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Episode 162: Create Ideal Food Photos For Your Next Cookbook with Lori Rice

In episode 162 we talk with Lori Rice, professional photographer and photography course creator who shares about the importance of professional photography in a traditional cookbook.

We cover information about why blog photos are different from cookbook photos, why you should never use the camera on your phone to photograph a cookbook, how to create ideal cookbook photos and how to organize it!

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Guest Details

Connect with Fake Food Free Productions
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio
Lori Rice is a photographer, writer and the founder of Fake Food Free Productions. She teaches food makers, growers, and artisan creators how to shoot their own food and product photos through her CreatingYOU.® online courses. Lori works with major food brands and agriculture boards, and she is the author-photographer of two of her own cookbooks. Lori also helps multi-passionate freelancers and entrepreneurs in food who feel stuck with a lack of time and progress to conquer organization, maximize productivity, and create multiple streams of income so they can do what they love for a living

Takeaways

  • Know right from the start of your cookbook project if you want to be the photographer or hire someone. This impacts your other daily duties and timeline to produce the work.
  • You will need to present yourself to the publisher as the photographer and include some of your work.
  • Consider consistency without markers of monotony in the images for your cookbook. It’s really important for your viewer when someone’s consuming your book visually.
  • Have an understanding of your camera’s technical ability in terms of photo dimensions and file size and sharpening of images and saturation to deliver files to your publisher without reshooting anything.
  • Really develop a relationship with your art team so that you know throughout the process that you’re delivering what they need.
  • Envision the photo that you want it to be, but shoot it in a way that makes it a much more flexible image.
  • Prepare for creative exhaustion and understanding what the signs of creative exhaustion are for you, so that you know how to handle them.
  • Have a capture plan in place before you start your cookbook project.
  • A cookbook is an extension of your blog but you don’t have to have the same style of photography in your book. Be creative and try new things that you like.

Resources Mentioned

Top Expert and Industry Tips for Photographing Your Own Cookbook, Free Audio Download

5 Steps to Better Food and Product Photography, Free Online Training

Cookbook Photo Academy, paid course

Confused to Confident: Food and Product Photography Training, paid course

CreatingYOU. Facebook Group – for subscribers to my mailing list

Blog – sharing creative photography tips

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta:

Food bloggers. Hey, are you looking for new ways to make money as a blogger? If so, we have got your back. We have launched an ebook called Conversations On Monetization. Inside this resource, we take your favorite podcast episodes about monetization, and we put them all in one easy accessible package. We threw a few exclusive interviews in as well. Friends, there are so many ways to monetize your food blog. Inside this ebook, we have interviews with success stories like Todd Bullock, Alyssa Brantley, Kelly McNelis, Jena Carlin, and more. All of these examples have become successful through completely different monetization strategies. Whether you are a brand new blogger or looking for your very first revenue stream, or you are a seasoned pro wanting to diversify, this ebook is for you. Go to eatblogtalk.com to grab your copy. We can’t wait to hear your success story with monetization.

What’s up food bloggers? Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. This podcast is for you, food bloggers wanting value and clarity to help you find greater success in your business. I am super excited to have Lori Rice with me today from Loririce.com. We are going to talk about creating better food and product photos for your next cookbook. Lori Rice is a photographer, writer and the founder of Fake Food Free Productions. She teaches food makers, growers, and artisan creators how to shoot their own food and product photos through her CreatingYOU online courses. Lori works with major food brands and agriculture boards, and she is the author photographer of two of her own cookbooks. Lori also helps multi-passionate freelancers and entrepreneurs in food who feel stuck with the lack of time and progress to conquer organization, maximize productivity and create multiple streams of income so they can do what they love for a living. Lori, I’m so excited to have you here today, but before we dig into photography, we want to hear your fun fact.

Lori Rice:

Oh, I’m so happy to be here. Thanks so much for having me, Megan. Fun fact. Most of my inspiration is pulled from food culture and travel. I’ve traveled to 26 countries and counting now and actually in my late twenties, my husband and I lived in Southern Brazil for three years.

