Behind the Scenes at All that’s Jas

behind the scenes secrets

I have a secret and I’m not afraid to share it with you. My dear friend Mary, who lives in Greece and whom I’ve never met in person,  asked me if I’d join her and other 5 bloggers from around the world to share behind the scenes secrets.

Why yes, yes I would!

For a start, what no one is telling you about blogging:

There is a common belief (among non-bloggers) that blogging is a glamorous and easy hobby. I mean how hard can it be to take a couple of photos of your lunch or a DYI project and write a couple of paragraphs about it, right?


In fact, it’s a hard work.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a work we are passionate about, but it’s a full-time job (and then some).

A post doesn’t happen overnight unless you have superpowers or you don’t care about how it looks or sounds. But most all bloggers do care. We don’t blog to journal or to brag about our delicious food, crafts, our style, or how smart/funny we are. We blog because we want to reach out and offer inspiration, solution, to empower, or entertain.

Behind the Scenes Secrets at All that’s Jas

behind the scenes at All that's Jas

Blogging about food means often eating cold meals, (just one of many behind the scenes secrets revealed).  Just one quick photo, I usually tell myself, while the light is good and the food looks fresh. Thirty or so minutes later and I’m still shooting because I’m never happy with the result.  It takes 70 or so shots for the few I like enough to share.

My blog photography has improved a lot in the 5 years I’ve been blogging, but there is still so much to learn.

It went from this to this (same recipe)

delicious crusty and gooey spinach artichoke grilled cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Internet is a great resource to find free tips, but my favorite is by far the book Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin. She is an incredibly talented blogger and food photographer and her book is my food photography bible. Helene covers every aspect of food photography and styling and she is such an inspiration.

She includes all the settings of her digital camera and tells you about her personal equipment. However, she emphasizes that it is not the camera that takes great pictures but the photographer. I got my Canon Rebel T3 camera bundle for a birthday one year and each following birthday I requester another lens, but I most exclusively use the so called nifty fifty lens (50mm). Since then, the T3 has been discontinued by the manufacturer 🙁 but this new Canon Rebel T5 bundle is a pretty great deal for the money.

My tripod is a hand-me-down from my brother in law, a retired homicide detective. It has seen different kind of dead meat than what’s usually on my plate. ha!

Another book I learned more about post processing is From Snapshots to Great Shots.

So here are my top 5 behind the scenes secrets:

#1 I almost never shoot in my kitchen or my dining room. Why? Neither has enough natural light. Fluorescent light is every photographer’s nightmare but I just can’t justify investing in a professional studio light. I use white and black foam boards to either block the light when it’s too bright or to bounce it to soften the shadows.

Believe it or not, an overcast day is perfect for photography. The sky creates a soft, even light.

My messy kitchen in that darn fluorescent light. I usually clean up as I go when I cook, but not when I’m cooking for the blog. Stuff is left everywhere, even on the floor, and after I’m done it can take me a couple of hours to tidy up. The struggle is real, you guys!

fluorescent light behind the scene

#2 I take my setup to my living room or my office/bedroom. I sometimes shoot on the ground but that proved to be hard on my old bones when I need to get one-on-one with food and take photos from different angles.

Since my coffee table is in direct light, which is too harsh (I know, we’re never happy), I use an old small side table that is light enough to move around or my office desk, and sometimes even my bed.

Set up on the ground with my loyal “helpers” Lacey and Baylie.

behind the scenes for food photography

Another setup in my living room (on that little table) and shooting of crispy roasted sweet potatoes last November. Talk about eating reheated potatoes. Yuck.

where to photograph food

#3 For my background I mostly use one of two boards I made of repurposed wood but my favorite is an old cookie sheet. The more “seasoned” it is the more “character” it has. I cringe when I think of how many good ole cookie sheets I’ve thrown away. Most of my china props come from thrift stores.

I took this setup to my office (see my laptop?). This is my second wood board I like to use and my well-seasoned cookie sheet. I just recently made these German pan-fried potatoes and you can see a bit of the sheet in a third photo down.

food photography behind the scenes

#4  I ONLY use real food and ingredients in my photos, but they aren’t always what they pretend to be. For example, if you see a glass of white wine in my photo I might have actually poured apple juice instead.

