.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with green beans.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with green beans and cheese topping.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with green beans and spoons.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with green beans in a white bowl.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with green beans.

Evolution of a Food Photo
Soup in a bowl with spoons.

Evolution of a Food Photo

Soup in a white bowl with green beans and spoons.

Evolution of a Food Photo

(For more specific information on the editing process, check out the eBook link at the end of this post! There are lots of video tutorials for editing in Photoshop and Lightroom included with my food photography eBook, Tasty Food Photography!)

So am I weird or ... am I weird? Okay fine don't tell me. But do tell me - do you say things like this in your head as you photograph your food? Do you rearrange and re-sprinkle cheese and get all worked up over bowl colors? Because these voices in my head are sometimes overwhelming. I MEAN FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY. Food photography voices.

At the end of the day, I do like to eat healthy soup made in the crockpot that tastes delicious with Parm on top, so I guess I am at least 20% normal.

Like food photography? —> I've got more stuff for ya.

Household Items for Food Photography.

Household items for food photography.

Lastly: are you looking for a practical resource with simple tips and tricks? —-> Tasty Food Photography is right up your alley.

Tasty Food Photography on an iPad.

Tasty Food Photography - Buy Now

Thankz friends! I can feel my foggy head cold lifting just by talking about food photography on this happy Tuesday. Naturally.

Filed Under: Food Photography

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this post so much! Thanks so much – virtual hug right back at ya!
    I’m just getting into food photography and unfortunately I thought my to-and-fro was just me being lame. But turns out even the experts do it!

    The Macadame. xx

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    You are normal! I obsess over props & garnishes every single time.

    Your colors look so nice and bright! I’ve noticed that the color of my photos looks fine on my blog, but when my pictures are published to sites like Foodgawker, they appear much duller (since I’m obsessive, I checked your FG gallery and a couple other people’s and compared them to the blog shots, and yours and theirs look the same both places). Any idea why this might be? I just switched to shooting in raw with a DSLR, so maybe I am doing something wrong…

    Love these posts on food photography!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      YES! I had the same problem and it drove me crazy. The solution was uploading really small sized images so that FG didn’t do any compression. I think they have some kind of auto compression on their site because they have so many photos, so the larger your photo, the more likely that it would be compressed and therefore get some unnatural coloration. I just figured out the exact dimensions and uploaded photos of that size (it’s either 250×250 or 200×200, I can’t remember).

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Such a great post and so glad to see that I am not the only one, sitting in front of my computer talking at it while my husband looks at me like I am crazy (then again he does that he even when I am not in front of a computer….over it.)

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ahhh the white bowl! I have so many amazing looking bowls, but when it comes down it it, white always looks the the best 😀 Love this breakdown. PINNING FO SHO!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this post! Thank you so much – you and poy team rock. As a newbie food blogger, I’ve found your blog, recipes and photos, etc so inspiring. Keep up the awesome work chef! 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is totally how it goes for me too! I’m usually trying to work as fast as possible to catch the light before it disappears : ) I can’t wait until summer so I can shoot until 8pm!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Abby, did you see this post I did on artificial light? I am just thinking of you because I do the same thing with scrambling for the natural light. But maybe this will help in the winter months!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    N I thought it was just me who doesn’t get it right with the first photo! I recently started blogging & have been following you for a while now. My food photography has improved tremendously but I go through the same process most of the times and I had begun to wonder if it’s just me! Its good to know that you need more than 1 shot and 2 food styles too!
    Thanks Lindsay! 🙂

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I do the same thing! It’s a little different because I’m taking pictures of people as opposed to food so it’s a little less controlled, but I definitely will noticing things in the first photo and make changes — either take things out, put something else in, change the angle or camera settings. Often times my last photo in a sequence is my favorite for this reason!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I absolutely love this! Sounds exactly like me 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever photographed something NOT in a white dish. Quick question: what does editing the curves do? I’m all for white balance and color but I’ve never toyed with curves!

    I seriously need to buy Tasty Food Photography. I don’t know why I’m waiting… all I’ve heard is good things!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Curves is really fun – it basically deals with contrast and light. I usually pull up on the middle (lightens it), down a little bit on the left side (defines shadows and contrast a bit more), and then adjust till I like it. For some dark photos I end up pulling up on the shadows a bit. 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am forwarding this to my guy right now! I’m not the only one who thinks like this! I do scrutinize, but not nearly as much as I should because my photos sometimes come up short… Maybe I’ll take an extra minute or two from now on. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This was actually over the course of two separate days. That first picture is the set up I was using the first day, and then I ended up not liking any of the final photos which is why I moved to the second set up. It doesn’t usually matter that much to me, but I wanted to have one that I felt good about for the ecookbook. 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    As a total rookie in the food photography game, it’s so interesting to see your process. I tend to take photos from a lot of different angles, but only change my props/background up maybe 2-3x with each dish. I’m also currently stuck with using an old phone camera which is NOT ideal haha. Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love it! I definitely do the same thing – but maybe that’s because I get most of my photo knowledge from your Tasty Photography eBook? So I’m channeling you a little bit?

    I actually take most of my pictures while the house is empty so there’s a lot of mumbling under my breath. And sometimes yelling when the sun doesn’t agree with me.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Quick question for you. Are you taking these, uploading them to your computer to view, then going back and making adjustments? Or are you doing this via the camera preview screen? I struggle with this type of though process and I think I’m trying to do too much before I start looking at pictures on my computer.

    Thanks for this post!! Helpful to see your method!


    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Well, both, but I don’t usually tether to my computer and I usually just use the camera screen because my I end up doing more adjustments with composition which I feel like I can get a good feel for just by looking at the screen. Lighting is a little more touchy though and I think it helps to view it on your actual computer screen if that’s what you’re trying to adjust.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great advice, as always! I really like to see other photographer’s progression of shots as well as the set up. I used your trick of using a cookie sheet for a background on a post I published today. It works great every time! Now my next step is to try out editing software. I use PicMonkey at the moment but will have to read through your ebook again to gain confidence before trying Lightroom or Photoshop.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is a great post Lindsay, I do exactly the same thing talking to my husband though as we shoot together. Getting the angles of the silverware just right to suit me is sometimes the hardest part of the food styling for me. My husband sometimes goes to sleep while I’m still trying to get it right 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ahh.. the adventures of food photography. The things I go through while shooting a photo are unbelievable! Sometimes after i shoot like 50 pics and give up I go back with a new approach to photographing the food and it usually all works out in the end! Food blogging is all about trial and error and more importantly, taking a TON of pics until you get things right!