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Mar 31, 2011 07:28 AM

cooking blogs: how important are the pictures to you?

would you think less of a blog using cell phone pics?

do you expect pro level photography with lighting etc or do you just want the information?

All i need is a name and i am going to start one, but i'm wondering if my lack of photo skills will tank the whole thing. . .

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  1. I think that, in most cases, lousy photography is worse than no photography. I'd rather read an excellent description than look at a crummy picture, that "worth a thousand words" thing notwithstanding. It isn't difficult to put a bowl of pasta someplace well-lit and frame it properly (unless it's moving around, in which case you have other problems). And you could probably do that with a cell phone, although it might take some practice.

    I think The Pioneer Woman does a particularly fine job with photos, although she's a bigger fan of shallow focus than I am. Her pix are both attractive and instructional.

    1. As a food blog owner, I can tell you that if you want traffic and a following, that yes, photos are important. It's costly, time consuming and sometimes inconvenient, but putting forth good photos is essential.
      Unless you are exceptionally prosaic, you need eye candy.

      11 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        how insane does including a google sketch up drawing with a post sound??

        I like the little drawings in mastering the art of french cooking and the marcella hazan book, but not sure how people would respond to such.

        1. re: j8715

          how insane does including a google sketch up drawing with a post sound??
          not insane at all. in fact, i like the idea. it will set you apart from most of the zillion other food blogs out there, and i'd personally rather look at well done sketches/illustrations than bad photos.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            a friend makes really cool designs, including colors, of gardens with it. i think it involves some sort of special pen and screen thing the way he does it though

            1. re: j8715

              Could you link an example? I'd love to see the sketch style you're referring to.

              1. re: HillJ

                OMG..there's a French blog in which the owner is an artist and does this. It's amazing. If you have the talent, I think it could really work.
       I'm going to rack my brains for the name.

        2. re: monavano

          "Costly"? I thought blogging was free. (Obviously, I am not a blog owner.)

          1. re: Jay F

            some really go all out with the photos. high res, lighting, the works.

            1. re: j8715

              That's what I the best of my amateur ability, that is ;-)

            2. re: Jay F

              Blogger is free, most other (and better) host sites you have to pay for space. Camera equipment is $$$.

            3. re: monavano

              monavano -- I think prosaic means the opposite of what you're saying here!

            4. I am cooking a whole cow and 5 lambs over an open fire aka "Seven Fires" style and I want to blog about it but I can only post one or two pictures. Where can I go to put several pictures up about the planning killing and cooking for this event. At this time I am using a facebook group but I have been requested to put up a formal blog.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JB BANNISTER

                I do quite a bit of blogs/social media stuff and can offer the following advice:

                Set up a free blog on either wordpress or blogger, both are easy to learn but Google owns blogger so you might have better luck with seo there but I personally prefer WP and all the free templates they offer. I don't know what you mean by being able to only post 1/2 pics, with a blog you can post as many as you like.

                Set up a flickr account to hold all your pics.
                Set up a twitter account for your blog.
                Set up an independent FB page for your blog.
                Link your blog to all these pages and set up FB and Twitter with your RSS feed.

                Also, send out a press release about your adventure and contact the cookbook author.

                ALL these things I mentioned are FREE!

                I love Seven Fires - please send me a message when you're up and running (see my profile) I would love to watch your progress!

                1. re: JB BANNISTER

                  "Formal blog" may be one of the greatest oxymorons of our time!

                  1. re: mnosyne

                    it is a blog with people in tuxedos, obviously

                2. here is an example. too crummy?

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: j8715

                    With respect, yes, crummy. Here's why. Even cheap digital p&s cameras allow considerable control over white balance and basic exposure parameters.Disable on-camera flash. Don't shoot in Program(P) mode. Manual(M) allows you to control exposure with natural or controlled lighting by altering shutter speed. Always shoot at the lowest manually set ISO possible(e.g., 64, 100, 200). Get a cheap tripod or camera support to assure sharpness at slow shutter speeds. Experiment with reflectors(e.g., a big piece of foamcore or white bristol board) or small flashlights even. About all you can't pull off are ultra shallow depth of field shots(sharp foreground/fuzzy background)that rely on fast, large aperture lenses--PS can help somewhat here. Composition, background and exposure are things you should always be thinking about.

