Afternoon Tea & The Art of Food Photography

One of the hardest (and most crucial) components of the Afternoon Tea cookbook was the photo shoot. We wanted the pies to be fresh, so that meant most of the food was baked the same day or a couple days before. During the shoot itself, we were creating sets, photographing the scene, baking, and simultaneously cleaning up as we went along (mostly so there was an open space on the counter for whatever came out of the oven next).

It was a very stressful, exhausting day.

But when you get a fun shot like this one, it’s worth it.

24KT Fudge Pie | Photo Courtesy of Afternoon Tea

What is this delicious thing you might ask? A 24KT Fudge Pie from our very own Afternoon Tea: Book of Pies Cookbook.

Prior to the photo shoot, all of us spend time compiling materials, which include: bakeware, napkins/tablecloths, serving dishes…basically anything that might be interesting for each recipe. On the day of the shoot, I take a look at what we’re photographing for the day and decide which materials (dishes, napkins, countertop, background, etc.) we want for that item.

During our first photo shoot, I think my sister and I really hit our stride halfway through. I set up the shot and played with the angles on my point-and-shoot. Once I get everything arranged the way I want, the photographer steps in with her lighting and camera equipment and takes care of the rest.

And as much as I wish it were, it’s not a simple *snap* and you’re done.

Our photographer (and my sister), Elizabeth, plays with the focus on the foreground vs. the background. Let’s take for example, our mini pies (featured in the shot are: the Chocolate Chip Walnut pie, Lemon Chess Pie and Coconut-Raspberry Pie):

Example: foreground focus | Photo Courtesy of Afternoon Tea
Example: background focus| Photo Courtesy of Afternoon Tea

It’s a subtle difference, but it’s a difference you want when you’re looking for the perfect shot for the book.

She also varies her angles slightly for each shot, and what an impact it makes!

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie | Photo Courtesy of Afternoon Tea
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie | Photo Courtesy of Afternoon Tea
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie | Photo Courtesy of Afternoon Tea

Because an ebook is fundamentally different than a printed book, those constraints also affect our shoot (for more information about how ebooks are created, take a look at How to Make an Ebook).

For example, portrait pictures tend to work best in both displays. Lisa still takes both portrait and landscape, but we learned to focus more of our attention on the former. And since ebooks have flowable text (meaning individual users can set their font family and font size), pictures might overlap to different pages, or you may see weird blocks of white space.

Sorry to say, but ebooks just aren’t as pretty as printed books. However, unlike their printed counterparts, ebooks can travel anywhere with you (even if you forget your kindle or reader at home) since they typically exist in the cloud. With everything in life, there are pros and cons. Some folks are early adopters and have no problem reading novels on their devices, others (like me) still prefer a printed, tactile text.

And don’t forget the vanity quotient— the level of importance one has for displaying a library of novels (or in my case, big beautiful cookbooks). Never dismiss the power of the vanity quotient. Digital Marketing plays off your vanity quotient more than they (or you!) would like to admit.

ada-palles-afternoon-teaInterested in more from Afternoon Tea, like beautiful cookies for Spring? Check out my aunt’s blog!