Food photography tips, Maine dish, Photography

Taking photos of a risotto

When I start taking culinary photos I discovered that is not so easy to take great photos. Just because your food is not moving that doesn’t mean is easy to take photos of it. Takes time and practice to start taking decent culinary photos.

When I did this amazing Risotto with mushrooms and cheese recipe I fell in love with the texture and color of the rice and I thought to do more photos with different styling.

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As you will see in the photos, you can use different props for the same food. This is the best exercise you can do to start learning about styling and props. Play around with everything you have in the house.

Leave the same settings and just change the background or the props. I had natural light coming from the right side and I had a wooden background. I took a lot of photos from different angles and with different props.

To get to be a good food stylist you need to be first a good cook. I am still working to be a good cook. Learning to style your food takes time, practice and lots of food. Paying attention to details is also an important asset for a food stylist.

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Here is the recipe. I started from the basic recipe for risotto and build it on the way. Everything was done in the kitchen in the moment, nothing was planned. When you have just a few ingredients in the fridge, improvisation is a way to go. I loved what I got in the end. I used chili flakes because I love a little bit of spicy food. It is up to you if you want to use it or not.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g mushrooms champignon
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 hand parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 liter vegetable broth
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

In the skillet we are making the risotto put 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion, turmeric, chili flakes, thyme, garlic and the mustard and stir for 1 minute.  Add the rice.

When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.  Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley.

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The more time you spend to make your food attractive, the easier it gets to take the shot. Make more food than a plate so you have material to play with. Before starting to take photos get all the props on the table. Make a selection of pots, plates, cutlery, backgrounds or cloths you want to use in the photo. Maybe you will not use them all, but is good to have them near you. You can also stage some photos without the food.

Your food is the hero in the story. Every props you use need to participate in the story you want to tell. If you want vintage, everything must be vintage. If you want modern, everything goes modern.

In my story, my hero is mushrooms with cheese risotto. I used a brown rustic bowl on a wooden background because I wanted my story to be rustic.

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First shot was only with the bowl and the cloth. I put some fresh parsley on top, to complement my dish. I have fresh parsley in the garden. If you by the herbs some hours before, keep them in a jar with water.

From there I build the second shot adding some ingredients from the recipe in the background: cheese and parsley. I used an old pepper grinder in the back and I put the parsley on a piece of wood. The focus is always on the bowl.

For me, setting up a table for food photography takes time. So, when the light is good, I am in an inspirational mood and I have time, I am taking more photos with the same settings. In the photos you will see I have a corner with lots of light coming from lots of windows.

Here I used only a diffusible panel to have smooth shadows. The background is the same, my beautiful old wooden board. I also added a grey shawl and a yellow board. The light was the same, only the styling and the props changed in the photos.

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As you can see is so easy to play around with just one dish and some bowl, cutlery, tablecloths, etc. You can create magical culinary photos with just a little, so start making your favorite dish and take lots of photos. It will help to have a plan before.

These days technology evolve very much so for a food blog you don’t need a very expensive equipment. With a Compact Camera from Light you are on the right path to create great photos for your blog.

 

 

 

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88 thoughts on “Taking photos of a risotto”

  1. I absolutely love this post. Not everyone is so candid about their forays into food photography. I have much learning to do in this regard and will definitely be using your tips. And the recipe is great too!

  2. Your photos are lovely and I, too, enjoyed your helpful tips. I occasionally post recipes, and though I have improved a little bit in taking photos, I have a ways to go.

    Love the Mushroom Risotto recipe. I saved it.

  3. Food photography is SO HARD! I especially struggle because I have a kitchen from the 90’s that badly needs to be remodeled – though we plan to soon we have not started and it makes it very hard for me to take a nice picture in my kitchen. I have to go to pretty far extremes in regards to staging! I was reading an article about staging from another person and I was so surprised to find how much people like in their photos! For example, not cooking things all the way to make them look better, omitting things out of a recipe since they dull the color, and so on.

    1. Hey Abbey, for me it was an eye-opener to take pictures outside the kitchen. Currently my kitchen has great light, but I have had kitchens with really bad light. I once walked around the whole apartment with my food and tried to find the area with the best light, taking pictures all along and ended up in the bathroom with great soft light. Maybe something for you to consider?

  4. You are a great photographer, no question about it. Did you eat any of that risotto? That is the one thing I find hard, I hate to throw away food and I am happy I deal with mainly baked goods, which I can actually eat after I have tried shot after shot after shot.

  5. I love a simple risotto. Thanks for the tips on making brown food look good. It’s always a challenge. Just wondering Gabi, I want to keep it migraine trigger free so should I should forego the wine and bump the stock up a bit or substitute it with a bit of preservative free apple juice? 💜💜💜💜

  6. Great info! Thanks! You’re so right, taking good pics of good is harder than you think. I’m constantly trying to get better at it, not easy. lol

  7. Great advice and your photos are beautiful. I was just wondering, do you eat the food? My food pictures are terrible and I know it but that’s because they’re taken just before the food is dished up. So do you make extra to eat?

  8. This helps so much. I’ve been really thinking how can I up my photography skills because it’s beginning to feel very empty in my photos. Just have to have the patience to work on it. Thanks for this!

  9. This looks absolutely amazing! Your photos captured the dish perfectly. I am definitely going to give this recipe a try. By the way, love that you added chili flakes. Spice is always nice!

  10. I find as a every day cook white plates and bowls make the food pop. I however, love your styling tips as I understand food photographer is a business 🙂

  11. I read your post at the wrong time – when my blood sugar was taking a nose dive. There is no way I can sneak a bite of the delicious looking food you pictured on your blog. Thanks for sharing. Now a trip to fridge to stare at my veggies. Ray

  12. I made this recipe and it was delicious, the wine thyme and turmeric work well together for a lot of flavor. I forgot to buy parsley so I substituted celery greens and it was great. I’ll make it again and thanks 🙂

  13. I really wanted to make a risotto and photograph it but whenever I have done in the past it has always looked rubbish. Hopefully by following some of your tips I’ll be able to photograph my risotto better next time

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