| GENERAL | BLOGGING | PHOTOGRAPHY |
How did you learn how to cook? Are you a chef?
I wish I were a chef! Alas, I have no formal chef training of any kind and this blog has truly been a chronicle of my culinary progression. I graduated law school with a Juris Doctor degree; before that I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences and psychology. I learned how to cook from friends, family, reading (cookbooks/magazines), cooking shows, and mostly trial and error.
Do you come up with your own recipes?
Yes. Unless a source is given for a recipe, I developed and tested it myself. When I’m developing a recipe, my favorite thing to do is to just go into the kitchen with a notepad and pen and jot down notes as I go along.
Where do you get inspiration for your recipes?
The short answer: Everywhere.
The long answer: Ingredients (I’ve even been known to plan an entire meal around a condiment); grocery stores; farmers’ markets; restaurant dishes; books, including cookbooks and non-cookbooks; magazines; poems; songs; movies (how could I watch The Godfather and not want to eat spaghetti?); television; foods I ate when traveling; foods I ate at someone else’s house; foods I ate as a kid; pretty plates/bowls/glasses/utensils; seasons; holidays; colors; fabrics; food blogs; food bloggers; blog readers; family; friends; and even my dreams.
What do you do with all the food you make and does it all get eaten?
First, I assure you that everything gets eaten (I hate to waste, even things that might be thought of as nothing more than compost). If it’s a savory dish, it was most likely breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and occasionally it was something I served to guests (that is, if it’s a dish that can be made in advance so I have time to photograph it). Many of my main course recipes make a relatively large amount of food, which works out well because I love having leftovers on hand and freezing them for a quick meal on a busy night. On the other hand, after being tasted (for quality control purposes, of course) most of the sweets I make are immediately gifted to family, friends, neighbors, etc.
Where do you buy your plates and bowls?
Anywhere and everywhere! I like unique finds, so my favorite shopping venues are typically vintage/antique stores and flea markets. I also heart West Elm, Anthropologie, Crate&Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and Sur La Table.
When did you start blogging?
May 11, 2009.
Why did you start blogging?
I started my blog the day after Mother’s Day in 2009 to share the Mother’s Day meal that my family and I made for my mom. I wanted to show that someone like me – who is by no means a professional chef – can make a decent meal to share with loved ones. After that it was my passion for cooking along with the inspiration I got from readers and other food bloggers that kept my blog going.
How can I make my blog more popular?
This really is the million dollar question, isn’t it? If you’re passionate about and good at what you do, over time your reader base is sure to expand. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help:
1) Submit your website for inclusion in Google’s index (it’s free!).
2) Use social networks. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are incredibly helpful, but even just commenting on other food blogs will bring more people to your site (and of course get you backlinks, which is helpful for SEO purposes).
3) Get your name out there. Offer to write guest posts for other food bloggers, invite other food bloggers to write guest posts for you, and/or approach on-line magazines to write food-related articles for them.
4) Share your pictures with the world. Submit your photos to photo-submission websites like Tastespotting and Foodgawker. (And I speak from personal experience when I say don’t be disappointed if a picture isn’t accepted! It may take time, but your pictures will be accepted eventually as your photography improves.)
Can you give me any technical blogging tips?
I have a tutorial on How to Code a Regular Button or “Grab My Button” Button in HTML. I might do more posts on basic blogging skills like this; please feel free to email me if there is a specific topic you would like to suggest I cover.
Do you take your own pictures?
Yes. Unless a source is given for a photo, I took the photo myself. (Please note that I only use other peoples’ photos with permission, and you should too, out of respect for the time and effort that the photographer put into his or her work.)
Can I use one of your pictures?
Please contact me if you are interested in using any of my photos.
What kind of camera do you use?
For about the first two years of blogging I used a very basic camera that served me well: a Canon point and shoot (Power Shot A2000 IS). After that, I started using a Nikon D7000 with a 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ultrahigh-ratio lens, a 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ultra wide-angle lens, and most recently a 40mm f/2.8G close-up lens. (Because I have been getting a lot of questions on it, my two most commonly used accessories are my tripod and my sling camera bag.) Learning my way around my camera has been an exciting process, and hopefully I’ve conveyed this through my pictures.
Can you give me any photography tips?
1) Before you shoot, think about the mood you’re trying to set or the story you’re trying to tell through your photography. If you can make someone feel something when they look at your photography, you’ve created a personal connection.
2) Shoot with natural light whenever possible; as a matter of personal preference, I prefer how food looks in natural lighting. Or if you’re just not able to shoot with natural light, learn how to properly shoot with artifical light; Yummy Pics by Nancy Lopez-McHugh and Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin both have great sections on this topic (you can read my review of Yummy Pics here). When you’re shooting food at a dimly lit restaurant, I’ve found a portable light held above the food like this one from Neewer to be very helpful.
3) Play with lighting until you’re able to manipulate both light and shadow to convey the message you want to convey.
- Practice shooting at different times of day to see what time you like best, and note that this will change along with the seasons as the angle of the sun changes.
- If you’re shooting indoors, adjust the curtains/blinds (my preference is sheer curtains) so that the light you’re shooting with best flatters your subject (this is the idea of a light diffuser in it’s most basic form).
- Play with light source orientation, especially side lighting and back lighting. Even though using back lighting in photography can be difficult to master, it yields the most effective pictures. (Back lighting is when you place your subject between your camera and your light source; in other words, your subject is illuminated from behind. It creates strong shadows in the foreground of the image, so I sometimes use a reflector – just a white foam board – to reflect light back onto the subject.) Back lighting creates a strong, dramatic photo, full of light, shadows, and lovely nuances, as opposed to a more flat picture that was taken with the light source behind the camera (which is called front lighting). Depending on the season and time of day, side lighting can also create very dramatic photos that work well for setting a mood. For example, think about a steaming cup of espresso and a plate of pastries photographed in the early morning; the long shadows cast because of the sun’s lower angle in the sky paint the picture of early morning, which echos and reinforces the subject matter.
- Play with the angle that you’re shooting at; for example, try shooting with the camera titled to the side, straight on, or from a bird’s eye view. Light behaves differently at each shooting angle.
3) Take multiple pictures of the same dish so you can choose the shot you want to use. I don’t mean you should take 100 shots of the same recipe though; give yourself time to style the shot exactly as you want it, and then it should only take three to five minutes to shoot.
4) If you’re not sure how to style a picture, think about what would naturally go with the food you’re displaying. For example, if you’re photographing chocolate chip cookies, a glass of milk would be a natural addition. The key is to style it so it doesn’t look styled.
5) Last but not least, invest in a tripod. You can get a great one for about $300 to $400, or a really decent one for about $200 and it really is money well spent. Unless you have the steady hands of a surgeon, this will make all the difference in the world in your pictures.
Feel free to contact me if you have a question that was not addressed here.
Disclosure: This page contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items, which helps me keep this site alive – thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!