#AskMahaMonday: Food Photography & Food Styling Tutorial; a look behind the scenes

#AskMahaMonday: Food Photography & Food Styling Tutorial; a look behind the scenes

Have you ever had trouble setting up, styling and lighting your recipes? Do you ever wonder how professional food photographers do it? Do you have to have a studio to get professional looking photos?

In this post, I am taking you behind the scenes of how I styled and photographed this butterscotch pudding, with simple props I found lying around the house and just natural light!

#AskMahaMonday: How to make the whites look whiter in one click!

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Have you ever struggled getting your photos to look pure white? I always get asked how I make my photos bright and make the colours pop! Well, if you manage to get the white to be pure then you are one step closer to getting your colours to look great.

One of the biggest struggles for me when I started out with my photography was to make the whites look whiter, somehow shooting white on white always turned out blueish or yellowish depending on the time of the day and quality of light, especially since I shoot with Natural Light almost exclusively!

Editing at first used to take too much of my time, and as much as I enjoy the editing process, I always look for ways to save time on editing, this is why when I came across this tool in Photoshop, it was a lifesaver!

Check out this quick video using one of my favourite tools, it will literally take you less than 5 mins and your photo will be ready to be shared, whether it's for a client or your Instagram feed:

Now it's your turn!

Getting better & faster at editing your photos requires practice, so here is what I want you to do:

1. Spend the next 10 days using this tool with different photos and different scenarios till you master it.

2. Connect with me to let me know what worked and what didn't, I am always happy to answer your questions :)

As always, if you want your question answered or featured on #AskMahaMonday, feel free to submit it HERE

And if you'd like to see more editing videos like this, let me know in the comments below :)

Love,

Maha, xx

#AskMahaMonday: How to choose Food Photography Props to make your food pop!

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When it comes to Food Photography, food is always the hero, but there are unsung heroes that would totally make or break your image, these are also known as "Props".

Photo props are the items beside your main subject that add to the story and dimension of the photo. For example, plants, spoons, plates, napkins…etc. Think of them as an accessory complementing the main subject of your photo.

Photo props are not only important to highlight the food and tell a story, they also function as means to achieve consistency in your Instagram feed, selecting props that match your brand’s colour palette and mood will help you achieve a consistent look & get people to recognize your photos right away, this is not to be confused by using the exact same props in every picture, but more like using different combinations of props with a specific colour and texture throughout your feed.

So how do you go about selecting the right props for the food your are photographing and the story you are telling?

Here are few simple tips to help you get started with prop selection:

1. Food Basics:

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Sprinkles, Coloured sugar, crackers, biscuits..etc - these basic food items can be excellent props by themselves adding life, colour and texture to your desserts & baked goods just like spices add life to your savoury dishes. The beauty of these props is that they have a long shelf life and don't take away from the taste or flavour.

2. Neutral Serving Items:

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I like to use white because it goes great with most of the food I make/photograph. It doesn't compete with the food or dominate the scene and I can always use it in different shots without looking repetitive.

3. Props that are cohesive with your story:

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For this specific shot I wanted to create a festive look and tell a story of a birthday cake or a celebration of some sort, which is why I chose props that give the impression that it's a party, yet neutral in colour so that they don't take away from the cake itself. However, at this point, the photo is looking crowded and the props are bit distracting, so I started removing the distractions.

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Even though the background is now less cluttered, the prop at the front is still distracting for me, which brings me to my next tip...

4. Less is More!

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Your props should not dominate the scene or take away from the food, which is star of the show! This is why keeping it simple is always best.

5. Action Props:

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Even though I was happy with my photo, I wanted to add some action to my shot without using hands, or sprinkling food or slicing the cake, so I simply opted to use sparkling candles that work perfectly for this image, they add to the story, emphasize the cake and make a fun and interactive shot. Which is why I always have them handy to add to cakes, cupcakes or any dessert shot, because if you know me too well, you know I am always looking for an excuse to celebrate, haha, and I also chose this photo for my Instagram feed because I felt it's the most expressive :)

Now it's your turn, what props can't you live without? And does any of these tips resonate with you? Let me know in the comments, and don't forget to submit your questions for #AskMahaMonday here

Love,

Maha

 

#AskMahaMonday: What is your biggest challenge with Food & Lifestyle Photography?

