Alt Summit Food Photography Design Camp

Food Photography Workshop: What to Expect

After chatting with a few new friends about the food photography design camp I’ll be teaching at Alt Summit next week, I realized that it might be a good idea to write a post about what you can expect to take away from the workshop.

Great food photos tell a story that tickles your senses so that you can almost taste what’s there. Lighting, props, angles, and styling all play a role in enticing readers to take a bite out of your blog. I’ll be covering all of these aspects of storytelling in food photography in this workshop for beginner to intermediate food photographers.

What do I mean by “beginner to intermediate”? You should come to class having a working knowledge of your DSLR camera, but you by no means need to be a pro. In fact, if you are a pro, you might find yourself disappointed. I’ll be helping attendees to understand the basic elements of what makes a really Pin-worthy food photo.

Everyone can expect to leave understanding:

– Strong image layouts
– Tricks to make food look appealing
– What props you really need
– How to get the shot you want quickly
– How to work with the light you have (even if it’s not great)

My dear friend Lindsey Johnson will be there to help, and we’re so excited about the workshop! Lindsey has a beautiful blog called Cafe Johnsonia, which is filled with lovely food photos. Her recipes are pure elegance. And on top of all that, she’s really such a kind person. I can’t wait for you to meet her.

P.S. If you can’t make it to the design camp, don’t worry — there will be lots of photos and information, which I’ll share here on the blog soon!

Lovely Things in Hawaii

Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013 Frock Files in Hawaii 2013

Now that we’ve been home for a couple of weeks, I finally sat down and pulled together some of the photos of our time there. These are a few of my favorite things, including the chapel outside the Wai’oli Tea Room, dessert with the Professors Dawson at JJ’s, flowers in the gardens at the Spalding House, and breakfast with my family at Town. Of course, my niece Jolie ranks at the top of that list!


Announcing: Frock Photography

Frock Files | Announcing Frock Photography

Since starting this blog, I’ve had the opportunity to try so many new things, including photography and photo styling. I was thrilled when I first started shooting with a DSLR, and even more excited when people began to let me know how much they liked the photos. Some friends asked if I’d write about photo styling tips, so I began to include those posts as part of my newsletter. Then, to my delight and surprise, people began asking me to style and shoot their products — and the idea for Frock Photography was born.

Frock Files | Announcing Frock Photography

Although I’ve been busy photographing and styling food and products for small businesses, today is the official launch of the Frock Photography website. I’m so excited that I finally get to share this new venture with all of you!

The idea behind Frock Photography is simple: to tell a brand’s story visually through styling and photography. Since our first encounters are increasingly online, it’s important to create the ambiance and experience you’d want in a brick and mortar storefront through your website. With thoughtful styling and photography, that’s possible.

Frock Files | Announcing Frock Photography

I’m honored to be working with artists and crafters, and boutique and restaurant owners both locally and globally, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come!

P.S. What a thrill to be interviewed by Melanie Biehle of Inward Facing Girl for her Creative Mix series. I’m talking about how my mix of creative skills got me to a happy place in my career and, yes, I’m even telling the story of my stint at the detective agency.

P.P.S. A huge thank you to my blogging posse, MJ, Paige, and Louise, for their support and encouragement as I put this together, and to Monica for being my very first client!

Long Distance Friendships

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

Soon after I moved to Portland in 2010, I met Lindsey while working a temp job downtown. We like to say that we fell in love over a secret plan to drown the office bonsai trees (it’s halfway true). When I moved back to Boston last summer, I didn’t have any doubt that Lindsey and I would continue to be as thick as thieves. We’re almost constantly in touch, but when we aren’t I always know that she’s there, she always knows that I’m here, and we’re never feel too terribly far apart.

Frock Files | On Great FriendshipsFrock Files | On Great Friendships

Since we don’t get to spend a lot of time together now that we’re on different coasts, I asked my friend Meghann Street if she could capture a perfect girls’ day with me and Lindsey when I was in Portland last month. We shopped, we had cupcakes, and we stopped to smell the flowers. And we laughed — a lot.

Frock Files | On Great FriendshipsFrock Files | On Great Friendships

Maybe it’s because she’s had to deal with the most demanding of jobs or because she has that steel-laden aristocratic Japanese blood (mixed with some ladylike Swedish) in her — whatever it is, Lindsey has taught me a lot about living a no-nonsense life. Most importantly:

  • There’s almost always something to laugh at when you’re crying.
  • Vegetables can always be disguised as something more fun.
  • If someone wants something from you and can’t tell you what it is, it’s probably not your problem.

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

And now that you’ve seen all these lovely, ladylike photos Lindsey suggests that I add this: It’s important to have a friend with whom you have no filter. As in:

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

She later learned that #nofilter actually means not using a photo filter on Instagram, but continues to prefer it her way. So do I.

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

What have you learned from your best girlfriends?

P.S. Speaking of friends, I’m feeling especially fortunate this week to know such generous and thoughtful people within this community. Whether you’ve offered words of encouragement, support, advice, or a push in the right direction, thank you.  I’m so grateful to have you in my life.


Lindsey’s Outfit: Shirt: Aritzia | Scarf: Monica Lee Studios | Jeans: Levis | Heels: | Cardigan: Target (past season) | Purse: Gap (past season)

My Outfit: Shirt: Aritzia | Jeans: Banana Republic | Heels: BP (past season) | Earrings: Kate Spade | Purse: Kate Spade (past season) | Scarf: Monica Lee Studios | Tattoos: Tattly

Photos by Meghann Street

The Beginner’s Guide to Photo Styling: Food

Frock Files | Oatmeal Brûlée

We get plenty of visual pleasure online but because you can’t smell or taste any of the food you see, you need to rely heavily on images. If you’re writing about food, you need to create a sense of atmosphere to convey flavor, using props, lighting, and maybe even other food. Here are some tips for taking mouthwateringly good photographs.

Shoot cool. If you’re having a hard time shooting, say, lasagna because it’s too slippery and gooey, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and reheat only slightly. It will cooperate better in a slightly suspended state of animation.

Frock Files | Easy Meringues

Set a scene. Use tablecloths, tea towels, cutting boards, napkins, or blankets as backdrops for your photos. Consider adding cups, silverware, or other food items that may naturally accompany the dish you’re focusing on.

Be imperfect! Have fun with your food. Take a bite. Leave crumbs on the table. Scatter the toppings. Leave a smudge of lipstick on the teacup. All of these “imperfections” convey life and action, making for more interesting photographs.

Don’t limit yourself to shooting in areas you think of as dining-appropriate. Check out your kids’ bedrooms, the living room, your bedroom, the garage — where do you get the best light? Shoot there. With your props and backdrops, you’re creating a little world of your own. No one has to know that your kid’s dinosaur army is at the party too.

Frock Files | Sweet Sasquatch Cocktail

Use odd numbers. Usually. Sometimes it works to have two of something, but in general groups of three or five look better than pairs.

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