The Simple Pro Tool That You Are Not Using To Take More Food Photos

This is part 2 of a 4-part series on Consistently Creating More Outstanding Food Photos. In the first part, you learned about the guy who was hiding in my home and how he destroyed hundreds of my food photos. In the comments, many of you shared a similar experience. If you haven’t read that go here and read that first

Part 1 – The Hidden Enemy |Part 2 – The Pro Tool |Part 3 | Part 4

It’s that time of the year…

Two weeks ago, we started our garden.

It’s the most fulfilling experience. Picking your own tomatoes and peppers from your backyard…

But it’s also a lot of work. Every step from getting the soil to sowing seeds. And then waiting months to harvest the fruits of your labor is a lot of patience and work.

There is no instant gratification here.

But then…

We decided to expand our garden.

So… last Sunday, I made three more raised beds.  Start to finish.

That’s right… Sunday morning I went to Home Depot, picked the wood, had them cut it, brought wood and screws. And by the end of the day, the three beds were done. 

Let me tell you this…

It’s more physical work than picking up your camera… It took me a full day to make those beds. 10 am to 7 pm – all day.

And yet…

I didn’t hear from him.

He never said a single word. Nothing at all.

Or maybe he did and I just didn’t notice it.

Resistance was nowhere to be found… I wonder why?

Tell me this…

Why is it that you finish some things… while you struggle with making food photos?

I am sure you have some things that you just get done. Without these voices in your head.

Famous food photographers do the same thing. They have trained their voices to shut up. Some time back I asked them.

I asked them how do they keep going? What do they specifically do to find inspiration?

Perhaps we can all learn from them. And perhaps we can use the same tricks or tools they use.

I asked Andrew Scrivani. “What keeps you going? How do you stay inspired?”

Then I asked this to Matt Armendariz. And to Penny De Los Santos and Nicole Young and many more food photographers.

I’ll tell you what they said in a moment.

But before that… think about this…

What are some things that you get done? Without any Resistance. Can’t think of anything? What about brushing your teeth every morning? Does he say, “Don’t brush your teeth” or make excuses? How come he doesn’t say a thing when you are brushing?

About those famous food photographers… Here’s what they said –

“Photographs. Lots of them.” 

All of them, in one form or the other, said it. “I look at a lot of photos from other photographers and save them.”

In today’s lesson, I am going to share how Andrew Scrivani does this. And then I’ll show you how I am doing this. I’ll share every little detail and tip that I’ve learned in the process.

And by the end of this series, you will learn how to shutdown Resistance.

Of course, you won’t become an expert in dealing with him. At least not yet. It will take time. And you need to start somewhere. Today you will start this. 

But before I share this with you, I urge you – no matter how simple the idea may seem, you need to try it. At least once.

Maybe you’ll think it’s just too obvious. That it won’t change anything. I will be very open with you… I didn’t believe it either.

But I still took action. And it worked. I took more photos in last 6 weeks than before.

The tool I am going to share with you isn’t fancy.

It’s not an app. You don’t need to download it. It’s not on your computer either. You have to create it with your own hands. It didn’t take a lot of time either. Except for getting the materials. Once I had the material, it took me less than 2 mins.

Andrew Scrivani uses it. Matt Armendariz uses it. And almost all professional photographers use it.I am sure my version looks different than Andrew’s. And yours will look different than mine too. But don’t worry it will still work… if you do it right. 

[ Bonus: Before I go forward, I have put together a bonus package for you. Here’s what’s inside 1.  My conversation with Andrew Scrivani on this topic 2. Private video tour of my inspiration wall that I’ve started creating. Download Bonus Pack ]

The Simple Pro Tool for Squashing Resistance –  Inspiration Wall

Here’s the short version…

I dedicated a space in my office for fighting Resistance. Last few weeks, I’ve started looking at food photos with single intention – identifying if they draw me in. If they do and I like them enough, I hang these photos on this dedicated wall that I call – The Inspiration Wall.

As I said a few moments ago, professional photographers go through a similar process for their own inspiration.

That’s what Andrew Scrivani does too.

Some time back I was interviewing Andrew Scrivani… and I asked him…

“How do you stay inspired?”

“I look at a lot of photos Neel,” he said.

“Looking at other people’s work is inspiring. I look at food catalogs, food magazines… I look at a lot of work…

“I tear out magazines. Take this part of that picture and that part of this picture.”

You can listen to the part of my conversation with Andrew Scrivani by downloading the bonus.

[ Bonus: Before I go forward, I have put together a bonus package for you. Here’s what’s inside 1.  My conversation with Andrew Scrivani on this topic 2. Private video tour of my inspiration wall that I’ve started creating. Click here to get access to this bonus]

I started using this tool more seriously and intentionally. In next few

So… here’s what I did.

