by Holly on March 3, 2013

in breakfast,dessert,gluten-free,photography,recipes


Let’s start this post off by making one thing very clear: I am at best an amateur photographer.

However, one of the things I get asked most often about is photography and how I manage to make my images look good (minus recipes that will never photograph well no matter how delicious they taste). I have always loved taking photos ever since I was a wee curly-haired one begging my mother to buy me a disposable camera on every trip to Target, and I find myself doing more and more of it now. Two weekends ago, I even did my first set of engagement photos! That was cool.

But I always want to be better.

I admire great food photographers, and one of them just happens to be my friend Dana. She’s funny and talented and gorgeous and really, just one of those people you would hate if she wasn’t so darn nice. Dana and her husband John just released an Food Photography E-Course, and because she’s so nice (see above), she let me give it a whirl to review for you all.

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Let me tell you, if you want to improve your food photography, this course IS IT.

Broken up into 15 sections (and ending with a FREE e-book!) with 14 troubleshooting guides and 22 video tutorials, Dana and John take you step by step through the food photography process. From types of cameras to lighting to composition to editing photos to advanced tutorials, this Food Photography E-Course covers it all. Plus some humor, much appreciated by me.

Here are a couple of helpful things I learned: first, your setup is EVERYTHING.


This is my food photography setup in my tiny studio apartment. Dana has solidified my long belief that you don’t need a fancy schmancy kitchen or tools or kitchy accessories to create beautiful, eye-catching and hunger-initiating photos. Have you heard of Deb from Smitten Kitchen? Of course you have. Anyways…she shoots all her gorgeous photos from her tiny NYC apartment.

The most important thing I’ve learned in all my photography is this: NATURAL LIGHT.


You will not shoot good photos without mother nature’s blessed gift of natural light. Early morning light (around the 10am hour) or late afternoon light (around the 3pm hour) tend to work best, as they are less harsh and offer that beautiful golden glow.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to shoot photos at these times (myself included), which is why this e-course  also includes tutorials on photo editing. It may sound complicated and time consuming, but it can make a real difference in your photos when you’ve been working all day and are trying to photograph your delicious bowl of chili with cornbread late at night.

Playing around with your photos can also result in unexpected results! Look at the difference between the muffins + almond milk on the left compared to the right. Sprinkling trail mix (dried cherries, sunflower seeds + chocolate chips) around the muffins gives this photo an extra pop that takes it from pleasing to gimmethosemuffinsrightnowsoIcandevourthemall.


Play with your angles!

Get low, get high, go overhead, go underneath, go side-to-side and do the cupid shuffle. It gives great variety to your images and will keep your audience captivated by offering multiple viewpoints of your recipe. This is one thing I am working on being better at. I happen to love overhead shots of food, so I take a lot of them. My food angle repertoire definitely needed some shaking up.


The best part of the e-course is that it encourages you to practice. Practice with your camera. Practice shooting in manual mode. Practice in different lighting environments. Practice your food photography setup. Practice editing photos. Practice your type + image skills to enhance your photographs. Dang it…just practice! Just like your mama told you, it’s the only way to get better.

The Food Photography E-Course is $99 now only $19.99 – trust me, it is money well spent. Dana and John put a lot of work into this and it shows. If you are looking for some help in the food photography department, save yourself the mediocre advice from me and take this course.

You won’t regret it…unlike me and my decision to take disposable camera selfies as a child. Be careful what you wish for. Those photos still haunt me to this day.


Gluten-Free Trail Mix Muffins
adapted from here and here
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 mashed banana
1 (6-oz) container Chobani Greek yogurt*
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

*I used Chobani’s banana flavor in this recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line your cupcake pan with liners or grease well with cooking spray or butter.

In a small bowl, sift together almond flour, oats, cinnamon, powder and sea salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and brown sugar together. Add banana, Greek yogurt, vinegar and extract. Mix until just combined. Add about 1 cup of dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Fold together. Repeat until dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the wet ingredients. Batter will be on the thicker side. Fold in chocolate chips, cherries and sunflower seeds.

Fill each muffin tin slot about 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for about 15 minutes or until muffin edges are golden brown + inserted toothpick (or fork, in my case) comes out clean.

Makes 10 to 12 muffins

[I received the Food Photography E-Course free to review. All opinions are my own.]


Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas March 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I’m on maternity leave, and I think that’s the perfect time to take an e-course! Thanks for sharing. Imma go check it out!

(Un)intentional Happenings March 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm

The picture are great, but is just doing the cupid shuffle while eating a muffin good enough? This girl isn’t ready for real pictures, thank you iphone.

BroccoliHut March 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Great tutorial! I’m always looking for ways to improve my food pictures.

Sarah B. March 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Thank you for the tip! Every week or so, I am tasked with taking photos for work and have little-to-no experience in photography — a swanky DSLR camera can only take you so far! I’ve learned a thing or two from simple trial-and-error, but really need to take more time getting comfortable with using various features the camera offers.

Evan March 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I love seeing your setup, Holly, because it reminds me so much of mine. It’s ridiculous when you zoom in how it can look completely different.

Claire @ Health Nut Claire March 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

Awesome awesome post! Thank you for some great tips and a delicious muffin recipe, haha. As soon as I conjure up some moola ($) I might just have to invest in Dana and John’s Photography E-Course!

Megan (Braise The Roof) March 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Well, personally I have always loved your photos, but I agree that we all have room for improvement and a new perspective! Looks like a great e-course!

Addy @ Six-Kick Switch March 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Well, I think you know what I’m gonna say. Love it, love it, love it. I really want to try out these tricks for photography! I need to do some sprucing in that department…

Jessica March 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I miss seein ya pop up on my good ol’ google reader as often, but I’m sure you’re off living life to the fullest, pursuing your dreams and spending time with the people who mean the most to ya. These are all obviously good things!

Natural light seriously is such a deal breaker, but you’ve always been good at that! Hello oatmeal photo shoots.

Tamar March 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

This is perfect timing! I’m trying an elimination diet to figure out digestive issues, so I’m cutting out gluten for a bit. Of course, I’m trying to cut out sugar too so I might leave it out and let the mix-ins speak for themselves? Either way, these look great (because of the brilliant photography) and sound great (because of the wholesome ingredients). Do you make the almond flour or just buy it? I’ve balked at the price and thought about making it but am afraid it will turn too easily into almond butter. (Which I guess would not be the worst thing in the world.)

Thanks for the recipe and I hope you’re enjoying your adventures! (Even though I imagine we all miss hearing about them :))

WendyS March 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm

It was amazing what just a change in angle made to the photographs – and I love natural lighting too!

HulieeHoops March 9, 2013 at 6:55 am

I just recently got into vegan/vegetarian/glutenfree everything when I moved to Madrid, Spain. Since my boyfriend is vegetarian and I might be celiac I’m digging your recipes and your site! Thanks for sharing and cant wait to try these out!

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