"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

The picture tells the story, don’t it?

by Julie Tilsner on May 27, 2008

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Back in the day, a friend in high school watched me make a mess of a simple skirt I was trying to make for the Renaissance Faire, and summed me up thusly: "For such a creative person, you're really bad at a lot of things, aren't you?"

I was. And I remain so. This applies to cooking. To gardening. Relationships, time management, car maintenance, project follow-through, hair care, personal finance, arts and crafts and photography.

I mention the latter because the ability to take a decent photo is a skill every food blogger should have.

Up until this weekend, I told myself that the food bloggers who are known for their photography, such as Deb at Smitten Kitchen, were enjoying the best part of the food blogging pie. Deb's blog is her showcase for her mad mad photog skills (there are times when licking the computer screen seem appropriate) and her extraordinary talents in the kitchen. She has fans in the thousands, and deservedly so.

I'm no photographer, and I can't really cook, but I can write about the disasters that befall me, and that, in my humble opinion, was my own little sliver of the pie, although admittedly the part that would otherwise end up in the trash.

But this weekend that changed. And I believe I'm going to have to do something about taking a better photo.

I had written about vegetable couscous for Slashfood, as part of its Memorial Day Weekend package. You remember, the Sure Thing? The delicious and lovely concoction that will make you a hit at any potluck you attend? Trouble is, I didn't have a photo, and when I went and pulled somebody else's photo off the internets I was told no. I got busy with other things until Saturday, when I remembered I was supposed to fix the post with another photo.

With no time to wrap my head around Creative Commons rules or rummage through Flickr, I thought the easiest remedy would be to make the dish myself, and take a picture.

I made the dish with no problem. But then it came time to photograph, and you can see what I came up with. A new low, indeed.

Not one of probably 30 shots came out decently enough to use. I had to skulk back to the internets and find an approximation that was OK'd for public use.

I think it's time I put a little thought into my future as a food blogger. Maybe it's time to get another, more able camera. (When and if I do, Jen at Oishi Eats has the perfect camera bag for me…purse whore that I am) Or barring that, perhaps I should tap friends who shoot, like Elfini, for example, for some tips on how best to capture my creations in pixels. After all, if I'm offering up mediocrity, the least I can do is make it look good.

Would you love me then?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

bad home cook May 27, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Yeah but I can’t make it do my bidding…and it seems to have only two settings: high flash or no flash…


ATriana May 27, 2008 at 2:21 pm

..ahem; your Sony camera is fine dear…


Bratsky May 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm

My camera and I do not get along either. I take almost 50 pictures of one dish, and maybe 2 will come out. Maybe I can hire people to take pictures for me??


uberchik May 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Try some real tight closeups.
Maybe zooming out only enuf to see the rim of the dish.
Try natural light move the dish to a better location and zoooom in!


Seraphine May 30, 2008 at 9:50 am

I love you either way.
A lot of food photographers
spray a little water on
the food to make it look
fresh. But asking your
dish to say “cheese”
doesn’t necessarily work.


Cheryl May 30, 2008 at 3:38 pm

And I love you as well…and always know you have a friend on the East Coast who’s not only a FAR worse cook, but a far worse photog as well.
Love your style…don’t go changin’ to try and please us!


Bad Home Cook May 30, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Awwww!! You guys! I’m feeling all warm and squishy now…! Shucks….


Elfini May 31, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I’m savin’ my pennies for airfare!!


Elfini May 31, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I’m savin’ my pennies for airfare!!


"Mr. J" June 3, 2008 at 1:51 am

“A picture does tell a thousand words” As well you can paint a picture w/ your thousand words about you adventure in cooking.


Kenya June 7, 2008 at 8:12 am

Hi Julie, I just want to say that I love your site even though I’m new. I admire you for having the time and enegry to maintain a food blog. You admit to the world practically that, you make mistakes. Not only does that make you courageous; it makes you human. Your blog inspires people like me to try new recipes.
I find myself using my camera phone a lot of times. . I try to take pictures of my food in the morning, one blog I read said she even takes pictures outside on her patio. I have a couple of links to blogs that I frequent(added yours to my fav’s by the way). Don’t get discouraged about your pictures, sweetie. Like Dory from Finding Nemo says: “just keep swimming…..”
This link is for something called “studio in a box”. I don’t own one but I found it on the blog I read. Isn’t it cute?
Think link is to a blog that I read also, this lady takes AMAZING pictures too. Be prepared for some screen licking….
*virtual hug* Keep up the good work.


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