I have been reading Plate to Pixel, and have really enjoyed it. I delayed buying it for so long, thinking “I know the basics already. I know what an f-stop is, I know about the rule of thirds, I know natural light is best. How good could it possibly be?”
Well, really good. Helene Dujardin has put together just an awesome book. (Yes, I know I’m late to the game in saying that…I’m probably the last food blogger to read it) True, I wish some of her photos showed the setup involved and included more details on how she got the shot, but it is extremely helpful on a technical level and downright inspiring to a budding writer. You see, she relates most techniques back to what is, to her, the most important aspect of photography: the story. Her constant reminders to consider the various artistic choices you can make with a photo in terms of how it can help convey the story you are wanting to tell were so compelling because that is exactly what interests me about food. (well, besides the fact that it generally tastes good, too…) Having written my thesis on cookbooks as autobiography, I find the story that food conveys intriguing. Food speaks. Photos can (obviously) speak too, and when you put food and photography (plus the written word in the case of a blog or cookbook) together, you have a very dynamic story that can speak to your audience on different levels.
I really loved how Helene discussed lighting and perspective in terms of story. To me, those things have been more technical and logistical, but I really enjoyed changing my own perspective and thinking about them as creative choices that contribute to the story. It was very motivating, and it helped me as I considered what I want my blog to be. When I first set up this new blog, I felt strongly about maintaining its integrity. There are so many recipe blogs out there. Lots are good and lots are just okay. But with the gluttony of recipe blogs, I felt like that wasn’t what I needed to write. Especially since I don’t develop my own recipes very often. No. Rather, I wanted to get back to what I had enjoyed studying and writing about with my thesis, which was autobiographical/memoiristic writing. Those food blogs that tell a story are the most compelling to me, which I realized after thinking about (okay, daydreaming) what kind of book deal I would want to get if I ever generated enough interest in my blog to warrant one (a long shot, I know…). I discovered that I didn’t want to write a cookbook. I wanted to write a food memoir. A book like Luisa Weiss’s My Berlin Kitchen or Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life. I like those books, books that weave a story that seem to center around food.
Of course, my life is far too dull to ever warrant such a book, but I like to think that my writing skills could eventually lead there.
So, reading Helene Dujardin’s book really resonated with what I want to accomplish. It’s getting me more excited and motivated to write the blog that I want to write; a blog that is contemplative and story-driven. And it’s getting me really excited to try new techniques with my photography!