{Speaking at TECHmunch Boston: “Creating and Distributing Mouthwatering Multimedia Content”}

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to begin to pursue turning my photography into a profession.  In January, I created Brian Samuels Photography, my portfolio website, and it has been very exciting to see where that has taken me.

Most recently, I was asked by Babette, creator of BakeSpace.com & TECHmunch founder, to be a part of a panel on “Creating and Distributing Mouthwatering Multimedia Content” for their Boston TECHmunch conference, which is being held today.

Knowing that many of you will not be able to attend this conference, I wanted to provide a guide on some of my thoughts on food photography.  I didn’t want this to be an epic post, so I kept things brief.  Hopefully you will find a few of these points helpful.

1. Make the food the focus

The key to any good photograph is composition.  This can be particularly difficult when using a point and shoot because you are limited in terms of the depth you are able to get.  Therefore, keep the shot simple and have the food be the focus.  Give it a little action by including a fork by the side of the bowl, or put down a colorful cloth under the plate to give the shot some life.  I suggest shooting from in front of the subject as opposed to from above to give it a little depth.

2. Bring some life to the photograph with some action

The finished dish is a beautiful thing, but if you want to entice your audience, you must show some action.  For example, with the above photograph I wanted to focus on the massive amounts of cheese and bread that accompanied the French Onion Soup.  To do that, I had my husband dig in… pulling out a big spoon of baguette and oozing cheese… and that brings life to the image.

3. Use natural lighting whenever possible

Whether taking pictures of food at home or at a restaurant, natural light is ideal.  If you are interested in taking pictures at a restaurant, I’d suggest making lunch reservations.  This will provide you with wonderful light, but it will also most likely be less crowded, making it a more comfortable environment to take photographs.

4. Submitting to Tastespotting/Foodgawker/Food Porn Sites:

Even before starting a food blog, you were most likely aware of “food porn” sites like Foodgawker or Tastespotting.  And many of you have probably gotten some photos up there and some of you haven’t. These sites can potentially bring a lot of traffic to your blogs and I know that is really enticing.  That’s the main reason I submit my photographs every time I have a new blog post up.  I want people to see it, go to my site, and leave a comment.

I have a few notes on submitting to these sites:

1. Keep things light – I will sometimes brighten the photographs a little before submitting because they tend to prefer them that way.  If a picture has been rejected for being too dark, try this and then resubmit.

2. Crop your photos – Before submitting to Foodgawker, I suggest cropping your pictures, otherwise they will do it for you.  This allows you to make sure that the subject fits nicely in the square box on their site.

3. Submit more than one photograph – With Foodgawker, you can submit up to 3 pictures at a time.  If you have a couple to submit, it’s worth sending them in.

4. Resubmitting can work – There are many times when I resubmit a photo because it was not accepted the first time around.  After making minor adjustments, I can sometimes get an image in.

5. They don’t like hands – I love shooting pictures with hands in them… we use our hands to eat, so why not?!?!  But Tastespotting apparently does not like hands in their pictures, so it may not be worth submitting those to them.

There is a lot of pressure to be recognized by food porn websites, but I think the key is not letting it get you down if your photo is denied.  For the sake of full disclosure, I have submitted to FoodGawker 242 times (41 acceptances, 201 rejections).

5. Have fun with it!

We do this because we find beauty in food and in the cooking process and taking pictures should always be an enjoyable experience.  Have fun doing it and don’t be afraid to experiment.  It’s the only way we’ll learn.

I hope you all found this post to be helpful and I am always happy to answer any questions people might have about my process.  If you do, feel free to e-mail me at myfoodthoughts at gmail dot com.

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  • EdwinaJuly 24, 2011 - 11:41 am

    Fantastic post and I looove the photographs. It’s exactly what I am in the process of striving to do…real food that real people eat.ReplyCancel

  • Girl's Guide to Guns and ButterJuly 24, 2011 - 11:51 am

    A beautiful (and succinct) post, Brian! Just what I always need. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • The SouperJuly 24, 2011 - 11:58 am

    Brian, Many thanx for this post. Incredible photography and teaching moments :)

    The SouperReplyCancel

  • foodwanderingsJuly 24, 2011 - 11:58 am

    Great post Bri. I also find shooting from the top flattens the image and doesn’t give it depth. Many congrats on your techmunch speaking engagement. I know you will be fabulous. Just starting the get the hang of submitting photos to these sites. Thanks for the tips!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Mardi@eatlivetravelwriteJuly 24, 2011 - 12:08 pm

