Motivational Monday – Life is a learning journey

Last Saturday, I attended a workshop organized by My Paper on the art of food appreciation and photography. Ever since I’ve started blogging, I’ve realized that when a blog post is accompanied with quality photographs, the photos lend depth to the story behind the words and breathes life to mere words. I do believe that’s why they say that a picture speaks a thousand words.

At the workshop, I’ve picked up some very useful tips from Bob Lee, a former photojournalist, when he shared about how to capture slurplicious food photographs without having to use a high-end camera or fancy equipment.

And here’s are the top 5 things that I’ve learnt in food photography.

1. Use natural lighting

As far as possible, always take your photographs with natural lighting. The best timing when shooting outdoors  is around 5 pm. That’s when the sun is about to set, giving pictures a very soft glow.

When in restaurants, always choose the seat that is near to natural light sources, i.e windows seats or one where there is ample lighting. That way, you wouldn’t have to rely on flash which are usually too harsh and end up giving a very grainy effect to your photos.

2. Put in effort

Bob very candidly said that beautiful photos rarely happen by chance as it’s usually the photographer behind the lenses that take effort to capture the best shots. And this can be simple measured by how much the photographer has to move his body to take the shot.

I tried to apply what I learnt and tried to find interesting angles to take these dishes.

Which one is your favorite?

In the pictures above, I included the outline of the serving board as well as the table in the background as I felt that it added an interesting  dimension to the dishes.

In these photographs, I went from taking all the little burgers to just concentrating on a few burgers, applying the symmetry rule to my pictures.

3. Break the rules

In photography, there are a few common photography rules, like the rule of one third, use of symmetry, half and half, etc. But photography is an art and not a science, so in reality, these rules are merely a guide and when you’re behind the camera, be led by your feelings, go with the flow and take whatever catches your fancy.

A few techniques that I applied here were – from top left to bottom right

1. Shooting from a aerial view

2. Using 2/3 instead of a 1/3

3. Capturing both the pizza as well as the serving board and the table

4. Pairing the pizza with a glass of juice

4. Cheat if you need to

Remember point one on using natural lighting? Well if you can’t get natural lighting, then there a few cheats you can use to help you get round it. One of them is by bringing your own DIY light reflectors.

Here Bob shows us how you can use a simple cardboard that been lined with aluminum foil as a light reflector. And if this seems too much work, a piece white paper could also do the trick.

5. Learn from the experts

That goes without saying that in order to improve on your photography skills, you got to learn from those who are experts in their field.

I’m glad that I signed up for this workshop together with my colleagues and fellow mummy blogger, Ruth, and had a very enjoyable afternoon learning from the professionals.

Both Bob and Robin, the head chef from the Marmalade Pantry were very generous in sharing their tips and trade secrets on how you can take better photographs as well as apply food styling techniques so that we can put the theory into application with a hands-on exercise.


This workshop has definitely made me more conscious of how I compose my photographs in bringing out the best in what the subject has to offer.  There is so much more to learn about photography and one can never learn enough.

Ending this post with one of my favorite picture of the day. Don’t you think that this could very well appear in a magazine.

What have you been learning lately to improve yourself? Do leave me a comment and link up to share your learning journey for today’s Motivational Monday post.

Don’t forget to grab my badge above and include it in your post after you have linked up and leave me a comment too. I will be hosting Motivational Monday every week and I hope that you can all join me every Monday. Have a great week ahead!
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  1. Jennifer Lim via Facebook July 30, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply

    I commented… then it got eaten up *sulk*

  2. Jennifer Lim July 30, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply

    I commented… then it got eaten up *sulk*

    • Susan July 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm Reply

      Yikes, sorry about that Jennifer. Still trying to resolve the problem.

  3. Jennifer Lim July 30, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply

    I commented… then it got eaten up *sulk*

  4. Jennifer Lim July 30, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply

    I commented… then it got eaten up *sulk*

  5. June July 30, 2012 at 9:24 am Reply

    Useful tips, babe! Those pastries look so yummy. I used to take photography classes at school, but I’ve pretty much forgotten most of it. Now, I tend to just go with the flow, experiment with a few angles, go with/against natural lighting, and look for pretty colours! Heh, not sure if that constitutes cheating. 😛

    • Susan July 30, 2012 at 11:43 am Reply

      The pastries tasted as good as they look 🙂 I like your photos too, especially those on your latest post around your neighborhood. I’m still learning as I go and am having great fun along the way 🙂

  6. pc July 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm Reply

    Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing the tips, was thinking to sign up when you call in smb, alas, packed saturday with kid’s thingy. Yup, the last pic is really nice:).

    • Susan July 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm Reply

      Thanks Pc, I really like it too *beams proudly*

  7. Emily July 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm Reply

    Thanks for the tips, Susan! I like the last picture…

    • Susan July 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm Reply

      It’s one of my favorite photo too and of course it’s because they are all desserts.

  8. Rachel July 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing those great tips on food photography – very useful 🙂 I think the last photo u shared was very good – definitely on the way to ‘world domination’ as a food photographer/blogger soon 😛

    • Susan July 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm Reply

      You think so? I’m flattered especially coming from you Rach 🙂

  9. Dominique@Dominique's Desk July 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm Reply

    Great tips.. the photos really make the food look even more yummy.. great shots.. you make my mouth water looking at it.

  10. MummyBean July 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm Reply

    Nice pics Susan! You made all the food look great! These tips can be used for any type of photography, I believe, not just food shots.

  11. lisacng July 31, 2012 at 2:33 am Reply

    Great post and sounds like a fun class! What did you mean by 2/3 vs 1/3? I think “aerial” food photos are very “in” right now. My favs are the pizza with juice and cake stand photo — the ones you featured! And yes, good photography requires work and sometimes I wish I had the time 😉

  12. Jus July 31, 2012 at 5:19 am Reply

    Woweee, your shots are making me very hungry! Thanks for sharing the tips! 🙂

  13. DinoMama July 31, 2012 at 9:12 am Reply

    testing testing!!!

    ok here is my comment (pls dun eat it up!)
    Great info Susan! I learn a thing or two from ur post too. Your last photo on the pastry looks delicious, I almost want to grab 1 and eat it. Definitely can be feature in magazine!

    • Susan July 31, 2012 at 9:27 am Reply

      Hi Jennifer, yes I finally see it! Thanks for your encouragement. I think this session made me more conscious that quality photos really needs more effort behind them. We must learn from the experts among us like Stephanie, Jus and Adeline.

  14. Cheryl Chan July 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm Reply

    Thank you for the tips! 🙂

  15. FoodieFC July 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm Reply

    hmmm. interesting, I did not know there techniques

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