Megan:

Whoa, what was that like? I’ve never visited Brazil, but I’ve always wanted to, what was it like to live there?

Lori:

It was amazing and also the same pattern that you will learn about with ex-pat research, in the sense that we were very excited and considered ourselves very adventurous. Then once you get there, you realize that you’re not quite as adventurous and you start missing things from home. Then you start to get a little bit frustrated and then you start to absolutely love it and appreciate it, just about the time when that part is about to end. Just like anything else, you may not miss it until it’s gone, but it’s definitely an adventure and an emotional journey. Now that it’s done, I wish I could move abroad again. I appreciate so many things from it, that I may have not appreciated at the time.

Megan:

I love that. So yeah, I was going to ask that, do you find that you miss it now that you’re separated from it?

Lori:

Oh, absolutely. I so strongly identify with it even more so. One of the reasons I think is that, I was totally up for moving abroad at that time, but we were in love with Europe. When my husband suggested Brazil, because it was through his employer, I thought, whoa, I’d never even thought about South America. But now I’ve learned so much about that. I have so many friends, even from that time that I keep in touch with, it was a really, really great experience.

Megan:

Oh, that’s really cool. I love learning that. This is why I do the fun fact, because these are things that people would normally never tell me, but then it’s something I can keep in my mind about that. I will never forget that about you. So thank you for sharing that. So photography, Lori is one of your passions, clearly. So I’m super eager to learn from you today. I know other food bloggers listening are as well. Your main focus is creating beautiful photos specifically for cookbooks. So would you mind talking us through the differences, how is taking photos for a cookbook different from shooting for our blogs?

Lori:

Well, there’s a couple of different ways that it is. The first is that, the way that content is consumed, it’s something that we have to keep in mind because it’s very different from a blog versus sitting down and reading a book. So, if you’re anything like me, you might go to a blog and check three or four recipes before you find what you need and exit. A book, if you’ve ever received a new cookbook that you’re super excited about, you usually sit down and flip through the entire thing when you get it. So thinking about consistency without markers of monotony in the images, is really important for your viewer when someone’s consuming your book visually. Then there’s also the technical side of things. Of course, technology has given us the opportunity to use a lot of different tools to create high quality photos. But you need to make sure that you have an understanding of your camera. And especially if you plan to work with a publisher, that you know, what they need on the technical side, in terms of photo dimensions and file size and sharpening of images and saturation, so that you can deliver files that can be used in your book and you don’t find yourself reshooting those images. So there’s a lot of things to think about in those terms as well.

Megan:

That would be the biggest bummer ever, right? Getting all the way through a book and realizing that you didn’t shoot in the right dimensions or maybe your resolution wasn’t good enough or something like that. So how do you eliminate that beforehand? Do you talk to the publisher and get specs from them, or what do you recommend?

Lori:

Your publisher will provide you with specs, if they don’t, you need to ask for those. Communicate with your art team. It’s hard to know when you land your first cookbook deal, what is allowed and what’s not allowed in terms of who you should be reaching out to and communicating with. If you have questions about those photos, you’re going to get a spec sheet, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to answer all the questions. Communicate with the art team. If you don’t have that contact, ask who it’s going to be, and really develop a relationship so that you know throughout the process that you’re delivering what they need for your book. Just like you said, it’s a huge bummer. I had a friend and colleague who got to the point of the cover for her book and it was a seasonal book. The images that she had on hand wouldn’t work for the cover. It was winter, it was no longer fresh produce. So it became a really tricky situation. So knowing those things ahead of time, as you head into your project and then working closely with your art team along the way, will help eliminate that problem.

Megan:

Could you take a few and send them on and just have them looked at by the art team? Do you think that’s a good strategy?