    Thanks for posting Brian for those of us not there. This is *nearly* as good!ReplyCancel

  • KristenJuly 24, 2011 - 12:20 pm

    Your photography and style is one of my favorites. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. Very helpful post! Good luck on your speaking engagement. I know you’ll rock it!ReplyCancel

  • SharonJuly 24, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Thanks for posting encouragement for all of us! Love your photography ! Photo envy GALORE!ReplyCancel

  • Prerna@IndianSimmerJuly 24, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    Wohoo, I am sure you will do fabulous at the conference! People have so much to learn from you and also get inspired.
    Great post as well Brian!ReplyCancel

  • Great tips Brian! Bummed I’m missing TechMunch!ReplyCancel

  • Mike@The Culinary LensJuly 24, 2011 - 1:53 pm

    Thank you some really useful information here. I feel like I am learning every dayReplyCancel

  • EthanJuly 24, 2011 - 2:10 pm

    Thanks Brian, it’s tough to get to all of these conference, thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • rebeccaJuly 24, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    great tips Brian and wow enjoy presenting so proud of you keep following your dreams

    RebeccaReplyCancel

  • Jen @ My Kitchen AddictionJuly 24, 2011 - 2:47 pm

    I always love your photos, Brian… Would love to have been at the conference (and in Boston!), but I’m glad you gave us the cliff notes from your presentation! Great tips!ReplyCancel

  • AmandaJuly 24, 2011 - 4:09 pm

    I think your advice is great!! I love your perspective and uniqueness. :)ReplyCancel

  • JoshJuly 24, 2011 - 4:27 pm

    Great post, and beautiful images!ReplyCancel

  • MonetJuly 24, 2011 - 4:58 pm

    Smile. I only wish I could see you in action. Thank you for sharing these great tips, my friend. And my goodness…those swordfish burgers? So good!ReplyCancel

  • serena @bigapplenoshJuly 24, 2011 - 5:33 pm

    These are great tips, Brian! Thanks! :)ReplyCancel

  • Lena H.July 24, 2011 - 5:56 pm

    These are all great tips – thanks for sharing for all those not in attendance at this year’s #Techmunch!ReplyCancel

  • jaclynJuly 24, 2011 - 6:03 pm

    thanks so much for sharing this, Brian! there’s a lot of great information here, and beautiful photos as well!

    it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged when the “food porn” websites turn down images. most of the time i can understand and see where they’re coming from with my photos, especially my earlier photos where i had no idea how to use my camera! but i’ve learned that you can’t take it personally, and if you’re happy with the shot, that’s really all that matters.

    i didn’t know that you could submit up to three photos at a time per post with foodgawker, thanks for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • MaureenJuly 24, 2011 - 6:40 pm

    Great advice. I know I need to spend more time on my photos instead of eating the food. :)ReplyCancel

  • Joan NovaJuly 24, 2011 - 6:56 pm

    Good advice, Brian. I’ve given up on tastespotting b/c of the 250×250 restrictions. Tedious! And don’t get me started on foodgawker. Early on, they accepted some of my photos but it seems these days, as my photography improved, their interest waned. I don’t get it…but I persevere.ReplyCancel

  • A Plum By Any Other NameJuly 24, 2011 - 8:06 pm

    You did such a great job on the panel! FYI, I noticed the hands in your picture above … and I didn’t mind one bit. ;) I meant to flag you down and just say how much I love your work earlier today, but I missed you. So here it is, instead: bravo!ReplyCancel

  • Halley (Blunder Construction)July 24, 2011 - 8:14 pm

    Your recommendation about ‘focus on the food’ is one of the best tips I took away today. I thought that’s what Tastespotting wanted of me, and I started buying fancy plates & vintage kitchen utensils, or as you put it “bells and whistles.” You’ve saved me many trips to Goodwill. Many thanks!ReplyCancel

  • MikeVFMKJuly 24, 2011 - 9:43 pm

    I love visiting your site. And moments like this just prove why I keep coming back. Wish I could have seen you in action and supported you. Great precise points and always helpful.ReplyCancel

  • chinmayie @ love food eatJuly 24, 2011 - 10:35 pm

    Great post with some very helpful tips :) I really love your photos as they are all very natural and rarely look ‘studio like’! that’s my most favourite style of photography as i believe that’s far more difficult.ReplyCancel

