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Chocolate-Covered Katie: My Food Photography

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sugar free fudge

Above is my No-Sugar Chocolate Fudge.

Delving into the blog’s stats page to find the most-viewed posts for my 2012 recap, I was surprised to see, among the popular posts, a page called “sugar-free chocolate fudge.” I didn’t even remember writing such a post!

So I clicked on over… and was embarrassed when the following photo stared back at me:

fudge

When I first took this photo, I remember being really proud of it. It’s like when I was three and would draw pictures of people… with their arms and legs attached to their heads.

Did you draw pictures like that, too?

Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot in the 23 years since then. For example, I now can draw bodies. Progress! But I wouldn’t trade those stick-figure sketches—or the journey and life-lessons they represent—for the world. Old photos ought to be seen in the same light; many of them are cringe-worthy, but they offer proof that the time spent practicing and reading photography books and tutorials has definitely been worthwhile.

As it’s been more than a year since my first food photography post, today seems like a great day to give you all the opportunity to laugh at me. And so…

My Photography Journey:

point and shoot photo

Above, from one of my first-ever posts: Chocolate Stud Muffins.

The scattered almonds were an attempt at food styling. I think. When I started the website, I was using a Kodak point-and-shoot, and I had no interest whatsoever in photography. However, I was having fun, which is all that matters.

ISO might as well have been UFO.

peanut butter banana ice cream

Getting better…

In the above photo: Peanut Butter & Banana soft-serve.

Finally, finally, I learned that food photography looks vastly more impressive when you turn off the camera’s automatic flash and switch to either manual mode or aperture priority mode (or use natural light, if you have a point-and-shoot as opposed to a DSLR). As a result, my photos started to look much better: 

frozen hot chocolate 

blue cupcakes

breakfast pizza

For the most part.

ugly

What in the heck??? 😕

greek yogurt cheesecake

Above is one of my favorite photos: Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.

Shot in natural light, with a Canon Rebel and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Someday—when I can afford it—I’d love to upgrade to the 5D. But for now I think the little Rebel works just fine. (I thought the Kodak worked just fine, too. I’d probably still be using it if the poor thing hadn’t dropped on the floor and stopped working. I loved that camera!) Do I still have a lot to learn? Yes, definitely. But at least I now know that peoples’ arms and legs do not attach to their heads. Thank goodness for progress.

Do you ever go back and look at old artwork or papers you wrote for school?

Or at any of your old blog posts? Do you cringe or laugh? A few weeks ago, while cleaning out my room at my parents’ house, I found an old sketchbook filled with drawings I’d made when I was 5. By then, I’d learned to include bodies on my drawings, but they were still so funny. I was obsessed with rabbits when I was little, so pretty much every drawing included a rabbit. Rabbits with hairbows, rabbits in cars, entire rabbit families dressed up in high heels and top hats…

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. Joy @ Caspara says:

    Totally! My parents saved most of my old reports and stories from grade school, one is even in an old photo book that my kids discovered the other day. My thirteen-year-old read it and declared it “pretty much the worst story ever” but said my drawings were cute and she thought it was funny. If only she could have read one of my old “mysteries” — I always had trouble coming up with an actual mystery. Ha!
    Oh and, my ten-year-old is also obsessed with rabbits. So cute!
    There are some recipes here I seem to have missed before. I will definitely have to try them!

  2. Hahaha yesss I recently found some 7 and 8th grade projects and papers and I was stunned, they weren’t terribly bad but still pretty funny when compared to stuff I write now. Same with photos, especially food. As food photography is pretty hard to master. It’s a journey /) I’m definitely much better now then I was when I started my blog in march

  3. I’ve looked at old blog posts and gone…did I really write that? Lol.

    I need to get a decent camera that I can take gorgeous food porn pics with but I can’t afford one at the moment :(. What camera do you use?

    1. I’m still with the Canon I mentioned in the post. It’s a Rebel T2i. Highly recommend it!

  4. Heather says:

    Haha, yes. I look back on stuff all the time. I’m such a nostalgic person when it comes to growth. A wise person once said not to focus on where you want to go, but how far you’ve come. Count your blessings looking back and use those to go forward… or something like that.

    Either way, yes, I go back all the time. Recently I went back on an English paper I wrote for Comp II (college not all the way throwback), and I saw a spelling error in a graded paper that wasn’t corrected. I was so shocked and a little relieved. For the first time in my life I really got away with something ;).