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Thirteen years ago I silently wept as I held a DSLR for the first time, I couldn't figure out how to preview the photos I took and was too embarrassed to ask!! Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing and they knew how to take really good pictures, and I felt like I was the only one struggling, the photos I took looked nothing like I thought or hoped they would.

Today I am on a mission helping others unleash the Photographer within and create photos they are in love with!

When I created #AskMahaMonday almost a year ago, my goal was to help others feel less frustrated and more excited to take out their cameras and start making photos they are proud of!

We are all on this journey together and building each other up will help us all grow into better photographers and storytellers, and I am honored to be part of your journey :)

This is why I want to know what do you struggle with the most when it comes to Food and Lifestyle Photography? This is a safe place for you to ask anything, no question is too small or too big, I want to serve you better and create content that is relevant to you.

Click here to submit your questions and I'll do my best to get them answered.

With Love,

Maha, xx

 

#AskMahaMonday: Crucial Composition Tip for Insta-Delicious Food Photography

#AskMahaMonday: Crucial Composition Tip for Insta-Delicious Food Photography

With over 800 million users on Instagram, it's not very easy to stand out in the crowd, which means, in order to create a follow-worthy Instagram account, your photos need to be really good, I mean more like SUPER good!

So today I am sharing my No. 1 composition tip that will take your photos from good to great

Are you ready for this super simple tip?

#AskMahaMonday: 3 Tips To Improve Your Food Styling

#AskMahaMonday: 3 Tips To Improve Your Food Styling

If you've ever tried to photograph and share your recipes, you probably know that getting your food to look delicious, induce hunger and inspire your audience to hop into the kitchen is not as easy as it sounds. 

Taking the time to style your plate and applying a little charm in the food styling department can go a long way towards a more appetizing photo. 

#AskMahaMonday: iPhone X vs. Canon 5D Mark IV - What's the best camera for Food Photography?

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Which Camera do you use? which lens shall I buy?

These possibly are the questions I get asked the most by people who want to start their journey with Food Photography!

So today, I decided to do a quick comparison between iPhone X (Apple's new flagship iPhone) and 5D Mark IV (Canon's most versatile DSLR) and just for the fun of it, I've also added images from iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S4.

Now that I ran out of phones to compare, I would like to note that this is not a technical post with specs and camera details, this is purely to compare the quality of photos and depth of field when photos are taken with different cameras shot in the same conditions and edited pretty much the same way!

All photos were taken with natural light (north facing window) and a reflector.

In Food Photography, there are three common angles to shoot from:

  1. Overhead (Flatlays)
  2. 45 degrees
  3. Straight-On

So let's take a look at how the photos compare:

  OVERHEAD SHOT

OVERHEAD SHOT

Honestly, with an overhead shot it's pretty hard to notice the difference between these images at first glance!

  45 DEGREES

45 DEGREES

The difference is a lot more noticeable with the 45 Degree angle, especially when it comes to Depth of Field (how blury is your background)

Now let's take a closer look at these images side by side:

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In terms of "Depth of Field", the iPhone X with portrait mode is pretty great at mimicking the 5D Mark IV and achieving a shallow depth of field (Less things in focus), whereas iPhone 6 and Samsung S4 are pretty much the same and can only produce images with a deep depth of field (more things in focus).

  STRAIGHT-ON   This is my famous   "Chocolate and Banana Pancake Stack"   and the photos taken with an iPhone X are pretty impressive when compared to  5D Mark IV.    

STRAIGHT-ON

This is my famous "Chocolate and Banana Pancake Stack" and the photos taken with an iPhone X are pretty impressive when compared to 5D Mark IV.

 

Conclusion: Which is the best camera for Food Photography?

In the words of one of my favourite photographers, Chase Jarvis, the best camera is the one on you!

Now don't get me wrong, it's probably unfair to compare Canon's 5D Mark IV with any of these phones because it's definitely going to win in terms of everything, except size and price!

The point I am trying to make here is, Photography is about YOU "The Photographer", your vision, skill set and creativity. Great gear will definitely get you closer to where you want to go, but if you can't drive a car, buying a Porsche is not going to make you a better driver.

My personal advice is to master light & composition with whichever camera you have before you decide to upgrade.

You should also consider:

  1. Budget
  2. Needs in term of camera size and weight (DSLR vs. Mirrorless vs. Phone)
  3. Use of Photos (Print vs. Web)
  4. Whether you are starting a career in Food Photography or not.