Lori:

Oh yeah, absolutely. You’ll find that the art team will recommend that you do that and also, opening up those lines of communication, in addition, you’re also going to need to present yourself as the publisher for your book. Very few publishers are going to just assume by looking at your blog, even if your pictures are beautiful, that you can shoot for print. So they’re going to want you to pitch yourself in your proposal as the photographer for your book. Every publisher is different, but you need to make sure that you show examples and explain yourself in a way that reflects that you have an understanding of all this in the proposal. So that’s actually where it starts. Then once you’re granted the opportunity to photograph your book, that’s when you can start sending those images and really get down to those technical details before you start shooting your 75 to a hundred recipes.

Megan:

So aside from thinking about dimensions and resolution, what are some other things that you would need to think through on the forefront about taking photos. So would you need to think about a portrait versus landscape, anything like that?

Lori:

Yeah. You want to think about truly how many images you’re going to need for your book, in the sense that most books are going to be portraits. So you’re going to need to think about the portrait images. You need to think about how the images are going to be cropped. Most publishers are going to want you, even though that image may be a very tight crop when it goes into the book, they’re not going to want you to send them that image that way, because they need to have the flexibility to work with it when it comes to the design of your book. So move it around. Then how are those images going to be used in the sense you might need some landscape shots, depending how the publisher and art team decides to lay out the book. So it’s a lot about options and giving them options to work with.

Megan:

Typically for my blog, I zoom in, that’s kind of my style. I like to get those really close hero shots of the melting cheese or something, but for a cookbook, it would be wise to zoom out a little bit so that they have a little bit of wiggle room on the outskirts of the photo, correct?

Lori:

Your publisher will likely give you in your specs, a percentage of framing, so to speak, that they would like on each image. The art of doing this, is that you visualize that tight shot, like what you’re talking about, but you can shoot it in a way that’s pulled out so that it can be adjusted by someone else. So what that means is, you have a tack sharp image, a very high quality image. So when it is zoomed in on, you have that beautiful, bright spot, your light’s hitting the right place, that sharp spot. So you have to envision the photo like you want it to be, but shoot it in a way that makes it a much more flexible image.

Megan:

That, what you were just referring to is art right there. Because I am not very good at that. I’ve been blogging for 10 years. So I’ve taken many, many, many food photos, but I still struggle with that. It is definitely an art form. I think it’s valuable, not just for cookbooks, but to get used to doing that for our blogs too, because we all have those times when we’re like, Oh, I wish I had just a little bit extra on the edges. It would be so valuable to be able to have a little bit of margin there.

Lori:

Right, exactly. Something to think about is, one of the reasons why we don’t shoot in that way is because it requires extra thinking and styling, right, because we think about those edges. Don’t worry too much. Obviously you don’t want the edge of your surface to be there, but it’s okay if you leave that space blank. It’s about space. So lay an herb there, put the edge of a bowl there, whatever the case may be, but don’t spend a lot of time obsessing about that external styling. That’s okay. It’s just so that the space can be there, so depending on the crop and orientation, there’s some flexibility to move the photo around.

Megan:

What are your thoughts about using cameras? Maybe you have some recommendations with specific cameras or lenses versus using a really quality smartphone.

Lori:

So this is, I’ve learned very quickly a huge topic of debate. You might find a publisher out there, that will allow you to shoot with a smartphone. Especially since some smartphones will allow you to shoot raw photos. But I still don’t believe that if you present yourself as a photographer to a publisher, and you tell them that you are going to shoot with your smartphone, that they’re going to hire you to do that. The thing is, is that we have, and I’m really excited about this because I have some interviews with photographers in the resources that I have, talking about this, is that there’s so many things out there that allow us to send our phone photos off and then they get printed out beautifully. But there’s a lot of work on the back end that goes into it. What you’re going to find, if you really zoom in on a phone photo and take a close look at that, it’s not as clear as what you might think it is when you put it up on a digital screen, especially when it’s printed.

Then there’s also not the flexibility, because each time your photo is processed, I guess in a way it reduces the quality, so to speak. So if you take an image, even if it’s a raw phone image, because raw phone images do not have the flexibility that a, either a DSLR or a mirrorless camera would, and you send that off to your publisher, well they’re going to do some cropping. They might brighten things. Then they might add some type of filter depending on what the look of your book ends up being. All of those changes are changing the quality of your photo. So we need to have it in a larger file so that those changes can be made and not affect the quality and integrity of the photo.

