Photo Fridays: Behind the Scenes

A few weeks ago, a reader left a comment asking about what it looked like behind the scenes. This is what it looks like when you take 5 steps back. On a good day.

Behind the Scenes

On a more normal day, there are a gajillion toys on the floor in the background and a toddler trying to climb on the table to get at the goods. She’s either screeching with excitement about the thought of sinking her hand into a bowl of guacamole or she’s… just screeching.

Landry Kate

Taking a picture for the blog goes down pretty quickly. It has to. I try to work during naptime. I get the brightest light in the living room and all screeching toddlers are quietly sleeping upstairs.
– I decide which of the four DIY tabletops surfaces look the best with the dish (you can probably tell I’m partial to the blue & white ones).
– I go through my box of misfit dishes, thrift store flatware, and remnant bin fabrics and assemble some supporting characters.
– After arranging the shot on the tabletop in the kitchen, I carry the whole thing to the coffee table in the living room and drag the table over to the window.

The tabletops are about 2ft x 2ft. Some shots work better landscape, others portrait. The decision to shoot straight-on, 3/4, or overhead sometimes takes a couple of minutes to decide but I usually know what I’m going to do when I’m arranging things in the kitchen.

I’ve been using the same $2 foam core board for… 4 years? And it shows. It bounces the light back onto the shot to fill in the shadows. Because I like “girly light.” And shadows are evil in “girly light” :) I also have black poster board that kills the glare.

The clamps came from the garage. They were initially purchased for a DIY poker table project 6 years ago. (6 years!) I can always use an extra set of hands, but when he’s at the office, the clamps will do. When I shoot back-lit (like this shot), I use the clamps to hold a cheap white sheet onto the curtains to diffuse the light.

The tripod in the background wasn’t used for this shot. I use it in low-light situations so I can slow the shutter speed way down. When I use the tripod, I usually shoot tethered – my camera is connected via USB cable to my laptop and I pull the trigger in Lightroom. I have both hands free to clean up the shot and move things around. And usually I can see right away when I’ve accidentally included the toe of my show in the photo. Or the eggshell I decided not to use but forgot and left it in the shot anyway.

Behind the Scenes

35 comments… add one

  • I love seeing how other people set up their shots. Yours are wonderful so thank you for sharing! Your window set-up looks perfect.

  • Wow thnks for sharing this:)

  • Great post! Thanks for all the useful tips and help!

  • Jenn Williams

    Very interesting! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • Thanks for the “behind the scenes” look, your photos are so inspiring!

  • The Little Welsh

    Hi, this is a fab post, always cool to have a behind the scene shot! Could you do a post on how you made the tabletops please?

    • Yes, I will!

      • I was going to ask the same question. Looking forward to that post! Thanks so much for this little peak!

  • Thanks for sharing how you set-up your photos! I learn so much from what others are willing to share and truly appreciate it!

  • this is great! i always look at specifically at the table top for some reason…and wonder how all these people have such neat tables/counters…duh! build your own!

  • Melissa Jackson

    A post on how you did the table tops would be fantastic! Like Abby, I always wonder how people have such great surfaces to shoot on. This is a great tip!

  • Great post! You always have the best pictures. I think I’m going to borrow your foam idea, thanks!

  • Thanks for sharing this great post!

  • I’m always amazed by what other food bloggers can accomplish and enjoy seeing how they do it. Such a great post – thanks for sharing!

  • Your pictures are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing a bit about what goes into them. I’m not sure if you’ve ever done a post about that, but do you have any tips on the styling part? Once in a while I get it right but usually I’m totally lost!

  • I love your behind the scenes…my small request, how about another post on DIY on your boards? I absolutely love your aquamarine one, the color, the aging, the tarnish…it’s simply breathtaking. Plus, when you take your food shots on it…it’s soooo fabulous! I’m working on DIY yellow-summery one – and could use any advice. 😉

  • Love seeing your set up! And glad to know I’m not the only one to experience the screeching toddler too, haha.

  • Thank you, this is so interesting.

    I’m starting to add more recipes to my mostly baby blog and this is very good info to have.

  • Can you tell us how you use the black board to cut the glare? I constantly find myself in a battle between bright glaring light that washes things out and underexposure…thanks!!!

  • Love this post! I love seeing how other people shoot their food photos and it’s always great how there’s so much more to the photo than the final product. When I take mine, instead of a cute baby, there’s a big doggy snout sniffing away.

  • Thanks for the inside scoop! Love this post :)

  • Thanks for sharing a little behind-the-scenes look. I’m always curious to see how other people work. You do a great job!

  • Shawnda I LOVE watching other photographers approaches to get the shot. Love this post & I know what you mean about the kids 😉

  • This is great. When I first started blogging I just figured every blogger had white counters and special tables lol. I think it also shows how much effort you really put into every post. It isn’t just the baking/cooking it’s the set up, the picture taking, editing and finally the blogging.

  • Wonderful peek into how it really is :)

  • What a cool post! Thank you for sharing a peek into the inner workings of your beautiful photos!

  • Thanks for sharing Shawnda! I took your advice and used a white posterboard to bounce light back onto the object I was shooting – it made great use of what little natural light was coming through my dining room window. Also, the DIY tabletops, what material do you cover them with? Thanks again for sharing!

  • I was the reader who requested this post. I was SO excited when I saw it come across my GR. Thanks for indulging my curiosity- you rock!

  • My set up is something like this, except I use a toy bin to hold up whatever cloth I am using as the backdrop, and it’s on my dining room table! And yup, I work during naptime too!

  • Wendy

    Thanks so much! This is great. I agree with the others who would like a post on the diy tabletops.

  • Thanks for sharing!! I am a complete dope, never imagined that there was this much behind-the-scenes action. I’m looking forward to trying some of this out. Love the shot of foodie baby stealing some chocolate peanut butter pie!

  • This post made me smile – sounds like my house. My photo shoots are limited to Saturday and/or Sunday, when the husband is at the gym and the baby is taking a nap. The baby isn’t walking yet, so I don’t have to worry just now about him sticking a little finger into the middle of my rapidly melting frozen dessert. However, I do have a curious cat that frequently likes to crash my scene.

  • tara

    Wow thanks for the post. Its so interesting to see the behind the scenes info ! Thanks for sharing. Photography is NOT a talent i have so i really appreciate those that do !

  • Jasmine B

    do you have anything over the window?

    • If there’s direct sunlight, yes. I’ll tape a piece of white tissue paper (the gift wrap kind) on the window.

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