|If you think you've noticed a certain similarity in look among online food blog photos lately, you are not mistaken. The soft rays of natural light hitting the dishes just so. The distressed, rough-hewn look of the dining table. The nuts, berries and herbs that have been scattered around the place settings to provide a messy, yet thoroughly inviting feel. Those are all hallmarks of food photos taken by the talented Helene Dujardin, a pastry chef-turned-food photographer who also created the very popular, award-winning food site, Tarteletteblog.com. Who can blame other bloggers all over the globe for now wanting to emulate her luminous style?
Dujardin, a native of France who now lives in South Carolina, started taking food photos when she worked as a pastry chef at a small French restaurant. Back then, it was merely a way to record the look of each dessert, so that her staff could recreate them on nights she wasn't working. She grew so fond of snapping photos that in 2006, she decided to start her blog and segue into food photography and food styling full-time.
Now, she's sharing her knowledge and advice in her new book, "Plate to Pixel, Digital Food Photography & Styling'' (Wiley). If you're already a seasoned photographer, this book probably isn't for you. But if you're someone who is afraid to shoot with anything but the "auto'' setting, and who doesn't know an f/stop from an ISO, then this book will be a godsend. It covers the basic fundamentals of using your camera to photograph food. And it does so in a way that's so thoroughly easy to understand. If you've ever heard Dujardin speak at a blogging conference as I have, you can almost pick up the charming French, Southern lilt in her voice as you read her words in this book. She encourages you every step of the way, so that nothing she describes ever seems too difficult or overwhelming to attempt.
Want to learn how to capture that stream of maple syrup pouring out of a pitcher as it hits that stack of pancakes? Dujardin will tell you how. Want to know how best to shoot with artificial lights when natural isn't available? There's a chapter on that. Want to figure out the best room in your house to snap your food photos? She helps you do that. Want to learn how to style your dish with props that compliment in color and design? She will teach you.
For me, among the most useful information in the book were the series of photos that show how she sets up her camera and lights for various shots. In particular, it was fascinating to see how the different set-ups to diffuse and bounce light can make such a difference in whether a photo comes out harsh and moody with too many shadows or bright, cheery and glowing with perfect illumination.
So, grab your camera, a cute cupcake, some stylish props and a copy of this book to start shooting some mesmerizing food photos that will capture everyone's imagination.
For reviews on two more must-reads this summer, go to Carolyn's blog FoodGal.com.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.