When I’m not shooting for a client I’m here at my own home. That means my little house ends up looking a bit too much like a studio, but that’s the life of a regular food blogger.
In my southwestern windows there’s a square white child’s table and a homemade round table I built out of an old beat up coffee table and an outdoor side table. Both tables are set low so I can shoot above them without too much difficulty.
You’ll notice that there are several layers of tablecloths covering the round table. Storing them on top of each other keeps them from getting wrinkled, and I can quickly find what I’m looking for.
I also have several lighting set ups, but the one I prefer is a mix of natural light, soft boxes, and silver and gold reflectors. My other lights tend to stay stored away until I have a large shoot where I’m covering people and food, instead of just small place settings.
My camera is a Canon and I most often use a 50mm macro lens for food blogging. It gives me the flexibility to get close to my subject and move away from it without having to switch lenses. When there are hungry people waiting for dinner, it makes a difference!
Props are a big deal here. (Sorry about the mess, I really do need to clean them out.) When I’m shooting for a magazine oftentimes they’ll ask for a holiday or season specific shot months ahead, and without those types of props I wouldn’t be able to fill the order. This photograph is just a small section of my very messy prop area. Anyone want to help me organize? Please?
As far as food propping goes, I try to purchase as many items as possible that coordinate well together. Lots of solid colors with a few patterned pieces to draw the eye and make the look more interesting. That way the feel can be changed quickly but the items will still work together.
Most of my props come from discount stores like Ross, Wal-Mart when they clearance out their holiday items, and even the Dollar Store.
It’s also important that I take extra time for photographs to get my creative juices going. I try at all costs to shoot when I’m not stressed trying to feed the numerous people who come through my door. I’ve learned that sauces can be thinned out the next day with water, and many foods can be styled later without compromise to quality.
Since I’m a photographer by trade and not a food stylist, I have a couple of food styling heroes whose books have been vastly helpful to me. Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera by Delores Custer, and The Food Stylist's Handbook by Denise Vivaldo are my go to bibles.
Not all things Delores and Denise do apply to us as food bloggers, as we shoot real food that we actually eat, but I’ve learned little things from them that help a lot. Like trimming edges of hamburger buns to clean them up, and brushing foods with oil for a fresher look.
And that’s it. At least that I can remember right now. If you ever have questions please feel free to ask. I’m always happy to try to help.
Jam Sauce Crème Brûlée
This is a twist on the Blackberry Crème Brûlée with Brown Sugar Sauce recipe. Thick jam turns to flavorful sauce on the bottom of your custards. I used blackcap raspberry jam, but marmalade, strawberry or any favorite good quality jam would work well.
Special tools you’ll need are 4 six-ounce ramekins, a fine mesh sieve (strainer) and a torch of some kind. I use Jesse’s shop propane torch (more fire=more fun), but you can buy a little brûlée torch at most fancy kitchen stores.
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1 cup or so fresh or frozen blackberries
8 teaspoons dark brown sugar, divided
Sugar for brûlée
1. Place 4 six-ounce ramekins in a metal rimmed half bakers sheet. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and set a kettle of water to boil.
2. Place the heavy cream in a 3 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat stirring often until just the point of boiling. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl whisk together egg yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Whisking the entire time, slowly pour about 1 cup of the hot heavy cream into the egg mixture. Then pour the egg mixture into the heavy cream while whisking.
4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large clean bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon of your favorite jam onto the bottom of each ramekin. Slowly ladle cream mixture evenly into the ramekins, scraping all of it out of the bowl with a spatula.
5. Pull the oven rack out about half way and place the pan on it. Pour the hot water into the pan until it’s about half way up the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Custards should be mainly set around the edges, but the center will still be jiggly.
6. Carefully move the custards to a cooling rack. Once cool, move to the refrigerator and chill for at least four hours.
7. To Brûlée: Sprinkle custard tops with about a teaspoon of granulated sugar and torch with fire until deeply golden brown pulling back the torch as needed so the sugar doesn’t char.
Recipe and photographs by Laura Flowers.