A few weeks ago, I decided to dedicate a wall in my home office for this.

I created something a wall for inspiration… I am calling the “Inspiration Wall”. The smaller version of this is also called the mood board, although this is slightly different.

I started going through magazines… and ads and other sources where I could find images… And started pulling photographs… These were not random images… these were strong images that I connected with…

And then…

I cut them. I printed them. And put them on the wall. This idea was starting to take a real shape… This wall was now becoming inspiration wall.

But here’s what I found…

You can’t simply start cutting and hanging photos on the wall. You can’t randomly take any photos and believe that you’ll start getting inspired.

There is a method to this.

In fact, to really give yourself a jolt of inspiration, you need to do it the right way.

And I’ll share you my exact steps to get yourself drenched in this inspiration dow.

But I should clarify something….

If you are thinking, “Oh yes! I do that already on Pinterest.” …this is not the same.

I am not talking about creating a Pinterest board.

It won’t work on Pinterest.

I have a few Pinterest boards (and many Secret boards too… shhh!!). While they are a good place to store photos that you are inspired by, they are not a replacement or inspiration wall.

We are not talking about a Pinterest Board. Or something on your phone.

This needs to be something physical. Something that you can touch.

Something that you see every day without having to open your computer or get on your phone and then get hammered by facebook notifications or email messages or whatever else that you are addicted to…

Here’s what my inspiration wall looks like

Video: In the bonus video, I walk you through my inspiration wall in more detail. Click below to get that.

[Bonus – Get the Video: My own inspiration wall and listen to the discussion with Andrew Scrivani. Download Bonus Pack ]

This is also a little different than mood boards. The concept is same except a few differences

  1. Size – Inspiration wall, like you’ve probably noticed in the video is much larger than a typical mood board
  2. Updates – I update the wall almost every week.

For simplicity sake though I’ll use mood board and inspiration wall interchangeably.

In the next few weeks, I will be documenting my process and everything I have learned about this topic. For a food photographer like you, who wants to create more food photos, there are only a few pieces you need to know –

Part 1: The 4 Common Types of Inspiration Boards (and How To Decide Which is Right For You)

Part 2: Step-by-Step How to Build Your Own Inspiration Wall in Less Time Than You Think

Part 3: How to Take More Photos By Using Inspiration Wall The Right Way

Let’s get started with part 1 today and started taking action.

Part 1: The 4 Common Types of Inspiration Boards (and How to Decide Which is Right for You)

There are 4 main types of inspiration boards or mood boards. Depending on what your end goal is

Mood Boards are used in many different ways. While I created with a goal of creating more photos. I wanted constant inspiration to push me to create more photos.

You can take your inspiration wall in many different directions.

4 Common Types of Mood Boards

1. Project Mood Boards or Reference Boards

Then there are boards specific for a project or assignment. These boards are used as a communication tool. You can create this board and then share it with your team.

The worst possible scenario of a job or assignment is that you added all your energy and effort and money only to find out that the photo you took, was not even close to the customer’s expectation…

This can happen if everyone is not on the same page as to what kind of images are you trying to create.

The customer is not happy because you’ve not delivered what they were expecting. You are frustrated because you’ve put all your energy and effort and still the customer does not appreciate your work.

So how do you avoid that?

You can avoid that by giving them samples of images. These images can be from cookbooks, magazines, previous jobs. You can physically take all the cookbooks or magazines… that’ll be a lot of stuff to carry.

Or you can create a board. In this case, it makes sense to create a Pinterest board. You can also do this by simply saving images on your drive, printing them and taking it to the client.

Either way… this is an important tool you should use on every assignment. Especially if you are working with them for the first time.

2. Goal Based Boards

Goal Based boards are created for a specific purpose – to motivate you to reach a goal.

Unlike the one we talked about before, the objective here is as specific as you goal is.

If your goal is dark on dark, you could create a board that is full of dark on dark images. Or if you want to learn about artificial lighting, you could create images or illustrations of lighting diagrams.

3. Subject Study Boards

I recently started a subject study. I am studying oranges.

Subject study is a great personal project if you want to push the limits… I mean how many different portfolio-worthy photos can you take of an orange?

A lot… as I am finding out.

One of my next boards will be focused on only this one subject – Oranges.

So the subject study board will have photos of only this one subject. All photos that move me, I’ll put them on this Subject Study Board.

With this board, your goal should be to go beyond the ordinary. Find images and examples that are diverse but at the same time images that you like.

Yes, this is a special kind of goal-based board.

However, what I have created in my office is not like the first two we talked about. It is more

4. Kickstart Boards

My personal reason to start the inspiration wall was simply this – I needed a kick to start the inspiration flowing.