Megan:

So again, just adding a little bit of wiggle room so that they can play with it. There really is a difference. If you look at something on your monitor or your laptop, it might look great. You’re like, Oh, this is fine to print, but when you actually print it out, there is a huge difference. Do you ever do testing with that? Just to see?

Lori:

Definitely. Yeah. And that’s because digitally, there are different colors at work, on a screen, than there are in a printed file. So different colors are coming together to form that vision. Actually this year, printing, I got a good printer and I’ve started printing a lot of my work, especially around the holidays. I’m creating some things like calendars and when I print those, they aren’t spot on what I see on my screen. Of course I’m happy with them. They’re fine. But there are a lot of changes that take place in that printed file.

Megan:

Yeah. I agree. It’s worthwhile, if you are thinking about doing a cookbook, just to do some tests with that, because again, it would be such a bummer to get to a certain point and realize you don’t have the right equipment. You’re not doing something the way that you should be. What do you recommend for types of camera? I know everyone has a different opinion on this, but what do you use?

Lori:

I’m a Canon user. I’ve done the typical progression from a Rebel, which most people start with, to a 5D Mark IV now. My favorite lens is a Canon 24-105mm lens, which isn’t always used for food photography all that much, but I absolutely love it. Some of my very favorite food photographers use that lens. I have a 100 millimeter macro as well. I use that a little bit less, but I do love that lens. You do not necessarily have to use a DSLR. If you use a DSLR, what’s more important than your camera body is the lens that you’re using and using a high quality lens. The idea that in what you need to look at with dimensions, and I explained this in some of my resources, is the capability for the megapixels, the maximum megapixels for print, and so older models, less expensive models, they have less of a capability of creating those prints that can be large enough and look beautiful at a large print for a book or a poster or something like that. So that’s why these things come into play. So mirrorless cameras, if you’re comfortable using that to create a food photo, a lot of their specs are spot on and even better than DSLRs, but it also comes back to what you’re comfortable using. I have a mirrorless that I use for travel. I just cannot get the hang of it in my studio. I want the flexibility of my lens and my Canon and the screen and all that kind of thing.

Megan:

So tell me the difference because I’ve never shot with a mirrorless camera. What is the difference? Why is it not as flexible?

Lori:

Oh, it’s more of a learning curve. For example, once you learn the DSLR and you learn manual settings, aperture, and your shutter speed, you get very comfortable with that. When you move on to something that is mirrorless, like I have with Sony, Sony is a different learning process. So using the manual settings on there to create the depth of field that I want, and using the lenses that I have for that to create the same scene, it’s so much easier for me with my Canon. But if you started using the mirrorless, you might find it much easier with that. So it’s really about where we start and what those learning curves are for us.

Megan:

Okay. So it’s not about it being a totally inflexible thing. It’s just about relearning something completely new if you’re used to something entirely different. That makes sense. So what are some tips that you have for us, for managing photographing a cookbook while also writing it? While also, you know, maintaining a blog because we, as food bloggers, we tend to just pile on the projects on our plates. So give us some tips about managing all of it, because it can be a lot.

Lori:

It definitely can. I think going into it, I think having the awareness that you’re going to experience creative exhaustion and understanding what the signs of creative exhaustion are for you, so that you know how to handle them. Part of that is creating days that you take a break from your book and you don’t think about it, so that you can come back refreshed. The second thing, in addition to understanding creative exhaustion for yourself is, creating what I call your capture plan. So you need to have a good understanding about how you work in the sense are you developing new recipes and you want to get everything developed, and then you’re going to set aside photo days? Are you going to kind of work simultaneously, which is what I do, where I like to flip back and forth between work. Regardless of how you choose to do the type of work, you want to have a plan and you want to know your timeline, so that you work in buffer days to have those creative breaks. You work in makeup days in case a photo doesn’t work, all of those things will come into play. Then you want to be realistic about the fact, just like you said, with having a blog, most of us cannot take the time off to just work on our book. My first book, I was presented with a publisher, by a different publisher, to photograph an in-house book for them. I wanted that job so bad and I needed that job. I took that on and I was doing it simultaneously with shooting and creating my own cookbook, just like a food blogger might be creating posts and things like that. So you really need to be realistic about your timeline. That’s in stepping back and making a plan.