If I didn’t have an already opened bottle I’m not going to open it at 9 AM just to use it in a photo, although, sometimes I do feel like drinking that early.

#5 Sadly, writing doesn’t come naturally to me, at least not writing in English which is not my native language (I’m sure you’ve noticed). Sometimes I stare at my computer screen with my fingers on its keyboard for hours and nothing gets written.

Using black foam boards to block out the harsh light. Sometimes I like the shadows, they create a certain mood. This recipe soon to come. Stay tuned.

how to photograph food

So there you have it, my top five secrets revealed.

Whether I’m withholding a turkey on Thanksgiving from my hungry family for those few photos that never end up on the blog because I didn’t like them afterwards, or whether my husband is getting sandwich for lunch because one of our dogs tried the food on my living room floor the minute I ran to the kitchen to grab a forgotten prop, I still think blogging is fun.

Most importantly, if I have helped, inspired, or entertained you in any shape or form then it’s all even more worthwhile.

6 popular international bloggers sharing behind the scenes secrets you don't want to miss!… Click To Tweet

 

behind the scenes at 6 international blogs

Now please visit my bloggy friends for more behind the scenes secrets in a DIY world.

Mary of The Boondocks Blog

behind the scenes at The Boondocks Blog

Michelle of A Crafty Mix

behind the scenes at A Crafty Mix

Greg of The Navage Patch

behind the scenes at The Navage Patch

Marie of Interior Frugalista

behind the scenes at The Interior Frugalista

And last but not least Angie of Ambient Wares

behind the scenes at Ambient Wares

Have fun checking them out, learning where on Earth they live and what are their dirty little secrets. Speaking of secrets, do you have any?

 

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Jas

publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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62 Comment

  1. What a great look behind the scenes at what we don’t typically see. I love that you’re honest in showing how to really looks and then the magic of editing, cropping etc. Thanks for being so transparent and helpful in sharing your process!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      May 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Thank you so much, Lindsay, I appreciate your kind comment. Thanks for stopping in 🙂

  2. Reply
    Ann
    May 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    So much effort goes behind each of those picture, Jas. I cannot imagine…! Kudos to you for your tenacity and resilience. You need ot start selling your pictures. Really! 🙂
    Ann recently posted…What it’s like Mid-SpringMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      May 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm

      They can’t afford me, haha. Mwaaah

  3. Reply
    Jen Gregor
    May 5, 2017 at 2:58 am

    Love this Jas and thanks for sharing! My photos need so much work but in my busy current season of life with 4 kiddos my quick crummy photos with bad lighting will have to do. Ha! Your pictures always look amazing!
    Jen Gregor recently posted…Peanut Butter CookiesMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      May 5, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      You know, raising 4 little ones is FAR more impressive than my photos. Just the other day we had 4 kids under the age of 5 (from my daughter and my niece) over for dinner and I told my husband how much I admire every woman with more than one child. I don’t know how you do it! Hope your weekend will be somewhat relaxing 🙂 XOXO

  4. […] made these cute mushroom shortbread cookies months ago and even gave you a sneak peak in my behind the scenes post but then completely forgot about those photos. They have almost fallen between the cracks but […]

  5. Reply
    Anna of stuffedveggies
    May 3, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for a great post with lots of wonderful ideas : ) Goodness knows, my photography needs a lot of work!

    And, no, I cannot tell that English is not your native language! You write as if English is your first language!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      May 4, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      Anna, we continually keep improving. A blogger’s job is never perfect. Thanks for stopping in. I’ve been stalking your delicious Greek recipes all morning, lol.

  6. Reply
    lisa
    May 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    This is an excellent post and so much information too! Thanks for sharing at Mix it up Monday 🙂

    1. Reply
      Jas
      May 3, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      Thank you, Lisa!

  7. Reply
    Helen at the Lazy Gastronome
    May 1, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Wow! I feel like a lazy blogger now!! Love the fuzzy helpers – Thanks for sharing on the What’s for Dinner link up!!
    Helen at the Lazy Gastronome recently posted…Ahi Steaks with Orzo and Sauteed GreensMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      May 1, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Haha, nah, you’re not lazy! Have a great week!

