Cookbook Shoot

My head is still spinning from the past few days – we just finished a whirlwind session of photography for my next book (another easy Asian cookbook). This time, instead of doing it all by myself, I enlisted the help of Todd, Diane and Jenna to protect my sanity. Originally, I had planned on having T&D style and shoot the book while I cooked and hid in the kitchen….but Diane insisted that I shoot my own book and that they would help me in the kitchen and with the styling.

Prior to them coming, Diane had sent me a list of things we needed for the shoot – number one on the list was a place to shoot near the kitchen that had plenty of natural light throughout the day. I originally had my prop room way out at a building in the back of the property – it’s a good 2 minute walk from the kitchen, through the living room, across the lanai, out the screen door, dodging the bitey red ants, balancing on large uneven rocks, up the deck stairs, across the deck, tiptoeing across the old (and unused) putting green riddled with more red ants and through the building door.

Can you imagine trying to do that for every single dish? And what if you forgot a garnish? You’d have to trek back and by that time, the food would have been very tired.

So we converted the already converted garage (the previous owners had made the garage a playroom for the kids) that was adjacent to the kitchen into my photography studio. It made sense, there’s plenty of large windows, double glass doors and it was steps from the kitchen.

With new paint and flooring, the space that used to be our junk/laundry room turned into a light-filled, bright, cheerful place to work. Wire racks from a discount warehouse store, Ikea baskets and bookshelves and a drop-dead gorgeous wooden table from Greentea Design, the number one requirement for a photoshoot was checked off.

I have plenty of dishes and props, but since I normally just shoot on white, the second item on my list was fabric.

Here’s a tip when fabric shopping: don’t go when you’re in a bad mood. Otherwise you’ll end up with drab colors.

Blah. So I left the store, went and got some coffee, scrolled through Failblog (hahahaaa!) and went back in a much better mood.

Ta-da! Happy! Bright! Cheerful!

They went organized by color in the Ikea wire baskets on a rolling rack.

Ikea Antonius system – $38.99 for the frame, I bought two of them and stacked on top of each other. Each wire basket was $6. Plop some wheels on the bottom ka-blam! It rolls around, out of the way.

Those are Billy bookcases, $49.99 each. Cheap, functional and even I can put it together. Once Todd and Diane arrived, we first worked on creating a workflow. Normally, when I shoot for the blog, I scout around the house for where there’s a good light. Candidates include: my office, outside patio, dining room table, breakfast nook, family room or the outside kitchen table. It’s a lot of work chasing light, huffin’ and puffin’ moving things around.

Instead, Diane said we were going to shoot in one spot and use white bounce, black bounce and scrims. For the book (i.e. print) we need to shoot tethered to the computer (that itty bitty tiny screen on the camera isn’t good enough!) and we hooked up a 15ft tether cord from my iMac to the camera.

I use Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit my photos, so we shot directly into Lightroom. The computer was anchored to a $159 rolling cart (yes, also from….you guessed it, Ikea) – Scott used 2 clamps and some plywood to secure it, though we’ll be looking for a more um, pretty solution soon.

I highly, highly recommend Lightroom for food bloggers – it helps me catalog and keep track of my photos AND makes editing so super easy. You can try out Lightroom 4 Beta for free right now.

You can see how awesome it is to shoot tethered – everyone can see immediately on the monitor the shot.

Continue reading Cookbook Shoot…

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