Lifestyle Photography | How To Make Your Photos Come Alive

I am a visual artist. Not with a brush or chisel, but with a camera. I mostly capture food scenes, still lifes, and areas of my home. Basically anything that catches my eye and is inspiring to me. I am drawn to the small, quiet scenes at home because they happen in our everyday lives. There is something inspiring about that; a quiet cup of tea, a cozy moment at home, or baking a loaf of bread. Some of them are staged, and some of them I photograph just as they are.

I recently took a class on Skill Share by Marte Marie Forsberg entitled Lifestyle Photography: Capturing Food, Flavors, Conversation. For those of you who don’t know what Skill Share is, it is an online platform where people can teach classes, sometimes for a nominal fee, sometimes for free, and students can watch their videos and get practice with various projects. Besides the class being free, Marte was able to share her experience as a self-taught photographer. If you are at all interested in this topic, you can sign up for free on Skill Share!

Marte suggests coming up with a story behind your picture. Not that you tell that story to your viewers, but it is merely implied. This will make your photos come alive. I find it easier for me to think about what mood or feeling I want to convey. A simple way to achieve this is to use natural light (you should always use natural light). In general, I’m drawn to shadows and the contrast between light and dark; particularly in the winter months when the days are shorter and the light is softer. It just creates a moody scene that is more indicative of the winter months.

You can also use props; something that makes sense in the picture, enhances it, but doesn’t detract from the story. Adding a human element is always a bonus. Reach your hand in the frame and grab a fork or a cup. Your photo now looks lived in, someone is there. What about the food? Does your scene take place before the eating, midway, or after? My favorite is either midway or after; crumbs lying carelessly on the table or a napkin haphazardly thrown on the table, not neatly folded because  someone excused themselves too hurriedly. Someone has been there.

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Marte’s project to the class was Afternoon Tea. Capture what afternoon tea looks like to you in three pictures. Well, I’ve never been a big fan of tea. Not that I don’t like it, I just never got into it much. So I submitted what coffee time looks like to me. These series of pictures you can also find on my coffee and cranberry orange scones post, including a recipe. My coffee time is just like their tea time over in England – a moment to be savored, enjoyed, and slowed down. A soft light poured through the window as we enjoyed our wintery treat. It was just two friends enjoying one another’s company, gathering around scones and coffee – that’s what I wanted to capture, the essence of it all.

Sometimes an inspiring photo is right there in front of your lens already, other times you have to convince your audience a little bit more. Maybe the lighting needs adjusted or maybe you need some props and styling in there. Maybe you need to shoot at a different angle. If you don’t get that feeling you’re envisioning after you take the picture don’t worry, continue to troubleshoot until you’ve achieved the proper mood. It’s not easy and it takes practice, but it sure is fun to experiment with!

If you would like to get practice at this, I encourage you to sign up for Marte’s class! Of course you can do it on your own but you will get feedback from Marte and other classmates if you enroll in the class. So go out there and capture afternoon tea or coffee until January 11th and you have a chance to be featured on Marte’s Instagram feed, among other things! Above all, have fun with it and enjoy the scene you’re creating.

{A Recipe} Red Potato, Sausage, and Feta Bake

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This one is a hit guys! It’s another fall recipe from A Daily Something. I changed it slightly as I omitted the butternut squash and used red potatoes instead (mainly because Andrew doesn’t like butternut squash :/). So I intend to use butternut squash in it someday and if you do, tell me what you think! I can only guess it’s just as delicious as this!

This is probably one of the best combinations of flavors I’ve tasted in a while. Everything goes so nicely together. The italian sausage adds a sweetness to the dish and the feta cheese helps to balance that sweetness out. I was tempted to try a leaner meat in this but I’m glad I didn’t because the sausage added great flavor. The nice thing about this is one helping was enough for us. The flavors were so intense it left you satisfied, not begging for more.

This is definitely a savory fall dish you have to try! Our home was filled with the most pleasant aroma and we couldn’t wait to eat it! There is also versatility to this dish as you can toss it with scrambled eggs the next morning! I’m always happy when I make something Andrew really likes so this is staying on the “must make” list for sure!

– Recipe –

You will need:

– 1 lb. Italian sausage
– 2 large onions
– 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
– 1 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tsp. pepper
– 2 medium butternut squash or 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
– 2 cups (8 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
– 2 small sweet red peppers, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the sausage, onions and 1/4 tsp. pepper flakes over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and onions are tender, breaking up sausage into crumbles; drain.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, rosemary, salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and remaining pepper flakes. Add butternut squash, cheese, red peppers, and sausage mixture; toss to coat.

Transfer to an ungreased shallow roasting pan. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until squash is tender. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve & enjoy.

I hope you try this recipe! If you do, let me know what you think! I am certain you won’t be disappointed.

Photography Made Simple {Part 2}: Camera Angles

Besides using natural light to your advantage, using camera angles is another way to make your photos come alive and seem more appealing. Camera angles can highlight something you want to show, or hide a flaw. When I am shooting food, I try to get every angle possible and then see what picture(s) looks best. I’ll start directly overhead and work my way down. Usually if I am shooting in low light, the angle looks better than being directly overhead because the light skims the top and creates nice shadows. But again, it’s all about what you like and what looks the most visually appealing.

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The pictures above were taken directly overhead. The light doesn’t really skim the top but just sits on top. Any of these, however, can be shot at an angle to get a different perspective and sense of depth.

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The above shots are probably my favorite. In these, the light skims the top creating deep shadows. This creates depth where they might otherwise be flat. This is another free and easy way to improve the look of your photos.

Using both light and angles to your advantage are simple tricks that will take your photos to the next level. It doesn’t require fancy equipment, just old fashioned know-how and a good eye.

Adele