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!”

And that was that. I won the battle.

But he didn’t stop.

As I started to set up for the shot, he again jumped in. “No, you don’t need that background.”

“Shut up”, I said.

But he isn’t the giving up types.

I started making the shots. Here’s one of the early shots –

“That a great shot”, he said. But, I knew better.

I ignored him.

Because in reality, this shot is as boring as it gets. There is nothing fancy here. Same boring monotone in the background.

There are no colors. Dough is being cut into diamonds. Same boring monotone in the background.

So I made few changes and created more shots…

Moved me, moved the camera, changed the frame and took some more.

Did the composition dance.

Took few more photos and was wondering how to explore the subject further.

So what’s the difference?

Well, the big difference is in lighting. Specifically, how the light was now hitting the subject – as perceived by the camera.

There was one small change – I moved to change my camera angle to a slightly lower angle and as a result, the light was now coming from the back.

A boring subject like this worked much better with this light. The light, now at the back, was adding a nice shimmer on the surface. This light was now emphasizing the texture too.

Compare it to the first one.

So I was pondering some more… “how do I make it better”

And he popped up again.

“That’s enough Neel… it’s good enough.”

He was right.

I did take a lot of photos of that one subject.

I had been exploring this subject for a while… Trying different variations, changing light angle, camera angle, adding a prop, removing a prop… and more.

The photo was good enough. This is that photo.

“How many more photos are you going to take? Move to the next subject dude!!”

I almost wanted to choke him now.

He almost… almost convinced me to stop. But I knew that if I stopped now, it would be foolish.

To come all the way to this photo and not take one, two, three or more extra steps and make a good enough photo better.

 

Good thing I didn’t listen to him.

“Get out of my house. Now!!”

I took few more photos.

Here’s the final photo –

Compare “good enough” photo to “final photo”. Can you identify what’s different?

And no. He still didn’t get out of my house.

And this stubborn rascal still continues to push me, interrupt me, tries to convince me every time I am stretching myself.

Even as I am writing this, he is standing right behind me telling me to stop.

“It’s getting too long. Your readers won’t read this”.

But here’s the shocking thing…

He lives with you too.

That’s right. He lives with you and you’ve never realized it.

His name is Resistance. With a capital R.

Steven Pressfield helped me discover him. He showed me how Resistance can rise and make you give up on yourself.

I realized Resistance was following me everywhere. He sneaked up on me when I was least aware. Always trying to destroy my momentum, my progress and supplying me with very creative excuses so that I’d convince myself to quit. 

And then…

Steven showed me how to find him, fight him and ignore him – step by step.

I am no expert by any means. But I have my days when I win and kick butt.

You know him too. Or maybe for you, it’s a “her” – the female voice.

She is the voice that’s in your head. She stops you from doing everything that’s even slightly uncomfortable.

If you have not been taking photographs as frequently as you want, she has probably overtaken you.

If you’ve wanted to create better food photos but haven’t been able, she has been feeding your brain on how to make excuses.

“I don’t have time”, this is her favorite excuse. “I am not improving my food photos because I don’t have time.”

Or this one…

“I need a new camera”. Yup. This one too. She likes to talk about gear.

She tells you that your camera or lens or background or props are not good enough. You need to buy something new before you can make great food photos.

It’s the same voice that’s in the back of your head asking you to stay mediocre.

Even when you starting photographing, she interrupts you. Tells you to settle for a less than an outstanding photograph.

This voice is with you. All. The. Time.

Once again, here’s the photo I made that afternoon. 

I made these photographs because I won this one battle with Resistance that afternoon.

He was persistent and stopped me several times.

What if I had listened to him. What if I had stopped before getting to my final frame?

I almost didn’t make this photo.

I wonder how many times I let the Resistance win over last several weeks, months… heck years.

So many times he won… so many missed opportunities and lost photographs.

How many photos did you lose because of him (or her?)

How many times did you let that voice in your head win? How many photos could you have made?

How much time did you lose?

Imagine where your food photography could have been today.

Don’t let that voice win this battle any further. Decide to stop today.

But here’s the kicker… it’s not easy. It’s certainly won’t be a cakewalk. You cannot just “decide” and win.