  8. Reply
    Charlene
    April 29, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Your photography is always amazing so it’s interesting to see behind the scenes. Re the fluorescent lights: One of my early “careers” was as a landscape/graphic/ interior designer for a municipality. The office was in the basement — NO natural light and only fluorescent fixtures. The head designer specified the tubes in each fixture include an equal number of yellow (warm) tubes and blue (cool) tubes for balanced light. Worked perfectly. Might be worth a try 🙂 Love, love my Canon Rebel,too!
    Charlene recently posted…Strawberry Swirl CheesecakeMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 30, 2017 at 10:58 pm

      Thank you, Charlene, and thanks for the info on the lights. That’s interesting to know. I have numerous flood lights in my kitchen so I have to figure out if they come in yellow and blue. Have a great week!

  9. Reply
    Ashley
    April 29, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the mess! LOVED seeing your food photog set up. Great tips! Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 29, 2017 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks, Ashley! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  10. Reply
    Roseann Hampton
    April 28, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    It’s nice to know we’re not alone when it comes to the mess we create!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 28, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Haha, yes, it’s very comforting to know 🙂 Thanks for visiting, Roseann!

  11. Reply
    Debbie
    April 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Jas – I love this idea of the behind the scenes secrets. I am going to go check out the others bloggers posts as well. I am your neighbor today at #ImpartingGrace .. OK – I just have to say, the picture with the dogs staring so intently at the food while they waited patiently for you to photograph totally had my laughing this morning. I love it, and oh by the way, you nailed it! Blogging isn’t easy and writing doesn’t come naturally to most who do it, but I love that we can support each other and be real in the process. Thanks for sharing your secrets 🙂

    PS.. if you are looking for another place to link to on Thursday’s I would LOVE if you would consider joining my new linkup #TuneInThursday – it opens Thursday 3am PST and runs through Sunday night. you can find it at debbiekitterman.com/blog (Please feel free to delete the link if you think it inappropriate).

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 27, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      Hi, Debbie! Thank you and thanks for visiting my blog! Glad my dogs made you giggle. They’re talented like that, ha!
      I would love to party with you on Thursdays! Heading over right now. Blessings!

  12. Reply
    Christina
    April 24, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Excellent! I love the fact that this post is something that I can relate. It is so true in all sense. People might think that one post is just rambling of words and posting ‘nice & choreographed’photos, but they don’t know how hard the Blogger in putting it all together.
    I am following your Blog and posts both in WP & IG and I must say that you have definitely become one of the Blogs that I always get inspiration, especially when it comes to simple, yet tasty recipes.
    I love the stylish Blog design and how it’s easy to navigate!

    P.S. I want to do justice to your photography skills, you are brilliant, in your own way and you managed to make me drool in your decadent sweets! So that is definitely a PLUS!

    Keep up the great work and remember, your secrets are safe with me..:-)

    Greetings from Bavaria!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Christina, I have no words to express how much this means to me! That is such a kind note and a perfect timing to receive it as I’ve been doubting myself a lot lately. It’s also a great reminder that I need to share love and support with other bloggers, something I’ve been neglecting. So thank you for that too! Another thing I’ve been neglecting is my non-food photography but seeing your beautiful photos on IG gives me an instant fix 😀
      Hope your week is filled with blessings!

      P.S. thanks for keeping my secrets safe 😉 XOXO

    2. Reply
      Debbie
      May 2, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      I am so glad you could join the party last week at #TuneInThursday. AND I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get around to commenting on your post, I had a retreat I was speaking at this past weekend, and it put me behind a few days.
      Debbie recently posted…Perseverance Series #3 When Prayers Remain UnansweredMy Profile

      1. Reply
        Jas
        May 3, 2017 at 8:00 am

        Thank you, Debbie, and no worries! Hope you had fun at your retreat.

