The majority of questions I receive from readers are either about how to start a blog or food photography so I thought I’d give you some helpful resources that will help you begin your journey into the world of blogging! Now I should preface, I am by no means a professional photographer and have simply learned everything I know through research, practice and tips from other bloggers. There is literally SO much information out there if you just look so I wanted to share the tools that have helped me along the way. You can read more about how you can start your own food blog here, but below is everything I personally use (or have used) and highly recommend!
Canon Mark III 5D – I recently upgraded to this camera in January 2016 after using my Nikon D3000 for over 4 years and I absolutely love it! Not only am I glad that I made the switch over to Canon (I’ll explain more about this later), but the quality of my photos are incredible! This camera also shoots HD video which I’m really excited to start diving into. This is an expensive camera so I would highly suggest purchasing a Canon EOS Rebel SL1 or something similar to my Nikon. I wish I had started of with Canon to begin with so I could continue to use my old lenses so I suggest testing out a few cameras first and then stick to either Nikon or Canon from here on out!
Canon 50mm 1.4 – I absolutely LOVED using my 50mm lens on my Nikon so I made sure to also get one for my Canon! My favorite thing about this lens is that it gives you that beautiful bokeh (blurred background) with an incredibly sharp image of your subject. The important thing to note with this lens is that it is fixed which means you can’t zoom in or out. For food photography this really isn’t much of an issue because the majority of the time you’re capturing close up shots, but for an everyday lens for photos in your home or of a large group of people it’s pretty very difficult to get those wide angle shots unless you are super far away!
Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro – I AM OBSESSED! Literally this might be my favorite lens for food photography. I recently upgraded to this when I purchased my Canon Mark III 5D after reading so many great reviews and I’m really glad I did. The quality and detail of those close-up shots are simply gorgeous and the auto-focus is super fast. This is a larger, heavier lens so it’s not one that I’d like to haul around a lot, but since the majority of my photography is done at home, this has never been a problem for me. I also want to note that this has a fixed lens as well, similar to the 50mm, so you can’t really zoom in or out. If I need to shoot something overhead or pulled back, I just stand on a step stool or place my set up on the floor. The next lens I’m planning on getting is a Canon EF 24-70mm so stay tuned!
Manfrotto MT190XPRO3 – I can’t tell you enough how necessary a good tripod is. Not only is it great for actions shots (you know pouring that syrup all over those delicious pancakes), but if you happen to have shaky hands like me this ensures a beautiful sharp image! I do like to free hand it a lot, but I definitely use a tripod for at least a few shots in every shoot. There are a lot of inexpensive tripods out there, but I can’t stress enough the importance of investing in a quality tripod that has the ability to hold up your camera and with sturdy legs. The thing I love about this one is that it has the ability to do overhead shots which has been really fun to work with!
Neewer 43-inch Reflectors – Honestly I can’t believe I used to shoot photography without these for so many years, I love them! These are used for bouncing light onto your food which is great if you are like me and shoot inside by a window. I used to have so many shadows on my food photos, which can look great if that’s the look and style you are trying to achieve, but I’m a huge fan of bright and airy images so reflectors have been a great help for me. I personally love these group of reflectors because they give you a wide range of options for reflecting light, but a white foam board (which I still use) works great too!
Adobe Photoshop – There are many different programs you can use to edit photos, but I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop from the beginning and absolutely love it. Photoshop is not cheap by any means, but they now offer Adobe Creative Cloud which includes Photoshop AND Lightroom all for a monthly price of $10! I WISH they had offered this years ago when I first started photography because I would have jumped on it rather than investing so much money on different programs at the beginning. I suggest testing these programs out and if you find one you love then go for it! Editing photos is a great way to enhance your work and make your yummy dishes stand out even more. You can check out my full tutorial here on how I use Lightroom to edit all my photos complete with tons of tips and tricks!
Tasty Food Photography Ebook – I can’t speak enough amazing things about this E-book! Seriously I had read so many photography books when I first started out and was completely overwhelmed by all the information that was out there, but this was the first tutorial that I really understood and helped me learn so many helpful tips and tricks! Not only does Lindsay give you step-by-step instructions on how to use the manual mode on your camera (which was something I really struggled with in the beginning!), but she also shows you different ways to style your food as well as how to edit your photos! This Ebook is truly invaluable and I still find myself going back to this from time to time. Lindsay’s blog Pinch of Yum is super successful so I have a feeling she knows what she’s talking about!
