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Food Photography Tips… gone very wrong!

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Do you watch the blooper reels they sometimes include at the ends of movies?

I happen to have my own set of blooper reels. You might think, “Food doesn’t even move, so photographing food must be the easiest thing in the world,” but this is quite untrue! Food photography is a tricky—and often frustrating—subject. The best food photography tip I could ever give to you is to have a sense of humor, because sometimes things can go very wrong…


Starting with my Single-Serving Banana Pancakes.

This is what happens when you’re lazy and try to save time by taking food pictures and not using a tripod and timer. Pour with one hand, hold the camera in the other, and you’re bound to get syrup all over the place. Not so fun to clean up, but not nearly as bad as this next example:

blooper drink

Watching the camera, I completely misjudged where to pour… And I was very sad because I’d planned to drink the shake after taking the pictures. Instead all I got to do was clean up a giant mess.

Remember how gorgeous this milkshake looked in the finished photos?

Now a lesson from Henry: Photo Bombing 101

dog cookies

Oh hi!
Flourless Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

food photography tips

Hi again!
Nutella Rice Crispy Treats

coffee cake dog

What, you mean you don’t want my beautiful face in your food photography pictures?

Coffee Cake in a Mug

Henry could have a degree in photo bombing. And he’s teaching Batman his evil ways…

bloopers batman

Think I’ll just help myself to some Crispy Sweet Potato Fries.

Dog eating cookies

Get away from those cookies!
Pumpkin Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

blooper cake

Behold, the exploding red velvet cake in a mug!

spilled milk

At the time, I actually thought this picture of my Coconut Chai Milkshakes was artistic. I even submitted it to foodgawker… and was surprised when they rejected it! Seriously, how on earth could I not see the resemblance to bird poop?? What was I thinking?
Funny, I was just gonna go across the hall and write that on Chandler.

Then there is ice cream:


Going going…
Pumpkin Cookie Dough Ice Cream

chocolate cauliflower cake

Cauliflower Chocolate Cake

After the ice cream fell, I decided to just give up and call it a day. Scooped the ice cream back on top of the cake, and ate all the evidence.

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. hahahah, this was a fun post to read. i wish it were possible to leave picture comments because i think it would be awesome for everyone to be able to share our similar photo failures. food photography really is more difficult than it looks!

  2. I LOVED this post! So funny, honest, and I especially love seeing the pups! :)

  3. Lol – I love these! I don’t share recipes as often as I used to but I learned a LOT trying to take good pics of food (and made some terrible mistakes along the way!)

  4. ALR09 says:

    Do you have the recipe for the red velvet mug out yet?

  5. Lol! Food photography is very difficult. You can’t tell it how to stand or what to do or what NOT to do. With that said, I’ve definitely had my fair share of food photography bloopers. :)

  6. This was awesome. Still, I think your food failures are quite more beautiful than mine… But that’s okay. Cute photo bombs!

  7. Lisa says:

    Oh man, your bad photos aren’t bad compared to some of the ones I’ve had. Those ones are treasures that’s for sure.
    This post was fun.

  8. Ah, another good reminder of why I’ll never write a food blog. I have no patience whatsoever for photography. Oh well, I’ll just admire all the pretty pictures that other people take and be happy with my stick figures.

  9. Alanna says:

    lol great post… love the dogs photo-bombing. And I’m always amazed at how you manage to get pouring photos in focus, so it’s hilarious to see the bloopers! :)

  10. This is awesome, Katie; thanks for posting these pictures. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with photos gone very wrong :)

  11. Great post. I have a bunch of photos of kitties in the background or kitty bellies directly taking up the entire frame as they jump in last minute. I can’t blame them though, dinner smells good!

  12. Juniper says:

    I’m such a fan of bloopers, thanks for sharing yours with us. I love you’re blog and am always excited to see what you’re going to create next. Thanks!

    1. Juniper says:

      Crap, your, not you’re… grammar fail!

  13. Ha! Love the photobombs, my cats try to do it all the time! I work with my boyfriend to take pictures, and even with two people it’s very hard to pour and take pictures at the same time!

  14. Trish says:

    Hehehe… I love your photo bombers.

