Category Archives: Lifestyle

13 Questions About Food Photography, Answered

Answering some of the most common questions I get asked about food photography, and tips on how you can improve your food photography game!

questions about food photography

Today, I wanna switch it up a bit and talk about food photography. I recently asked on Instagram Stories if I should do a blog post about this after getting a lot of direct messages about my photography, and I received an overwhelming amount of yes’s. I’m quite flattered because I think I still have so much to learn and I’m constantly striving to improve.

To be completely honest, I didn’t really know any technical terms about using my camera until recently. I never took a class, read a book, or have been taught much about photography before. I just picked up my camera and started shooting and I still think that’s the fastest way to learn. However, if I did learn about how to use a camera properly early on, I’m sure my growth curve would’ve been much steeper.

With that said, I thought the best way to talk about taking food photos and what i do specifically is answer some of the questions that I get asked the most frequently. I’m also sharing an awesome resource that’ll help you build you photography skills FAST. I hope this post helps you improve the way you take photos and maybe try out new methods so you can continuously expand your skills! So let’s get started…

Q&A

What kind of camera and lens do you use?

I have a Canon EOS Rebel SL1. For all my blog food photos, I use a 50mm f1.8 lens. I also have a kit lens (came with the camera) that is 18-55m f3.5-5.6 which is a good all purpose one. That’s what I use when I take photos while hiking and traveling. My husband and I have a collection of few other lenses but those 2 are the ones I use the most. I’m actually saving up to upgrade to a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Do you use your fancy camera for all your photos or do you also use an iPhone?

All my blog photos and most of my Instagram photos are shot with my DSLR. I used to own an iPhone SE until recently which didn’t have a great camera, so I would use my husband’s phone if I wanted to share something when my camera wasn’t on me. I did upgrade to an iPhone 8 a few months back so I take photos with my phone way more now, especially when I’m just showing what I ate for lunch like this photo:

questions about food photography

Can you recommend good lights for when you have to take photos when it’s dark out?

I’ll be honest. I don’t use artificial lights most of the time. it’s hard to beat natural lighting when it comes to photos, so I’ll schedule all my cooking so I can photograph everything in the daytime. The rare times I do photograph at nighttime, these are the ones I use.

Where do you get your backdrops?

O man, all the random places! I know there are companies that specialize in backdrops but they are super expensive, and you can get creative and have great backdrops for a fraction of the price.

Wooden cutting boards look great and you may probably own one already. The cheapest option for clean one-color backdrops are foam boards that you can get at any office supply store. If you wanna get more fancy, you can get some paint to paint the foam boards into any color you want or use a patterned adhesive film to stick on the boards. In the following photos, the first one shows a foam board backdrop that I painted with chalkboard paint, and the second photo is a backdrop where I stuck on a marble patterned adhesive film:

Paleo Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Grain Free & Paleo Blender Pumpkin Bread

If you are looking for fabrics, you probably have kitchen towels you can use or you can get some dirt cheap fabrics at JOANN Fabrics and they always have coupons and sales.

Another great option is floor or wall tiles that you can get at Home Depot. They sell just one tile for about $2-15 and they make the prettiest backdrops. These were shot on tiles I got from there:

3 Ingredient Matcha Ice Cream Paleo Vegan

Paleo Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs

Paleo Butter Pecan Keto Fat Bombs

Other great options are wooden boards that you nailed together to make it look like a picnic table, and I made mine with just scrap wood boards that someone threw out in front of their house. I also really love the look of burnt and scratched up baking sheets, as well as parchment paper.

Paleo Burrito Bowl

Chimichurri Skirt Steak Paleo

Sweet Potato Crust Breakfast Pizza Paleo

What app or program do you use to edit your photos?

For all the blog photos, I use Lightroom. And for a quick editing on my phone I use the VSCO app.

Do you have a presets and filters you like use?

I don’t use presets for Lightroom. I just think every photo is so different in color, shadows, and lighting that it’s hard to put one filter on it all. I do love the C1 filter on the VSCO app. And the rare times I use Instagram filters, I use a little bit of Clarendon on my photos.

How many photos do you take for one dish before you decide that you have the right shots?

Always different! Sometimes, I’ll take 5-6 photos and be satisfied. But if it’s more difficult depending on the lighting or the food subject, I can easily take 50+ photos while changing out the backdrop multiple times to achieve the look I desire.

