25 Takeaways from the 2020 Mastering the Art of Food Photography Summit

April 6, 2023

Heather Barnes

18 min

I don’t know if you heard about it, but there was a fun week-long virtual summit all on food photography, graciously put together by Jena Carlin of The Little Rusted Ladle. It just wrapped yesterday, and included a VIP pass, still available to purchase, along with 30 interviews of professionals in our beloved field of food photography. It included interviews on topics such as Visual Storytelling with Aimee Twigger to SEO for mastery for photography by Casey Markee. It was packed with valuable insight and I couldn’t stop watching!!!

Why attend a virtual summit anyway? Firstly it was so generously free! Why not learn from the experts out there while we are all sitting in quarantine together? It was a great way to connect, network, and stay curious about the world of food photography.

The VIP pass is still available for five days and there are some amazing perks, including downloadable MP3s of all the interviews, and bonus material from each host. I cleared my schedule so I could tune into the not-to-miss webinars with my cup of tea at 9 am. After taking many courses this past year, and launching my own food blog, I’m still eager as ever to learn everything about the craft!! Always be curious, and be student of life, is my motto.

So with that said, some favorite actionable takeaways after chatting with a group of the summit attendees:

  1. Follow your passion! And go for your dreams! Everything is achievable! Consistency is key. Just be confident about who you are, and trust your strengths! @the_food_therapists_
  2. I loved Rachel Korinek’s tips on minimal photography and the importance of details and layering! Make the food the hero! @kellys.kitchen.cravings
  3. In a food stylist kit, always have these things: scissors, cue tips, sticky tack and paper towels cut into smaller squares. Among all the other things! @mrs.barnes
  4. I learned from Broma Bakery to think about these three things... Gifts: the things you’re really good at. Values: the things that mean the most to you. And Passions: the things you enjoy doing most. By combining those things, you can bring your most authentic self to your business. @breadandbasil
  5. Go through the process of creating a storyboard. Plan out your scene ahead of time and have concrete examples of each shot before shooting!  @Edibleartphotography
  6. I loved the tip from Bea Lubas to find a mentor. @kellys.kitchen.cravings
  7. Quiana Adams pointed out the importance of developing your own unique voice! To produce stronger, creative images, visualize and think about how your subject makes you feel and try to bring those emotions to your images.
  8. Fanette is the queen of organizing! Use Trello to plan and batch your work. And create a great experience for every client.
  9. I loved the tip about using the furniture dolly to move your flat lay around. Amazing!!! @heatherfelixphotography
  10. Find your voice and style and stick with it. Don't try to be all things to all people! @crystal_everson_
  11. Inject your heart in your photography and maintain that thread through out the story, color theory and editing. @amy.sheree
  12. Create your own backdrops! It’s easy, inexpensive, and fun!! @mrs.barnes
  13. I loved Skyler’s budget lighting techniques, like using baking paper to diffuse the light!
  14. When styling food... ask yourself, What’s the story? Who is it for? Simplify it. Remember, the food is the star. @circusofcakes
  15. Don’t ignore SEO for your portfolio website. Always use “alt text” in every image!! @jonscotty_
  16. When practicing splash photography, take a photo before you start splashing that was you have a starting point for your composite, because thing will get messy after! Also, you don’t need a lot to create a beautiful shot. Just a simple glass and good light! @dreamybaker
  17. Play with different light - light and airy and dark and moody, but with the SAME composition. @ferventflavours
  18. Join photography networks like APA , network with people, mail out promotional material. Emails get looked over these days. @eatmymedia
  19. Don’t forget about shooting personal work. Carve out time for yourself. Humans are not content creating machines !
  20. Portfolio reviews are a great way to get yourself out there! Print your work and take it to portfolio reviews to take your photography to the next level. @amylufferkins
  21. Storyboard all your shoots. Take time beforehand to plan out each shot. It makes the time shooting less stressful. @Brookemohlenhoff
  22. Don’t entertain yourself, educate yourself! @foodandmoodblog
  23. I loved what Karl Taylor said,  “you need to understand what you want to say with each shot. How are you going to deal with an image before you set it up? Step back from the photography, consider the story, design it and make the photo. Not the other way around. Decide what will be a good results and aim to build your shot towards it”  @ferventflavoours
  24. Joanie convinced me to invest in artificial light, so I can shoot any time of the day! I don’t have to rely on natural light anymore. Having control over my environment is a game changer! @leisurefanclub
  25. Find your voice in your photos. Understand that this takes time and will not happen overnight. @sweetems

My main takeaway after digesting it all tonight along with too much chocolate cake, was to create from the heart. And I’m realizing that takes time and practice So thank you to Jena Carlin for putting your heart and soul into this labor of love ...round of applause from all of the creators and curious foodies out there who tuned in!! This was a brilliant idea! Let’s all remember #CommunityOverCompetition and to keep honing our craft every day. Thanks again Jena!  

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