  5. Thats really cool to see the progress.

    Looking back at my own writing, I notice I’ve improved a lot over time. Practice AND education makes perfect.

  6. I actually just had to clean out my stuff in my parents attic and I had SO MUCH old artwork! It was so cute, and fun to look through!

  7. Wow! You have just given me so much hope with my food photography skills!

  8. Maya says:

    Actually, I liked blogging but haven’t in so long because the photo part is so labor intensive!!!! Working full time and then cooking dinner does NOT make me want to sit around and position things in the best light and take pictures 🙂 But, I agree that practice is the only way to really learn because I did learn a lot while I was still blogging regularly.

    Also, I couldn’t care less about calories, but I started tracking foods that I eat to make sure I’m getting enough of certain nutrients- iron being one in particular. Good thing Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate cocoa powder are good sources! I suppose I can handle that kind of iron supplement!!!!

  9. Suppose its like anything Katie we get better with practice. I remember my first tries of Photoshop, thinking I had created master pieces. Those same attempts make me cringe now, honestly. Love that first pic by the way though.

  10. Sarah says:

    I love this post, Katie! I am very much a beginner photographer, and cringe when I look back at old photos too. I still have a looooong way to go, but I can tell year over year that I’m getting better. Feels good!

  11. Hi Katie!! I have loved your blog for a while, but for some reason have yet to comment!! I loved this post, I still have no idea what I am doing with a camera, but I am learning a little and I cringe looking at some of my old photos!! Yours are gorgeous, and while I am leaving a comment (finally) I will also let you know I love your stuff, you are quite a genius!! 🙂

  12. Frankie says:

    Hehe I sort of do the same thing, but with my photos as well, Katie! I’ll look at my archived photos from my freshman year photography course, remember the ones I thought were “good,” and then think “hmmm…..” So I totally relate to you 🙂 Photography is definitely a learning curve that takes experience and time. You have developed a great eye (and still did have one even in your first post), and the upgraded camera also helps 😉

  13. Michelle says:

    I definitely look back at some of the old photos on my blog and am horrified! At the same time, though, it makes me feel even more proud of my current –much better– photos!

  14. I cringe at my old photography taking skills. I actually improved a lot after reading your post on photography taking tips. I have a select few that I’m really proud of now. When I go back to look at old books or drawings I’ve done, I laugh. Back then I thought they were so good, but now I can’t believe I actually thought that. It’s cool to see how my skills have progressed, which is why I look back at my old projects often. It reminds me of what I’ve accomplished. 🙂

  15. Megan says:

    It’s so fun to see all the progress you’ve made! I love to write, and I always laugh looking back at my third grade poetry. It was real refrigerator-material 😛 It’s great memories though. Like you said, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  16. Gi says:

    Aww this whole post was lovely! Thanks so much for taking the time to write it in order to share it!

    I love this kind of post as much the recipe one 😀

    Thanks! (:

  17. Chelsea says:

    I love seeing your huge improvements in photography, and would definitely be interested in reading more about it. 🙂

  18. Lara says:

    Haha, it’s so funny that you can’t remember writing about that fudge. I just looked at it yesterday! I guess I know every single blog post of yours.. 😉
    I sometimes look at old pictures. I was really into drawing and crafting and painting – as I couldn’t keep my room clean, my parents decided not to give me too much toys. So painting and drawing was basically what I did every day. Guess what my favourite motive was? Rabbits!
    I have a painting where a rabbit wears a Harry-Potter-costume and has a flash on his forehead 😀

    1. I think we could have been good friends in real life 🙂

  19. Liz says:

    My blog pictures have gotten better too, but please don’t look down on us that don’t have fancy cameras and time for fancy food styling and photo shoots. The food still tastes great even if the pictures are mediocre!

    1. Oh no, I definitely don’t! That’s exactly how I felt when I started out blogging: who cares how it LOOKS as long as the taste is good, right? (Not vice versa.) Somewhere along the way, I became interested in photography more for the artistic aspect of it. But I agree with you 100%. Taste is way more important. (See that ugly green saag picture in my post ;).)

  20. megan100779 says:

    i recently started a blog and most of my pictures look like your before pictures. hopefully im getting better though, and after my kodak bit the dust (sturdy little thing) i am now on a new camra hunt. any sugestions that arent too pricey?

    1. I know Costco sells DSLR cameras and offers instant rebates as well.

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