In this episode of The Savory Shot, host Mica dives into developing your unique style and voice in food photography. Are you ready to up your photography game and make yourself stand out in such a competitive industry? Tune in to hear five real, practical, simple, and doable ideas for finding your style and Food Photographers who are absolutely killing it!
Savory Shot - Episode 19 - Make Your Food Photography Uniquely Yours
Mica: [00:00:00] Welcome to the 19th episode of The Savory Shot. Y'all know me. It's your girl, Mica. I hope y'all had a bangin February. Did you have a boo thing for Valentine's Day? If you didn't, don't worry about it. You could be like Jason Derulo riding solo with your bad self. Man, it's crazy to think we're already in the third month of the year.
Mica: I'm shooketh, y'all. Absolutely shooketh. Whew! I wanna start this par-tay by saying thank you for being here. You could have been anywhere doing anything. But y'all, you're here with me and that means the world to me. I know time is money and I'm not in the business of wasting your time or mine.
Mica: I'm [00:01:00] spicy this episode already, oof.
Mica: A couple of weeks ago I asked y'all what's the toughest thing about being a food photographer? And guess what? 75% of y'all said it's hard to make your photography stand out and look different from everyone else's. Y'all, I feel it. I feel your pain. I feel your struggle. Y'all lit up my DM's like a Christmas tree after that poll. I tell you what, the conversations we had. Woo woo, the struggle and I feel it. Back when I was starting out in photography, I lost count of how many times I heard other photographers say, "You gotta find your style, man. Trends come and go, but style is timeless." And honestly, I had no clue what the hell they were talking about.
Mica: Find your style? I could barely find my shoes. Much less my style. The hell. Y'all [00:02:00] know that this industry can be cutthroat. I mean, it's competitive as fuck. There are a ton of super skilled photographers out there, and it's really tough to make your stuff stand out in the crowd. So that's what I wanna talk about in today's show, how to develop your unique style and voice in food photography.
Mica: But. Before we get into that, let's start the show.
Mica: Confession. I spent my early photography days copying what other food photographers were doing. In other words, I didn't have a style. I was just a regular shmegular photographer with here and there kind of decent shots, but I didn't have a style. At all. I would browse through the works of my favorite food photographers.
Mica: Pick up on their techniques and replicate them in my own work. Y'all, I was a copy cat. I thought that if I could emulate their style, my photos would be just as beautiful and captivating as theirs. And guess what? They weren't. They sucked. My photos sucked. But as time went on, I realized that the copy paste method was not going to cut it. If I was gonna make it as a freelance photographer, I needed to find my own unique voice [00:04:00] and perspective as a food photographer.
Mica: I needed to figure out what made me, me.
Mica: What set me apart from other photographers? And what made my work unique and recognizable?
Mica: Have you ever looked at another photographer's work and without any context, any words, any titles, you know, automatically, who that person is? That is style. And y'all. The truth is finding out your style. What makes you unique.
Mica: There's no one size fits all answer to that question. Finding your style, y'all. It's a jour-ney, a journey. It's a journey that involves self-discovery, experimentation, a lot of motherfucking failures and creative exploration. It's about finding what resonates with [00:05:00] you and what you enjoy the most, and then developing that further.
Mica: I'm gonna take y'all down memory lane and tell you a little story. A couple of years ago, I was in a retouching class and I was working on a project that I was really proud of. The professors walking around to everyone's computers, giving them feedback, asking them questions about what they're working on, and finally he reaches my computer. And he took a look, and he was quiet. You know, when someone's like hovering over your computer, like behind you, like the teachers, and it just makes you nervous, and you're like, "Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. He hates it. He hates it." And finally, y'all, I couldn't take the silence. I, I just had to ask him, "Uh, so what do you think?"
Mica: And he took a long [00:06:00] pause before finally saying, "It's a little punchy." And I thought, "Punchy?! Punchy. What the hell does that mean? Punchy." So I asked him, "Is that a good thing or a bad?" He says "Neither. It's just punchy." The fuck? What kinda bullshit answer is that? "Neither. It's just punchy." Y'all.
Mica: I sometimes am a black and white person. Good. Bad. You cannot tell me "neither".
Mica: So I took a second and closer look at my screen and you know what? He was right. My photos did have a certain punchy quality to them. The colors were bold, saturated to hell, had a strong contrast. But you know what else? I liked it. [00:07:00] I thought it looked bomb as hell. And I said as much to him. I said, "You know what? It is punchy and I like it.
