A few of the most-asked questions I got when I first announced that I was writing a cookbook, was if I was doing all of the photography, if I had any help, and how I shot the cover! A bunch of you were super interested in learning more about the behind the scenes cover process, and how photographing a book is different than shooting for the blog, so I wanted to share that with you guys!
This little spot in my house is where I shot every single photo, as well as the cover for Eat More Plants! It’s my little studio/office space, and I really love being able to do what I love at home. You can’t see it from this photo, but to the left of my setup is a huge wire rack with all of my props, and to the left of that is my desk! It’s a small space, but it really works for me.
Overall, photographing and styling my cookbook was one of the most challenging, daunting, exhausting processes I’ve ever been through, but I learned and grew a ton from it. It was still really fun looking back, because I truly do love food styling and photography, but when you’re in the thick of it, man it is tough.
In some ways, it’s a lot easier than photographing for the blog, but in other ways not. They’re definitely different, and in a lot of ways, I prefer shooting for a book!
I also packed a lot of photoshoots into one day, whereas with the blog, I can’t do as high of a volume, since there are process shots and ingredients shots that go into creating a whole blog post.
But, to answer your guys’ questions!
Did you have any help with photography or food styling?
Nope, unfortunately I did not! I would not recommend this to anyone. If I get the opportunity to write another book in the future, I will 1000% hire a shoot assistant or someone with experience with food styling to help me out. It’s so so so hard to do it all by yourself. From prepping, to cooking, to styling, to shooting, to clean up, and having to do that every day 5-10 times a day? Would not recommend. Hahah. But! Some days my mom would take off of work to help with dishes and cleanup, which was a huge huge generous help, or if I needed a hand model, but overall, I did everything by myself. I’m still so super grateful that I was able to do it by myself, and I really learned a lot. I totally have a new respect for all of the physical work and labor that goes into producing a cookbook.
How is photographing for the cookbook different than shooting for the blog?
Shooting for the book is easier in that you don’t have to take multiple shots/angles, and you don’t have to take process or ingredient shots like you would for a blog post. But, there is the added pressure that you have to get the right “hero” shot, and that it’s going to be in print.
Sometimes I had a hard time choosing the photo, and I even re-shot several of the recipes being the indecisive person that I am. Like this one for example:
This is one of the recipes that I re-shot, and had such a hard time choosing between the photos! I ended up going with my original shot, of course, but we ended up using the other photos for image outtakes in other parts of the book where we needed fill-ins!
How did you learn how to food style?
I feel like some of it is innate – I grew up really interested in art, and I’ve always been a creative person. I used to do oil painting, watercolor, sculpture, charcoal, and pastels for most of my childhood up until I was 18! I took private art lessons for nearly my whole life, so I feel like meshing my two passions of art and cooking kind of naturally go together in this sense. I get a lot of inspiration from other types of art, the seasons, traveling to new places, other photographers and bloggers, even Pinterest if I’m in a rut, and just really random places!
How did you shoot the cover?
It was quite the day, but I felt amazing afterwards. My mom was home to help me, which was a godsend. I couldn’t have done that myself, just with the pressure of it alone. (I’m bring dramatic, but it really was scary!) For months I knew it was coming, and that I’d have to eventually do it, so I kept a running list in my mind of the recipes that I’d most likely want to appear on the cover. Overall, I knew I wanted it to be colorful and vibrant, and I knew that I wanted the dishes to have a clear, visible, veggie focus (since that’s the theme of the book!), and I wanted all of the dishes to be pretty different and diverse.
The hardest part of the actual shoot, was timing everything so that the dishes were ready at pretty much the same time, so that everything was fresh. I prepped for hours the day before to get mostly everything chopped, washed, get simple syrup made, beets spiralized, vinaigrette made, etc., so that the day of everything would (hopefully!) go smoothly.
And honestly, it went as well as it could’ve. I played around with the placement of the dishes several times, but I had a gut feeling which one I loved the most during the actual shoot.
Here are the two shots that it came down to! There were a lot more, but these are the two I liked the best.
I ended up gong with the first, just because I had that “gut” feeling that it felt right and balanced.
And this is what we ended up with!
I am SO thrilled with it and I feel like it really exemplifies my style and the types of veggie-packed recipes that are in the book!
I also wanted to share some behind-the-scenes photos that I took with my iPhone during the cover shoot, because I knew you guys were interested!
I wish I would’ve taken a few more toward the beginning of the process, but it was super hectic and I needed to be focused on the actual shoot – but I thought you guys might enjoy seeing these snapshots! I was basically standing on a stool and taking test shots to see how I liked where things were, and then I would tell my mom where to move things, how much to move them, how to arrange the carrot tops, etc., and then I’d play around with it a little more until I got it exactly how I liked it! After a bunch of shots of a certain setup, I’d switch things around and move the different dishes around, and repeat! I’d say I did 4-5 different set-ups, and funny enough ended up going with the original!
It was definitely a hectic, crazy process but overall super enjoyable and I learned a lot!
I hope all of this was helpful and/or interesting to you guys, and once again THANK YOU for all of your support with my cookbook. I can’t tell you how much it means to me!!!
lifestyle photos by L.A. Birdie Photography.