How I Made $40k My First Year Blogging – This was another super helpful Ebook that I really enjoyed reading! Not only does Chelsea offer tips and tricks for photography, but best of all she breaks down all the ways in which you can make your blog successful! This is great for beginner bloggers OR for those that have been blogging for awhile, but find themselves wanting to do more with their site. I truly wish I had read this when I had first started, but even after blogging for 3 or 4+ years, I learned SO many new things with this Ebook!
Starting Your Own Food Blog
One of the questions I get asked a lot is how did you start a food blog? Well this has been such a learning experience for me from the start (and I’m still learning new things to this day!), but there is SO much information that I wish I had known from the beginning! To make things easier, I’ve created an easy-to-follow tutorial on how you can start your own food blog which you can read more about here.
Below are all the resources that I personally used to get started and that I highly recommend to everyone! Hope you find some of these helpful.
Bluehost – This was the very first hosting site I used with when I switched Eat Yourself Skinny over to WordPress and they were really great to work with, I honestly wish I had started with them from the beginning! They also offer free domain name registration which is great when getting started with a blog and it’s incredibly affordable.
WordPress– I LOVE using WordPress and am so glad I switched over to them when I did! WordPress is super user-friendly and easy to use and it has thousands of free themes available if you’re not interested in purchasing a “premium” theme right away. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to start your blog without spending a lot of money right off the bat. Be sure to do some research and check the theme’s rating before you download it and install it onto your blog. I would recommend looking for themes with a four or five star rating.
WPopt – I can’t stress enough the importance of WPopt and having tech support! Charles is literally one of the best people I have ever worked with on my blog and was a total lifesaver for me when my blog was having tons of issues. I am not tech savvy at all, so working with someone who can take care of all the intricate stuff that goes on behind-the-scenes and who makes sure your website is running smoothly is invaluable. He also offers hosting now which is who I’m currently using and am so happy with! Other sites take forever to connect with, but Charles answers emails almost immediately so everything is very personable!
MailChimp – Having an automated newsletter attached to your site is really important so that readers can stay connected with you and are up-to-date on all your new blog posts! I started using Mail Chimp this past year after using the dreaded Feedburner and I’m utterly obsessed! It is literally so easy to use, allows you to customize your emails so that they match your blog’s design and best of all they have an account option that is completely FREE! They also have an RSS-to-Email campaign which is my favorite aspect of Mail Chimp where you can customize and schedule your automated emails to go out every time you post a new blog post.
Food Blogger Pro – So remember when I was talking about invaluable information that I wish I had known about before getting started with my blog? This is BY FAR the most useful resource I have used to date!! Seriously. Food Blogger Pro was put together by Bjork and Lindsay, the bloggers behind the delicious site Pinch of Yum, who created a huge business with their blog and wanted to create a space to share their knowledge with other bloggers. I’ve been using FBP for a few months now and I STILL haven’t gotten through all the information they offer! There are hundreds of videos that provide easy-to-understand tutorials on everything from food photography, to setting up technical stuff and even how to utilize social media and generate income. Confused on how to set up Mail Chimp that I referenced above? They have a video tutorial on that too! There is also a community forum where you can chat with other bloggers, ask questions and discuss various topics. Everyone is super helpful and the best part is Bjork and Lindsay jump on there and answer questions as well! There is currently a waiting list to join, but this is seriously well worth the wait!
How to Monetize Your Food Blog E-book
Useful Tips for Emerging Food Bloggers
10 Real-Talk Blog Tips
Food Blogging Do’s and Don’ts
Top 20 Food Blogging Tips for Beginners
Food Blogging 101
The Cost of Food Blogging
Basic SEO Practices
17 Ways to Grow Your Food Blog from Top Bloggers
Tips to Make Your WordPress Blog Look Yummy
How to Create a Fabulous Food Blog
The Food Photography E-book
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling (this might be THE most helpful food photography book on the market!)
Food Photography School (130+ video lessons!)
Food Photography Tips from Edible Perspective
Easy Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beautiful Food Photos