Mica: I like punchy." And he goes, "All right, well, as long as you like it. That's what matters." And then he walked away and he went to the next computer screen. So I kept on keeping on and I decided, you know what? I'm gonna embrace this punchy style. Looking back, that moment in class was a real wake up call for me, cuz that's when I finally stopped trying to keep up with everybody else and started focusing on my own thing.
Mica: You feel me? I realized I was too busy comparing myself to others and trying to fit in that I missed out on opportunities to create art that truly excited me. So from that moment on, I started focusing my portfolio shoots on experimenting with the things that really got me going. You know, that moment changed everything for me.
Mica: Y'all, I learned to be true to myself. [00:08:00] Trust my instincts. Take risks in my art and go all in. I know. I know, I know. Take risks. That is the most basic bitch ass answer that you can give to anybody. Take risks. Take risks. We've all heard that, but it's true. There comes a time when you just have to go all in.
Mica: And that's what I did. And doing that took me down this wild and creative rabbit hole. And y'all, I haven't looked back. Ever. So what does it even mean to be authentic in your work? Well, here's my 2 cents. All right, it's gonna be like 10, because y'all know I don't do 2 cents. I do 10 cents. I think to be authentic in your work means being unapologetically you.
Mica: It means not give it [00:09:00] a damn about what anybody else thinks and creating your art in a way that's true to yourself and your vision. You dig? If you're into weird shit, photograph weird shit. There's always gonna be someone out there who will dig what you're doing. Now, what does it take to be authentic in your work?
Mica: It takes courage. It takes passion, it takes hard work and dedication. And let me tell y'all, it takes a whole lot of gumption to put yourself out there, even if it means being vulnerable or catching some flack.
Mica: Y'all, if you're willing to do all those things, if you're willing to truly be authentic in your work, then there is nothing, nothing that can stop you.
Mica: All right y'all. I'm not here to coddle you or sugarcoat the truth. When it comes to authenticity and originality, it's not enough to just talk the talk. You gotta walk the walk. You can't just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike or some magical muse to appear. You gotta put in the work. You gotta be willing to pick up your camera even when it's not fun or glamorous.
Mica: You gotta be willing to put yourself out there and here, here goes again y'all to take risks. Be vulnerable. Fail and fail again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again and again, and
Mica: Learn from your mistakes, and then you gotta be willing to do it all over again. Y'all being an artist [00:11:00] ain't for the timid and you're not timid. Mm-hmm. No, you're not. And I know what you're thinking, " But Mica, how, how boo? How do we do this?" Don't roll your eyes yet, y'all, especially at the take risks comment.
Mica: Here are five real, practical, simple, and doable ideas for finding your style. One. Try out different shit. Right? You don't know what you don't know until you know. And to find your own unique style, you gotta start by trying out different shit. Test out soft light, hard light, bright and airy. Dark and moody. Mute tones, vibrant tones, blah, blah, blah.
Mica: See what clicks with you the most. Two, get inspired by other photographers. Now y'all, I'm not talking about playing the comparison game. Fuck that. You can take that to the garbage truck and throw it away. Nope, [00:12:00] we ain't doing that today, tomorrow, or next week. What I'm talking about is to look at the work of other photographers whose style you like and maybe, maybe style you don't like, but think about this photo.
Mica: Take a look at their work, analyze it, and think about what you like. Write it down. Is it the composition, the lighting, the colors, the editing. Take note of what you like and then take note of what you would change about the photo. Three, find what you love and show it in your photos. Think about what you're passionate about and what you find interesting.
Mica: Think about what you like to shoot and what you find interesting. It could be anything. Anything that reflects your personality, your culture, your hobbies. By focusing, on what you like, you'll start to make [00:13:00] images that stand out and show who you are as a photographer. What are we on? Three, four. Four. Four. I can't count Four.
Mica: Practice, practice, practice. Y'all. I'm telling you, your portfolio work is just as important as your client work. Your portfolio shoots are the time, place, and opportunity to try some weird shit out. It's the time and place and opportunity to fail and fail miserably, and it is also the time, place and opportunity to succeed and succeed joyfully. Y'all, my style didn't develop through client work. My style developed during my practice shoots. And y'all, I tell you what, there were so many portfolio shoots where I [00:14:00] walked away with shit, it, and nothing looked good, and I wasn't happy with it.
