Taking Photos of Your Cookies

I know the phrase, "One picture is worth ten thousand words."  A good picture of our cookies can make or break all the hard work we put into them.  I was hoping we could start a thread give tips on what a lot of you do to get that great picture.  This is an area I deeply struggle with.  I do not have a light box, should I get one?  Is there a camera setting that works indoors?  

I for one would appreciate any and all advise/tips/comments to help me in this area.  

Original Post

I am no expert, by any means. But I have taught myself a lot, learned a lot from bloggers (Glorious Treats, especially). I manage to take pretty good pictures with my cell phone camera and a few simple setups. I do not use any expensive equipment. Just whatever I have at home.

1. Lightbox. I have made my own lightbox out of cardboard and tissue. It works pretty darn good. For good macro (up close) photos, this is a must.

2. Of course, sunlight is always best, but since I am often taking my photos after late night decorating sessions or early in the morning, sunlight isn't always possible. So, I keep my lightbox open to the south window. In addition, I have lamps with "daylight" light bulbs in them that I use to light the box. I have one on each side and one I have jury rigged to hang over the top.

3. Again, I use my cell phone camera to take the pictures, but I do take advantage of the settings. Settings I use a lot are the Exposure Value (usually opened up all the way, since I am indoors), Focus Mode and White Balance. I never, ever use a flash. Ever. The best way to get to know how each of these work is just to play with them.

4. Props. For a good portion of my pics I just use white poster board. Recently, I have started using scrapbookers paper and also wrapping paper as backgrounds. I use coupler rings, espresso cups and all kinds of small, hideable things to prop up my cookies.

You can take a look at some of my photos at www.facebook.com/sisterteresascookies. I am no professional, just a hobbyist, so please take that into account, but I have found that the photography of my cookies can either add to or take away from all the hard work I did decorating. Let me know if you have more questions. Again, Glory at Glorious Treats has some awesome advice.

P.S. I forgot to add: I edit all my photos for lighting, contrast, cropping and such before I ever upload them to facebook. Even if you made a mistake in the photography part (too dark, etc) you can make up for it with photograph editing. Again, using what I have at home, I use Microsoft products (Word, Power Point (some pretty good editing options), Picture Manager) to do the editing, plus the limited editing that is on my phone.

I'm no expert on food photography, but I have learn a lot of tips from blogs in the past year. The biggest helper in improving my cookie photos was building two lightboxes, which I wrote a DIY post about on my blog. I know nothing beats natural sunlight. However, I work full time and can only take pictures in the evening. These lightboxes are a huge help at night.

 

The other aspect of better food photography is staging and composition. I got great tips from the e-book, Tasty Food Photography. She walks you through the correct way of composing a shot, the right settings to have on your camera, and also how to edit your final photos in Photoshop and/or Lightroom. I know there are a lot of free resources for tips on taking better photos, but I didn't "get it" until I read this e-book.

 

Here's my blog if you like to see my photos: www.semisweetdesigns.com You can really see my photo-taking progression when you compare my very early blog posts to the more recent ones. I hope this helps. 

Agree with what others have said here. I'm a novice photographer, but I've found my photos have vastly improved by getting to know my camera and working with the manual settings. Don't shoot on auto mode, if you can avoid it. I also use a simple white folding poster board to help bounce light to minimize shadows. I usually set it up as a backdrop to my photos, so it doesn't appear in the shots, just reflects light onto the subject.

 

I would also caution against over-propping. I see this a lot. Most often a simple background is best, especially if you're trying to highlight a really showy cookie.

Off the trail here, but, these are my best tips for marketing and promoting your business.

 

1. In the beginning, I printed my own box labels and business cards and used pics of my product as the background. If I was sending out bridal shower cookies, I would use a label with baby cookies or children's birthday cookies. I felt this put a thought in the customer's mind for the next event.

 

2. My business was built on 'word of mouth'. I live in a small community and that is how most of my customers have come to me. This is free -- except for the sweat equity and love you put into each order. I, also, have a great following in a town an hour away. My supply house is located there and she gave my card to one customer. She happened to be a very influential lady and my name spread like wildfire there.

 

3. As far as paid  advertising, the best bang for my buck was the $110 spent on window wraps for two vehicles. I receive calls from people on the road all the time. I have had people waiting outside Wal-Mart to discuss possible orders. I have never had good feedback from newspaper ads that cost much more and are only visible for a one time shot.

 

4. The area I struggle with is talking up my business everywhere I go. I have been encouraged by my tax man to give out cards and mention my business every time I eat out. He says that constitutes a business meal and is deductible! Haha! Seriously, though, I am trying to seize opportunities where I see them to hand out my card and direct people to my website or facebook page.

 

5. Facebook and/or website availability is a MUST. Many of my customers are young busy Moms and they live and die by Facebook. These sites are able to speak for you all hours of the day and night. And, go a long way to representing your business while you are doing client orders or sleeping. My website doesn't have as much traffic as it should, but, that is because, I have not managed to dedicate the needed time to keeping it current. Keeping those pages current is very important. This is an area that I need to develop and improve upon.

