The Definite Food Photography Gift Guide

Need to brush up on your Food Photography skills and equipment? This Food Photography Gift Guide will cover everything you need to get started if you have been bitten by the food photography bug.

It’s early December and I am already going to tell you my 2017 blog resolutions. If I don’t write it down I tend to let things slide. This way you can hold me accountable for my slacking tendencies. 2016 was a huge year for me blog wise because I rebranded my blog name completely. It was a big ordeal and then I jumped ship for the rest of the year. Bad Evelyne! Let’s get back on track, shall we? 1) I really need to change my theme to a better and quicker one. 2) I want to pick one social media platform and abuse it to the fullest positive capacity. 3) And I have been putting of my food photo skills for too long. That is where I got the idea to prepare this Food Photography Gift Guide for you just in time for the holidays!

P.S. Post has already been updated a few times with amazing suggestions from you amazing readers and social media fans. Keep sending me your ideas if you think something should be added to the list!

The Definite Food Photography Gift Guide

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

My 10 tips to improve a food blog and Featured Blogger at Food Bloggers of Canada

I received an email that made me blush the other day. I was actually quite honored. I am part of an organization called the Food Bloggers of Canada and every week they chose a Canadian blogger to showcase as the Featured Blogger of the week. This week I am that Featured Blogger. Please take a moment to head of to the FBC and check out the post featuring Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Thank you FBC!

It is always flattering when we get a little bit of recognition for our work, even if we do it purely because it is our passion. This blog is far from perfect but I am proud and have worked hard at it. The first two years this blog sort just gathered internet dust. My topic was too local (short Montreal restaurant reviews) and I did not know how to share more effectively. The last 3 years have been a huge growing experience. I did my research, applied many ideas, put myself more out there, etc. There is always more to learn, ways to improve and keep it fun. Here are my tried and true 10 tips that have helped me take my blog a little bit further.

1. Join a topic related community
The first community I joined was Foodbuzz and my stats skyrocketed instantly because I had a large new audience of peers.

2. Make contact with other bloggers
Leaving comments gets you connected with people who share a mutual interest. This is the #1 networking tool. I have met tons of wonderful people and a few have become friends. The best is meeting up over a meal when the opportunity arises.

3. Review your blog’s goal periodically
My first posts were exclusively short restaurant reviews or anecdotes of the dinner group I ran. My audience was very small. I realized quickly that popular food blogs were focused on recipes. So I took my blog into the kitchen and posted recipes I prepared. I try to keep the majority of my recipes on them: cuisine from around the world. This is also a perfect opportunity to work on a great About page – I just redid mine, comments are very welcomed please!

4. Participate in online group activities
The first group I joined was The Daring Kitchen. The formula varies but the idea is basically the same: a theme, an ingredient or a recipe is suggested and everyone posts at the same time their result. Today I am part of the Secret recipe Club, the 5 Stars Makeover and the Love Bloghop. Join as many groups as you like as long as you can respect the schedule impositions.

5.  A picture is worth a 1,000 words
I once read women are more likely to read a long article whereas men are more likely to just look at the pictures. I think we all do a bit of both but eye candy does go a long way. I could write a whole other post about food photography. Taking a great picture of a dish can be a very intimidating. Learn from food bloggers with a photography knack. Write to them and ask for advice or find photography tutorials. People love to share their knowledge. With practice your skills will improve. Getting a DSLR camera makes a huge impact. Here are some of my favorite food photography resources:

6. Social, social, social networks
Get an account for all of them: Twitter, a Facebook page, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Digg are some of the biggest. Once your accounts are set up follow people. Post new blog articles on every social network. It’s viral marketing.

7. Guest blog or write articles
I wrote an article 2 years ago on exotic ice cream recipes for The Daring Kitchen. I took a look at my last referrers today and 10 of them came from that article. Why? Because it is summer and everyone loves ice cream. A pertinent and well written article posted on another related site can get you new readers for years to come. A fun guest post I did was with Foodiva remaking a recipe we loved from the others blog.

8. Read advice blogs or websites about social media and SEO
One of the best reliable sites is Mashable. They can give you great tips and inspire you. I fell on a site that offered a program called 31 Days to Building a Better Blog. You can find it without cost online. I am doing it at my own pace, not in 31 days. This very post is actually one of the daily tasks: write s list post.