Mica: But then I'd look back, I'd look at the photos and I'd think about what about this shoot was shittay and what about this shoot was great? And then I went back in and I did it again and again and again and again. And lastly, five, play with lighting and composition.
Mica: The way you use light and composition in your photos can change the whole vibe of your work. Try out different lighting techniques. Shoot in natural light, artificial light, high key, low key, used diffusers or shoot with the bare bulb. Also, experiment with different composition techniques like framing, symmetry, rule of thirds, negative space, bird's eye view, direct point of view, 45 degree angle.[00:15:00]
Mica: Explore color theory, play with bright colors, muted colors, deep colors, dark colors, pastel colors, y'all. The sky's the mother effing limit to what you can do. There were shoots where I would do a bright and airy shoot, and then I'd go back and do the same shoot, but make it dark and moody. And I think about what I liked and what I didn't like about it. But no matter what y'all remember, photography is an art form that allows you to express yourself in a unique and powerful way.
Mica: I'm gonna repeat that because I don't think it got the appreciation you deserve the first time I said it. So I'm gonna repeat that. Photography is an art form that allows you to express yourself in a unique and powerful way.
Mica: So don't be afraid to push boundaries, get weird, take chances and create work that [00:16:00] excites you. Your photography style is a reflection of who you are, so make it bold, make it beautiful, and make it unforgettable, but more importantly, make it you.
Mica: Here are some food photographers who are killing it right now. Y'all go check these photographers out. Admire them, bask in their glory, and also in advance, uh, Y'all. If I pronounce any of your names wrong, I'm sorry. I, I'm trying. Let me know if I mispronounce your name. I always wanna get it right the first time, but here's some photographers to check out.
Mica: Y'all. Gentl and Hyers. Gentl and Hyers is a New York photography team consisting of Andrea Gentl and Martin hires their images [00:17:00] often have a natural unstyled feel with the focus. On texture and color. Linda Lomelino is a food photographer and blogger from Sweden. Her images often feature delicate pastel colors and a dreamy, almost ethereal quality.
Mica: She's particularly known for stunning desserts. Sarah Flotard is a Seattle-based food and lifestyle photographer. Her style is characterized by a warm, natural feel and a focus on capturing the beauty of everyday objects and scenes. Helene Dujardin. Helene is a food photographer and stylist based in Atlanta. Her style is characterized by a focus on natural light, rustic textures, and simple unpretentious compositions.
Mica: Nicole Franzen is a New York based photographer known for her natural un styled approach to food photography. Her images often have a [00:18:00] warm, inviting feel with the focus on texture, color, and the beauty of imperfection. And finally, Joanne Pai. Joanne Pie is a food and travel photographer based in Paris.
Mica: Her images often have a bright, airy quality with a focus on natural light and playful compositions. She is known for her stunning pastry and dessert photography. Y'all, all of these food photographers are super incredibly talented and have developed unique styles that set them apart from one another.
Mica: By studying their work, you can gain inspiration, learn new technique. But most importantly, you can begin to identify what aspects of their style resonate with you and what you want to incorporate into your own work. Y'all. This exploration can help you develop your own authentic and unique style that reflects your personal vision and create a voice.
Mica: So y'all [00:19:00] learn from the pros, experiment, and find what makes your work uniquely you.
Mica: So to wrap things up, making food photography uniquely yours is about honoring who you are and not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Y'all, this industry is tough as fuck. Especially when you feel like you gotta live up to other people's expectations.
Mica: But let me tell y'all, there's nothing more freeing than being unapologetically yourself. When you create work that peaks your interest, you attract clients who love what you got going on. So take a minute to think about how you're showing up in your life and in your art. Y'all, I wanna keep this conversation going, so reach out to me on Instagram.
Mica: Send me an email and tell me what do you think about this topic? Are you struggling with making food photography uniquely yours? Meet me in the DMs [00:20:00] and let's talk about it.
Mica: Thank you. For your time and for listening. Y'all, I don't know if you enjoy these little mini rants of mine, and I'm not gonna pretend like I know everything because I don't.
Mica: But I will tell you what I learn. I will share everything. What I learn, I'll share it with you because I believe that sharing is caring. Next episode, droppin March 15. We have a special guest coming on the show. Y'all, this guest isn't a food photographer, but she's got some bomb knowledge that will help you attract the clients that you want to work with
Mica: I had such a great time on the show with this guest and I can't wait for y'all to hear this episode cuz this guest dropped so many tips that y'all pencil will be on fire from the notes that you'll be taking. Till then y'all.