Friday, October 14, 2016

Vet Cook Book food-tography tips from Deepa Gopinath, and a free One Health course

The Vet Cook Book initiative has generated some interesting discussions and some even more interesting food related activities among members of our profession. There’s still plenty of time to contribute a recipe, a story, or both. We’re loving the photos that are being submitted!

For those who aren’t sure how to photograph their food, veterinarian, Cook Book co-editor and food blogger Deepa Gopinath has provided her top tips. Take it away Deepa!

Thinking of contributing to the Vet Cookbook? Wanna brush up a little on your food photography in the process? If we eat with our eyes, it follows that when we photograph food, we should make it look like something we want to gobble down immediately.  Food styling and photography is an art, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one. It is possible to improve your food pictures with just a few simple changes. 

Here are my top tips for better food photos:

Lighting is everything!

Natural light is the best and cheapest source of light in my opinion. This of course means that if you cook in the evening, you should guard the food with your life overnight so that you can photograph it during the day. Find a lovely large window and place your food in front of it and side-on, so that the light hits the food from the side. Not enough light? Try a large piece of white cardboard or white sheet directly opposite the window, which will help reflect some light onto the food. Sunlight too harsh? Try a piece of baking paper taped to the window, which should diffuse the light a bit.

Background Knowledge

Try and find a suitable background for your food. Old wooden tables work best and I particularly like dark wood.  I find that reddish and yellowish wood doesn’t work quite so well in photos.  Other options are a piece of hession/burlap (cheaply available in Bunnings!), a linen tablecloth or an upturned wooden carton.  If you are lucky enough to have a gorgeous granite or wooden kitchen bench by a window, then you are blessed and you should use it!


Smaller, neutral-coloured delicate dishes photograph well and allow the food to pop. Vintage plates, bowls and cutlery make great props and when it comes to cutlery and utensils, the duller the better.  If you really want to get into it, try browsing through op shops to find cheap crockery and cutlery to use as props. 

Styling for Success

Try playing with heights and textures make a food photo more interesting. Think about layers of plates or bowls on plates, stacks of bowls, etc.  Add texture by using different types of crockery, tea towels and linens. If you are feeling adventurous, try a light scattering of dry ingredients such as spices, seeds or nuts.

Tell a Story

Is this a snack you might have while you are studying? Or a cake for afternoon tea? Is the dish something that can be gifted, so a delicate curl of ribbon might look good alongside it?  Does your cat supervise you while you cook? Keep it subtle though, and don’t let the props overpower the food. Often a suggestion of a story says everything you need it to.

Also consider process shots, especially if there are special techniques such as rolling pastry or making caramel, where it may be important to show a certain technique or stage of cooking.

Whether you use your phone or a DSLR camera, making a few simple changes can really help make your kitchen creations shine.  Any questions are very welcome- please comment or email vetcookbook [AT]

You can visit Deepa’s delectable blog One Small Pot here.

Free One Health course

One Health is about looking at the health of humans, animals and the environment together. Western healthcare has traditionally taken a very compartmentalised view of health, which is now being challenged. If you want to learn more about One Health, consider undertaking this free online course with Future Learn which promises a good introduction to the key concepts. More info here.