                    BTW, what the hell is that thing? I kinda see a devil's face in it somewhere...

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      i was going to dismiss everything you just said because i have an intense dislike for gadgetry and i don't want to know what program mode is or what ISO means.

                      but if you can't tell that it is pancetta i think i have a problem. . .

                      Wait I am ok with it not being a professional quality photo and looking crummy. but is it TOO crummy (ie this blog is off putting i shant be buying the amazon things from it)?

                      1. re: j8715

                        You're so very welcome. The shot speaks for itself. Good luck with the blog.

                        1. re: j8715

                          <but if you can't tell that it is pancetta i think i have a problem. . . >

                          I thought it was an unfrosted marble cake. Oops.

                          1. re: small h

                            That's what I thought it was as well, small h.

                            And to the OP - yes, some pictures are important. Clarity in those pictures is also important. You don't have to show step-by-step photos as is often done, unless you're using the blog to "teach" readers how to prepare something. But one or two photos per blog story is very helpful to the readers.

                            1. re: small h

                              It is sitting on a bread or cake-type rack for cooling. Perhaps if it were on even a piece of butcher paper, that might give more of a clue as to what it is.
                              Perhaps you could have put it on its side and cut into it, showing half of a slice.
                              Thinking ahead of presentation can be important.

                              I think food pictures are generally over-rated EXCEPT.... Here is when I prefer to see pictures. When a blogger has gone to the trouble to make a dish that is a bit technical and she doesn't insert pictures as to how she accomplished (in pictures) the end result, I am always disappointed. I know that it is always hard to include all the steps to the final product, but that is the challenge, is it not?

                            2. re: j8715

                              It's bad, Really bad. Sorry!
                              There's no definition. No depth.
                              It *could* look attractive, but it looks like something took a dump.
                              Again, sorry.

                                1. re: j8715

                                  Wouldn't explaining the photo by caption or story handle the "what is it" if the photo quality isn't ideal?

                                  The Pioneer Woman and many food bloggers earning money thru their sites use captions with photos. I wouldn't get to bogged down in the pro quality unless:
                                  -you plan to go pro
                                  -you hope to attract corporate advertisers
                                  -you have the time and $$ to invest in equip

                                  Blogging is a hobby for thousands and a planned or unplanned side "career" for many. Knowing what you want to get out of blogging and offer readers helps.

                              1. re: j8715

                                "but if you can't tell that it is pancetta...."

                                Maybe it was the thumbnail size of the photo, but I thought it was a Latte art (that needed work on the rosetta), but now that I look at it closer I can see the pancetta.

                                It's sort of like an Escher print.

                            3. re: j8715

                              Depends. Is that a clear plastic container of vanilla fudge ice cream?

                              1. re: j8715

                                If you don't want to go all out for your photos, you need to do at least these basic things with a point and shoot camera. Definitely turn off your camera flash. Use natural light when at all possible. Use the macro setting on your camera (otherwise your close up shots will be blurry). Use a steady hand to take the shots and use something nearby to steady the camera (wall, book, table, whatever). Take lots if different shots at different angles to see what you like best.

                                When you start getting more comfortable with shooting, then start doing some of the other things that Kagemusha suggested, like playing with the manual settings on your camera, get a tripod, using reflectors. Take an introductory photography class for your type of camera.

                                Then, when you get really hooked, invest mega $$$ on lighting, sets, SLR camera, lenses, etc. ;)

                              2. I think in general, no matter what the topic really, a blog needs a few photos or what not thrown in, otherwise it is just page upon page of blah blah. It's the same as reading a trip report on a travel or aviation site and there are no photos.

                                Me, I like photos on food blogs. Food is a multi-sense experience and the visual is part of it. Pictures get me interested. Sometimes in fact, instead of simply searching for a recipe on the net, I'll do a Google image search and look at what my eyes are drawn to. That often takes me to blogs, and from there I often end up looking through the entire blog history.