Really Bad Food Photos

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I follow a lot of bloggers who take beautiful food photographs. I love looking at their sites, but sometimes I get discouraged. I wonder if I’ll ever measure up.

My food photography is not the best, but I’m trying to improve. I bought a new camera, have been reading about food photography and recently took a photography class. Still, I have much to learn.

Thankfully, several bloggers have been encouraging me with my food photography, which I appreciate. And yesterday, Hannah Kaminsky from Bittersweet sent me a note that gave me hope.

I’d written Hannah to thank her for posting a recap of the food styling presentation she gave at Vida Vegan Con. She wrote back and told me that for the first year of her blog, her food photos were “yellow, blurry, poorly composed pictures that are truly embarrassing.” Since her photos are fabulous now, this made me think if she was able to improve, then I can too!

Hannah’s note also gave me an idea. I thought it would be great if some seasoned food bloggers shared some of the first photos they posted on their blogs. If the photos are horrible – all the better! This would encourage all the newbies like me to keep trying.

So if you’re a seasoned food blogger, what do you say? Are you willing to share one of your crappy first food photos? You can also post a current food photo to show how you’ve improved.

Come on – it will be fun! You’ll get a laugh out of it and you’ll give us newbies some hope.

Cake photo courtesy of Lemon Tartlet And the Dust Bunnies.

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About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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44 Responses to Really Bad Food Photos

  1. run4joy59 says:

    Hey, just because the picture isn’t the best in the world doesn’t mean the food doesn’t taste fab~~

  2. Poppy says:

    I’ve got some pretty cringe-worthy photos Celeste!! I fight temptation to delete the first year of my blog haha! I’m still not an amazing food photographer but boy have I come along way since the beginning. I think it was just practice, understanding that flashes are awful and natural light is crucial! Anyway, I’d be up for some embarrassing photo sharing 🙂

    • I haven’t seen any of your early photos Poppy, but I think your current ones are outstanding! Your Beetroot and Avocado cake looks like it belongs in a magazine! And your Moist Banana Muffins with Caramel Banana Topping, oh my girlfriend! Anyway, I would love to see some of your early photos. If you find one you want to share, send me a link and I’ll post it with any others that bloggers share with me. Thanks for being the first one to accept my embarrassing photo challenge. Celeste 🙂

    • Thanks Poppy! I’ll share your Maple Blondie photo next to one of your recent photos on a later post. I really appreciate your participation with this! Celeste 🙂

  3. VegCharlotte says:

    I’m trying to take better pictures myself! I’m actually an excellent photographer of other things but not necessarily food! I think food photography is a lot in the styling not the camera (although a good camera makes everything look better … I’ve only got, oh, five or six around the house? Sometimes too perfect a picture turns me off. I read one horrendous book on food blogging and it actually suggested using glue in a picture of cereal instead of milk, and hiding a tennis ball under noodles to make them look better, and all kinds of other things … I like photography but I want to see pics of the real food!!!

    • I didn’t realize that food photography was so different from regular photography, but what you say makes sense. If the food doesn’t look nice, then it doesn’t really matter how good the photo is. I’m with you on wanting to photograph real food!! I photograph food I eat after I take the photos, so I can’t use glue instead of milk. And wouldn’t glue ruin the cereal bowl? I’ve heard other people talk about doing stuff like that to style their photos, but I ain’t gonna go there!! Thanks for sharing! Celeste 🙂

      • VegCharlotte says:

        I’ve recently been on the lookout for some special, pretty dishes – I think that will help. I have a lot of Corelle because my mom used to live with me and she had really bad arthritis, and those dishes are super light and almost unbreakable, so it didn’t matter if she dropped them. I’ve actually been having fun buying random pieces of nice china, or funky dishes from Homegoods – and it’s fun eating off them, too!

    • Oh, I love Homegoods for dishes! You can find the best stuff there really cheap. And for food photography you don’t need a whole set, which is nice. I’ve also been checking out thrift stores for dishes. Sometimes you can find nice things there too. Celeste 🙂

  4. Lorrie Wenzler says:

    Actually this looks like some of the cakes that I’ve made and I didn’t even take a picture. The family just ate them and thought that they tasted delicious. Pictures are only one part of equation.

    • I don’t remember any of your cakes looking that bad mom. Of course, I wouldn’t have cared – I would have eaten anything chocolate that you put down in front of me anyway. I agree that looks are only part of the equation. Still, in blogging, it’s the photo that grabs people. If the photo doesn’t look good, most people won’t take the time to check out the recipe no matter how delicious it is. Thanks so much for your comment! And since I know you’re curious, I’ve got 260 followers now. Celeste 🙂

  5. Ally says:

    This sounds like fun!
    Ok, here is a link to the first ever recipe I posted (in October last year):
    http://madeofstars1.com/2012/10/21/monday-munchies-pumpkin-cupcakes-with-coconut-frosting/

    Here is a recent recipe:
    http://madeofstars1.com/2013/05/27/recipe-green-curry-paste-vegan/

