Blogging & Photography

This Blogging + Photography resource list was created to give bloggers (whether new or not) the tools to gain a real footing in the blogging community and build a successful little corner on the web.

Oftentimes, I’m asked “how did you get that picture to be so vivid and captivating”? Or, “where did you get that…?” You name it, I’ve been asked as a blogger who has built a community for the past 3-4 years, seriously. That is why I’ve decided to come up with a direct space on my blog where I can answer such questions and offer a few nuggets for any other blogger and/or photographer trying to figure it all out on this journey of starting a blog.

Disclaimer: We are a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. However, I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy.

Let's get Snapping

  • Best Beginner

    Canon - EOS Rebel T6i DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM Lens

    SUMMARY
    In the beginning, I contemplated on whether to get the Canon vs. a Nikon DSLR camera, since both are neck in neck in popularity with many bloggers and vloggers! After much research, I decided to go with this beauty and it's really good for a first DSLR camera.
  • Best Intermediate

    Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR Camera Body – Wi-Fi Enabled

    SUMMARY
    Now that I'm almost 3 years into this Food Blogging game, I've decided to upgrade my camera body to a more professional one. This Canon Mark II is AMAZING compared to my previous body. Granted, I plan on upgrading again soon, but this one is definitely worth it if you're considering the upgrade or starting off on a professional note.
  • Best Advanced

    Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

    SUMMARY
    Now that I'm 4-5 years into this Food Blogging game, I've decided to upgrade my camera body to a more professional one. This Canon Mark IV is AMAZING compared to my previous body, although I now use both when creating my recipe videos (for different angle purposes). Currently, my photos have been super vivid, clean, and absolutely gorgeous!
  • Best Advanced Extra

    CANON EOS R5 FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS CAMERA WITH 8K VIDEO

    SUMMARY
    Getting into the video world and taking it seriously requires another level of equipment. This Canon camera is not the suggested DSLR and while it has it's own Pros + Cons, the new technology on this one is the best for video in particular. It's one of my husband's faves!

Must Have Lenses

  • CANON EF 100MM F/2.8L IS USM MACRO LENS FOR CANON DIGITAL SLR CAMERAS

    Having a great camera like the Canon is just the first step. Getting a better lens in addition to your starter lens is the next AND super important step. A better lens offers much more clarity in your photos, better focus, etc.
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed

    OK! So, this lens has been a new favorite! Although it's expensive, the clarity and wide lens is super helpful in creating beautiful photos! I can attest that it's worth every penny. Coupled with the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro lens, you can't go wrong with Food photography!
  • CANON RF 8FMM F1.2 L USM LENS

    This year, I chose to upgrade my camera + lens yet again! While having one camera is just enough in most cases, when it comes to shooting videos and wanting to have several angles, there comes a time when having more than one high-quality cameras (along with various lens) becomes a thing! If you're looking to shoot super sharp photos/videos, this lens is perfect!

other important equipment

  • ZOMEI CAMERA TRIPOD

    Ok, so having a tripod for your DSLR camera is SO IMPORTANT! Regardless of the many features that your camera may have, ensuring complete ‘stillness’ can’t be done without this handy tool! In the beginning, I purchased a basic tripod on Amazon and while it was a great addition, I chose to change things up for 2018 and invest in an even better tripod to ensure that my overhead and areal photos are more crisp and professional.
  • MANFROTTO 410 3-WAY, GEARED PAN-AND-TILT HEAD

    So, I recently upgraded my equipment and this little beauty was one that I opted for. Although, the Zomei Tripod is a great option, many of my fellow bloggers swear by the Manfrotto tripod which comes separately as a “head” and “body” combo.
  • NEEWER PRO ADJUSTABLE REFLECTOR STAND

    In conjunction with my tripod, I’ve recently purchased this adjustable reflector stand, which comes in HANDY when making my recipe videos. Using this stand along with the Manfrotto head (mentioned above), has created the perfect combo for getting perfectly aligned overhead shots and recipe video content. Definitely one that I recommend! Lastly, I love the fact that it can be adjusted extremely high for the times you choose to use a zoom lens, if you have one.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO PORTRAIT STUDIO 600W DAY LIGHT UMBRELLA

