Updated: Mar 13, 2020
We take a deep dive into my set up, props, lighting and equipment as I shoot!
Hello!!! Welcome to my first blog post!
If you follow my Instagram, you may have already had a peek at what a shoot looks like for me, but I wanted to put it all into one easily accessible place with all of my tips!
I'll leave the planning and post production for another post and just focus on what I do on shoot day in this post, including tips for how I stay organized throughout the day, how I work with pesky lighting, and some essential gear I can't shoot without.
Let's start with what we're shooting today. I made a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting from Katie Bird Bakes. Her recipe is for a single layer cake, but I just followed it twice and made double the frosting to create a layered cake!
Before we get to the pretty pictures, let talk about setting up the scene!
I like to use monochromatic props to make sure that the focus is on the food, white props are my current fav, but I sometimes move to other neutrals. I like to set up my entire scene before adding the food into the shoot, just to stay on track.
I shot a quick time lapse showing how I set up props for this shoot:
This is the shot I ended up with:
I started with my linen, to help shape the cake stand
The "cake stand" if you caught it, is actually an overturned bowl, with a large plate on top of it!
I then added the remaining props to one side of the frame - that's a personal preference of mine because I like a little cluster of them
I had some white mugs, a jar of milk, an egg crate, a stack of plates, some forks, and a small white pouring jar
I like to include props of different heights because each one of them will stand out depending on the angle I shoot from, and I can move them slightly as I shoot
Alrighty, let's keep going! It's time to add the star of our show into the scene.
So this bad boy was actually sitting in the freezer while I set up the rest of my scene. This just helps to keep the cake in shape while I shoot, and when I eventually cut into it. I brought out the cake, transferred it onto my "cake stand", added some frosting where I saw gaps, and went in with my garnishes.
This being a carrot cake, I obviously had to garnish with some carrot! I didn't want to just grate more carrot onto the cake, so I tried to create little swirls of carrot that I had peeled earlier
I also have walnuts in the cake, so placing them on top of the cake seemed fitting
Again, I only place my garnish to one side of the cake, similar to my props - personal preference!
Lastly, I just wipe down the cake stand where I see any extra frosting before I start shooting!
Okay, time to start photographing our little guy!
So, lets talk about a few things going on in this clip as I shoot:
My set is almost always right next to my light source. I have a small space to work with so I need to make the most of the light that I do get!
I use a giant reflector to bring back as much light into my scene as possible. I got mine on amazon, they are reasonably priced, but you can also use large foam core boards like I'm using to reflect some light in front of the subject
As you can see, theres quite a bit of sun coming through the window, which isn't ideal for the type of shots I like to get. To combat that, I lower my blinds just enough to block the sun out of my scene, as well as move the table as far back away from the direct sunlight
I almost ALWAYS use a tripod and remote shutter! This is such a game changer for me!! Using a tripod means I'll always have a crisp shot, no matter what settings I decide to use
The remote shutter just takes my previous point a step further, it keeps the camera perfectly still when I'm shooting instead of the ever so slight shake that comes with hitting the shutter on the camera
I also like using the remote because it lets me hold other things as I shoot; like the reflector. It also means I can do pours and drizzles on my own!
And the shot I got:
Switching up my props mid shoot also needs to be as easy as possible for me, so I try not to replace too many things when trying to change up my scene. I'll usually replace one big thing, and then move around some smaller props within the scene to create a new set.
Changing up the "cake stand" to the actual pan that I had baked the cake in creates an effortless look:
I added a piece of parchment paper between the pan and my cake to give a little more texture to the scene, and moved some of the smaller props to the other side of my frame to create some balance.
Lastly, getting a slice shot was one of the main reasons I even chose to shoot a layered cake this week! This is also why my cake had to sit in the freezer before shooting. It keeps the frosting in place and makes sure that the layers aren't sliding around as I go in to cut the slice I need.
Cutting the slice was a little tricky but you just have to be a little patient:
Use a large bread knife to cut your slice out, cut right down to the bottom and try not to drag the knife too much
You can use a cake serving spoon to lift your slice, I used my offset spatula because it was just sitting there anyway, and you cant really tell
Slowly jimmy the slice out of the cake as it might be a little cold and stuck
This is where your remote shutter is so handy, because all you have to do is point and click as you hold your own slice
That just about wraps our shoot! We all know clean up is another process on its own, and I'm still working out the most efficient way to tear down and clean up after I shoot because my kitchen is a disaster after every shoot.
Let me know if you'd like to see more behind the scenes!