And that is where the board found it’s place. Just by looking at the photos in the magazines I was starting to feel the change in my mood. I felt more inspired for taking food photos.

As I selected photos that I like the most, my brain automatically asking questions like, what do I like in this photo? It’s the light. Or this dark on dark does a great job.

Once I cut the photos and put them on the wall, I have noticed the photos that I liked much more. For example, in one photo I realized how I can create and image like that. I noticed the background.

Watch the Video: My inspiration wall tour

The impact of this experiment was so strong, that two days after putting some of the first photos, I scheduled a photo shoot even though my calendar was full.

Watch the Video: My inspiration wall tour

3 Easy Tips To Help You Decide Which Type To Make

  1. What’s Your Objective – Sometimes when you are starting out fresh or after a long break, the kickstart board is a great place to start.  
  2. Just Start
  3. If you can’t decide which one to make, go with what Kickstart Boards

Dear Resistance… about Those Excuses…

That’s right… after reading the lesson this far I am sure the Resistance is getting anxious. He is starting to give you some really good excuses. I know because that’s what he did.

He was getting really afraid. He started giving me some really good excuses. As if he really had my best interest in mind. Here’s what he told me…

“What? This is a crazy idea. Who does this?”

This is exactly what he said. As soon as the idea came to mind and I started taking actions, he said this.

The idea is crazy… no one will do this.

“That’s right. Yes! Resistance. It is crazy.” That’s exactly what I told him.

“But guess what! I am still going to do it. It is going to help me get momentum”. I am sure he is talking to you now and saying this…

“Okay… it’s a great idea… But it’s not practical Neel”

Or he will tell you his favorite excuse –

“You don’t have time for this stuff, Neel…”

Of course. He knows me well. I have my job, my loving family and tons of other things to do. He knows this.

So he brings up the time excuse… Ohh my… he cares for me so much. Not.

Nice try. In reality, it did not take me a dedicated hours of effort. I did it step by step. And I will tell you exactly how I did this.

At this point, with the emotional stuff out, he started becoming more logical.

He said…

“Neel… you don’t have space for doing this”

And the truth is, I would have said the same thing.

But here’s the thing…

I knew how massive the impact of this effort was going to be. If I started taking 1 or 2 or 3 more photos every week, that’s 50 to 150 more photos in a year. Do I really want to miss out on all those photos? And regret the time I lost?

I didn’t want to do that. I know you don’t want to lose this time either.

In the next part, I will walk you through my exact process of how I created the wall step by step.

[BTW – Don’t lose the bonus. I will show you my inspiration wall and share excerpt from Andrew Scrivani’s method. Download Bonus Pack ]

But before we go away… here’s something for you.

Today’s Assignment

  1. Download Bonus Pack

  2. Start noticing the photos around you.
  3. If you like a photograph, cut it and save it. Physically if you can. Or take a photograph from your phone.

In the comments below

Tell us have you created these boards before?

What type of boards would you create?

How I Started Creating More Food Photos (and How You Can Do it To) – Part 1

Why is it?

Why is it that the food photographers you admire can consistently create outstanding images and you cannot?

Why is it that your favorite food blogger can write a great recipe, share a story and still manage to create amazing photos, post after post?

Why can’t you?

What is it that stops you from taking consistently amazing food photos?

You are convinced that you want to take better food photos. You know what it takes to create an image.

So why then can you not even consistently create photos? What stops you from shooting more food photos?

I know what it is. Because I have felt the same thing.

Something that pulls me down.

Every time I’ve wanted to create a personal project for growing my photography, he pops his head.

Even when I am at the shoot, trying to make one more photograph… he quietly tells me, “It is good enough Neel.”

One afternoon I was shooting for my personal project. It was something G was making that afternoon.

Shankarpale… it’s a sweet fried delight.

But it’s brown and boring. The dough is boring too.

She was making and asked me, are you planning to shoot this. Before I could say anything he said “No, the light isn’t too great today. Maybe next time”.

Good thing she didn’t hear what he said.

But I did.

I pulled him aside and said, “Do not speak for me, buddy!” [Read more…]

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Movement in food photography creates amazing drama. These photod are harder to capture and food and action tell a great story.

Take a look at these examples of movement in food photos.

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Good drinks photographs are hard. Yes there are same traditional photos that you’ve seen before. We’ve all looked at them a lot. In this post, we present some new and fresh ways to photograph drinks and beverages.

These 11 drink photos are different that those traditional photos. Drench yourself in these photos and tell us if you’ve photographed drinks and what tips you have for other readers.

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10 Amazing Ice Cream Scoop Photos for Summer

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Summer time and ice cream. In this post, we look at 10 amazing ice cream photos and you can learn from them a lot about composition, food styling and prop styling. [Read more…]