What are you tricks to make “ugly” food pretty?

Haha, I actually received several questions similar to this and I think it’s something many photographers struggle with until they learn some tricks to make food look good on camera. One of the easiest tips is to use garnish: I always have fresh cilantro and parsley on hand. Lemon and lime slices are also great, as well as spices like ground black pepper, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. If the food is looking a bit dull, I have a spray bottle with water in it that I’ll spray the food with to achieve that “shiny” look. I also used flowers in my photos although I don’t do this often.

Gluten Free Paleo Shrimp Pad Thai

paleo vegan orange creamsicle noatmeal

What are your biggest tips when it comes to food styling? 

Keep trying different things if the first way you style the food doesn’t look great. Try different backdrops, fabrics, garnishes and composition. The types of plates you use can make a huge difference as well. However, make the food itself shine without letting it get overpowered by the styling props get in the way.

Who takes the photos of you that you post on Instagram? 

Ha, this isn’t really a food photo questions but I’ve received several questions similar to this so I decided to include it. Half the time it’s myself with my camera timer or a remote. The other half of the time it’s my husband who’s such a great sport about it all. When we are traveling or outdoors, it’s him behind the camera 99% of the time.

What’s the one thing that helped you improve your photography skills the most?

The most clichéd answer but it’s honestly true: Just going for it. I know it can be super intimidating at first, but don’t let that fear paralyze you from picking up your camera. I know there are bloggers who only use their iPhone for their blog photos and they look really great after some editing, especially now that phone cameras are getting better and better. Anyone can be a great photographer after practicing a lot so just start!

What is the one tip you would give to beginner food photographers?

Same answer as the question before, but also, follow other food photographers for inspiration. Especially with Instagram, it’s easy to find some amazing photographers out there with so much talent. And once you start trying to recreate some of the images you see, you’ll find your own style while building up your skills. I just love how you can tell certain photos are by a specific photographer because there’s a character to the photos unique to that person. Here are some of my favorite food photographers:

There are so many more but those are some of my favorite food photographers I can come up with from the top of my head.

questions about food photography

If you have any additional questions, make sure to leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as well!

Ready to take your photography skills to the next level?

Now that I answered all your questions, I hope you start using your camera more to improve your skills. But if you need more guidance, such as learning how to shoot on manual mode, edit photos better, or how to look for the right composition, I found some really amazing resources that may help you on your photography journey.

If you need help finding out what aspect of photography you need to focus on next, you can take the following free quiz that’ll send you a report that tells you the ONE thing to concentrate on right now after you complete it. Plus, you’ll get a custom tutorial you can try right away, that’ll get you on the road to improving that one area.

TAKE THE FREE PHOTOGRAPHY ASSESSMENT QUIZ HERE

There’s also a really great video series on how you can take amazing photos that you can sign up for to help you take your photography to the next level. This video series will help you learn how to:

  • Prevent blurry and out-of-focus images
  • Discover how to use natural light indoors for great photos in your home
  • Bring your subjects to life with two easy tips (and say adios to flat, boring photos!)
  • Add a pro touch by editing photos in 4 simple steps

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE VIDEO SERIES

The quiz and the video series will only last until Monday, 2/26, so I hope you go and take advantage of it! I’ve also participated in both and I can already tell you that they are helping me so much in getting me out of my photographic plateau. I’ve checked out resources from this company in the past and their products are always top notch and great quality.

Now, go pick up your camera and shoot something!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My Experience With Everlywell At-Home Food Sensitivity Test

Read on for my review of Everlywell at-home food sensitivity test, along with why I chose it, my results, and how it changed my diet!

For a few months now, I’ve been experiencing some unexpected digestive discomfort and bloating and I couldn’t figure out exactly why. With my IBS history, these things come and go depending on my stress level, but it felt more acute and longer lasting than usual. I immediately suspected some kind of a food sensitivity, so after doing some research, I decided to try out an at-home food sensitivity test called Everlywell.

Why Everlywell?

I wanted to choose a comprehensive at-home food sensitivity test that’s accurate, affordable, and provides detailed and easy to understand results. Everlywell checked all those boxes for me and I loved how quick their turnaround time is once you send in your sample.