  15. Sunnie says:

    Ha-ha, oh Katie, thank you for your post! That was funny. :)

    My biggest problem with food photography tends to be lighting. Oh, and blurriness. Sometimes I get good pictures . . . but not always! Also, I need to practice much, much more. At least your blooper pictures still look crisp, clear, and colorful!

  16. A. Cook says:

    What a cute post!–the photobomb pictures cracked me up!!

  17. This post might turn out to be your most popular post ever, not because we food bloggers reading can’t relate (we can!), but because photo-bombing Henry and Batman are just so adorable! Thanks for sharing, Katie! :-)


  18. Christine says:

    I loved this post! Reminds us that we’re all human. :-) And even your ‘oops’ photos look awesome! Have a great day!

  19. Sarah the official CCK Drooler says:

    “A Day in the Life of a Glamorous Food Blogger”- #notsoglamorous
    Food blogging has suddenly lost its appeal to me. I kid, I kid. kind of :)

  20. Pam York says:

    Katie you are just so clever and funny and honest and self-effacing. I love it!

  21. Lauwchen says:

    Haha this was a fun post 😀

  22. You could have easily used my bad photos for this post :). Except it’s my son getting in all my photos. I did the pouring thing and much, much worse :).

  23. Yona says:

    LOVED this post – especially with your photo-bombing dog….too funny!

  24. Susan says:

    If you had just photographed the coconut chai milkshake on a different table… Even though it was obvious that what was on the table was spilled milkshake, it was impossible not to think of bird poop :-) I really appreciate you sharing these. Since I’ve never tried to do food photography (other than some very moldy dark chocolate peanut butter cookies), it never occurred to me that disasters would occur.

  25. Shannon says:

    HAHA, loved this! Although I would totally keep the pictures with doggies in the background. They are really just helping to sell it. 😉

  26. Dog photobombs are the BEST!!!! I always pick those over better pics because, let’s face it, food looks delicious. But dogs are the BEST!

  27. Nicole says:

    Love this, Katie! My favorite part of movies are the bloopers.
    When I look at food blogs, the photography always looks perfect. It’s nice to see that sometimes your kitchen looks like mine (dog help included)! 😀

  28. OMG! I am literally rolling on the floor laughing at those pictures of Henry. That is sooooooooooo cute!!!! Thank you for this post. It really brightened up my day.

  29. Renee says:

    Thanks for the smiles, Katie! These are great!!!

  30. Love this post! It was so fun to read, and I think anyone who has ever taken a picture of food can relate! 😉

  31. Laure Ricketts says:

    I really enjoyed this post! Very funny! As well as interesting to see the “behind the scenes”

  32. cucicucicoo says:

    hilarious!! as much as i love your recipe posts… this is definitely one of my faves! haha! :) lisa

  33. This gave me a good laugh. Thanks for sharing, its good to know we all experience the same frustrations when photographing food! My dog always photo bombs mine too ;P

  34. Becca says:

    I would love to be a dog in your house. Yum!

  35. melanee says:

    thanks for the laugh! I ‘seriously’ needed it 😉

  36. Am says:

    This was such a fun post to read, thanks!

  37. Sadye says:

    Hilarious! Thanks for sharing! Though, as a proud pet owner myself, I would vote for using any photos where the dogs snuck in 😉

  38. I definitely understand the dog photobombers! whenever I shoot outside or on a lower surface I always have my dogs trying to shove their noses into my food!

  39. phoebe says:


  40. Jessica says:

    I used to be a professional photographer. I’m not one to worry about the photos on my blog. I try and make them look presentable, but as I said recently, I take pictures typically right after they come out of the oven and often right before they go into my mouth. Therefore, my hands are full :-)

  41. Iris says:

    This is a really cute post! You don’t know how many pancakes I’ve drenched in maple syrup trying to get a good shot. I still haven’t mastered it. But then again, I’m really lazy and never use a tripod. Which explains a lot… :)

  42. Anonymous says:

    I have a dog that looks just like yours (black white and brown) and she is into everything. She’d walk into a perfect shot too 😉

    1. Carolyn says:

      long lost twins!