    I’m not one who enjoys using a lot of artificial lights, since the best light is in fact natural sunlight! However, along my blogging journey, I’ve learned that there may be a day where you aren’t able to take your photos in natural light (perhaps due to the time of day, weather, etc.). Therefore, in those moments, this lighting kit becomes your BFF. The great thing is that it doesn’t aggressively priced (only $52.99) and it displays “day light”, which is the closest thing to having the real thing! I definitely recommend this!
  • Aputure Light Storm C300d Mark II LED Light Kit

    With having to do a cookbook in not so great weather these past few months, I finally took the leap on investing in artificial lighting! While sunlight is my biggest resource for a majority of my photos, this lighting has replicated natural light in such a way that I no longer have to double-check the weather as it relates to being able to shoot my food photos! I so recommend!
  • SANDISK 128GB EXTREME PRO SDXC SD CARD

    While you may be thinking about all the external parts of your camera, it’s super important to remember this little plastic piece. This right here is a LIFESAVER. Trust me, there’s nothing more annoying (or saddening) than to be taking a photo only to realize that there isn’t anything to store your photos on. Not only is this little SD card important for that reason, but this specific Extreme Pro version is super fast and I chose to purchase a large storage space to avoid buying another one any time soon. No worries–it also comes in 16 GBs, 32GBs, and 64GBs.
  • This piece goes with the above light kit! The 34.8" Light Dome II from Aputure is a 16-sided modifier that offers quality of light options and wide compatibility with Aputure lights, as well as those of the many other manufacturers that use popular Bowens front accessory mount.

Editing Software

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6

    Ok, so I'm not that great with Photoshop, but luckily my husband takes care of the photography, so he's good with this! As for its effectiveness---this program works wonders! It's priced at $149, but like many other Adobe programs, it's worth the investment.
  • Final Cut Pro

    When it comes to editing my recipe videos, my go-to software is Final Cut Pro---the latest edition. It's an awesome entry-level program, which can also be used on a professional level for those of you who are tech-savvy.

BOARDS + BACKGROUNDS

When it comes to photo backgrounds, I’ve had my share of them. However, I can definitely attest to Ink and Elm’s backdrops which are highly premium and are super easy to clean and store. Plus, they have so many options to choose from, so you’re able to build a nice variety for your photography needs.

For a little upgrade, you can purchase these Best Ever BackDrops which are super high quality and they are so flexible and sturdy. Granted, they are a little expensive for those of you who might be beginners, but so worth it.

Currently, however, I custom make my background boards with Erickson Surfaces, which are absolutely beautiful, sturdy, and easy to wipe clean! Definitely worth the investment in my opinion.

OTHER AFFORDABLE FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY BACKGROUNDS:

  • IKEA LINNMON TABLE TOP
  • ANTIQUE AND DISTRESSED SHEET PANS
  • CERAMIC AND PORCELAIN FLOOR TILES
  • CRAFT AND CONSTRUCTION PAPER
  • NATURAL PARCHMENT PAPER
  • THIN PLYWOOD
  • FOAM BOARDS
  • WOODEN CUTTING BOARDS
  • CLOTH LINENS

Awesome books to invest in

  • Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots (2nd Edition)

    When it comes to reading books, I'm VERY meticulous since there are so many books out there. However, after doing extensive research, I found this book to be an amazing option when it comes to breaking down the mechanics of photography in general as well as food photography (specifically). This book dishes up the basics on everything you need to know to make great food images, from getting the right camera equipment to mastering the key photographic principles of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. She offers tips on styling food using props, fabrics, and tabletops; and she explains how to improve your photos through editing after the shoot. A MUST!
  • Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera

    After doing extensive research, I found this book to be an amazing option when it comes to breaking down the mechanics of Food styling and the photography behind it. This book dishes up tips + tricks when it comes to ensuring that your food looks perfect at all times. Tons of pictures and a whole lot of information worth buying and knowing!
  • Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography + Styling