Megan:

Oh, that’s so huge, I think, because it’s exciting, right? If you get a deal with a publisher, it’s really exciting, you go into it and you’re just pumped. You think I can do anything, I can get through this. Then you realize that, Oh, wait, I have blog duties to fulfill. So I think just upfront making that plan is such a huge thing. I love that you mentioned creative exhaustion because I think every single person listening has probably dealt with this on some level. We all get to that point, I think. Especially when a deadline is put on us, we have to continue. Especially when a publisher is telling us you have a certain date, you have to get this done by. We don’t have a choice. We have to keep going, in some regards, so that creative exhaustion can literally just sneak up on us and then it can get worse if we ignore it. So I loved your recommendation to just create space by creating those break days and making a plan and not getting so excited that you just want to tackle everything at once, because I think that’s a sure way to burn out. So do you have any other tips, anything else for us as far as just managing it all? You already gave us some really great stuff, but I wanted to make sure we got everything from you, Lori.

Lori:

I think my main tip would be to make sure that you do want to photograph your book. Obviously, one of the things that I do is I, I teach people how to navigate this and do this, but what people should understand about me and I believe there are a lot of you out there like me as well, is that it goes hand in hand. My photography and my recipe development. I could never imagine creating a cookbook that someone else photographed. Now, that being said, there are so many people that can’t understand that at all. You most certainly do not have to photograph your own book, if you don’t want to. The one reason you want to be super clear on the fact that you really want to is because it’s a big job and you don’t want to get into this and end up hating it in the end. So just make sure that it’s a true love and a true passion. When you do, if that’s the case, when you get towards the end, you will get frustrated. You may say you’ll never do this again, but in a few months, a couple months, or when that book comes out, you’ll be ready to do it all over again because it’s a true passion and you are reflected in every part of that book from cover to cover, picture, to picture. That’s one of the most amazing things about it.

Megan:

As you were talking. I was thinking about a long, long time ago, one of my first years into blogging, I got one of my recipes published in a magazine and I thought it was so exciting. I mean, it was, it was really exciting and cool. But when I saw how they represented my recipe and their photo, it was just not at all what I would have made and what I would have photographed. So it was really surprising that I had that reaction. I just assumed that they would capture this photograph that was exactly in my mind, but they didn’t at all. I mean, it was like nothing like I would have done. So keep that in mind too, as you’re considering whether or not you’ll do it, if it’s really important for you to have a photograph of what you’re envisioning, then you should probably do it yourself. Don’t you think?

Lori:

Absolutely. Yep. Definitely pitch yourself as the photographer, if you have this very close vision.

Megan:

Yeah. If you don’t, then maybe it’s a better choice for you to just let that go. Because like you said, Lori, it is a big process and adding photos to writing and developing and testing and all of that can be a lot.

Lori:

I would say that definitely, if it is your passion to photograph your book, stay true to yourself because you will have people tell you not to do it. Those people might even include an agent, if you choose to work with one. I had friends who had published books before and in an email conversation talking about this kind of thing and getting a cookbook deal, they said, the one thing I wouldn’t do is photograph your own book. I thought, well, that’s kind of part of the package for me. So, anyway, don’t let people, if you truly want to do it, don’t let people talk you out of it because in the end, when you get that book, it’s just not going to be what you totally pictured. You’re not going to be like I wanted to do this, but I didn’t get to photograph itl, so it’s not quite there for me yet. So do everything you can, if it is your passion, to educate yourself on how to do it so you can present yourself as a good photographer for your book.

