The world has changed since I started Still Life With. It really wasn’t all that long ago that the only book on food photography focused only highly lit, commercially produced shots of things like fake ice cream. There was some good information in that book, but if you were a food blogger or developing an interest in editorial food photography, you pretty much had to figure everything out for yourself. I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to be a fly on the wall in some fantastic shoots with photographers who were generous enough to let me into their studios, when I didn’t know a scrim from a c-stand.
What a difference a few years makes. These days, pro food photographers and stylists share all sorts of fantastic tips and behind the scenes on their blogs. There are two food styling books by folks by long time industry pros (both of which comprehensively cover both commercial and editorial work). There conferences, and more conferences. There is, right at the moment I’m typing this, a freaking amazing 3-day class with Penny de los Santos, going on. Not to mention, classes and multi-day workshops in amazing locations coming up later this year.
There is also a new book out on the subject, Plate to Pixel, by my friend, and very talented food blogger/stylist/photographer, Helene Dujardin.
“Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling” (Helene Dujardin)
Helene is a gal with style. Her French accent is peppered with a twangy Southern drawl, which is so charming it’ll make you feel like she just gave you a hug. And her book is kind of like that too. Filled with photos with her signature light and clean styling, she invites you in and tells stories about her work, sharing her working style and philosophy, and inspiring you to go out and find your own photographic style.
Plate to Pixel does a lovely job walking through the basics of using natural light, composition and food styling. It’s a book you’ll need to spend some time with, but Helene’s conversational tone makes that easy and entertaining to do. I think the thing I appreciate the most from this book (beyond the fact that it is really the first food photography to really cover natural lighting and styling techniques) is that Helene doesn’t preach or assume that there is a right or wrong way to make photos. She shows you her way in this book, but really pushes the reader to experiment, work and play with their photography; to drop any fear and dive in; that it is ok to make mistakes (if you aren’t, you aren’t trying hard enough!) and that from trial and error you’ll find the picture that really tells the story.
If you are really interested in technical studio lighting for commercial food photography, Plate to Pixel might not be quite the right book for you. Helene covers working with off camera strobe and small studio lights some, but really her preference is natural light, and that’s where the book’s strength lies. Given there are countless books on studio lighting, that is really not an issue; simply pair Helene’s tips for natural light with any lighting book (I’d suggest anything by the one-light master), and you’ll make yourself some gorgeous photos.
Food Photography & Styling Resources
Here’s a list of food photography resources that covers what I know about, but is probably woefully incomplete… if you have suggestions for the list, please add them in the comments!
Charlotte Tolhurst’s Shoots, Eats and Leaves
Paula Walters’ Still Life Style blog
Jennifer Davik’s Dish on Photography blog
Steven Hamilton’s Restaurant Project
Food Blog Forum Food Photography and Styling
Released (or soon to be) Books
“Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling” (Helene Dujardin)
WrightFood Food Photography Manual (all proceeds benefit Japan Earthquake Relief)
“Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots” (Nicole S. Young) (pre-order)
“Food Stylist’s Handbook, The” (Denise Vivaldo)
“Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera” (Delores Custer)
“Food Styling for Photographers: A Guide to Creating Your Own Appetizing Art” (Linda Bellingham, Jean Ann Bybee)
“Digital Food Photography” (Lou Manna)
Lighting Techniques for Food & Still Life
Penny de los Santos workshops (on location)
Travel and Food Photography Workshop with Ignacio Urquiza
Culinary Entrepreneurship (Denise Vivaldo’s classes)
Food Photography & Styling (Ireland)
Natural Light Food Photography
Fresh from the Garden to the Studio
International Conference on Food Styling & Photography
29 thoughts on “Plate to Pixel and Other Food Photography Resources”
Thank you for mentioning Learn Food Photography Blog Lara. This is a great list of resources. I was just reading chapter 3 of Helene’s book… Great information and specially for those getting into food photography, it is a must.
Thank you for the kind review on Helene Dujardin’s book, I somehow missed its release but now ordered it and am impatient to look though its pages and immerse in the photography!