You need a battle strategy, a game plan.

This voice in your head is persistent. Does not ever get tired. This voice is there always… when you want to wake up an hour early or want to make food photos or even want to eat healthy.

This voice doesn’t ever go away.

But here’s the thing…

Just like Steven Pressfield taught me, you can learn to deal with it too.

Steven Pressfield wrote a step-by-step manual (affiliate link; non-affiliate link) to conquer this voice in your head. This manual will give you everything you need to win this battle every time.

I am giving away this manual. You can, of course, buy this as well.

I am giving this book (affiliate link;  non-affiliate link) away for free to two people.

Starting next week, I am sharing a special tool for food photographers. This tool has helped me conquer this voice in my head.

The tool is very easy to make. In fact, once this tool is completed you’ll feel more inspired about food photography than ever before.

I started making this tool two weeks ago. Just by starting this tool, I have felt more motivated to take food photos. More than ever.

And here’s the thing…

It has worked immensely well. I took three times more photos in last 4 weeks than before.

In coming weeks I’ll share –

  1. The details about this tool – the tool that helped me take 300% more photos
  2. Step-by-step details on how I made this tool (and how you can too)
  3. How I am using this tool every day to exponentially increase how many photos I take

And that’s what we will talk about in the next part of this series.

If you’d like to learn more about this tool, click here and enter the giveaway. In next week or so, I’ll start sharing more details with you.

Or click the button…

Now about that manual… written by Steven Pressfield. This short manual is called War of Art, it’s only 190 pages. You can learn about it (affiliate link) by clicking here.

That’s right it’s a short book.

I am giving it away to two of you.

Here’s how you can win…

How to Win the “Beat the Resistance” Giveaway

Here’s how you can win this book (affiliate link; non-affiliate link) by Steven Pressfield.

Step 1 – Make sure you have entered your name and email by clicking here.

Step 2 – This step is really important. In the comments section below, leave your detailed answer to this question – What are the voice in your head that prevent you from improving your food photos?

Tell us about what does she/he say? What excuses does she/he bring up?

Leave your response before April 20th.

Two most detailed and best answers in the comments will win the manual on beating resistance from Steven Pressfield. I will personally pick two best comments and send them this book wherever Amazon ships.

You need to enter the giveaway by clicking here. We will be announcing the two winners by April 27th.

If giveaways are not legal where you live, we won’t be able to announce you as the winner.

  • Debra Hamilton

    Nice! I love this take on Steven Pressfield’s resistance idea! The resistance is always saying to me, “Your props aren’t good enough,” “The chef your working with doesn’t know what he’s doing & won’t listen anyway,” “You don’t have enough time,” “You don’t know how to shape light,” “You don’t have the right gear.” The list goes on!

  • Anyse Joslin

    I wanted to shoot a wood me shroom in the rainforest in Malaysia that s week. I kept getting it wrong! I tried this and then that and then . . . . “You ain’t gonna get that one!” she said. It took a long time and a lot of shots: next thing, I had 5 in a row. It was just like the mountain that I was climbing. My health told me no (vertigo) and I said “Yes!” I made it to the top! Tokyo me along time; however, I am stubborn and that voice should just shut her yap!

  • Silvina Zitto

    This is exactly what I need Neel! My voice is always preventing me to be me! For a long time I put photography apart because of her. “It’s only a hobby” “You can’t make money with that” “You need a better gear” “You’ll never be good enough” and so on!
    Thank you!

  • Aparna Parinam

    My voice says : go ahead. But another voice expresses doubt: will you be able to take a good shot today? And this demotivated me.

  • Michael K

    My voice says” It seems like so much work to do it right, and probably not get great results…

  • Roman Digiart Kopáček

    This is exactly what I need Neel! My voice always avoided! Longer time I have not photographed. “It’s just a hobby” “But I want to make money by ” It is necessary to buy better equipment”
    Thank you!

  • Cosmin Boteanu

    I think this is going to help me alot! Sometimes i feel like i’m not soing it right because i feel that i dont have the light that i need. Sometimes i feel like i dont have the props that i need. The “voices in my head” are not letting me sleep…lol. I have dreams at night of how i can improve my food photographs! I think this giveaway will help me with all my problems Neel.