Megan:

Mm. I love that. We talked about this a little bit earlier, but I just want to make sure we covered everything because it’s in my notes. Do you have anything more for just describing what an ideal photo for a cookbook is? We talked about creating margins, kind of formatting, making sure the art team is on board. Is there anything else along those lines?

Lori:

Yeah, I think more than anything, the, what I talked about with the tack sharpness and a super high quality photo is important. You need to think, as I go back to your plan, mixing in knowing that you don’t always have to have the finished product. Realizing that it doesn’t always have to be the one food on the plate. Think about how you will vary photos; ingredient shots, or different things like that, that can serve in the place of a final recipe to create some lack of, I guess, monotony in your book, to resist that. So get creative, allow yourself to be creative with it.

Megan:

Do you recommend shooting in varying angles and varying styles just for that reason what you were just talking about, to not have the monotony? Like 45 degrees versus overhead versus maybe a super close up, things like that?

Lori:

Yeah, I do. There are ways to create patterns with that and create consistency with it. But I do think this is why creative exhaustion comes into it because this is one of the things that starts to happen when we start experiencing it, is we stop thinking of all those creative ideas, in the sense of overheads in different angles and backlight. But I think when you get yourself in a space where you really get creative and have variation in your photos within a book, that’s when the most beautiful photos that you really love come out.

Megan:

When you think about books that you love, when I’m sitting here thinking about books that I love, those are the ones that I really like. The ones that have a variety of colors and styles and even different moods too. One will be a little bit more dark and moody, and one’s really bright and vibrant. I think a cookbook is a really good way to kind of round out all of that, that might be sitting dormant inside of you. I need to create a dark and moody, but maybe you don’t do that on your blog. So I think that’s a really good opportunity. You don’t have to have everything looking exactly the same, don’t you agree?

Lori:

Yes. I totally agree. Especially when you’ve been given this opportunity and kind of free reign from a publisher and they trust you and your skills, you really have the opportunity to make it a true creative project.

Megan:

I agree. Because on our blogs, we hear this all the time, that you determine a brand and you brand yourself in a certain way, either you have the colorful or you have the really light and airy look, or you’ve got that darker look and you have to, not have to, but people recommend that you should probably stick with it across platforms and, play a little bit, play around a little bit with styles, but for the most part, stick with one kind of branded look. But I think it’s so different for cookbooks for some reason. I think that it’s interesting that they are so different. Why do you think that is? Why do you think a cookbook is one way or do we perceive it one way and then a blog is another way?.

Lori:

I think that blogs have a lot of rules because of trying to get traffic. There’s a lot of rules to follow, as far as how you’re going to get noticed, what people want to see on a blog. When it comes to a cookbook we’re trying to get sales, but what sells a book is the topic and the cover basically, right? Then obviously later what’s inside, as people start to review it, but at first glance, that’s what it is. So there’s a lot more creativity that can go into it to help it stand out a little bit more. I think that is one of the best reasons. I know a lot of people have goals and it was very popular in the past to do the blog to book, where the book is basically, you know, a reflection of your blog. I had a food blog for 10 years and I haven’t updated it for the past year or so, but the best thing for me was doing a book that was not related to my blog. I had people that came in and they say, Oh, I see your style here. I have a health background. So they could see that I had healthy recipes, but my books are actually cooking and baking with craft beer. That was a passion that I had that my blog audience really didn’t know about.

Megan:

Oooh, I like that.

Lori:

So it was very freeing and exciting and just very different. It was a great project for that purpose.

Megan:

It’s like a new outlet, a new way to express yourself almost. That’s really fun. So doing something like this, deciding that you’re going to photograph an entire cookbook is a lot of work and it’s a lot of photos. I imagine that each photographer takes a different amount of photos, maybe some just do a handful and kind of do the staging and testing. Then just like on our blogs, you know, and then set it up and then snap a few. Then some take a ton of photos and then kind of go through them editing. But regardless of what you do, whether you take just a few or many, it’s still a process and it’s a lot of photos to manage. If you’re doing a hundred photos for a cookbook and you take a hundred photos of each, that’s many, many photos. So how do you organize all of that? Do you do something upfront to kind of plan it out? Or what do you do?