    This book is another thing to get on your list of must-haves! Another winner in sharing amazing tips + tricks to making your Food photos look great. It breaks down the importance of natural light, different camera modes and settings, how to fine-tune exposure, telling your story with light, and MORE!
  • Final Cut Pro Efficient Editing: Smart, quick, and effective video editing

    If you're into making videos or want to understand how to best use Final Cut Pro, besides YouTube videos, I suggest getting this book! Explore the best ways to use FCP, from importing and editing to finishing and exporting the final cut, unlock the power of editing in the magnetic timeline to make huge changes or subtle adjustments easily, and finish your project with pro-level color correction, effects, transitions, audio, titles, and captions.

HOSTING, WORDPRESS PLUGINS, THEMES, + WEBSITE TOOLS:

When it comes to getting started on your blog, there are a few backend tools that you’ll need to consider for a successful blog and site. While there are MANY options available, I’ve created a short list of ones that I recommend.

  • Web Hosting

    Website User Top Picks: Blue Host, Siteground, WP Engine, and my current host: BigScoots—their Customer Service and support teams are amazing and ready to help, always!

  • Wordpress Themes

    OUR FAVORITE: The Genesis Framework (With Genesis, you’re going to want to purchase the Framework ($59.95) along with a child theme(prices vary). This makes up your entire site’s theme and layout.) Simply visit Studio Press Themes for WordPress.

    Of course, I’ve chosen to build my website out from scratch, however, we still use the same framework.

    Others: Foodie Pro, Daily Dish, and Elegant Themes.

  • Website Tools

    Email Marketing: I previously used MailchimpIt’s great and super simple and customizable. Then, I switched my email marketing to ConvertKit, which most bloggers rave about. But now, I currently use Flodesk which has been a dream so far! I’m all about the design/aesthetics of things and this platform does a great job at highlighting that!

    Other tools that are useful: ManageWP, Codeable, Google Apps, Cloudflare, Google Analytics (Your BFF for life!), Canva, Yoast SEO, Ahrefs, and more!

  • Wordpress Plugins:

    Akismet (Spam Blocker).

    Yoast SEO (a great starter tool for anyone learning SEO and wants to ensure that their blog posts meet SEO standards).

    Broken Link Checker (I like it because it makes me aware of any inside or outside links that are broken on my site that need fixing).

    Pinterest Pin It button (super easy for readers to “Pin” your images with just one click).

    UpDraftPlus (for backing up your site).

    WP Super Cache (helps to keep things rolling speedily on your site).

    VaultPress (Great for Security + BackUps).

    WP Recipe Maker (Great organized recipe cards that are great for SEO also)

    Gravity Forms (Great option for your website forms).

    Imagify (Image optimizer that reduces your image size to minimize server resources).

    WP Rocket (allows you to speed up your site and enhance overall performance).

Ultimately, while creating and managing a blog takes a lot of work (especially when you’re doing it seriously and running it as a business), it’s still all about having fun, understanding your readers, and making killer content that represents who you are!

I’ve learned along my journey, that it DOES TAKE TIME AND PATIENCE to get this thing right! You’ll definitely have a few rocky moments and yes, it’ll take a few tries and re-tries. But overall, the road to blogging is one that will teach you A TON and you’re sure to walk away a few times saying, “Aha”!

My Advice

“Go into this journey knowing who YOU are and be authentic to YOU the entire way.”

Whether you choose to have a Food Blog or anything else that requires creativity, business savviness, or just plain dedication, just remember that it’s all a learning curve that happens only through experience. Always look at others in your niche for inspiration (BUT never compare yourself or aim to be like anyone else), educate yourself on ways to best market your blog/business to your audience, create a Vision Board so that you have a physical blueprint of your goals, remain CONSISTENT, but most importantly, remember who YOU ARE and remain authentic to YOU, always! Your community will appreciate you for who you are.

Be sure to stop by our Contact page if you have any questions or my About page to learn more about Orchids + Sweet Tea, why I started, and what to expect.

xx, Shanika