  13. Reply
    STEPHANIE
    April 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve loved reading the posts in this series. Great idea. Thanks for sharing at To Grandma’s House We Go.
    STEPHANIE recently posted…DIY Planets Wood Star Wars SignMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 24, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks, Stephanie! We had fun writing them too 😀

  14. Reply
    Carol, The Red Painted Cottage
    April 21, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    I loved reading this, Jas; and I really love the books you recommended. I’m adding them to my wishlist.
    Carol, The Red Painted Cottage recently posted…Tuna Macaroni Salad RecipeMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 22, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Thank, Carol! Glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

  15. Reply
    Sandra
    April 21, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Oh my gosh, Jas you hit the nail squarely on the head! My kitchen is a total hot mess when I’m cooking or baking for my blog and clean-up is a nightmare. When I’m tablescaping there are dishes, glasses, floral supplies and linen piled up in our spare bedroom. I try out different combinations until I get the look I want. It is tiring but I have no idea what I’d do if I weren’t blogging. Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story, and have a great weekend.
    Sandra recently posted…Pretty and Delicious Mother’s Day IdeasMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 22, 2017 at 11:23 am

      I know, right? I ask myself often what I got myself into but I wouldn’t have it any other way, frustration, mess and all 🙂

  16. Reply
    Debbie
    April 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    This is my first time to visit your blog. I found this post to be hilarious. Especially the part about the animals getting the food. So funny! I have been blogging for almost three years. I haven’t mastered all of the staging/vignettes just yet. What you see on my blog is real. My husband is so use to me taking photos of his food before he can eat. Are we crazy or what? Take care!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 22, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Hi, Debbie! Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m glad this post made you giggle. 🙂 It is crazy what we go through to publish one post. Kudos to our husbands for tolerating it all. Hope you have a great weekend! Wish I had your pool 😉

  17. Reply
    Healthy World Cuisine
    April 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    What a fun post Jas! Seriously I don’t know how you keep your dogs off your delicious food on those floor shots. Our little Buddy thinks that anything on the floor is fair game. LOL
    Healthy World Cuisine recently posted…Bam’s Kitchen Joins Healthy World Cuisine (HWC)My Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 20, 2017 at 10:22 am

      Same here, I never need to vacuum, lol! I learned my lesson and don’t photograph on the floor very often, but when I do I make sure someone’s keeping an eye on them, ha!

  18. Reply
    Carlee
    April 19, 2017 at 8:16 am

    What a fun series! It is always interesting to get a peek behind the scenes!
    Carlee recently posted…Cheddar Ranch Cheese Ball CarrotsMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 19, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Thanks Carlee! It sure is. I learned a thing or two from my fellow bloggers 🙂

    2. Reply
      Carlee
      April 19, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      And what size are your boards? I’ve been tempted to make some, but can’t decide what size to make. So I just do nothing 😉
      Carlee recently posted…Cheddar Ranch Cheese Ball CarrotsMy Profile

      1. Reply
        Jas
        April 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

        They’re about 3′ x 2 ½’ but you can do whatever works for you and your photography. If you only take close-up shots, you could make them smaller. Here’s what I used before and still use on occasion: I got foam boards from the Dollar store, found backgrounds I like online (free for use), downloaded them and then printed as posters at Staples (I think I paid $12 for 6 but don’t quote me on that, it’s been a while). Then I put one on each side of my foam board using spray adhesive. So, they’re reversible, light and easy to store, but not good if you’re photographing produce with moisture or your sauce drips, etc.

  19. Reply
    Beth
    April 18, 2017 at 10:44 am

    This is great, Jas! My family and friends ask me all the time, how much work could it be? You summed it up nicely!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 18, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      You know it, girl! 😀

  20. Reply
    image-in-ing: weekly photo linky
    April 18, 2017 at 4:46 am

    Great images – very interesting way of capturing the shots, too~!
    Thanks for joining us at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/04/making-dangerous-situation-kid-friendly.html

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 18, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  21. Reply
    Joy
    April 18, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Love your reality shots – and your set-ups for the shots. Thanks for sharing such a great post.
    Joy

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 18, 2017 at 10:55 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Joy, and taking the time to comment! Much appreciated 😀

  22. Reply
    Debrashoppeno5
    April 17, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    I never knew what you went through to get those fabulous pictures. I do use white foam boards but now I need to try the black ones and pull out my old cookie sheet. You write such compelling posts that I forget English is your second language.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 18, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks, Debra! Old cookie sheets rock, lol! I appreciate your comment about my English. The struggle is real, as it is actually my third language. Hope your Easter was lovely!

