Tag Archive for: behind the scenes

Crafting a Food Story (A Case Study)

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.

*This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.*

What is storytelling?

In food photography, a single image can tell a story that goes beyond the plate. A well-crafted food story forms the foundation of every captivating food photo, giving the viewer more than just a visual experience.

When we create a narrative, it can:

  • engage the senses,
  • trigger emotions, and
  • create a personal connection with the viewer.

That being said, not every single food photo will have a story to tell. Photos of foods, dishes, or produce on a simple background, usually used for graphic design purposes, don’t normally tell any story.

Most of the others will have some sort of narrative. Some more, some less. Depending on the style and purpose of the photo.

In this blog post, I want to show you the art of creating food stories in an easy and understandable way so that your photos become more engaging and relatable.

How does a food story enhance your photos?

At the heart of every excellent food photo lies a straightforward food story. But what exactly makes people pause and feel a connection?

A food story is a carefully crafted frame that speaks to the heart. It has the potential to transport viewers to a specific time and place, or evoking emotions.

Emotions are the bridge that connects your food photo with the viewer. A well-crafted food story not only showcases the dish but also infuses it with emotions that resonate with the viewer. Imagine the aroma of freshly baked bread, the warmth of a cozy kitchen, or the nostalgia of a family recipe. These emotions create a sense of intimacy that draws the viewer in and invites them to engage on a personal level. 

 What is more, the way you tell stories in your photos allows you to define your unique photographic style. The way you see your subject and frame is entirely subjective, giving your photo a unique point of view.

Crafting a story

Think about book authors. What do they do when they start writing a book? First, they create a plan, an outline of the story. And it is just the same with a food photo. It should be meaningful and well thought out. 

I like to write down on a piece of paper exactly what story I want to tell in my photos and what I need to do to achieve that. Having a vision before setting up your lights and props is super important. It will save you time and energy trying to figure out all the necessary elements you need and how to bring them all together.

In the case study below, you will get an insight into my thought process when creating a photo and how I create a narrative that speaks not only to me but also to my audience.

Now, let me take you through the steps I normally take to craft a food story in my work.

Case Study

Let’s dive into a practical example to understand better how a food story can be added to a photo.  To bring my story to life, I like to take the following steps:

1. Putting the story into words

For this example, I wanted to create a photo of a late summer breakfast.  I had some late summer produce and some croissants, and they reminded me of not only the late summer but also the Mediterranean. So, I gave the story a time and a place.

2. Determine the feelings and emotions

The idea behind the narrative sets the stage for a mood that’s slightly moody and dark yet still carries hints of the fading summer light. Determining the feelings and emotions gives us a clear indication of what type of light we need to use to match the story.

3. Finding colors that match the story

Colors are one of the most powerful elements of food photography. When trying to tell a story, it is also crucial to know what specific colors will be perceived and how to use them to our advantage.

Inspiration for colors can be various, but since this photo was closely related to a specific season, which is late summer, I tried to use colors that would match that story. Late summer is when the colors are just starting to become more muted, warmer even. 

So, for this scene, I did not want to pick specific color palette beforehand since those were determined mainly by the produce and foods I used. I did, however, want to make the colors more muted. And you will see, later in this article, how I achieved that.

When you don’t have a clear color palette in mind, you can use online tools like Asana Color Palette Generator or Adobe Color Wheel to help you find a combination that would match your food narrative. Learning about the meaning of color and different types of color palettes is something every artist needs to do.

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.
Checking how the colors will look like together with online tools

4. Choosing a backdrop

When choosing a backdrop that helps to tell your food story, you can think about:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Brightness
  • Style
  • And even shape

Looking into my story, I knew I wanted something that could easily be transported to an old villa in the Italian countryside. And that made me think of wood and stone. These were the two materials that reminded me of this place.

I wanted to create a homey, warm feel that would evoke emotions of a season slipping through our fingers.

This is why I chose two backdrops. One dark wooden backdrop, which would become the tabletop, and a cool grey stone backdrop by V-flat world , which would be the stone floor, like you can find in Italian countryside villas.

So, the contrast between the two backdrops also gives the sense of warm meeting cold. Just like the warm summer is slowly transforming into the cooler autumn.