 

I hope this helps any of you that are struggling to get your name out there.

Great thread. I struggle also with photography. Mainly the "white balance". 

 

Once I get all my props set up and cookies ready for their pictures, I try to get all my setting where I think they need to be.  Then I start snapping.  When I look at the viewer everything seems to look great and I think to myself that I have a great photo.  I must mention here that I do have the Lowel Ego Light (which I love) because most of my pictures are taken in my basement.  

Here's my downfall. Usually I am in a hurry and these cookies need to be bagged. Now that I have what I think is the perfect picture, I begin putting everything away (props, bagging cookies, etc.).  When I am done with cleaning up and bagging the cookies is when I start editing my pictures.  THIS is when I discover that they are not how they looked on the viewer.  Most of the time it is my white balance.  

 

I am sure that I could probably download my pictures to edit while they are still set up for a shot, is this what everyone does?  My daughter is a photographer and I know she can not do this when she is on location somewhere.  So how do you really know you have a good picture? 

I'm posting a picture of my latest catastrophe in photo taking.  LOLOL  Notice how blue this picture looks?  In my viewer in looked perfect.  Too late to retake pictures, these cookies are already on their way to Colorado for my cousins baby shower.   

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I too, am no expert picture taker. The lighting is usually wrong!  I took my camera into a local camera store and he showed me how to use the lighting settings and other useful settings (that I never had a clue existed!). It was very helpful and didn't cost me a thing (for a change)!
Now my pictures aren't yellow, and it is easier to edit them on my computer before I post them. I found a great, free editing program online that works on my MAC. The link is www.ipiccy.com

Great insight from JoMama...you hit the nail on the head about Facebook and website availability. My sales started from my facebook page and it continues to get me clients. I loved the idea about spending $$ on window wraps!

 

As for picture taking...UGH...I'm usually so "done" with the cookies by the time it comes time to take pictures that I just don't take the necessary time to take good pictures!! Must correct that!

Originally Posted by JoMama:

Off the trail here, but, these are my best tips for marketing and promoting your business.

 

1. In the beginning, I printed my own box labels and business cards and used pics of my product as the background. If I was sending out bridal shower cookies, I would use a label with baby cookies or children's birthday cookies. I felt this put a thought in the customer's mind for the next event.

 

2. My business was built on 'word of mouth'. I live in a small community and that is how most of my customers have come to me. This is free -- except for the sweat equity and love you put into each order. I, also, have a great following in a town an hour away. My supply house is located there and she gave my card to one customer. She happened to be a very influential lady and my name spread like wildfire there.

 

3. As far as paid  advertising, the best bang for my buck was the $110 spent on window wraps for two vehicles. I receive calls from people on the road all the time. I have had people waiting outside Wal-Mart to discuss possible orders. I have never had good feedback from newspaper ads that cost much more and are only visible for a one time shot.

 

4. The area I struggle with is talking up my business everywhere I go. I have been encouraged by my tax man to give out cards and mention my business every time I eat out. He says that constitutes a business meal and is deductible! Haha! Seriously, though, I am trying to seize opportunities where I see them to hand out my card and direct people to my website or facebook page.

 

5. Facebook and/or website availability is a MUST. Many of my customers are young busy Moms and they live and die by Facebook. These sites are able to speak for you all hours of the day and night. And, go a long way to representing your business while you are doing client orders or sleeping. My website doesn't have as much traffic as it should, but, that is because, I have not managed to dedicate the needed time to keeping it current. Keeping those pages current is very important. This is an area that I need to develop and improve upon.

 

I hope this helps any of you that are struggling to get your name out there.

Hey, JoMama, this is great commentary - but I'm thinking that maybe you meant it for the "Just Getting Started" thread, not this one on photography? Would be great if you could copy it here too: http://cookieconnection.juliau...e-based-or-not-to-be

 

Don't want people to miss it! Thanks!

Originally Posted by Tami Rena's Cookies:

Great thread. I struggle also with photography. Mainly the "white balance". 

 

Once I get all my props set up and cookies ready for their pictures, I try to get all my setting where I think they need to be.  Then I start snapping.  When I look at the viewer everything seems to look great and I think to myself that I have a great photo.  I must mention here that I do have the Lowel Ego Light (which I love) because most of my pictures are taken in my basement.  

Here's my downfall. Usually I am in a hurry and these cookies need to be bagged. Now that I have what I think is the perfect picture, I begin putting everything away (props, bagging cookies, etc.).  When I am done with cleaning up and bagging the cookies is when I start editing my pictures.  THIS is when I discover that they are not how they looked on the viewer.  Most of the time it is my white balance.  

 

I am sure that I could probably download my pictures to edit while they are still set up for a shot, is this what everyone does?  My daughter is a photographer and I know she can not do this when she is on location somewhere.  So how do you really know you have a good picture? 