Lori:

Yeah, it’s, it’s definitely having that plan and it comes down to, you need to be able to pick your favorites. That is one thing as a blogger, as I transitioned to a professional food photographer, that I got more comfortable with, is you don’t need a hundred photos of the same dish. We are driven by getting that perfect shot, but as you shoot more and more, you find that it may only take three shots to get that perfect one that you nailed. That is part of the process of improving and progressing your skills as a food photographer. Now, getting different files and formats so that you have options is one thing, but shooting a hundred to 150 photos of one dish, just so you make sure that you’ve got one that you like, that’s a completely different thing.

When you approach your book, focus on getting yourself together in that regard. Promise yourself that you’re going to focus on nailing the shot and getting however many you decide that you need, that you’re going to nail those and it’s not going to be these hundreds and thousands of photos. Because your publisher doesn’t want a hundred photos of each dish. They want a few to choose from so that they have flexibility. Also in my resources, I have formulas and we go through these kinds of things to figure out the actual minimum number of photos that you would need for a book, then you can build from there.

Megan:

Yeah, because I think most people listening have gone through that process, or maybe they’re going through it right now, where you start with taking so many, like you mentioned, Lori, and you just hope and pray that something in there is going to work, but then the more you do it, the more you practice, as with anything else, you get to a point where you just hone it in. I don’t know, it was like an evolution for me, but I didn’t really realize it was. Then one day I realized I’m only taking a handful of photos for my blog. Whereas before I was taking so many, and then I would have to sit down and I’d have to look through them all and I would have to edit them. It was just ridiculous, but I think that’s just a matter of practicing and just doing it over and over and with a cookbook, you get to do that, because you have a lot of photos to take in a short window of time.

Lori:

Exactly. Yup. 100%. It comes with experience.

Megan:

Yeah, definitely. Just like thinking about this podcast too, having a podcast in the beginning, I was talking so much and I was saying things that weren’t necessary and my episodes were going to 60, 70 minutes and it was just ridiculous. Now things are much shorter. For a while I was wondering, am I doing something wrong? Why are suddenly my episodes shorter, but it was actually a good thing because I figured out how to get to the really important stuff and take all the garbage out. That’s the same with photography and writing too.

Lori:

That’s what I was going to say. I do a fair amount of food writing as well. You learn to take out the fluff and just have the meat in there.

Megan:

What is your biggest piece of advice for food bloggers listening today who are considering photographing a cookbook of their own?

Lori:

I would say, this goes for photographing your cookbook, coming up with the idea and your work in general for your business in the work that you do. Think about three words that would guide your work, no matter what direction you get sent in. This is something that I’ve done over the years and they are words that I come back to and whenever I start to go astray, whether it’s ideas or feeling frantic and feeling like I need to do everything else, I come back to these things. I know that I need to focus my work on these things that I’ve selected for my business.

Megan:

What are they?

Lori:

I’ll give you an example. Mine are freedom, a better system and inspire, pause. Freedom for the fact that I have chosen to wade myself through a career of entrepreneurship now, within the past 10 to 12 years. The ups and downs of that, but I have freedom and flexibility in my schedule. So I keep pushing forward on projects and work because I know it’s keeping me on this track and to the place. Creating a better system for me, I support those who are creating a better system for the foods that we eat and the products that we consume, artists and producers and growers. I try to make sure that my work is aligned and my personal and business choices are aligned with that. Then for me, inspire, pause, everything that I do from the photos that I take to the articles that I write to the books that I create, if they just cause people to stop in a hectic life and inspire them to pause and read and enjoy and smile, then I know I’ve done my work.

Megan:

I love those. How did you land on three? Because I think we can all relate to wanting to have a million words to describe things to propel us and inspire us and encourage us. How did you land on just three?