I chose the two Duo Boards, not only because I loved their look but also because adding a backdrop on the floor requires a larger backdrop. When you photograph an element that is further away from the camera, it will take up less space in the frame. This is why a larger backdrop is perfect for situations like these. The Duo Boards are larger than most other backdrops I own, so they were perfect for the job.

5. Adding props that make sense

Like backdrops, all props you use in the frame need to be consistent with the story. If you place an element that clashes with the rest, it will take all the attention from the main subject. So you want to avoid that.

Think about the:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Shapes
  • Sizes
  • Styles of the props when setting up the scene.

6. Shape the light to add the mood 

One of the, if not the most essential part of effectively telling a story is lighting. To create a desired mood, we can use specific types of light and modifiers. This further enhances the emotional impact of the photo. Understanding the nuances of light and shadow is essential to communicate your intended story.

So, the next time you’re on the set, remember that your choice of light isn’t just an illumination—it’s a way to express a story.

In my case, I wanted to re-create a late summer light. For me, the late summer light is darker than mid-summer light and even slightly moody. The shadows are softer but not as soft as the autumn shadows.

And since my scene was set to take place in the morning, the shadows needed to be longer.

A food story is the secret sauce of any food photo. It engages the senses and evokes emotions in the viewer.

7. Styling the food

With food styling, we want to create an experience. The viewer needs to understand how the food tastes and feels in order to feel the emotions and get a full experience. Textures and colors are their visual cues.

In my late summer breakfast photo, I wanted to show different textures, such as the juicy, slightly chewy texture of figs, the crumbly texture of the croissants, and the added sweetness with the sugar dusting.

Playing with texture is the cherry on top of any storytelling.

8. Final touch – Editing 

Editing is the final stage of creating a story in the photo. Having the story written down, as I mentioned in the beginning, helps immensely.

In my photo, I wanted to create muted colors, so I used editing to tone them down. However, I left the figs relatively saturated so they stand out from the rest of the frame.

Making sure the contrast and shadows were edited in a way that is also slightly muted.

And not forgetting the textures. Enhancing the detail not only in the foods on the plate but also on the backdrop was vital to make it all look realistic.


The main objective of the food narrative is to evoke emotions and drive you close to the food to connect with it on a personal level.

So, the next time you pick up your camera to capture something delicious, remember that the story you weave around it will be the secret ingredient to a truly captivating photograph.

How I Shot This {Cocktail Photography}

Cocktail photography is a beautiful and exciting genre of photography that showcases the creativity and elegance of mixology. In this post, I will share how I shot a refreshing Summer cocktail.

Cocktail photography is a beautiful and exciting genre of photography that showcases the creativity and elegance of mixology. In this post, I will share how I shot a refreshing Summer cocktail.

*This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.*

Summer is here, and what better way to celebrate than with a refreshing summer cocktail? As a photographer and stylist, I love creating beautiful images that capture the feel of the season.

In this blog post, I’ll take you through my process of styling a summer cocktail photoshoot, from choosing the right style and props to editing the final image.

Let’s start!

Step 1: Deciding on a Style & Mood

Choosing the style and mood for a photoshoot is one of the most important steps. It sets the tone for the entire shoot and guides all the decisions you make. For this summer cocktail shoot, I wanted to create a relaxed and inviting Mediterranean vibe. I envisioned a scene that would transport viewers to a hot, sunny location right next to the sea.

To achieve this mood, I started by creating a mood board. I gathered a few images of Mediterranean architecture, greenery, textiles and food (I intentionally did not want to look at drinks!).

This allowed me to see how different elements worked together and helped refine my vision for the shoot. Once I had a clear style in mind, I could start working on the details.

Cocktail photography is a beautiful and exciting genre of photography that showcases the creativity and elegance of mixology. In this post, I will share how I shot a refreshing Summer cocktail.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Props

Props are essential to creating a compelling image. They help to convey the mood and style of the shoot and provide visual interest for the viewer.

I knew I needed something that would match my moodboard. So I brought in wooden and stone boards and beige textured textiles. I even found an old tree root hanging out in the garden. By choosing props that fit the style I wanted to recreate, I was able to create a cohesive image that tells a story.

Step 3: Choosing the Right Backdrop

The backdrop is an important element in any photoshoot, as it provides the foundation for the image.

