Food {Faux}tography

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I gotta keep it real here.  Food photography is tough.  I struggle with it every single time I do it.  I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I am totally faking it.

This is my favorite shot of a slice of cake.  When one person (whose opinion I trust implicitly) saw it they said, “Can I just tell you everything that is wrong with that shot?”

Yes!!  Please do!!  (Seriously, I appreciate all feedback!)  Because when I took it I didnt realize the back was blown out and that the fork placement draws your eye away from the cake or that my depth of field is way to shallow.  I just thought it was pretty.

So this is not a series on how to be a better food photographer.  Because clearly I know very little on that topic.  And there are amazingly talented people out there who DO know how to do food photography and styling.

Dine and Dish

What Katie Ate




Donna Hay

These guys are the real deal.  One reason that these folks speak to me is that when I see their pictures I dont think, “That is beautiful styling.”  I think,

I want to eat that food.”

They are so masterful with telling my eye where to go, where to linger, and what exactly it should be focusing on.

They just get it.

(I highly encourage you to check out those blogs… if you love their talent as much as I do, be sure to tell them!)

I am quite secure in the fact that food styling & photography is NOT my gift.  I DON’T get it.  I have taken classes, I have watched video’s, I have tried to flat out copy people. (always giving credit of course) Its just not. my. thing.

So I fake it.

One way I fake it is with props.  I tend to make lots of cakes so side plates are a big prop in my life.  I have many, many, way-to-many side plates.

And way to many cake stands.  But thats another post!

For this {faux}tography post I want to show you the power of a side plate.  I am not kidding you when I say that they can transform a piece of cake.

Things to look for:  In which picture do you think, “Oh, thats a pretty plate,” and in which (if any, remember I am not a pro) do you think,

“I must eat that cake!”











So does one stand out?

Look at how much a difference a red plate vs. a white plate can make.  Can you imagine if we added a glass?  Or a pretty napkin, or even the whole cake behind?  I have a hard time seeing that so I have to try and build as I go, a piece at a time.

So.  While I fully suggest if you want to be a great food stylist and food photographer, learn from the best.

But if you need to fake it like I do, try focusing on one prop.  Like plates.  Or silverware.  Or napkins.  And then build up your supply so that you can experiment and see what you prefer!

(Most of these plates were purchased at Thrift Stores and yard/salvage/garage sales.  One of these days I will take you shopping with me!)

Wanna know which one I like the best?

Plain ole white.

Did you have a favorite?







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  1. says

    I wouldn’t guess by looking at your blog that you don’t know what you’re doing…but I’m a total faker too…I just love food and take pictures of it LOL…and I love dishes and I’m drooling over your side dishes!

  2. says

    Yes, I like the white as well. And I recently read the post where you made the cake that’s your favorite shot and despite the rhythm of the photo, I still wanted to eat the cake! Wrong styling or not, half of us don’t know the difference.

  3. says

    I like the first pic you started with…the one that was over criticized. I like “raw” and “edgy” foodie photo pics. Remember….if it aint broke don’t fix it. I feel natural is best because then…you’re just being yourself. I have not seen one photo of yours that I have said…ew..I don’t want to eat that….ALL of your photos are inviting. Just keep it real and keep on baking. 😉

  4. says

    Uhh your pictures are way better then mine so I will not critizise any of your pictures :-) I would love to read more about your take on props, lighting etc etc. I still have a lot to learn. Thank you!

      • says

        Deal! Though I don’t have much to share at this point :-) I just shoot and then run back to my screaming baby. I wish I had more time but I will not complain. Hehe

        • says

          How old is your baby? Mine will be one in a week. Sure makes it harder to focus on things like taking picture so of food and perfecting cake frosting dosent it? 😉

          • says

            She is 5 months now and there are days when I get to play around with my pictures and then there are days when I have 1 minute haha. 1 congratulations!

          • says

            Five months old? You are amazing. Its such a beautiful and fun and TOUGH time!! Sounds like you are doing well though! :)

  5. says

    Love this post Amanda! I think we all need to fake it from time to time. I have a habit of over propping. Perhaps I should just stick to the white plate?!

  6. says

    Love it! The white was my favorite too. I feel like this post is speaking right to me. I am a huge faker too and trying as we speak to get much better at this very difficult skill. Great post! thank you for sharing :)

    • says

      Oh sweety… you take AMAZING pictures!! Your definitely have an eye for beauty. Plus it doesnt hurt that you create beautiful food too! :)

  7. says

    I like the white too! When all else fails and I am stuck, I usually end up with white:) Thanks for all the links, but I have always think your photos look fabulous!

  8. says

    My favorite was actually the white rectangular plate with the flowers (?) on the edge. I know nothing of food styling so I always want to “eat that cake!” It is fun to pretend that I know what I’m doing!!

  9. Marcella says

    My favorites are in the 2nd to last trio. It is either the redish brown plate or the caramel colored one. I lean to the caramel color one b/c the other one is too close in color with the cake.
    just one opinion of many! love your blog!

