Next month the Health Bloggers Community has lined up two food photography workshops in Dublin specifically aimed at bloggers. Food stylist and photographer Jennifer Oppermann will be leading the sessions and she shares with us now how she got into the business and what her top tips are for capturing drool-worthy photos.
Want to get Jennifer’s tips first hand? Join us for one of our sessions in Dublin on 21st April 2018. Tickets available here.
Tell us about yourself – how did you get into food styling and photography?
I was at home rearing my three children for a number of years and when they were old enough I felt I really needed to get back in to the workforce. I decided to retrain and did an extensive cookery course in Cooks Academy on South William Street, Dublin.
I have always been interested in food not just eating it but learning about it different cuisines, ingredients, techniques etc. Whilst on the course I realised I did not want to spend long days working in a hot kitchen, but I was really interested in how the end product or dish looked.
I researched alternatives to being a chef or a cook. My tutors encouraged me to look at food styling and I did. I studied fine art before I started my family but with the busy family life I sadly abandoned it. I always had a camera when my girls were growing up but just snapped photos of them and never even thought of taking photos of food as Instagram was not a thing then.
I revisited my camera about four years ago and did some photography courses in the Dublin School of Photography and it went from there.
What kind of work do you do now?
I have been working as a food stylist/ photographer for about three years now, working for TV, advertising, cookbooks, restaurants, hotels, chefs etc.
I really love the food styling, storytelling and painting pictures with food and the photography was a kind of a natural by product. I do really love cooking and wanted to get back in to the kitchen too, so I now combine the other elements of my work with recipe development, working with various brands, so I tell their food story from start to finish.
What tips would you give to bloggers just starting out on their food photography journeys if they want to take and share great shots?
Work with natural light as much as you can as it really is the best light for food photography.
Chase the light around your home, it may be in an unexpected place such as your bathroom. Look at other bloggers work you admire, looking at light & composition.
Ask yourself why you like it and why you think it works. Find your style as everybody has a style they like whether it be airy and light, dark and moody or something in between.
Plan your shoots, drawing diagrams, maybe get a scrapbook. Don’t photograph on an empty stomach and be prepared not to eat your food.
What camera do you recommend?
The latest smart phones today are fantastic. You can create great images with them. But if your budget can stretch get an entry level DSLR such as Canon Rebel or Canon 700D. You can pick a second hand one up on the net.
The HBC has more recommendations for cameras from its influencer crew in this article.
What other kit would you say is essential for great photos?
A tripod is essential for razor sharp images. Diffusors and reflectors.
A mini tripod is a good buy for smartphone photography. Smart phones are made for overhead, flatly photos use it to your advantage. Smart phones are uncomplicated, click and shoot so you can take a really decent image without all the fuss and time.
If you haven’t got the money for expensive kit, what are some easy / cheap ways to create kit at home?
Charity shops, markets etc are great places to pick up props. Buy samples of paint and paint pieces of old wood for interesting table tops. Experiment with polyfiller on pieces of MDF, it can be made to look like weathered cement or granite.
Visit your local hardware shop you can pick up sample tiles and pieces of vinyl to use as backgrounds. Use pieces of card and tinfoil to make reflectors. Hand mirrors also work well for highlighting. White baking parchment is a great window diffusor. Black card from art supplier make great fill boards. Pieces of material add interest to your photos collect samples and pieces whenever you can.
For more tips with Jennifer join us at our Food Photography Workshops for Bloggers on 21st April 2018. Tickets available here.