  • Roni Cormier

    For me, this little voice in my head makes me think that my images are not good enough … how I don’t have the right props … how I don’t know how to set up props … how I don’t have backgrounds … that there are too many other really good food photographers … that I can’t compete with the other food photographers … and who would hire me. This is a constant battle for me. There are times I think I have really good images then that little voice starts nagging me again.

  • Avanti m

    Hi Neel,

    I had many voices in my head before I got into the 30 Days BFP course. So, the course did help me to calm 70% of the voices. I am getting better with props, background, story telling part. Being a VIP student, it has really helped to overcome fears in those areas. However, I, sometimes, feel not confident enough with the technical knowledge. My brain knows better than my heart – it is more practical. So, it says I do not have enough know-how for manual mode, light manipulation, angles, use of artificial light and all that which is the base for good photography.
    I could really use some help there.

    Thank you
    Avanti

  • Stefania

    Hi Neel, my voice says a lot of thing, often that my photos look all the same, same light, same direction, same position, even same props because I have a little space to position my set and all the stuff, and in the end I am scared of experimenting new views, shooting angles etc because … erm … I don’t have time & space

  • Hi Neel, my voice tells me that I’m not good enough and never will be. I can’t compete with the very talented photographers out there.

  • George

    Well, the voice in my head has both a GOOD and a BAD effect on my photography. He says that “if you’ll learn more, your photos will be even better”.

    So, if I decide to start a photo shooting at, let’s say 11 am, the voice will say: “Do not start yet. First, read another article about food photography” or “watch another YouTube video about lighting” or “composition” or …

    So, the GOOD part is that the voice has an educational effect on me.

    The BAD is that, because sometimes analysis can become paralysis, and you must practice what you learn in order to absorb the knowledge, many of the ideas I read about will never become part of my technique if I will not practice them as I read about them.

    So, maybe the solution will be to have a definite plan for each day. To pre-plan the days for learning and the days for doing and not mix them based on the feelings that little voice in our heads makes us feel.

  • Dorothy Drobney

    My voice tells me that my photos aren’t good because I’m still working on lighting, and that I don’t have the props/backboards I need to get great shots. I keep plugging along, using what I have to try to improve.

  • Bobby kochar

    Hi
    My head is caught in a conflict since I have limited space where I receive proper light and I want to get best out of it which is rather difficult.
    Also I don’t click in RAW because I don’t know how to do post processing.

  • Judith Kaspar

    The voice in my head tells me every time I get excited about shooting, to just go do something else. It says I’m to old to do any good with my work and its not going anywhere and neither am I. I lost my husband last year and my interest in most things has disappeared. I tell that voice to shut up, but it’s relentless and wins nearly every time the time. I need to learn how to turn it off. I need to once again find purpose in my life.

  • Garima Rastogi

    My voices keep telling me that I suck at food styling..they further add that those who make the most appealing pictures are born stylists..and when I shut them out telling I’ll learn..they bring the lack of right props or the right background story forward..
    Above all sometimes they make me doubt the recipe itself..is the recipe worth shooting??

  • disqus_eANU3TzWYj

    Resistance is very real. I hear her every time I go to take a photo. Don’t bother the food will get cold. The food isn’t ‘pretty’ enough. The dish isn’t outstanding enough. It’ll take too long. Too often Resistance wins. That’s for sure. But every once in awhile I manage to overcome Resistance and I am always happy when I do, as I come away with something vs. nothing. I win indeed.

  • Ingunn Løvik

    My voice tells me that I haven’t got an original enough idea. The plate is not the right one, the props aren’t the right ones and so on. So I keep postponing my shooting waiting for that faboulous idea. Waiting for that magic happening when I wake up and know exactly what my photo should be like. I’m actually stuck at day 26 for this reason. So close. Yet so far away.

