I get asked a lot about what kind of camera gear I use. The question usually goes something like this, “You take such great pictures, what kind of camera do you use?” I can understand why people think that the camera takes the pictures, but in reality that is not the case. It is like saying that the stove made the perfect risotto, or the oven baked the perfectly gooey chocolate chip cookies. No, the person cooking made the risotto and cookies, the stove and oven were merely tools to create the final product.
Photography is a craft – just like baking. I was not making perfect loaves of bread right out of the gate. It took time, experience, and lots and lots of practice. I did take some classes in college, but I have no formal photography training. I learned from books, blogs, forums, workshops, but mostly it was the time I spent putting what I learned into action.
In the beginning, I shot all the time. Hundreds of frames a day. I learned to read light. I learned to shoot in manual. I took my camera everywhere. It is what made me a good photographer, not the camera I used. The camera is simply a tool.
As for food styling, for the most part I learned as I went. As you can see from early posts, I knew absolutely nothing in the beginning. I paid attention to magazines and the photos on blogs that I really liked. I would use those images as inspiration and I would try to figure out why I was attracted to those images. Was it how it was lit? The mood? Or how it was propped?
A word of warning about inspiration – do not copy someone else’s images or style. For starters, it just isn’t nice or good juju. Secondly, you want to find your own style. Mine is clean, simple, and white for food photos, and colorful and bright for people. I use minimal props and let the food and the connections between people do all the work for me. It took me awhile to figure out what my style actually was. When I first started I was emulating other people’s work, and while it looked nice, it didn’t feel right to me. My photography didn’t really begin to improve until I figured out what I liked and what I wanted my final pictures to look like. There are so many gorgeous places to go for inspiration these days. Have fun. Photography has changed my life, it is such a gift to me.
I also take workshops that are outside of my niche. I have never once regretted spending my time or money learning. You will gain confidence, experience, and I have made some of the most amazing connections learning alongside other creatives.
If you are interested, here is what is in my bag:
Nikon D700 – my backup body
CAMERA BAG //
Expodisk – This saves me so much time editing. I use it 100% of the time for portraits.
Memory Cards – 32GB & 64GB
BOOKS & RESOURCES //
EDITING TOOLS //
Michelle Kane Actions – If I take a picture with my DSLR, it gets edited in Photoshop with actions from the Creative Heart Collection. I have used these for years and have yet to find a set that is more useful.
Red Leaf Actions – I don’t use these on food photos, but on a lot of my personal and portrait work. I recently discovered these and really like them.
iPHONE APPS //
I’m currently using the iPhone 6s and shoot photos and video.
VSCO – When I take iPhone pictures (and I take A LOT) I often use the VSCOCam app. Gorgeous film-like filters, beautiful interface, and easy to use.
Faded – Another app that I use a lot. Pretty and clean filters.
iMovie – a good video editor to use on the go. I prefer to edit on my desktop, but this works in a pinch.
MoviePro – I need to play with this more, but there a ton of cool features inside this app.
GoPro – I’ve been shooting professionally for over 10 years and I learned so much at this workshop. Blue Lily has taken our family portraits for the last 4 years and Wendy mentioned a workshop in San Diego in February. I had no idea what to expect (San Diego in February was all I needed to hear) but I learned more than I ever thought possible. The BEST workshop I’ve ever been to.
Learn Elite – I’m all for learning as much as you can about everything you can. Learn Elite has great online classes (free & paid) that I take whenever I can. I look up to the owner of the site, Abbey, as a mother, photographer, and business owner (she owns the site and has no idea who I am).
Food Photography & Styling – I have taken some styling workshops with the talented team of Tami Hardeman-Boutté and Helene Dujardin. Their workshops are worth every penny and they are very lovely and crazy talented women.
DIY Easy Video – I liked this course because Lindsey shows how she uses the tools and I’m a visual learner.
Creating Time Capsules – Xanthe Berkeley makes delightful videos and this course is a great place to start.