So You Wanna Be A Better Photographer?

Tips and Tricks from a Professional Food Photographer at

People, my people!

I don’t know why I said that. My husband walks into the house after work and shouts that out all the time. I think he’s rubbing off on me. Ugh. I’m probably going to start smelling like a boy before long. Gross.

Anyway, I get random requests here and there for photography tips. I know. I can’t believe people think I know what I’m doing either, but apparently they do! So, I ran a little poll on the ol’ facebook and apparently, you guys would like me to spill the beans on my super top secret photogrphy tips and tricks. (Did you see what I just did there? Spill the beans. That’s a little food blog humor at it’s finest right there.)

So, I thought I would start a weekly series full of learning and teaching and sharing and other general awesomeness. If you’re not interested in photography, click away, my friends. I’ll be back every Monday with my normal food posts and nonsensical stories. No worries!

So, before we dive in, I thought I’d give you some homework. And I expect straight As from each and every one of you, got it?

Anyway, the homework is this: Put on your big girl panties.

You see, things are about to get real. And I don’t want you being all frightened. Photography does take time to learn and it’s not a quick process.

How about the history of my photographic life? Does that sound interesting? Probably not, but I’m going to torture you anyway.

I first got serious about photography in 2007. I had a Kodak point and shoot camera that allowed you to shoot manual if you so choose. It wasn’t a DSLR (a camera that allows you to change lenses), but it was a higher end point and shoot. The reason I got rid of that camera and upgaded to a DSLR was because shooting in manual on that Kodak didn’t work right. Everything came out blurry! They weren’t beautiful like manual pictures should be!

grandpa and em

My daddy and my daughter. Taken in 2007, on Auto with my Kodak point and shoot…still a favorite photo of mine!

Aaaaaaand, so I paid $500 and bought a Nikon d40 only to discover that the reason my photos were blurry was because I didn’t know what in the hay-ull I was doing with manual. I mean, you guys. You can’t just turn the dial to M and expect a masterpiece to pop out. Apparently, you have to also fiddle with the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Lame-sauce.

lijah paul

My son, in 2008, shot in Manual with my first DSLR.

At no time did I put that DSLR into anything other than manual. I took one thousand blurry photos and I read one thousand tutorials and I cried one thousand tears, but I was determined to shoot manual.

I upgraded to yet another DSLR about 1 1/2 years after that. It took some serious convincing of the husband. This photography thing is expensive, but I made it happen.

At this point, I was fully in love with photography and had joined Clickin’ Moms. Clickin’ Moms is a forum full of women (and a few men) photographers who are absolutely bursting with knowledge. I grew by leaps and bounds in the first month I joined that forum. I’m still a member and still check in there nearly every day. About 3 months after joining that site, I went into business as a portrait photographer. I have been successful with my business this far and I contribute a lot of that to Clickin’ Moms. I can’t recommend that forum enough and if you’d like to join I would love for you to use this referral link.

Photography tips from a professional photographer

Now, here I am in 2013, with yet another upgraded camera, this time the full frame Nikon d700. I love that camera nearly as much as I love my children. I photograph my food with a Nikon 50mm 1.4G or my Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro. I photograph people with my Nikon 85mm 1.8G. I have big, grand plans to purchase a Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 this year. Don’t tell my husband or he’ll have a heart attack.

If you’re new to the DSLR world, I can not recommend the nifty fifty lens enough. It’s around $100 for either the Canon or Nikon version. (But keep in mind that some Nikon cameras won’t  autofocus with certain lenses, so you’ll want to do your research!)  The 50mm  is sharper than any kit lens that comes with your camera, and the aperture opens up to 1.8, so you’ll get that nice blurry background everyone loves. By the way, that blur in the background is called bokeh (bow-kuh). If you’re looking for the upgraded version of the 50mm 1.8, the 50 1.4 is a truly fabulous and versatile lens. I adore mine and it literally did not come off of my camera for over a year after I first purchased it.

Now that I’ve bored you all with my history, I want to hear from all of you where you’re at. Do you already shoot manual mode? Do you have any specific questions you would like me to address?

Next week, I plan on going over the basics of shooting in manual, so you know. Big girl panties. Get ’em ready. You can find week 2, the basics of manual, right here.