Thank you for the extensive links list as well!
What a great post, chocked full of resources from someone who’s sense of style and creativivity is a constant delight.
Thank you so much for this valuable information.
This book is getting a lot of hype. I am really intrigued. In fact Jenn of jenncuisine.com is doing a give away of a copy. Crossing my fingers that I’ll be randomly picked:)
Hi Julia – It is a really good book if you are looking to be inspired and improve your food photography! It’s pretty reasonably priced too, so if you don’t win the copy, I think it’s worth buying one!
Hi Lara – long time no speak! Hope you are well. Thanks for a great post packed with resources. Wish there had been so much help and advice available when I started out back in 2004 🙂 Also just wanted to let you know about the first Plate to Page food writing and photography workshop taking place this weekend in Germany: http://platetopage.blogspot.com. It is being led by Meeta of What’s for Lunch Honey; Ilva of Lucullian Delights; Jamie of Life’s a Feast; and me. It’s also fully booked but there is asecond planned for Italy later this year.
Thanks again for all the resources!
Thank you so much for all of these wonderful resources!
What a great round up! I have the book and it instantaneously improved my photography in so many ways. Well worth it. I can’t wait to dig a bit deeper and check out some of these resources that you listed that I am not that familiar with.
Such fantastic information, Lara! Thanks so much for your lessons and constant inspiration. xo.
Lara, I am so flattered that you would list me as a resource, thank you!
Thank you for this! Love your site. Plate to Pixel is a wonderful read, so informative. And the live video this weekend with Penny de los Santos was remarkable… I cannot wait to dig into the rest of your list 🙂
Great read, with a wealth of information – thank you for taking the time to put this list together. We appreciate the shout-out as well!
Hope to have our paths cross in a future workshop!
This is great! My friend and I just started a new food blog and I have to admit, we’re a bit at sea. Thank you for putting this together!
Thank you Lara for the feature.
Yes, one of the things that compelled me to accept Wiley’s proposal to write Plate To Pixel was precisely because it was not intended for seasoned commercial photographers.
There are lots of resources out there for them but there were up until last year very little “normal language” books for others.
I was already going over the total number of pages laid out with just the basics. At least I have lots of notes for sequels!!
I am loving how publishers are finally meeting the needs and demands of more levels of photographers out there and I love all the different voices being offered to talk on the topic.
I am looking forward to reading yours soon!
I can’t wait for Helene’s book to arrive in my mailbox… It sure is a long trip to DownUnder…
I saw Helene’s book the last time I was at your studio and knew I had to order a copy! It looks amazing, I can’t wait to try some new techniques.
Just bought your book “Plate To Pixel”. Great book! Finally I had set my mind and now I know where to focus on. I’m going chase my dream to be a food photographer. Your book inspire me a lot.
Here to say thank you for sharing your idea and experiences.
Bookmarked your webpage. =]
Have a nice day!
Ting Jieh from Malaysia
Hi Ting – I’m glad you bought the book… but it isn’t mine! The author of that book is Helene Dujardin
I have been eyeing that book for quite a while and thought it looked great. I am heading over to Amazon right now to pick it up. Thanks for all the wonderful info and photos.
I love the way you shoot. Stunning pictures.
Loves fresh and tempting! love the colours
Thanks for the list of resources – any food photographer would find them invaluable!
I like Helene’s book very much and like that she made the distinction between commercial food stylists and others. I have been a commercial food stylist for 19 years and have recently gotten into the blogosphere. There is a big difference between commercial shooting, editorial and blogging. I think Helene found a niche for all the food bloggers and anyone who cooks good food and wants to document it. It is a must have book for all food bloggers.
Amazing images. Great resource! Love your website/blog!
Just bought Helen’s book and reading it! It seems to contain quite a lot of practical information which is easy to understand and put into practice!
Sweet!! 😀 This is really an interesting resource! I also like very much your point of view.. 😀
Well, off to Amazon!
I have this book and it has revolutionized my take on food photography! The best present I ever bought myself!
Thanks for this information……I would love to attend one of your classes.