Their test measures your body’s IgG immune response to 96 foods that are commonly found in western diets. Most traditional allergy tests measure just the IgE response, which only tests for an immediate response your body has to a food or a substance (typical allergy responses such as hives, swelling, difficulty breathing), missing out on subtle sensitivities your body may respond to long term.

This is why measuring the IgG response is much more accurate and comprehensive, since it can capture the less obvious and much delayed and long term reactions your body may have such as:

  • headaches and migraines
  • anxiety
  • digestive issues
  • autoimmune diseases
  • skin conditions
  • bloating
  • fatigue
  • joint pain

What is the process?

The process is actually surprisingly simple. Once you order your test, the kit is mailed to you and you can take the test right away. The instructions inside are easy to follow, but if there’s any confusion, they direct you to their site where they have detailed video tutorials on how to take the test.At-Home Food Sensitivity Test

First step is to register your kit online so you can receive updates about your shipping and test results. Then, to take the test, you clean your hand with an alcohol swab, prick your finger with the lancet in the kit, and squeeze out the blood on the blood collection card. It took about 5-7 drops to fill up the required amount. If you can’t handle the sight of blood, you may want someone to help with this process.

After the blood drops have dried completely, all you have to do is send it back in the prepaid and pre-labeled envelope that’s in the kit. Then you just wait for your results! I was honestly surprised at how easy the entire process is. Everything you need to do the test is in the kit, from alcohol pad, bandaids, gauze pad, biohazard bag, and more.

What were my results?

I received an email and a text alert that my test results were ready, about 1 week after the date I mailed out the completed kit. The results break down the 96 most commonly consumed foods in the western diet into 4 categories: Very High Reactivity, Moderate Reactivity, Mild Reactivity, and Low Reactivity. I didn’t have any foods that were in the Very High Reactivity group, probably because I actually do not consume many allergens in my everyday diet.

Keep in mind that if you don’t consume a specific food (gluten and dairy, for me), it won’t reveal in this test that you have a sensitivity to that food, because the antibodies that react to that food in your body won’t be present. This is why neither gluten nor dairy came up as highly reactive food for me.

If you want to make sure you are reacting to a certain type of food and you want it to show up on this test, make sure to consume that food within the week before you take the test. I already know that I feel crappy eating gluten and dairy, so I didn’t feel the need to test those foods and kept it out of my diet leading up to the test. So it’s really up to you if you want to test those foods out or not.

Now, the heartbreaking part:

I found out that the food I was most sensitive to in my current diet is eggs. If you’ve been following for a while, you know I’m obsessed with eggs and I eat it almost everyday. Honestly, this didn’t surprise me too much because if you consume one type of food on an everyday basis, it’s likely that you will become sensitive to that food. I just didn’t want it to be true.

This is especially true for anyone with a compromised immune system, and honestly, that’s most of us today living in this modern world surrounded by toxins in our food, cleaning products, and environment. So I highly recommend adding a variety of food into your diet and rotating them so you don’t consume one food every single day.

Now, for the mild reactivity foods:

As you can see, gluten and dairy are in this category even though I know I’m highly sensitive to them, because I haven’t consumed these foods (intentionally) in months. Had I eaten these foods in the recent weeks, they would have showed up in the Very High Reactivity group.

For the foods in this category, I think I’ll be reducing the amount that I consume instead of eliminating them altogether. For example, I eat quite of bit of almonds in milk and butter form, but I can start substituting with coconut milk and sunflower seed butter. I also eat ALOT of green beans (basically my favorite veggie), so I’ll probably reduce the amount that I eat them to once every 2 weeks or so. I will, however, do a complete elimination of eggs for several weeks to build up my tolerance to them.

It’s important to note that just because you are reactive to a certain type of food, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t eat it for the rest of your life. It may take a few weeks, months, or even years, but once your gut heals enough after not being exposed to an offending food for a long time, you may be able to reintroduce it back into your diet with success.

Things you should know before taking the Everlywell Food Sensitivities Test

At-Home Food Sensitivity Test

  • Just because you aren’t experiencing digestive issues, doesn’t mean you do not have food sensitivities. Symptoms can vary from: headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and skin problems. If you are experiencing any of these, it’s a great idea to take this test to find out how you can reduce those symptoms.
  • This is a blood sample test. You need to be comfortable with pricking your own finger then squeezing out the blood. Have someone help you if you have hard time seeing or dealing with blood in any way.
  • If you suspect that you have a sensitivity to a food, but you still want to be sure that you are, you have to eat that food several times within the week leading up to taking the test in order for it to show up. Your body needs to create the antibodies to that food, or the results won’t indicate that you are reactive to that food.
  • If the results come back showing that you are reactive to a food, the best course of action is to eliminate that food from your diet for several weeks.