If you want to know how to start your journey in Food Photography, check out my advice here.

Now it's your turn, what is your favourite camera when it comes to Food Photography? 

Let me know in the comments below!

As always, feel free to hit me up with your questions, and I can't wait for next week and a new episode of #AskMahaMonday!

Love,

Maha

 

#AskMahaMonday: How to become a Food Photographer

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I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass
— S.R

I often get asked why "Food Photography", I even sometimes get "is that even a thing?" .

But the most common reaction I get is people being confused & surprised with my choice to stop practicing Architecture after 9 years and deciding to be a full time Photographer! 

You see, I didn't always know I wanted to be a Food Photographer, in fact, it was never a dream of mine, but when I fell in love with Photography, I knew I wanted to do more with it, I just didn't know how to become a Professional Photographer!

But here is the secret...there is really no secret...you just start! The single mind shift that truly set me on the right path was that I told myself "I am a Professional Photographer" - I literally found the nearest mirror, looked myself in the eye and said "I am a Professional Photographer", this was right after I watched an interview of Steven Pressfield with Marie Forleo titled "Turning Pro"

And just like that I became a professional, I observed, I studied, I researched and most importantly practiced the hell out of Food Photography and Styling EVERY.SINGLE.DAY

  The Early Days

The Early Days

It didn't matter that I performed Photography Acrobatics, it didn't matter if I had the right gear, enough gear or a studio space, I just wanted to take pictures of Food and get better at it! That being said, I was already a practicing Photographer and Educator for years now as a side gig, I just wasn't specialized in Food Photography and the more I did it, the better I was getting at it.

  Recent Work

Recent Work

So here is my advice to you, if you are  looking to become a Professional Food Photographer these are the most important steps to start with:

1. Learn the basics, be comfortable with your camera and know how to use it properly, this way you'll be confident with the technical aspect and can focus on the creative side of Food Photography.

2. Shoot, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! Yup, you read that right, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

3. Be a Cook. Understanding food, and knowing how it behaves makes you a better photographer.

4. Give yourself an assignment. As soon as I started doing personal projects and sharing it online, I received inquires and got paid for client work.

5. Believe in yourself!! Embrace mistakes, learn from them and keep moving forward.

I created #AskMahaMonday because when I was starting out I was feeling lost and overwhelmed, and I don't want you to feel the same way, so I am here for you, to help you out, share my journey, skills and knowledge. 

I hope this inspires you to start your own journey and wherever you are in life right now, believe in yourself and just go for your dreams!

Love,

Maha

#AskMahaMonday: Food photography tips to step up your game

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The best kind of Monday is one that starts with extra fluffy pancakes topped with bananas, nuts and lots and lots of chocolate!

But, it's a new week and a brand new episode of #AskMahaMonday and today is all about simple tips that will help you step up your food photography game as I am sharing with you the simple process of how I usually style and photograph my food:

1. Scene setup:

I always start by deciding how I want to shoot the recipe and then set up the camera for the angle I think is best for this specific food before I start cooking. In this case, I set up my camera, and then went ahead and made the pancakes.

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Once I added the pancakes, I wasn't very convinced with my framing, so I went ahead and got a little closer to fill the frame with pancakes.

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2. Less is More!

I normally start with less and then add more interest to my scene, before I do the final touches to my food.

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Here is the final shot and I am pretty pleased with it at this point :)

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Let's get a little closer...isn't this just delicious!

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3. Try Different things:

Once I am happy with the shot, I like to try different angles and play a little more with the food, for instance, I cut the pancakes and changed my angle and got this shot which turned out to be one of my favourites!

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Being prepared and having an idea of how you want to photograph your food saves you a lot of time on set, that being said, don't just take that one shot you had in mind, take it a step further, get in close or step away, move things around and make sure you get the most out of your setup!

As always, feel free to connect with me, leave me a comment with your questions and I'll see you next week in a brand new edition of #AskMahaMonday!

Love,

Maha

How to style and photograph festive drinks

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Friends, allow me to introduce you to your new favourite drink, a refreshing lemon flavoured sparkling water with a slice of lemon & handful of raspberries. Shall I pour you a glass?

Six years ago in an attempt to lead a healthier lifestyle I went cold turkey and stopped consuming soft drinks, but I had a hard time giving up the fizz and sparkling water was just a perfect fit. Today, you’ll always find a bottle or two of sparkling water in my fridge!