Lori:

Sure. It’s kind of a combination of things. So there’s a lot of focus on one thing. Then whenever I talk about photography style and helping people develop their photography style, I help them decide on five words. Well, three came from a blogger and writer, Chris Brogan, who I followed for years since we actually lived in Brazil, it’s, it’s been 10 to 12 years now. Every year he does, “my three words”. Those three words change every year about what you want your year to focus on. It’s a process that I followed. But when I started thinking about my business, I knew that I needed three words that stuck, that didn’t change anymore. So that’s how I decided one was too few for this particular thing. Five was too many, but three was pretty well perfect and encompassed pretty much everything that I was trying to put forward.

Megan:

That is so inspiring. I hope that inspires somebody because that has inspired me. Definitely just finding something solid that is steadfast, almost that you know isn’t going to waiver, it’s going to stick with you through all of your entrepreneurial days and you’re going to have it in the end too. So I love that. Thanks for sharing that. You have a course, Lori that helps people kind of go through the process of photographing for a cookbook. So talk to us a little bit about that.

Lori:

After consulting with some colleagues, who had these problems with images who I felt that were as equipped as I were, was to photograph a book and they were still having these problems. I decided to create my course cookbook Photo Academy. So a lot of the things that we’ve talked about today, we dig much, much deeper in. Just like the things that I’ve referred to, we create a base plan for how many images you need for a book and how to create your capture plan. So we go through the technical side of that and the technical side of the images that you need.

Then I’ve also enlisted the help of a lot of colleagues. There’s a wealth of information in the course from developing collaborative relationships. So you know how to work with your publisher when you have an issue or a problem to work through that.

I’ve included interviews with eight people right now, and I’m continuing to update that. It’s one of the updates that maintains with the course, is food bloggers, as well as publishers who have self-published and who have published with traditional publishers, food photographer, an associate art director at a publisher, a culinary agent, a literary agent. I’ve interviewed them for their best tips for what you should do and how to navigate the process of photographing your own cookbook while you’re writing it. It’s all part of the course. There are different levels of the course. There’s just the base course that has the modules in it. Then I have a bunch of great bonuses with it as well, including an audio training about how to find an agent that’s for me, how to get paid to get published, and then making the decision of whether or not you should self publish, or you should go with a traditional publisher.

So that’s a tier, then if you want bonuses. I also offer coaching as well for someone that might want to work one-on-one with me. The course is open now, but I also want to say that if you’re not quite ready to take a course and focus on that, then I do have a downloadable on my website, free downloadable, which is a combination of the best tidbits from all those people that I interviewed. It’s expert tips for photographing your own cookbook. That’s an audio download that you can find on my website loririce.com.

Megan:

Awesome. That sounds so valuable. It sounds like you’ve covered absolutely every base imaginable. So if somebody listening is wanting to get into this, that sounds like such a great course that’s going to help you get through that. So thanks for talking about that. And thank you for being here today, Lori. I know you’re busy and I just really appreciate, appreciate your time. So to food bloggers listening. So thank you so much.

Lori:

Oh, you’re welcome. I’m never too busy to talk about food and photography.

Megan:

Oh yes. It’s always a fun topic before you go, I always ask my guests to share either a favorite quote or words of inspiration for food bloggers. Do you have anything to share with us?

Lori:

I would say if we are going to talk about a quote, one of my favorite quotes has always been George Elliot. It’s never too late to be what you might have been, so never fail to shoot for recreating yourself. If you have a goal with food, if you haven’t started a food blog and you want to, if you want to become a cookbook author and photographer, it’s never too late to be what you might’ve been.

Megan:

Love that. Thank you for sharing that. We will put together a show notes page for you, Lori, and all of the resources that we talked about today, we’ll put on there. So if anyone wants to go peak at that, it’s at eatblogtalk.com/loririce. And Lori is spelled L O R I. Lori. Tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Lori:

Best place would be my website, loririce.com or on Instagram, super active on Instagram. Always happy to answer questions and that’s @lori_rice.

Megan:

Awesome. Go check out Lori, everyone. And thanks again for being here, Lori. Thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro:

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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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