Food Photography

I’m certainly new to food photography, and looking back on some of my past attempts at plate-shots, I could really use some pointers.

I love to cook and I love taking pictures- should be a no-brainer. And yet, food photography isn’t that easy.

My First Lesson: practice, practice, practice.

My Next Lesson: lighting is everything. I’ve been informed to use as much natural light as possible (set up shop by a window on a wonderfully sunny day, and play with an adjustable lamp for extra lighting). Never use the built in camera flash.

Next Lesson: Use a tripod

Next Lesson: Play with camera angles (head on, from above, tilt the camera, close up, get creative).

Next Lesson: Be creative: be aware of the small details: Use props: like napkins, ingredients, cutlery, white china. Keep your theme in mind. I’m doing a Christmas family cookbook, focusing on those aspects: Christmas and family.

Prepare the shot: props and presentation: table cloth, ornaments, Christmas tree, candies, bows, presents, and such. Set the scene and create an atmosphere

Next of Many Lessons to Come: Learn more: study, stroll through a bookstore and check out photography books; find pictures you like and figure out why you like them- what makes them good? Practice more. And then comes the editing process…


Ellen Schoeman (pen name E. L. Schoeman) is the author of the award winning YA novel, Isabel. All in all I’m a YA writer. Check me out on Facebook at:


Creating a Cookbook

Julia Child was rejected by almost every publishing house because Mastering the Art of French Cooking wasn’t considered a salable book. Later in life, another of her books was turned down, which became a huge success as well. The folks who wrote The Silver Palate Cookbook came up with the idea over drinks at home one night and had no idea what they were doing. But they took a risk, worked hard, and it paid off: They got the book they wanted, it met with great success, and the rest – as they say – is history.’ (

Creating a Cookbook

In my last entry, I mentioned that creating a cookbook or gathering a collection of recipes would be a good idea for a Christmas gift. I decided I’m going to make a cookbook dedicated to my family in time for next Christmas. For those family members who read my blog, whoops, the surprise is ruined. But I think a POD cookbook (and hopefully hardcover) would (hopefully) be a beloved gift.

But here’s the thing. I’ve never made a cookbook before!

For this book, I’m not planning on landing an agent or publisher. It’s something I want to create for myself and my family- not something I’m looking to make an income or living off of. If a buyer is interested in the book, that’s awesome, but I’m not about to spend thousands on marketing.

‘Included in the proposal should be extensive samples of content, the tables of contents, recipe list and sample recipes if applicable, as well as a winning biography of you. And very importantly, a plan for how the book will sell once it’s published. Including as much as possible in there is a good idea, perhaps a sample chapter or two.’ (

Since I don’t need to focus on how this book is going to sell, I can take the pressure off myself and just have fun with making it!

Things My Family Cookbook is going to Need:

-Title of cookbook:

(Schoeman Family



-Fetching book cover and back cover

-collection of favourite holiday recipes

-Decide between colour or black and white photos

-Table of Contents and Recipe Index

-Readable fonts and sizes for a workable, hands on cookbook

“Designing a recipe collection makes you realize just how much work goes into a professional cookbook: the balance of recipes, the writing and, most of all, the luscious photography.” (

If I were going to start creating cookbooks for a living, a piece of advice that was given to me was to start the blog first. Spend a year or two blogging about food, finding your passion or niche, and establish an audience.

Also for a POD cookbook, I’m going to need a selection of POD companies


And Different Ways to Make the Cookbook Special

-Family Signatures

-Family tree

-Family Photos (grandparents when young, sisters when infants, marriage pictures and such) (In this case, Christmas photos)



-Illustrations instead of photos

-Food Facts or Cooking Facts

“Community cookbooks are very popular for a reason – people love to eat and personal recipes evoke memories and traditions.” (

If this cookbook goes well, I’m thinking of doing a Memory Cookbook for my grandmother. She passed this winter. I think a collection of photos of her when she was a young woman, stories I know about her, and gathered recipes would be treasured gift for her remaining family.

“Things to avoid if you are self publishing:

Bulleted lists do not always convert easily into publishing programs.

Fancy fonts may be pretty, but are difficult for the reader.

Make sure the title can be read from 5 to 10 feet away.”