    What do you think? I think there is improvement! I still have a lot to learn but I figure I will improve the more practice I get.
    I bought a new camera early this year. That has made a massive difference. I also use natural light for all of my photos. In fact, I aim to take most of my photos outdoors. Otherwise I’m dealing with fluro lighting in my kitchen. However, the photos in the most recent post were taken in my kitchen but I took advantage of the natural light through filtering through the windows.
    I don’t use any props like glue or tennis balls. Wouldn’t know how to and don’t have time!
    I do try to exclude extraneous ‘stuff’ from the photos, but if I think some colour is required I will add a sprig of parsley or greenery (if appropriate).
    I have thought of doing a photography course.
    Take the leap Celeste! You’ll be great, I’m sure. 🙂

    • I just checked out your before and after photos Ally. Wow – what a difference!! I didn’t think your first photo was bad, but your green curry past photo really pops! It’s nicely composed, interesting and really draws you in. Seeing progression like that is exactly why I wrote this post!! You’ve given me more hope that I can improve too. I’m also glad to hear that you don’t use any glue or tennis balls – I don’t get that!!! Thank you for participating Ally. Hopefully I’ll get a few more people to participate and I’ll make up a post with the photos. Celeste 🙂

  6. laurasmess says:

    Haha, great idea Celeste! I would definitely do the ‘bad photo post’ thing but I’m actually embarrassed to say that I don’t really have any terrible photos. Except for a couple that I tried to take in artificial light at night, as I don’t have a light box yet (and I’m out five days a week at work!). Maybe I’ll use one of those! 🙂 I have developed in my food styling and photography though. The past year has been quite a learning curve!

    • No bad photos – I’m jealous girlfriend!! You would think with the blog name, Laura’s Mess, that you would have at least one “messy” photo (haha). Your food photos really are beautiful, you must be a natural. Were you already a good photographer when you started blogging? Anyway, please do send me a link to one of your artificial light photos if you get the chance. And then let me know of a recent photo you want me to post as a comparison. Thanks Laura!! Celeste 🙂

      • laurasmess says:

        Yeah, I’ve been really passionate about photography for a long time. No professional or technical training, just me and my camera (but I paint, draw and work with other artistic compositions so I think it helps). Food photography was/is new to me though. It took me a while to get the hang of it. I’ll take a look through some of the old pictures and see what I can find xx

    • Ah, so you’re an artist – that makes sense. I’m not an artist. I love art, but I have little artistic talent. I know it’s something that I could cultivate, but I’m not a natural. My creative ability lies more in writing. That’s where my passion is. I would love it if I could simply write blog posts and have someone else do the creative stuff, but it doesn’t work like that. And maybe that’s good, because it’s forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. Celeste 🙂

      • laurasmess says:

        Haha, definitely understand that Celeste! You’re a wonderful writer and I always love reading your posts. But.. I think you’re absolutely right. We all have particular strengths that come naturally, but pushing ourselves to work outside of our comfort zone definitely brings growth and fulfillment! That’s something I love about blogging 🙂 Nice to ‘chat’ to you! x

    • I’ve enjoyed our little chat too Laura. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! Celeste 🙂

  7. Maryanne says:

    Bah, perfection is over-rated! That cake looks pretty darn good to me 😉

    • Oh girlfriend, you are the best!!! You’ve just made me realize that my whole issue with my fear of food photography lies in my issues with perfection. And in the words of Leo Tolstoy, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Celeste 🙂

  8. Like you, Celeste, I am still learning about the how to’s of food photography. I’m all about capturing natural food, but presenting it well (something I’m still learning to do). Ultimately flavor matters most to me, but I do love a good food photo 🙂 I have confidence that your photos will improve greatly as you continue your blogging journey!

    • Thanks for stopping by Julia! A lot of people have mentioned that natural light seems to be the way to go for food photography. That’s what I learned in my food photography class too. I agree with you that flavor is the most important when it comes to food. When I make food for just me and my husband, I don’t care much about how the food is presented. But with blogging, I feel that I need to have a captivating photo to draw people in or they’ll never even try my recipes. Thanks so much for your encouragement – I really appreciate it!! Celeste 🙂

  9. vixbakes says:

    I totally agree with you, sometimes it’s discouraging to see photographs by some of the many talented stylists/photographers/bloggers out there and thinking my pictures will never look half-decent! But I have slowly made some progress and found a way of working with photos that sort of works… I’ll never be a pro photographer, that’s for sure! I agree with previous posts that you want to see a picture of the actual food just as it is, no tennis balls for me, thanks! But I also think it is a bit sad that digital media is increasingly tilting the balance towards looks and sometimes recipes that make delicious food don’t get shared as much because they don’t photograph well…

    • Hey Victoria! I just want to say this – your photos are wonderful!! I love the look of your blog and the photos you take (of course, I haven’t seen your earlier photos). I think part of the reason my photos don’t turn out well is that my food isn’t always pretty, probably because I’m a novice chef. I think you have an edge over me because you’re a trained chef. I doubt that any cake you make ever looks like the one in the photo above. I’m growing and learning, however; and I know I’ll improve. I also agree with you that some foods get posted a lot more than other because they photograph well. Thanks so much for your comment!! Celeste 🙂

  10. Anna says:

    The cake picture you showed to us Celeste, it is the picture subject that is not pleasing. I wonder how one can make a good picture of a bad subject… It is possible.