Take the test yourself!

I hope this breakdown of my experience helped you. I’m honestly so glad that I took the test, because I would have never given up eggs on my own without being 100% sure that I was intolerant to them (I just love them TOO much!). It’s been several days without eggs and I actually feel less bloated than I have been for the past several months.

I also loved knowing about “Mild Reactivity” food items because I can start reducing those in my diet. If I keep eating those foods frequently without knowing, there’s a chance that I’ll become highly reactive to those foods as well. The test is such a great way to take control over your health, and it’s so empowering when you start feeling better with the choices you make in your diet.

Ready to take the test yourself?

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE EVERLYWELL FOOD SENSITIVITY TEST!
Use the code EVERLY at checkout for 12% off!

This post contains affiliate links. In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

30 Edible Paleo Homemade Gift Ideas

Get 30 fun and easy edible paleo homemade gift ideas that’ll make put a smile on any food lover in your life!

30 Edible Paleo Homemade Gift Ideas

Some of my favorite gifts to give are homemade ones. Not only are they much more budget-friendly, they are so thoughtful and it’s hard to go wrong with them because they always have a personal touch added. I especially like to give edible gifts that are yummy, healthy, and festive, and they are also great to pull together at the last minute.

To give you some some fun and easy recipes that you can get your whole family involved with, I rounded up some of my favorite edible paleo homemade gift ideas from myself and my fellow bloggers that I hope will help you during the holidays or any gift giving occasion.

For the sweet tooth

DIY Pumpkin Cookies In A Jar by Real Simple Good

Cocoa Mint Holiday Truffles by Paleo in PDX

AIP Cinnamon Sugar Cookies by What Great Grandma Ate

Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip BlondiesPaleo Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip Blondies by What Great Grandma Ate

Chocolate / Carob Avocado Truffles with a Kick by Whole New Mom

Slightly Sweet Grain Free Granola by Pure & Simple Nourishment

Healthy Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallows by Recipes to Nourish

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies by What Great Grandma Ate

Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge by Texanerin Baking

Paleo Gluten Free Chestnut Chocolate Chip Cookies-3Paleo Chestnut Chocolate Chip Cookies by What Great Grandma Ate

Salted Pepita Chocolate Bark by A Calculated Whisk

Paleo & Vegan Chocolate Mint Truffles by Tessa the Domestic Diva

For the cozy drink lovers 

Homemade Hot Cocoa & Cinnamon-Maple Marshmallows by Zenbelly

Glühwein: A Recipe for Cozy Times by And Here We Are

Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix by Raia’s Recipes

Vanilla Chai Spiced Ghee + Vanilla Chai Ghee “Latte” by A Calculated Whisk

Nourishing Hot Cocoa with Honey-Sweetened Marshmallows by Prepare & Nourish

Wise Water Tea for Better Digestion by Studio Botanica

For those nuts about nuts

Spiced Maple Rosemary Paleo Mixed NutsSpiced Maple Rosemary Paleo Mixed Nuts by What Great Grandma Ate

Paleo Gingerbread Spiced Almonds by Plaid & Paleo

Roasted Honey Dijon Pecans by Pure & Simple Nourishment

Paleo Vegan Candied Almonds by Texanerin Baking

Spiced Bacon Cashews by What Great Grandma Ate

Sprouted Candied Nuts & Seeds by Raising Generation Nourished

For those into extra special condiments

Whipped Cinnamon Honey Almond Butter by Thriving on Paleo

How to Make Basil Salt by The Rising Spoon

DIY Herbal Honey by Studio Botanica

Crockpot Apple Butter by Plaid & Paleo

Chocolate Hemp Seed Butter by Strength and Sunshine

Slow Cooker Ghee by What Great Grandma Ate

Homemade Vanilla Sugar & Vanilla Salt by A Calculated Whisk

Roasted Sweet Vanilla Pecan Butter by Strength and Sunshine

Immune Boost Vinaigrette by Studio Botanica