Category Archives: Prep Series

Prep Series: Food Post

Earlier this month, we covered how to prep for an outfit post– check it out if you missed it– and now we’ve got Alyssa from Runway Chef giving us a lesson in how to prep for a food post. Take it away, Alyssa!

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Way back when I first started blogging, my food posts went a little something like this: open the fridge, see what I’ve got to work with, throw something together, snap a couple of photos and voilá. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with throwing together a meal from whatever is in your kitchen (I still do it all the time), but as far as food blogging is concerned, it doesn’t make the most appetizing or SEO-friendly posts. Now, my process includes a bit more planning and organization and looks like this:

Plan

I loosely plan my editorial calendar about a month out. To decide what to make, I first, always look to see if there are any holidays coming up (i.e. Cinco de Mayo in May), as certain things (like tacos) will be more popular around those times. I also make note of things that have caught my eye in magazines, on other blogs, on Pinterest, out at restaurants or on a trip to use as inspiration. Another thing that I do is keep a Google doc going at all times so that anytime an idea pops into my head, I can add it to the doc. I’m then able to easily reference my ideas when I sit down to plan my monthly calendar.  Using all of those things combined, I then write out a list of all the recipes, flavor combinations, ingredients I want to use or ideas that I have for the month, see which I think would do best and then cross the rest out/save them for a later date. When I’m planning, I also make note of recipes that need to be tested so I can schedule those into the calendar.
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Prep

I typically shoot my food on Thursdays or Fridays, but I meal plan and grocery shop on the weekends (unless there’s an emergency/I forget something/run out of something, which happens more frequently than I’d like). I try to work whatever I’m making on the blog into our meal plan so as not to be wasteful. I then make a checklist of everything I need for the week’s blog recipes. I cross of anything I already have or anything I’m getting for our other meals, and add whatever is left to the grocery list.
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Shoot Day

I like to start with a clean kitchen before pulling out all of my ingredients, the utensils I need, my notebook where I write my recipes, and the items I think I might like to use to style the recipe. I shoot my photos in another room so I also like to get that all set-up with my camera, reflector, backdrop and step stool. I usually do a few test shots with different dishes and towels to see what pairings I like, as well as to test the lighting and camera settings. Additionally, I’ll pull out a few other tools depending on what I’m shooting. For example, if I know I’m shooting produce, I like to have cooking spray on hand as a light misting of it can help make produce pop. If I’m shooting something that involves sauce, I’ll have q-tips handy to make it easier to clean up the edge of a bowl or plate.

 

After that, it’s time to cook, style, shoot and, my favorite part, eat the goods! After all, hard work needs to be rewarded, right?!

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Alyssa blogs at Runway Chef and is a member of The Blogger Collective.

Prep Series: Outfit Post

Prepping for a blog post requires a little legwork if you want it to launch without a hitch. We’re polling our ambassadors + TBC members to see how they get organized and prepared for the most popular types of blog posts in our new Prep Series. First up, Rachelle of Pinksole is talking us through prepping for an outfit post. Attention, fashion bloggers!

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First things first: before you can shoot, you need an outfit to shoot in. (Duh!) I don’t have a boyfriend/friend who takes my photos or a professional photographer to shoot my outfits; I tend to shoot after posts myself. It’s a one-woman show for me!

One thing I always do after getting dressed is snap a clear pic of my outfit in a long mirror where I can see every single item I’m wearing. This helps me gauge if the outfit is blog-worthy and how it might look when captured in high-res.

I post 1-2 outfits per week, so when it’s time to shoot I have several pics in my phone to go through and choose my favorite looks. I also shoot 2-4 outfits at a time so I can bank photos to use throughout the week.

Consider the following when prepping your outfit post:

Location.
I have roughly three spots where I like to take pictures; they are open and not crowded. If you have no idea where to go, my advice would be to drive around your area and scout locations. Look for peaceful + quiet spots, and backgrounds that fit your aesthetic (this could be fairly plain or very unique depending on your personal taste).

Great shooting locations: parks, public gardens, and in front of walls (white, brick or stone, solid colors, etc.). You are looking for beautiful places that aren’t too distracting (you want the focus of the shoots to be you, after all). When taking pictures I try my best to avoid street/road signs or random people in the background.

Gear.
I am usually armed with my camera (make sure to charge your battery or have a spare battery with you to avoid having to drive back home!), my tripod (I got mine at Best Buy) and my remote control (I got mine ages ago on eBay for $10). I have a Nikon D3200 and shoot with a 50mm prime lens.

Shoot.
This boils down to an important skill: know your gear and know your angles!

While this took a lot of practice, now I pretty much know my angles and what I want my pictures to look like. It’s worth your while to spend some time practicing what angles work for you using your camera on the tripod. This can actually be done at home; you don’t need a pretty background because you’re just learning what works re: your body, different outfit types (think flowy maxi dresses vs. fitted denim– they require different posing techniques!), the camera height/angle, etc.

Set the tripod at several different heights and learn your preference. I personally like my tripod to be set just a tad lower than my waist. Pose several different ways; straight-on, slightly at an angle, etc. Try exaggerated poses like really focusing on getting that chin down/chest up/shoulders back; even if these things feel weird, sometimes they translate better on camera. Figure out what trouble spots you may want to minimize (make your legs look longer by posing with one leg crossed in front of the other; accentuate and define your waist by angling your body and putting a hand on your hip, etc.). The first time you do this, you will be uncomfortable and it might take some time before you master it, but I promise it gets easier. I actually like shooting by myself now because I do it a lot faster.

You should also get really comfortable with using your camera, tripod, remote, etc. Learn the settings of your camera beforehand, not while you’re shooting. If all else fails, shoot in auto-mode until you learn to properly use your DSLR. YouTube is your best friend for learning how to use your camera! Google around, hit up Pinterest, or take an online class. Knowing how to adjust your camera for each shoot means more quality images for you to use on your blog.

Time.
I love to shoot early in the morning or right before sunset; these are often called the “golden hours” because the lighting is really flattering. An overcast day is even better because you can shoot out in the open and not worry about direct sunlight, which is really hard to shoot in. Clouds and indirect light are good! I hate direct sunlight– a shaded area with plenty of natural light is key.

Get comfortable.
One of the hardest things about an outfit post is shooting in public, where people tend to stare. I definitely experience this when shooting my own pictures! All I can say is make sure to shoot in a safe location and don’t ever leave your gear unattended. While it does take time + practice, learn to ignore people around you and just do your thing. Of course, this is easier said than done, but I’ve reached that point! The more you shoot, the more comfortable you will get!

Happy shooting!

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Rachelle blogs at Pinksole and is an ambassador of The Blogger Collective.