9. Praise and say thank you
This can take many forms. Someone leaves you a touching comment…email them directly saying how much you appreciated it. You fell in love with a recipe on a blog, made it and are posting about it…mention and link back t the post you got the recipe from. In this post I have linked directly to a few bloggers and sites I admire. That is a form of praise. Pay it forward!

10. If you are not having fun, stop blogging
Every effort you make will have a positive impact on your blog. But if you are not having fun then what is the point? If you keep comparing yourself to more successful blogs you are just discouraging yourself. I kept this point for last but it is the most important point on this list. Have fun. Blogging should be a passion, not an effort.

Home Cured Pork Tenderloin

Hello everyone! Today is my 5th Blogiversary! Wow 5 years. And today is my 690th post. Double Wow!

This blog saw a different kind of birth compared to most other food blogs. In the beginning it was only restaurant reviews, bad ones when I look back. I started this blog as a companion to a dinner group I had created 6 month prior which was called, you guessed it, Cheap Ethnic Eatz. I organized 2 dinner outings a month to cheap ethnic restaurants. There was a limited amount of space and who ever signed up first got a spot. It was a wonderful experience which lasted three and half years. I closed the group even if it was still popular…I had taken it as far as I wanted to.

The blog transitioned along the way. I started making recipes, participating in challenges and did a few reviews. I began following and commenting other bloggers. I took a pretty dead blog and breathed life back into it. I have learned so much in the last 5 years it is astounding. My cooking skills have grown, my blog design improved many times and I am still learning to take food pictures. That is really one of the biggest challenges for me lol. Finally getting a DSLR camera helped a lot. Now I am trying to tame it. Maintaining a blog for so many years is a lot of work and time. But it is a passion and I love every minute of it.

I have met so many wonderful people through my posts and have discovered incredibly talented home chefs by following their blogs. I have made foodie friends reaching all 4 corners of the planet. I even met quite a few in person over delicious meals. Sometimes people ask me for advise on blogging, my main answer is “if you do a blog do it for yourself, not for others, and be sincere”. I try my best to stick to my advice. I am just grateful many of you like what I have to offer because my ultimate reward is connecting with you all. So a big thank you my readers.

And I have a fabulous giveaway hosted by myself which is open worldwide.

Just keep reading and the details for the giveaway will be at the bottom of the post.

Now the toughest question for this post was what to cook? I wanted to find something very extraordinary. I started to review my long list of ‘to do’ recipes and one jumped out at me. Cured Pork Tenderloin! I have never cured meat before so this sounded really cool and a bit scary actually. This recipe comes from a Montreal blogger I once had lunch with, her blog is called La Casserole Carrée. A really stunning blog visually so who cares if you can’t read French. I have to admit I was afraid when I took my first bite. Would it be cooked, who it taste funny…would I get sick? The result: wonderfully tender, salty and I could tell it was cured all the way through so perfectly safe. I feel like this experience opened a whole new culinary door. Follow me on a curing adventure, it is not a hard as it may seem.

Ξ Cured Pork Tenderloin with Parmesan, Garlic and Basil Ξ

Ingredients:
1 small slim pork tenderloin
3 tbsp salt
1/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried basil

Directions:
Prepare the pork by removing any fat or membrane left by the butcher. In a flat dish mix salt, Parmesan, garlic powder and basil. Roll the pork tenderloin in the mixture, pressing hard and ensuring the the meat is well encrusted. Lay out a thick cotton cloth (or other natural material), spread any mixture left on the cloth and wrap the meat carefully and fairly tight half way, fold in the ends and continue wrapping , secure both ends with a rubber band. Put the wrapped tenderloin in the fridge and leave it for at least 5 days (maybe a little more if the tenderloin is thick). Slice thinly and serve chilled. Delicious!

AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

Win a beautiful reference guide that clarifies uncertainties when shopping, and lures readers into the foreign kitchens with its enticing photos. What are the names of all those delicious apples that are often sold unlabeled at fruit and vegetable markets? The produce that is piled high in all shapes and colors at the entrance to every supermarket? “Ingredients” provides help with all of these questions, identifying approximately 2000 ingredients by name and describing their composition and use. This book will help cooks, and anyone who likes to eat, find their way through the world’s jungle of ingredients. Full color stunning photography pages.

