1) Play with your location. For these picts, you'll notice, I wasn't particular about focus (or holding still, for that matter). Just light testing! One is quite dark, but Two is worse. See how washed out that is? At least One can be photoshopped into submission. But once you're color's washed out, it's pretty much gone. So I went with location One. (And squished it up against a white wall, which reflected a little light back.)
(See what I mean?)
*NOT my photography! (Stock photo)
2) Now for a bit of pre-photo prepping. See that pile of goo there? That's jam & honey. It was more attractive at some point, but it squished into what you see there. However, I didn't wipe it off. There was a quote I heard once ; "Photography is a dance of possibilities."
Which in this scenario, means cropping and angles are your friends. There's no need to grab another plate! That pile of nasty came in handy later- I dipped by little hand sandwiches in there and it ended up making it look a little more "natural" and therefore more yummy. Does it actually have to be yummy? Of course not. I can't cook to save my life. :) But it's your job as the photographers, however, to make someone believe that it is.
3) Here's the main part of your work. Get in your zone, hunker down your shoulder strap, and start snapping. However, don't forget to experiment. This is not like watercoloring or inking, this is photography. There really is no possible way to mess up. That picture was blurry? Take another one. There's jam on your lens cap? Take advantage of it! Make a cute, grubby looking scene where something obviously got a little out of hand! Then clean it off carefully and keep going! There's no rules here!
Also - notice the background? The actual original "background" would've been a rather greenish oriental rug. That's great too. You might be satisfied still. But the second I started using other experimental cloths, I was infinitely happier. Don't run to Michael's or JoAnn's either. See the backdrop in the last one? That's one of my Mom's favorite scarves. Anything's possible. Patterned bedsheets, ties, whatever.
4) See what's really going on here? It's not professional in the slightest. I was still in my PJs when I looked at my lunch and decided it was too pretty to waste. So I ran back to my room, grabbed my camera body, a wide angle lens, a few scarves, and off I went. One of my biggest pitfalls is putting things off because "I don't have the materials." Don't let yourself fall into that trap! If you keep thinking like that, you'll never get the cash in the first place to "become a professional." Or worse - you'll get it, then look around and realize you have no idea what to do with it!
5) More experimenting, just to prove I follow my own rules. See that warmer looking hue in there? (It's subtle, sorry!) That's me breaking out one of those tools that apparently good photographers use every day. You're probably figuring my a hypocrite, and that's okay. It's true, you can do anything, here and now. But photography tools do make the process a bit easier. This one's called a Multi-Disc Light Reflector;
(About $25 on Amazon)
So basically, it tosses light around onto stuff you're trying to shoot. In reality, it looks like this;
Keep in mind though - you do NOT need one of these. All you really need is a good photo editor. I use Photoshop Elements simply because I got it for free with a tablet I bought a while back. 'Works great. :) I'm just lazy and don't like doing it on my computer.
6) Here's my least favorite part, but it has to be done. Transfer it all to your computer, open your poison of choice, and start editing. For food photography in particular, I find that time-intensive work really isn't necessary. Personally, I pretty much just boost up my brightness. And that's it. See the difference? It makes all the change in the world. Homely to professional, just like that. Now go forth and brag.