Since the new year is fast approaching, I've been looking into what habits I should let go of and what I need to keep, and sparkling water is definitely making it to 2018.

And in the spirit of the festive season and celebrating healthier habits, I would like to share with you few tips on how I styled & photographed this drink in partnership with @montelliercanada; a sparkling water sourced from Quebec, Canada!

First let's start by making my favorite drink: (This recipe is enough for you and a friend ;)

1. 4 slices of Lemon

2. 6 raspberries

3. 500 ml Montellier Lemon Sparkling Water

Now that your hero (the drink) is ready, there are three things I'd like you to observe in this photoshoot:

1. Props

When planning this shoot, I knew I wanted to create a festive theme, hence the props which tell you the story while still matching the blue tones of the bottle.

  Festive Props

Festive Props

2. Action Shots:

When shooting a food story, always make sure you include some action shots that entice your viewers and make them want to dig in. 

I usually set up my tripod and get the action going, but for this photoshoot specifically I had someone assist me and pour the water while I shot hand holding my camera.

  Action Shots

Action Shots

3. Detail Shots:

Getting super close can really work if you are still able to tell the story and viewers can make up what you are eating or drinking.

  Close ups

Close ups

I hope these tips help you capture your festive recipes this year, please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions.

For more tips, download the free guide "7 Tips To Insta Awesome Tricks" or tune in to my Instagram every Monday for my special feature #AskMahaMonday. 

Have a fantastic end to 2017!

Love,

Maha, xx

 

 

7 TIPS TO INSTA AWESOME PIX

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You've heard it over and over again, growing your Instagram requires crafting a beautiful feed which means you have to be consistent & post high quality pictures that tell your story.

Sounds great, except; your pictures are all over the place, the only consistent thing about your feed is lack of consistency and you can't figure out what to do & where to start. ARGHHH!

Trust me, I've been there, I know how frustrating it is, when all you want is to share what you love, yet you can't seem to have a consistent theme or prominent style. That's why I wrote this guide with you in mind.

Download "7 TIPS TO INSTA AWESOME PIX"  HERE and learn how you too can craft a beautiful & consistent Instagram feed today!

 

Welcome to The Photo Lounge

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I still remember like it was yesterday....it was 2005 when I first held a DSLR in my hands, I silently wept as I looked through the pictures I just took that looked nothing like I what I saw with my eyes.

Everyone else looked like they knew what they were doing and their pictures looked way better than mine!

I was embarrassed and frustrated,  that little black box scared me but I was determined to crack the code...

 

Today I am on a mission helping others create the beautiful photos they have always imagined, this is why I created "The Photo Lounge", an online space for discussions, training and free downloads that will help you improve your "Food & Lifestyle" photography and create images that you love!

Whether you are new at this game or a seasoned photographer, I believe we all can learn from each other, so grab your favourite drink, a sweet treat (Cupcakes are highly recommended) and meet me at  The Photo Lounge...

 
 
 
 

Why hello 2017!

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Can't believe it's the last Friday of 2016! Aaaah! Where did the time go?

So in celebration of the New Year, I decided to do my first "Cinemagraph" woot woot! Once I get the hang of it, I'll make sure to post a "How to create your own cinemagraph"

Also,, I want to share with you my top three goals for 2017:

1. Spend more quality time with my family and friends; be more present & engaged because in the end this is what really matters :)

2. Travel more; one of my dreams is to visit 40 countries before I turn 40 & I am kind of falling behind!

3. Sharing more training material; Photography has given me a new voice, the camera has opened up a whole new world I didn't know existed & I want to share the love and help others create beautiful pictures.

Whether you want to learn it for your own or because it will help your business, stay tuned as 2017 will bring lots of Photography tips & training material your way & keep an eye on this space ;)

And for now, I wish you all a very Happy New Year, may 2017 be filled with many exciting and sweet moments! 

with Love,

Maha, xx

 

How to capture the splendour of Autumn in 5 simple steps:

How to capture the splendour of Autumn in 5 simple steps:

For those of you who know me, you must have noticed for the past few weeks that I've been totally obsessing over Fall! I honestly couldn't stop enjoying it, it's so magical & it brings out your inner child, how awesome is that!

I also have been getting a lot of questions on how I took all these beautiful images, so I decided to share with you 5 simple steps on how you can capture the beauty of Fall.