For this summer cocktail shoot, I wanted to keep the focus on the cocktail and props, so I chose two cool neutral backdrops – Terrazzo and Iced Concrete from V-Flat.

I love these backdrops because I don’t have to worry about how to keep the standing backdrop stay in place. They come with handy Duo Legs that hold the vertical backdrop still, even if your scene is nowhere near a wall.

Plus, they can be easily cleaned and wiped down. I have not yet encountered any staining on these.

Since I was going for a fresh summer mood, I needed to create a clean and minimalistic feel using simple yet textured backdrops. This allowed the focus to remain on the cocktail and props while still providing something interesting to look at.

Step 4: Creating Summer Light

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography. I generally really love using hard light for my Summer cocktail photography. 

And since here I wanted to create a bright, sunny feel, too, I used a flash with only a small beauty dish and no diffuser to create deep shadows and contrast. I also used a white foam board on the other side to reflect light and fill in those shadows quite a bit.

And since summer is all about lush greenery, I used some tree branches with leaves and placed it in front of the light to get them to cast a shadow on my scene. This makes it feel like you’re outdoors.

Creating this specific lighting helped to create a natural, summery feel and added depth and dimension to the image.

Step 5: Taking Some Test Shot 

Taking test shots is an important part of any photoshoot. It allows you to see how the lighting, composition and even the props and backdrops are working together and make any adjustments before you start building your scene.

For this summer cocktail shoot, I took a few test shots to ensure that:

  • the lighting was creating the mood I wanted
  • the props work with the light and the feel
  • the composition is well-balanced and dynamic

Step 6: Finishing the Styling and Taking the Final Photo

Once I had the lighting and composition set up, it was time to finish styling the cocktail. This included adding the final touches to the props, adjusting the garnish, and making sure everything was in its right place.

The goal was to create an inviting and visually appealing image that captured the essence of a refreshing summer cocktail.

I took my time with this step, carefully adjusting and fine-tuning the details inside the glasses until everything was just right. I added ice to the glass, adjusted the angle of the garnish, and made sure the background was clean and unobstructed, before pouring in the sparkling water. The key was to pay attention to the small details that could make a big difference in the final image.

I actually took two final photos – one with less filled glasses and one going all-in! I like both of them, but I’ll let you decide which one you prefer.

*Note: These are the photos after editing. To see the difference between the raw photo and the edited one, keep reading.

Step 7: Editing – Making Sure the Editing Complements the Story

Editing is the final (AND CRUCIAL!) step in creating a great image. It allows you to refine the mood and style of the shot and ensure that it tells the story you want it to. For this summer cocktail shoot, I wanted to enhance the natural summer feel of the image but have it look refreshing, so I kept the edit relatively neutral and not overly warm. I used my Summer Sun preset and tweaked it a tiny bit to perfectly match the look I was going for.

Cocktail photography is a beautiful and exciting genre of photography that showcases the creativity and elegance of mixology. In this post, I will share how I shot a refreshing Summer cocktail.

What is more I made sure that the shadows are not too dark to distract from the drinks.

And I made sure that the white Terrazzo V-flat backdrop is not overexposed and shows its lovely texture.

Cocktail photography is a beautiful and exciting genre of photography that showcases the creativity and elegance of mixology. In this post, I will share how I shot a refreshing Summer cocktail.


Summer cocktail photography involves careful planning and attention to detail. By choosing the right style and props, creating the perfect lighting, and editing to enhance the mood, you can create an image that perfectly captures the true feel of the season.

How I styled this – Hot Cocoa

Take a look at how I styled a cup of hot cocoa. From how I created the composition to how I faked the cream!

Take a look at how I styled a cup of cocoa. From how I created the composition to how I faked the cream!

Welcome to this tutorial on I how I styled this photo of hot cocoa.

Even though the composition seems relatively simple, there were things to consider to make it appear light and bright. So keep on reading to find more.

Or, if you prefer to watch, you can watch the video below.


Starting Point and Inspiration

This was a photo from a recent photoshoot for the article How To Use Negative Space In Food Photography.

The idea was that I needed some negative space. However, I also wanted to include some visually interesting elements to fill out the space.

I wanted the photo to be flowy and dynamic without being overly full and crammed with props.