Here is what you have to do to enter the contest:

– Leave a comment in the post!

Extra entries…

– Tweet I just entered the Ingredients book GIVEAWAY with @cethniceatz at http://cultureatz.com/5th-blogiversary-giveaway-and-home-cured-pork-tenderloin/ Ends June 22nd, 2012
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Facebook and leave separate comment
– Follow Cheap Ethnic Eatz on Twitter and leave separate comment
– Like or Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave separate comment

You have till June 22nd 2012, 23h59 EST to enter. GOOD LUCK!

Amateur Food Photography

I had lunch yesterday with about 10 local food blogers yesterday (future post to come) and one topic that came up was taking pictures of our food and the frustration that comes from it.

Now we do not have food stylist folowing us in tow with a food photographer. We’ve got to do the best we can with what we have. I noticed on blogs some are definitely better at it then others. I am not one of those. I find my pictures pretty plain. They are also often group shots of the dinner parties, maybe not so much the food.

But still I searched the net for food photography tips for the common folk and I found 2 really great articles: Food Photography – An Introduction and 101 Cookbooks – Food Photography Tips. Let me share the texts that I found were the finer helpful points:

Get a good lens:
– If you have a point-and-shoot camera, make sure it has a good macro mode on it. Really focusing in upon just one part of the dish can be an effective way of highlighting the different elements of it.
– If you are going to invest in a digital SLR don’t buy the “package” with the stock lens. Buy the body and then buy a faster lens separate.

ISO range:
If you typically shoot at night, indoors, or in dimly lit environments consider the ISO range on the camera – the digital equivalent of film speed. 1600 and up is great, 3200 even better.

Learn to color balance:
A lot of the amateur food photography is plagued by an orange or blue cast that washes over the entire image. By learning how to adjust the color balance (either in the camera or in an image processing program) they can clear that problem right up. This is particularly a problem for people who shoot indoors under artificial lighting.

800px-Sandwich-making

Lighting:
Treat the food you’re photographing as you would any other still life subject and ensure that it is well lit. One of the best places to photograph food is by a window where there is plenty of natural light. This daylight helps to keep the food looking much more natural. Soft light, sometimes diffused with a thin curtain is best to avoid direct light because it throws really harsh shadows across the food. No Flash. Ever. Unless you want your food to look sweaty and greasy – which can sometimes be cool/modern when you are talking about BBQ or something. But get the techniques down using natural light first, and then start breaking the rules.

Use a tripod:
No flash usually means blurry images if you hold the camera with your hands. Get a mini tripod that you can carry in your bag or purse and use the timer function on the camera if you have one.

Backgrounds:
Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowel and any table settings around it. Don’t clutter the photo with a full table setting but consider one or two extra elements such as a glass, fork, flower or napkin. These elements can often be placed in secondary positions in the foreground or background of your shot.

Be Quick:
Food doesn’t keep it’s appetizing looks for long so as a photographer you’ll need to be well prepared and able to shoot quickly after it’s been cooked before it melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color. This means being prepared and knowing what you want to achieve before the food arrives. One strategy that some use is to have the shot completely set up with props before the food is ready and then to substitute a stand-in plate to get your exposure right. Then when the food is ready you just switch the stand-in plate with the real thing and you’re ready to start shooting.

250px-Fruit_salad_closeup

Style it:
The way food is set out on the plate is as important as the way you photograph it. Pay attention to the balance of food in a shot (color, shapes etc) and leave a way into the shot (using leading lines and the rule of thirds to help guide your viewer’s eye into the dish). Don’t get hung up on the getting the quintessential “final shot”. There are all sorts of great detail shots that emerge throughout the cooking process – the environment, the raw ingredients, the chopping, the motion, the flames and all the action that comes into play in the second act, and THEN the final plated image itself. A tip: have some vegetable oil on hand and brush it over food makes it glisten in your shots.

Get Down Low:
A mistake that many beginner food photographers make is taking shots that look down on a plate from directly above. While this can work in some circumstances – in most cases you’ll get a more better shot by shooting from down close to plate level (or slightly above it).

Steam:
Having steam rising off your food can give it a ‘just cooked’ feel which some food photographers like. Of course this can be difficult to achieve naturally. 

Happy Food Shooting!

Hugs and Biscuits
Evelyne