  43. Renee says:

    Ha! I love the photobombing dogs!

  44. Robin says:

    Hilarious! Unfortunately, my pictures are still worse!

  45. Carla says:

    hahaha! I truly thought I was the only one with epic fails in the food photography department!! I’m so glad I was wrong!! I enjoyed sooo much reading this post! :)

  46. Carolyn says:

    I love your little photo bombers! Animals make everything cuter. :)

  47. Anonymous says:

    What a fun post! Personally, I think you should use the pics that your dog photo-bombs in… would make your already sweet looking photos even sweeter! :p

  48. Gabby says:

    What a fun post! Personally, I think you should use the pics that your dog photo-bombs in… would make your already sweet looking photos even sweeter! :p

  49. Alexie says:

    Such a great post – it is a true art to laugh at yourself. Plus, you do so by showcasing your ADORABLE dogs and your delicious food, which still manages to look good despite some spillage! (That reminds me, I think it’s time to revisit your banana pancakes…)

    By the way, are/did you happen to be in Wisconsin? Because I saw this girl at my Gold’s Gym who looked EXACTLY like you hammering away on the treadmill.

  50. Amanda says:

    I loved this post! You still make your disasters look better than my masterpieces! Haha.

  51. Andrea says:

    Haha! I love the one of Batman smelling the cookies! So cute!

  52. Ok, I have laughed SO hard reading this post!! NO JOKE!

    Chocolate Covered Katie, you seriously just made my day.

    ~ Natalyn

  53. Katie… I love the pictures with your dog!!! The one with the oatmeal cookies is just beautiful! I would have used them because he is too cute! And he is just staring at the cookies like they are the most delicious thing ever! :-)

  54. Ainsley says:

    I love that you quote Friends!! Great post idea – it was fun to see your “blooper reel”

  55. Vanessa says:

    Love this whimsical post–your dogs are so cute. Why wouldn’t they want to stick around with their human and sniff yummy food? Thanks for the chuckle :)

  56. Bek @ Crave says:

    Haha, I take my hat off to you- your photos look perfection, well atleast the ones you choose to show haha. Thanks for taking us behind the scenes 😉

  57. Love your website. I really appreciate you posting your pictures. It makes me feel better about some of the pictures I have taken.

  58. I love this post. Your dog pics are hilarious. I find my kids hands usually end up in some, especially cookie shots. Photographing ice-cream can start me off with a panic attack. Its like speed photography.

  59. Those are funny! It’s a good thing I don’t take photos of food too frequently because any time I try, I seem to forget and just eat it :) Occasionally I want to put a picture of something amazing I ate on my blog, and it always has at least a few bites out if it.

  60. Teesha says:

    Oh THANKS! Thought this only happened to me! hehe

  61. Greenderella says:

    This made me laugh! Especially the photo bombs of Herny! He definitely adds some sweetness to the dessert pictures. 😀

  62. Greenderella says:

    This made me laugh! Especially the photo bombs of Henry! He definitely adds some sweetness to the dessert pictures. 😀

  63. Too funny! I have a tripod but am too lazy to use it, and my cat loves getting in the way of pictures…

  64. Even your “gone wrong” food photos look GREAT! Seriously! These made me chuckle. Love your blog! xo

  65. This made me smile.

    I love that your dog gets in so many of your photos. Such a cutie.

  66. Your post made me smile! I have SO much to learn about food photography. Your pictures are so amazing! It is good to know that even the experts have some bloopers every now and then :-)

  67. Lori says:

    I needed a good laugh today. Thanks! Your dogs are precious. Of course they would want to check out your yummy food creations! I hope we get to see more pictures of your dogs in the future. (And more bloopers!)

  68. Nessy says:

    Those pics with the pups are so cute! I can just imagine if I tried something like that with my chickens around…. the resulting food photography would be “void photography”! 😉

  69. Amy says:

    Katie, this is a crack-up! I’m definitely not brave enough to post my failed shots for everyone to see… Good for you!

    Any tips on good pouring shots? You have quite a few pancake posts with cute photos, but I’ve never been brave enough to try one myself!