How I Styled This

I placed the tiled backdrop in the back at an angle to add some dynamics to the photo. (left photo below)

Then I started playing with how they are positioned in relation to each other. (right photo below)

I preferred the focus to be on the mug, and that’s why I ended up placing the vase more to the side. I just didn’t want it to overshadow this beautiful mug, which would eventually hold cocoa.

By changing the placement of the camera bit I was able to get more space at the top. This is a technique I love to use for brighter, whiter photos to give them that extra breathing space.

Then I started placing different elements around, starting with a little bit of color, which kind of gave me a clue of what the colors were gonna be like. To get that really nice cold and warm contrast, I went with the orange in contrast with the blueish whites. I love blues with brown foods because they bring the warmth out of the browns.

While the orange color from the dried oranges adds that extra color punch, a color emphasis.

The placement of the chocolate bar on the right balances out the darker bottom of the vase on the left.

Then I started playing with a spoon to make it appear more lived in, so I went with a golden one for an extra pop of color.

I tested different placements and ended up placing it on the other side so it caught just the right light. You can see how much more colorful it is when the light catches it. With the way I positioned it, I was able to get a similar hue to the oranges. I placed the spoon diagonally to add some dynamics to the frame.

Then I filled the vase to make the scene more realistic. I used the same colors, the brownish-orange, so it doesn’t distract and is just a nice complement, and added texture to the photo. (left photo below)

And then I decided the angle was too low, not giving enough space to showcase the cocoa (right photo below). If we compare the two angles (left and right photos below), you can see how we can see more of the inside of the mug, which you’ll see later works better.

Then I made the bottom dried orange more visible to really emphasize the orange color.

And you can see in the back how I also then moved the chocolate further out (change from the photo bottom left to bottom right). It’s a very dark element, so hiding it a bit makes the entire frame more balanced.

And I added some crystal sugar or candy sugar (photo bottom right), which not only adds to the texture but also gives a cozy wintery vibe.

I also added some crystal sugar in the back to balance things out. And played around with the positioning a bit so they are not too distracting (photos bottom left & right).

And then I added the cream. For this photo, I tested a styling trick, which I explained at the end of this article, so keep on reading!

As a finishing point, I wanted to add a little bit of texture on top, so I made some chocolate shavings. And sprinkled them over, and I also added a bit in the bottom corner.

And then the final touch, the dried orange slice in the cream. It’s that last interesting detail in a drink.

After the finishing touch – photo stacking. This is a technique we’ll discuss another time; I was able to get the entire drink pretty much in focus, with the background nicely blurred for a soft effect. So this is the final photo:

Take a look at how I styled a cup of cocoa. From how I created the composition to how I faked the cream!

Styling trick – Using Shaving Cream

Instead of using whipping cream, I used shaving cream.

The reason I liked working with it is that it holds for much longer, and it is easier to shape and create nice swirls. If you want to take a look at exactly how I worked with it, check the video at the top of this article at 5:55.

Just be sure not to drink the cocoa afterward!

Hope you enjoyed this mini-tutorial about how I styled this lovely (but unedible) cup of cocoa.

How To Mix And Match Photography Backdrops

Curious about photography backdrops and how to mix them in your food photography work? There are a number of ways you can mix and match backdrops and I hope my ideas will give you a creative boost for your work!

Curious about photography backdrops and how to mix them in your food photography work? There are a number of ways you can mix and match backdrops and I hope my ideas will give you a creative boost for your work!

*This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.*

Let’s face it, once you start building your backdrop collection you start facing the issue of how to pair them. The options are literally endless however not everything works in every situation.

So I gathered a list of ideas and tips to spark your creative fire, try new combinations, and be comfortable doing so.

While doing so I tested my new food photography backdrops from V-flat. It’s the first time I tried backdrops with a stand or as they call it Duo legs. I was always used to either leaning the backdrop on the wall or clipping it to a stand. However, I found the legs to be very useful, especially since I’m often playing around with my artificial light and I can very easily put the light behind the backdrop if need be. Which is something I wouldn’t be able to do if I lean the backdrop to a wall.

So before we go to the tips and creative ideas, I just wanted to mention that all the photos in this post are made with the V-flat duo boards, and you can see how easy it is to set them up and mix and match them. Not to mention that they don’t curl like vinyl. I love and appreciate my vinyl backdrops, but these boards saved me time in editing (no curly edges in the photos, no-no). 

