Food styling and photography

Today, I participated in a #fallfoodiecollab, an Instagram food collaboration with a number of other Instagram food personalities where we all submitted a dish that reminded us of autumn, for the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The rule was that the dish had to have autumn squash, pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, Brussel sprouts, or walnuts. Knowing that I was going to be sharing a hashtag with a lot of larger accounts who are overachievers and likely do social media for a living, I knew I had to shoot all of this on my mirrorless camera and think about how to style this in a way that seemed very autumn. I decided to choose a simple baked good — French apple cake, a recipe I’d used from Cook’s Illustrated before, but changed it up by replacing the 1 cup of vegetable oil (it was too greasy last time I made it 2 years ago) with 1/2 cup of browned butter. I knew it would be simple and would be simple to photograph. I’d just need to figure out what props I wanted for it. I arranged it by the kitchen window this morning and ended up spending about two hours in total cutting the cake, styling the scene, photographing, editing, and posting.

Two hours – for a post that would likely get a few seconds of view time on Instagram. This is social media today.

I thought about all the work I put into this post, which got a lot of interaction and a few new followers. This could truly be a full time job in itself, without the YouTube channel editing and shooting! I did enjoy the process overall, and it was a lot of fun, but on top of a full-time job, this can get extremely extensive and tiring. I hope all this work pays off in some way. I’ve been reading more about food photography and observing more of what others are doing. I don’t want this to completely look like a set, but I do want it to photograph well and look good while viewing on a mobile device. I’m still learning and iterating.

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