  10. Ursula :-) says

    Your pictures are always amazing and appetizing in my eyes! My favorite one is the 3rd in the 1st trio set. It’s a round floral dish. I feel that the pink and red hues compliment the red velvet the best. Also makes it seem like a sweet tea time dessert :-)

  11. Kim Jeffrey says

    I love all of your photos. I am sure this person knows what they are talking about, but honestly, I didn’t even notice the fork until i read “the fork placement draws your eye away from the cake”. I just saw a beautiful piece of cake that I was reaching for through my monitor.

  12. says

    Well, you fooled me. I love your photos, and your food! Personally, I liked the rectangular dish with the dainty flower edging and the fork. And I gotta say, all of those make me say “I want to eat that!” Of course, I can never resist a piece of cake.

  13. says

    My dear you are the real deal- even if it doesn’t feel natural to you. Be assured that your photos are stunning! I have no doubt that you work hard at it- and the work pays off. I feel like such a heel when I’m excited by a recipe then can’t get a decent shot. But half the fun is trying I suppose. :)

    • says

      Oh girl, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. But dont you worry… every picture on your blog is wonderful! You always make me hungry. I think you are very, very talented. :)

  14. says

    I, too, as a caker, try to stylize my photos. While my talent lies in nature/wildlife photography, I do have some experience with studio work…but nothing prepares you for photographing food. I, too, feel, usually, that white is what does it but I recently found that people love color! I was photographing “dinner party cupcakes” and hands down, people preferred the purple plate while I gravitated towards the white! Unlike you, I tend to have to photograph whole cakes since they are already with the client before they get cut, so I keep trying to add to my prop base (much to my husband’s horror as he watches the many plates/stands/props grow in our small home) in order to try to make the photos look like a Martha Stewart photo. I succeed only about a third of the time but I keep working at it! LOL!


    • says

      Sounds like you know exactly how tough it can be, but that you are making it work!! I am going to have to spend lots of time over on your page!

  15. says

    Oh what a fun post Amanda. One I’d love to have a slice of your cake on any plate you would serve it on. Your photography is always LOVELY. hmm…which plate did I like best. Well I would have thought the white plate as I LOVE white plates…but to my surprise it was the floral plate, simply because it had me thinking I’d be enjoying a lovely piece of wonderful homemade cake at a friends house. Reminds me of elegant home cooking, did that make sense? Well it did to me when I thought it, but typing it, well it’s sounds weird! Ok I’m weird today. But I would really like some cake :) I hear it healing!!! Dessert therapy :)

  16. says

    Oh where to being, Amanda! First off, thank you so much for including me in the links, and for the incredibly sweet words–I had to do a double take when I saw my name on the list. It means so much to me that you would group me with such inspiring people. I think you don’t give yourself enough credit, and I have to tell you that I really like that very first image (your fave)…blown, forks, whatever–it looks dream-like to me, and it actually evokes the most emotion (I realize we’re talking about cake, here, but you know how it is) from all of the images you shared. Truthfully, that is the shot that makes me need to eat the cake the most, but they are all good. You are so very talented, and I love how real this post is. You’re a gem, honey! xo

  17. says

    I really like it on the third plate, the floral one. I think it complements the cake and adds some interest to the photo, without distracting. I am seriously jealous of your side plate collection!! I seem to always use the same one in my pics. I need to hit some thrift stores!

  18. says

    Lol – if you’re a faker I’m a wanna-be faker! I find food styling and photography very challenging. I like your first pic as well as the one on the clear glass plate. The Food Bloggers Network is hopefully going to be starting a book club. Our first book? From Plate to Pixel of course!

    I really need to find a class near me. I’m such a “do-it” learner. Any way you slice it (heh) your cakes are beautiful!

    • says

      LOL You are so witty!! I have heard amazing things about Plate to Pixel… even took a class from Helene! I hope you love it and that you are inspired!! :)

  19. says

    I’m with Ursula and Robin – I like the third plate best. And I LOVE your blown-out, fork’s-wrong picture! I think it looks fantastic! (And delicious.)

  20. says

    I think you do a great job with your food photography! We are new to photographing our food and learning as we go too. 😉 I think the food item should always be the focus of the photo and that any plate, bowl, background or foreground should compliment the food but not take away from it. Maybe I’m wrong on that though, lol.
    I think the white plate & white background “wash out” the cake, you are unable to really see or differentiate the frosting from the background. I much prefer it on the red glass plate. Also, maybe with a colored or black background so the cake literally jumps out at you??
    Good photos, bad photos or no photos… we LOVE your blog & recipes!!!

  21. Mariel T says

    I liked the gold plate. I also find your pictures quite nice. I am glad that you get feedback to improve but I always thought they were elaborately planned out. You always seem to have a clear crisp photo not overwhelmed by shadows. The food always looks like it would on my plate too, often I find what I capture on pixels does not look anything like what I see when I take the picture.

    • says

      SO interesting Mariel! I find that what I see in my head never seems to match the screen… is that a good or bad things? hehe Thanks for the kind words and happy baking!

      • Mariel T says

        It’s a thing of diligence. You always seek perfection but those with detail orientated minds can never hope to fully achieve their visions. You will always continue to modify and evolve your visions and create new goals. It’s a wonderful thing in my opinion.