  23. Reply
    Katrin
    April 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I always always love all of your recipes and the perfect photos you take Jas! So cool to see how you do it!!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Thank you, Katrin! They’re far from perfect but much better than they used to be 🙂

  24. Reply
    Mrs Shoes
    April 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

    “If I didn’t have an already opened bottle I’m not going to open it at 9 AM just to use it in a photo, although, sometimes I do feel like drinking that early.”

    One thing to keep in mind – it is NEVER ‘too early’ for Baileys in coffee. NEVER. Too. Early.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      I like your way of thinking, Mrs Shoes, LOL!

  25. Reply
    Marie|The Interior Frugalista
    April 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I should’ve known better to read your post before having eaten, Jas. Now I’m seriously starving! Your food photography is always amazing and it’s fun to see the secrets behind those drool-worthy photos. After reading this, white and black foam boards are on my shopping list.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Sorry, not-so-sorry, Marie! 😀 Thanks for the love, my dear! I admire your talent when it comes to revamping furniture! Howly cow!

  26. Reply
    Mary - the boondocks blog
    April 17, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Jas I am left with my mouth opened. I thought got sure you had photographed all of this in your kitchen or in your dining room. Wow Respect here! Getting down on the floor is a lot of work! But the results are so worth it. Even before we had become friends I was in awe of your photography skills. Really incredible work from just a few props and backgrounds. I’ll have to borrow that idea about shadows. Your photos always look incredibly atmospheric. Thanks for sharing all of this with us, it is such an eye opener! And don’t worry about the cold dishes, as long as the dogs are fed! 😉
    Mary – the boondocks blog recently posted…A Behind the scenes Peek at the Boondocks BlogMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      Haha Mary, the dogs are our first priority unless the grands are over. Then the dogs are dead to us, lol. Thank you so much for your kind words. At least I’m only moving a couple of plates around as opposed to the heavy objects you have to shuffle. This was a fun exercise. Thanks for inviting me to join the group!

  27. Reply
    Angie ~ ambient wares
    April 17, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I definitely admire your beautiful photos, Jas. I’ve seen way to many bad food photos on social media to know you have to work hard to get it right. I don’t have any equipment either other than a digital camera and tripod but, I’ve never tried using foam boards or anything to reflect the light. Natural light is the perfect light to work with for sure 🙂 This was great!!
    Angie ~ ambient wares recently posted…A Behind The Scenes Look At My DIY ProjectsMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 17, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Thank you, Angie! The boards definitely help, especially with food photos. If you have storage space to keep a couple of large boards for your projects, they are worth it.

  28. Reply
    Michelle
    April 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

    You know how much I love your foodie photos Jas, they are always stunning and so paint worthy. And personally I don’t care how cold those potatoes are, I’m still going to eat them. Something else I never realized, or thought about, is how difficult it must be to find the words when English isn’t your first language. Wow. 10/10. I love how you stage your creations. I think I need to get Plate to Pixel and From Snapshots to Great Shots. If I could take pictures like you do I would be so happy.
    Michelle recently posted…Comment on Dirty Little Secrets – Behind the Scenes of a DIY Blog by acraftymixMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! That was a long learning curve for me. I’m not a natural like you that takes great photos with a cellphone! That info blew my mind!

  29. […] Pingback: Behind the Scenes: My Top 5 Secrets Revealed | All that's Jas […]

  30. Reply
    Greg Navage
    April 17, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Great tips, Jas! I want to do more cooking posts, but food photography is trickier than rooms/objects. Thanks for the info!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      April 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you, Greg! Both are challenging, although objects won’t wilt within 20 minutes of photographing like fresh herbs and greens do, lol.

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