Without further ado…

Here are my creative ideas and tips in a nutshell:

1. Mixing and matching different colors

2. Mixing and matching smooth and rough textures

3. Mixing and matching patterns vs. no patterns

4. Mixing photography backdrops to create space

5. Mixing photography backdrops to create dynamics

6. Play of light & mixing photography backdrops

7. Mixing and matching backdrops to fit the story

1. Mixing and matching different colors

This is probably the most common technique and while it’s easy to mix two backdrops with similar colors, choosing two different colors can create a lovely feel and mood in your photo.

To really know which two {or more} colors to choose, we need to understand color theory. Since this is such a broad topic, we won’t go too deep. I suggest reading some art books or simply searching for them online and you should get a basic idea.

But whatever you do, always keep the food the star!

2. Mixing and matching smooth and rough textures

By smooth I mean a texture without a lot of visible bumps whereas by rough I mean a texture that has a very pronounced bump effect or pattern.

You can absolutely mix those two together, however, you need to be careful about a couple of things:

  • carefully choose the colors based on what we discussed in the previous section
  • it’s better to choose food with the opposite texture. Meaning, that if your subject is a very textured salad it might not work on a highly textured backdrop. In this case, you need to place the salad in a way where it has minimal interaction with the textured and more interaction with the smooth backdrop.

3. Mixing and matching patterns vs. no patterns

This is very similar to the previous creative idea, however in this case the texture is much more pronounced and looks more geometric hence – the pattern.

You need to watch the same things as above {so go ahead and read it if you haven’t yet}.

In comparison to simple but textured backdrops patterns are so much heavier in visual weight. This means that pairing them with highly textured foods is usually not a good idea. Choosing simpler and more uniform subjects is a better way to approach patterned backdrops.

Pairing them with a smoother photography backdrop makes it easier for the eye to process everything happening in the photo, so I encourage you to try it out and see the effect.

4. Mixing photography backdrops to create space

You can think of your backdrops as a vessel to create space. If it’s a flat lay it’s creating a feeling of a table or any other flat surface.

If you combine the two, you can give a sense of a familiar space. We are used to seeing floor and wall interact all around or a countertop and a wall interact in a kitchen.

But you can go even beyond that. Combining more than two photography backdrops is certainly possible. If you take a look at the example photo below, you’ll see how adding that extra backdrop on the left created a mystical feel {almost like whatever is behind is a secret}!

Before you choose a backdrop for your next photoshoot thinks about the space you want to create and what backdrops you can use and how many to make the viewer feel like they are in that space.

5. Mixing photography backdrops to create dynamics

Let’s talk more about the space we are creating with backdrops. Placing backdrops at certain angles can create beautiful diagonals and adds another dimension to a photo.

It’s very easy to get stuck in placing one backdrop behind another and set up that line between them to be perfectly horizontal. It’s just very logical. However, once you start to think about the backdrops as not only how they look, but how they can add to the flow in the composition, you’ll start to see that it can have a massive effect on how your photos look.

Think creating diagonals, triangles, placing one backdrop on top of another… the options are endless!

6. Play of light & mixing photography backdrops

Playing with light is one of the most exciting things about food photography if you ask me. I often like to play with hard light and shadows to create an interesting effect in my photos.

However, there is something crucial that can make or break a photo with a shadow play, when you are mixing different backdrops at the same time. Adding strong shadows to an already busy backdrop can become distracting very easily. That’s why I prefer having a strong shadow effect on the less busy backdrop. Just like you can see in the photo below.

7. Mixing and matching backdrops to fit the story

It goes without saying (although I’m saying it right now) that anything you put inside the scene needs to match the story you are telling. 

Including photography backdrops! Imagine those white tiles in the photo below to be black. 

Do you see how that would not fit the story of early morning breakfast? The photo would lose its freshness. 

And imagine if I used a green backdrop below and a purple one in the back. While the color combination might somehow work, the story would be completely crushed.

Never stop exploring photography backdrops and their combinations

Hope you enjoyed these tips and ideas for combining different backdrops. Now let’s roll up the sleeves and go practice, because practice makes perfect, as they say.

One thing you should never stop is trusting your own feeling and explore new options.

Let me know in the comments what are some of your favorite photography backdrop combinations!