  • John Stilwell

    My voice says that I dont know what I am doing

  • Desi

    My voice tells me the kitchen is too messy so I must clean up first, the background isn’t suitable, it doesn’t look photogenic, and of course the light is no good…

  • Thomas Pigeon

    After I cooked, my voice says “why don’t you try this first?” And then I start to eat and I don’t have enough to shoot haha. Greedy voice…

  • Iva Culinary Postcards

    Voices in my head are very clear and they do not fool me. The problem is that I really do not have time at once to both cook, clean, style and shoot. Either the kids get in the kitchen, screaming they are hungry, or I do not have enough patience to style the setting, or it gets too dark for shooting. Oh, well, thanks for listening, it is always great to read your posts! xx, Iva

  • Daiva Prie

    Voice in my mind is very strong and powerful. She always finds the excuse why not to do this or that. F.e., saying that today so not have enough time for preparing props, or that the table clothes are not ready, or too bad, or no suit’s for specific shoot. Or saying that: “Why you do these photos? You are working a lot, but they never look professional. So why you trying to do something that maybe is not for you?”. Or, “Are you sure you want to publish these photos on your blog? I think they are not enough good to be seen by others.” Or another: “Why you do all these photos if latter you don’t have time to write the recipe on the blog and always publish too late? It doesn’t have any sense!”. Or: “Today you are too tired to make photos. Better go and eat what you cooked” I could continue and continue 🙂

  • Maybe my gear isn’t good enough.

  • Mark_Girouard

    You don’t have the experience to take quality images.

  • Hes Hidayat

    The voice always tells me that someone’s photo is much better than mine.

  • Sara Gennari

    The little voice in my head tell things like “I don’t have the right props/background/photo gear” and of course “i don’t have time to take a photo trying something new instead the same dark photo style”. bad little voice!

  • Marcel Poulin

    My little voice always tell me that I’m not there yet, you will shot the same boring photo again.

  • Shyamal Majmundar

    Almost the same while working!
    But, most initially it says “Shyamal! this is not your ultimate final goal, a food photography, so don’t waste your time and energy just because you want to explore the another new subject, instead invest that time and energy in doing what u really aim for the ultimate goal you know ‘conceptual fine art photography’! “

  • Israa Elhusseiny

    Almost all what you have said.
    I don’t have good lightning.
    I don’t have enough good gear.
    I am not a good photographer and I will not be.
    I always imitate photos, when I will be creative.

  • Virginia Molnar

    I have both a ‘he’ voice and a ‘she’ voice.

    The she voice is within my day to day job working for a foodservice company. I am the coordinator of our promotions, meaning that I work from start to finish – from research into trends, concept development, working with the culinary team that creates the recipes, working with the creative team that helps design the materials, and implementing across the company. She’s nagging about the laundry list of other things that needs done, budget, props, etc. But the most prominent thing she says is ‘YOU’RE not the creative team. They say it’s okay. They’re the experts here. Obviously it’s good enough if they say it’s good enough. Now go do those other things that are actually in your job description.’

    The he voice is my personal assistant in the blogging realm. I write a blog that touches on life on a farm, highlighting some of our favorite recipes (and my journey to learning to cook). Here, he has a lot to say. I have even fewer tools and props at home than at work, and dismal lighting. He says ‘It’s a lot of extra time to set up photos, making sure the clutter from our lives isn’t present and the lighting is right.’ But the thing he says loundes is ‘make sure the food is ready to eat when the farmer comes home.’ Here the voice says there’s not enough time for a nice photo. That one is good enough. You don’t have time for it to be better. Or worse, you don’t have time for one at all. You can’t clean up the clutter, style the photo, get the lighting set up and have food ready to eat when you need to. You’ll have that kind of time to take one next time you make the recipe (there’s a whole list of recipes in the queue that have instructions and not a single picture).

    They’ve formed a little gang that nags me with each dreamed of project, whether at work or for my blog. A devious little team to sabotage my confidence and stall my progress.

  • Angelica B

    My voice is always trying to make comparisions between me and other more experimented photographers and tells me that I am not good enough for this.

  • This is so true. The first is always the fault of light. Second, I do not have a good lens. Food itself is boring. I’ve already made 30 pictures, it can not go better if I do more 30. Maybe when I pull the images to computer, they appear better, or give them some post processing? Or I try tomorrow again, or next time when I’am making this food.

  • 小蘇攝記

    For me is
    Have a good sense at lighting,composition,color ,and also great sense at food stylish

  • Rafael

    “you are not good enough to make this interesting”