  11. Treesa says:

    I know what you mean. Currently I am working with a broken camera and as a result not well focused photos. But as much as my ego would love for people to ‘ew and ah’ over how great my photos are, my spirit is happy knowing that I am sharing with love and doing something fun. So give the ol’ ego a boot and just enjoy the process of becomming a blogger. In the vegan blogsphere we’re just loving you for being you! 🙂

    • A broken camera and a broken Vitamix at the same time. Oh girlfriend, I feel for you!! And thank you so much for your kind thoughts. I know logically that you’re right – I don’t have to be perfect to be liked and accepted. Emotionally, however; I struggle to believe this. I’m getting better, however; and hearing comments like yours help. Thanks!! Celeste 🙂

  12. Vegetarian In Vegas says:

    Oh some of the photos I have taken have left me wondering if the camera is seeing what I am seeing. And other times what I have made is just a mess. Thankfully most of the time the things end up tasting a lot better than it looks. Sometimes – not always. I made a peanut butter sauce for noodles once that looked a little like noodle poop. I can’t say it tasted much better. Needless to say I didn’t even bother to take a photo. I threw it out. Bunny said it was super yummy and from that moment on I knew not only did he have love eyes, but he also had love taste buds.
    I am sure there will come a time when you will feel pride in the photos of your food that you take, and when once in a while things don’t turn out as expected, it will give you and yours a good laugh and something to remember.

    • I hear you! A lot of the time my food tastes better than it looks, but I’ve had exceptions to this too. I’ve thrown away much more crappy food than I’d like to admit. Thank you so much for your encouragement – I really appreciate it. I know I’ll improve. I suppose I’m just impatient – I want what I want and I want it NOW. Okay, so I guess I’m also immature despite the number of birthdays I’ve celebrated. I so appreciate your thoughts!! Celeste 🙂

  13. lexieloulou says:

    Great article, Celeste! I’m still learning and improving and would be up for some embarrassing picture sharing. My first photos are awful- at the time I was quite pleased with them too! My tip would be to take the picture from further away and then you can use an image editing software to frame it perfectly. All too often when using the camera to frame the photo, I have found the picture to be slightly wonky, or I have cut a bit off the top! Oh and I would definitely eat your cake, it looks really tasty. Best wishes, Lexie 🙂

    • Hey Lexie! Thanks so much for stopping by and having the courage to share a photo that’s not your best. If you send me a link to a photo you want to share, I’ll post it on a future post with photos from other bloggers. And thanks for your tip about taking photos from further away and then using image editing software to frame it. I usually take my photos from very close up, so I’ll have to try that. And when are you due? Celeste 🙂

      • lexieloulou says:

        Hi Celeste, here is the link to my Really Bad Food Photos post.

        It was my first food-related post on the blog http://blackberrytarts.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/hey-presto-how-to-presstofu/

        As we were discussing, I still have a long way to go with my photos, I am still taking them with my iPhone as I don’t have a camera! Look forward to sharing tips with you and seeing how we both progress over the coming months.

        Felix will be 3 weeks old tomorrow, can hardly believe it! He was actually due on the 11th June though.

        Vey best wishes,
        Lexie 😀

    • Hey Lexie! Thank you so much for sharing some photos – I really appreciate it! Your first photos weren’t that bad, but you’ve certainly improved. I especially love your photo of your Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato and Lentil Soup. It’s perfect! I’ll hopefully get a post together with all of the photos people sent in soon. Thanks again!! Celeste 🙂

  14. I think this sounds like such a fun idea and a great way to share and learn from others! Though you may not like the photo of your vegan cake, it looks moist and makes me want to eat that cake. And isn’t that really why we all blog, to show that vegan food is easy and tasty? To encourage more to try this compassionate lifestyle? That it doesn’t take a superhuman to do it? While I do look forward to watching your photos progress, I enjoy your blog right now as is too.

    • One of the reasons I love blogging is that I get to read wonderful supportive comments like this one! Thank you so much for your encouragement and support – I really appreciate it. Celeste 🙂

  15. Poppy says:

    What’s ironic is that so many times I’ve made recipes where the photographs are beautiful and the food looks so appetizing yet the recipe ends up a total disappointment. But it’s true we eat with our eyes! I do think the recipe title is perhaps just as important as the photo though – even if the picture isn’t great, I’ll keep reading if the title promised yumminess :).

    • Hey there Poppy! Always a pleasure to hear from you girlfriend!! I think you’re right about the recipe title being important. For me I’d say I’m more drawn in by the photo, but the title comes in at a close second in importance. Celeste 🙂

      • Poppy says:

        I hear you – I know most people are totally reliant on a good photo to draw them in! I can’t wait to see your progress girl – rooting for you! 🙂

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