  70. Rachel says:

    These are hilarious! Like everyone else, I love the ones with the dogs in them. Your dogs have much more self control than mine do…my dogs would scarf down anything remotely near their mouths! Also, in the second picture I definitely thought the spilled milkshake was actually a plate. I had to look twice to figure out what was wrong with it.

  71. Jacqui says:

    Haha I love this post!! So refreshing to see someone post their mistakes!!

    I also have the same issue with my cat getting her nose into everything!

  72. Emilia says:

    Haha, love this post! It’s so amusing to see the story behind the pictures and always good to remember that even the most gorgeous food photography is difficult to take. Thanks for sharing with us :)

  73. Lady Jennie says:

    What a fun post! I loved it. :-)

  74. Madonna says:

    I still have yet to try out one of your recipes. I frequently read your blog, but I don’t know which recipe to test out first. Everything you make looks good. Any suggestions?

    1. Hmmm… the peanut butter secret cookies or the deep dish cookie pie or the fudge babies or chocolate bar pie :).

  75. All those pancakes look delicious!

  76. I have had some disastrous photo sessions too. Like you say, you have to have a sense of humour.

  77. lori says:

    God how I love friends references!

  78. The bird poop photo (and story) made me laugh out loud. This was a great read. Mistakes are how we learn, right? I’m still a beginner; whenever I try to learn more about lenses and aperture, I black out.

  79. Bloopers are always fun and i enjoyed your pictures! I particularly love the one with your dog. I have always thought that food photography is the most fascinating yet the most difficult.

  80. syd says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t get why there is a pan of food on the floor? That is just gross.

  81. nice post , I loved it, I especially love seeing the pups , keep sharing

  82. Alyssa B says:

    Haha eat all the evidence! This one time my sister and I made a pan of brownies for dessert while our parent’s were away. We ended up eating half the pan when it came out of the oven. We were embarrassed so we just ate the rest of the pan to hide the evidence before my parents got home. Lol.

  83. Kayla says:

    This is a really funny post! Now that I think about it, one-woman food photography would be a little hard!

  84. catydid says:

    I received an email from pinterest that they are deleting your pins due to a copyright violation. I do not understand why you have a pin button if you don’t want pins. It is a little daunting to get that message from pinterest and I don’t think it makes you look very good.

    1. emailed you! It was a huge mistake :(

  85. this is awesome! as a new food photographer my self i appreciate all the help i can get! these pics are hilarious! xox

  86. SamICan says:

    Katie, I always love your blog. I’ve been addicted since the cookie dough dip.
    Thanks for this post. It makes me feel so much better now that I am trying to get decent photos for my blog. I’ve had a lot of bloopers too!

  87. Sue says:

    I just laughed for 10 years at Henry photobombing all your shots. Thanks again for all that you do!

  88. beachmama says:

    You are too much! Very funny! Food photography is an art form all it’s own . . . loved the bloopers (and the dogs . . .).

  89. Julie says:

    Well these were fun! Thanks for sharing. Someday I hope to have a blog, I’ve been practicing in my own kitchen. Sometimes it’s good other times nada.

  90. emi says:

    Hi there!
    I came across your blog searching for pink smoothies. I laughed out loud at this post!:)

    Keep up the good work! 😉

  91. Josh says:

    Correct food photography should be lit from behind with reflectors and diffusers in front. A professional food photographer has a team that specializes in the food preparation, this is not the photographer’s responsibility and is a different area of study altogether. There are no exceptions here, each area requires study. I would say you are a cook, and a terrific one at that, concentrate on what you do best and keeping sharing your great recipes! :)

  92. Lynnette says:

    This is a great post. I love that your blog is filled with beautiful yummy posts and photos but you are not afraid to show the ‘blooper side’. My bloopers mainly consists of me dropping things while transporting them from the kitchen to my ‘food set’ haha.

  93. Kylie says:

    I LOVE this post! I also LOVE the friends reference!
    Keep up the amazing stuff hun :)

  94. Sara says:

    Thank you for sharing! So encouraging to see that everyone’s dealing with the struggle :)

  95. masala girl says:

    haha aw you’re dog is so cute! you shouldve kept him in the flourless cookie pic 😉