I'm posting a picture of my latest catastrophe in photo taking.  LOLOL  Notice how blue this picture looks?  In my viewer in looked perfect.  Too late to retake pictures, these cookies are already on their way to Colorado for my cousins baby shower.   

I always download as I go, because I find it hard to tell from the camera view if it looks good. But for me, focus seems to be more the issue. My eyes are usually shot from decorating by the time I'm ready to take photos! 

I will admit that my photography skills are sorely lacking. One day I hope to tackle this problem and solve it, so thank you for sharing all your helpful hints. Like many, I work all day so my picture taking almost always ends up being done after the sun sets. Natural light is rarely an option! Looks like I need to think seriously about a light box.

This is a very very important issue for me. I never thaught I would need to learn about photograpy until I started a cake and cookie buisness.

I keep saying to myself and to my husband: these photos are not good enought... He says it's ok, but I dont want ok! I want marvellous photos!

I think the frst step is to get a professional camera but i don't even know what's the better choice for me.

Any ideas?

Ok my husband is a professional photographer and until about 2 weeks ago he took photos of my work- but he wasn't producing the passion I have in making my bouquets or cookies like I wanted. So I took the camera and began doing my own photo shoots. I must say I did a stand up job. Of course he photo shops them.

Reproducing natural sunlight is the most difficult part of photography and hence anyone with a decent camera on a nice day can take great pics. The most important factor is take your wares into a well lit room and shoot. The camera is on auto for me because I know nothing else. 

Props are a fun way to liven up your photos. A great cookie design can stand alone- the work will speak for itself. 

Not automatic camera should be shot with ISO 100 in daylight.( According to hubby) 

Of course step 2, Photo shop is perfect for cropping, lighting and color correcting. It is the same with any professional. After a shoot they all Photoshop each picture. There are free Photoshop or other photo editors to downloads on the internet with enough tools to do a great touch-up to any of your pics. 

 

Originally Posted by Mariana Meirelles

This is a very very important issue for me. I never thaught I would need to learn about photograpy until I started a cake and cookie buisness.

I keep saying to myself and to my husband: these photos are not good enought... He says it's ok, but I dont want ok! I want marvellous photos!

I think the frst step is to get a professional camera but i don't even know what's the better choice for me.

 

 

Dimitrios( hubby who is a 30 year professional photographer) says you can take great photos with a 50$ camera as long as it has a macro mode  (Sometimes that is indicated by a little flower meaning you can do close-ups). You do not need professional cameras to take a great shots. 

 

Thank you Tina, it is good to know I don't need a better camera! There are many things we need to invest, and I don't even have a Koppycake yet! I use pick monkey to edit my photos and my tho cameras are decent. My next step is to make a light box, I think you are right because I have great photos made in my cell phone...

But i'd love to know how to defocus the background love this efect.

I think your cookie photos are great.  The first time I ever took a photo was my cookies. If I can do it anybody can! 

Great information! Can't wait to spend more time with the links here/ My photography is terrible, but it will continue that way until I get it figured out! I always thought I was good at photos, till I tried taking pics of cookies and cakes!

 

Originally Posted by JoMama:

Off the trail here, but, these are my best tips for marketing and promoting your business.

 

1. In the beginning, I printed my own box labels and business cards and used pics of my product as the background. If I was sending out bridal shower cookies, I would use a label with baby cookies or children's birthday cookies. I felt this put a thought in the customer's mind for the next event.

 

2. My business was built on 'word of mouth'. I live in a small community and that is how most of my customers have come to me. This is free -- except for the sweat equity and love you put into each order. I, also, have a great following in a town an hour away. My supply house is located there and she gave my card to one customer. She happened to be a very influential lady and my name spread like wildfire there.

 

3. As far as paid  advertising, the best bang for my buck was the $110 spent on window wraps for two vehicles. I receive calls from people on the road all the time. I have had people waiting outside Wal-Mart to discuss possible orders. I have never had good feedback from newspaper ads that cost much more and are only visible for a one time shot.

 

4. The area I struggle with is talking up my business everywhere I go. I have been encouraged by my tax man to give out cards and mention my business every time I eat out. He says that constitutes a business meal and is deductible! Haha! Seriously, though, I am trying to seize opportunities where I see them to hand out my card and direct people to my website or facebook page.

 

5. Facebook and/or website availability is a MUST. Many of my customers are young busy Moms and they live and die by Facebook. These sites are able to speak for you all hours of the day and night. And, go a long way to representing your business while you are doing client orders or sleeping. My website doesn't have as much traffic as it should, but, that is because, I have not managed to dedicate the needed time to keeping it current. Keeping those pages current is very important. This is an area that I need to develop and improve upon.

 

I hope this helps any of you that are struggling to get your name out there.

This is a great help.  Thank you.  I was looking for ways to promote my new cookie business and this helps me.  Can you advise where you got your window clings from?

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