  • Kate@DiethoodJuly 24, 2011 - 11:10 pm

    Thank you for the tips, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • Meal Makeover Mom JaniceJuly 24, 2011 - 11:51 pm

    Great tips Brian and fun listening to you speak today. So good to know that incredible photographers like you sometimes have their photos rejected by Foodgawker too!ReplyCancel

  • AnnJuly 25, 2011 - 12:11 am

    What great information…thank you! I’ve been working on my photos with a point and shoot. One day a DSLR will be mine….ReplyCancel

  • Angie's RecipesJuly 25, 2011 - 12:25 am

    Thanks, Brian, for this informative entry!ReplyCancel

  • Andrew FrishmanJuly 25, 2011 - 12:47 am

    Mnnn. . . I LOVES me some discussion about how to photograph food.

    La comida es el opio de los epicúreo.ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the KitchenJuly 25, 2011 - 2:55 am

    Ooo, good tip on submitting multiple photos to foodgawker. I never knew that!ReplyCancel

  • SaraJuly 25, 2011 - 10:51 am

    Great post, espeically the foodgawker/tastespotting. Let’s see if I manage to get published. Didn’t know we could resubmit either!ReplyCancel

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspectiveJuly 25, 2011 - 11:23 am

    Great tips honey. …And that picture of the warm gooey cheese stretching out from he crock gives me the shakes!!!ReplyCancel

  • Baker StreetJuly 25, 2011 - 11:51 am

    Bri – like i said, its just the thing i need! Its a great post. Thanks a lot.ReplyCancel

  • Barbara | Creative CulinaryJuly 25, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing…have to admit I got a kick out of your Foodgawker numbers…you are a madman; I haven’t submitted anything close to those figures!

    Though I’ve also become aware of just how getting my photos on those sites affects my bounce rate too. So, I’m less concerned. If I do great, but if not, it also keeps my bounce rate at a better percentage!ReplyCancel

  • Cate O'MalleyJuly 25, 2011 - 1:55 pm

    Excellent tips, both here and on the panel yesterday. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you, but have loved getting to know your work through your site.ReplyCancel

  • LiztheChefJuly 25, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    Very helpful post – thank you. Shoot from the side, Liz !ReplyCancel

  • LynJuly 25, 2011 - 4:56 pm

    Such wonderful tips. I absolutely love your work. I appreciate the advice regarding submissions to Foodgawker etc. I’m just getting started on my journey in food photography so its great knowing that there are folks like you who share a wealth of knowledge. Thank you! Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Heather | Farmgirl GourmetJuly 25, 2011 - 6:10 pm

    This is the best post. Most inspirational is the fact about that 242 submissions to Foodgawker resulted in 41 acceptances. I tend to get my feelings hurt and then not submit again. Kudos to Brian for being so honest and helpful.ReplyCancel

  • LanaJuly 25, 2011 - 6:15 pm

    I can never get enough photography tips – I think that I am a veritable hoarder:) Thanks for adding your valuable advice to my collection – it is greatly appreciated. I have always admired your photograph:)ReplyCancel

  • Lora @cakeduchessJuly 25, 2011 - 10:14 pm

    It would have been wonderful to hear and see you speak about your great talent. This is a wonderful post with super ideas. Hope you’re having a nice week.:)ReplyCancel

  • VictoriaJuly 25, 2011 - 11:22 pm

    Brian, this is a really great post on photography. It’s really straight to the point and focuses on the little things that people who aren’t professionals can actually attempt to adjust in their photographs. I have been rejected for the most part from those photo sites and have pretty much come to terms with the fact that I think some of their restrictions are silly, and in some cases I see photos approved that I don’t think are better than mine. I often strive to improve my photos, and even with the point and shoot I have (it’s all I can afford) I think tips like this really do help. Thanks lots :) You rock!ReplyCancel

  • LirenJuly 26, 2011 - 12:25 am

    Brian, such a great post – insightful and to the point. I just wanted to say that what I love most about your style is that comes across as very photo-journalistic, never staged, and the colors are just right. Wish I could have been there!ReplyCancel

  • SallyJuly 26, 2011 - 6:44 am

    Brian, really nice presentation (both here and in person) I enjoyed meeting you and love your blog. Re: those pesky foodporn sites: I decided to use (many) rejections as fuel to improve my photos and it definitely motivated me :)ReplyCancel

  • IlkeJuly 26, 2011 - 7:28 am

    These are all great points, Brian. Thanks! Especially what kind of pictures they accept at those sites. I am glad you followed your passion and turned it into something more!ReplyCancel

  • AggieJuly 26, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    What a great great post. I felt like you were talking to me at my table. I wish I could’ve attended TechMunch…hopefully we will meet sometime Brian! I admire your work!!

    (and that french onion soup “action” photo? to die for!!!)ReplyCancel

  • anamikaJuly 27, 2011 - 9:17 am

    Thanks for sharing what we are going to miss out on!! Hope to read more of such posts.ReplyCancel

  • ElianaJuly 27, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    I can only dream of taking photos as good as yours! Thanks so much for sharing your tricks of the trade :)ReplyCancel

  • Chef DennisJuly 27, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    Brian

    how I wish I could have been there for the techmunch! Your images are amazing and they just keeps getting better, I could certainly use some pointers to improve my shots..

    hope your week is going well my friend!
    DennisReplyCancel

  • Katie@CozydeliciousJuly 27, 2011 - 9:09 pm

    This is such a great post. I love the tip about getting action into food shots – thank you! Wish I could have been at that panel discussion!ReplyCancel

  • {Recipe: Plum and Berry Crumble}July 28, 2011 - 6:22 am

    […] leaving you with this crumble recipe, I wanted to thank everyone for their kind comments on my photography post.  We’re all in this whole thing together… we’re constantly learning and […]ReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ SweetapolitaJuly 28, 2011 - 10:00 am

    Brian, I somehow missed this, and it’s really such a wonderful post! Thank you so much for all of the insightful and helpful food photography tips–your photos are always gorgeous and real. I know you will have so much success with Brian Samuels Photography. xoxoReplyCancel

  • sweetsugarbelleJuly 29, 2011 - 12:17 pm

    I am floored at your foodgawker numbers. To someone like me, you are the foodgawker posterchild. I’m a little more intimidated because if they tell you no on anything that means im basically, well, um I’m not getting in.
    Thank you so.much for sharing this. I have no idea what im doing photowise so I hang on every single word!ReplyCancel

  • Christy @ The Daily DishJuly 29, 2011 - 1:42 pm

    Such a helpful post! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience. And best of luck going pro – your immense talent will take you far I’m sure!ReplyCancel

  • Alaiyo KiasiJuly 31, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    Hi Brian,

    This article was quite helpful to me, and I will take your advice regarding submitting photos to websites that feature food photos. I’m also happy to discover another blogger that is currently writing about being a pescetarian. Other sites that I’ve visited haven’t had current posts in a while. I would like to list your site as one of the recommended blogs on my site, which is new.
    Congrats on taking your photography into the professional realm!

    Alaiyo
    Pescetarian JournalReplyCancel

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)July 31, 2011 - 7:03 pm

    I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for sharing your tips. I started my blog just over two months ago with a point and shoot. I just got a new camera…certainly not a great one but a decent one for a starting blogger. Hopefully I will lean how to use it. I will be returning to your site often.ReplyCancel

  • kankanaJuly 31, 2011 - 7:26 pm

    You are so amazing Brian and I love your photography. This post is so helpful with interesting information :)ReplyCancel

  • ShirleyJuly 31, 2011 - 10:37 pm

    Your Foodgawker stats gave me a chuckle… all those rejections used to get me so mad! Bummed I didn’t know earlier about TECHmunch, I’m only over in Quincy.ReplyCancel

  • naomiAugust 2, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Great post! I love your honesty with the full disclosure. I think your photos are fantastic. They are nuts!

    I agree it’s nice to be posted on them, but it’s okay when I don’t. There are times when I shoot and I think, “Hey I should do a shot for the FG, TG and Tastelogie, but then I say screw it”. Too much trouble and personal growth trumps my need to be pimped.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne @ CookSister!August 10, 2011 - 7:17 am

    Sound advice – and agree totally on the Tastespotting/Foodgawker. Everybody gets rejected, so the sooner we stop taking it personally, the happier we will all be!ReplyCancel

  • Megan's Cookin'August 17, 2011 - 11:06 am

    This is a terrific post! I didn’t know about submitting 3 pictures at a time to Foodgawker. And I have never resubmitted a picture either. I have some work to do. Thanks Brian, for all the tips, you helped a lot. Thumbs upReplyCancel

  • JasannaNovember 14, 2011 - 6:00 pm

    This is so helpful! Thanks for the tips on submitting foods to these sites! Any ideas on if a point and shoot camera would ever work for submitting work? I know many of you have quite fantastic cameras! :)ReplyCancel

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