I got to know Maaike from the blog Micook through on of the workshops Alex and I gave and have been giving now for a couple of years. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I have been following Maaike ever since and it is always fun to see how someones photos slowly but surely are improving. Because that is the fun part of this series as well; it is all about showing the process around improving your photos. Some are further along in the process than others but ultimately they have all improved dramatically from when they first started. have a look at Maaike’s photos of the moussaka; the first one you think ‘yuck’ but the second one you think ‘yay’ I want to dive into that one!. And that is – ultimately – what it is all about in foodphotography!

Maaike blogt at Micook.

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Read Maaike’s story about her search for the perfect picture here.
Hi! I am Maaike and I have been blogging now for almost two years with a lot of fun at www.micook.nl From the beginning the blog was all about cooking and food and I started taking foodphotos straight away.. Although maybe I should say I started registering what I had on the plate…

Een van Maaike's eerste foto's...

Een van Maaike’s eerste foto’s…

Something like you see above here which is supposed to be a mousake with some baguette.. Does it make you want to run into the kitchen or run from the kitchen? πŸ˜‰

Because one of my hobbies is to make long forest walks with friend and dog (and I love to take photos while walking) I already owned a Canon 500D with a 18-55mm lens and a 55-250 lens. I don’t really know much about the equipment but we had someone advise us well (or so we think)

In the meantime I have bought an extra lens (with help from and thanks to Simone); an EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro and I use that almost always for the photos of the end result. With a tripod (a Manfrotto) that is sturdy enough to withstand an occassional bump from the dog, as he is all to keen to help when I am working with food.!

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Good equipment is nice to work with, but trust me, you can still make really bad photos with really good equipment. After blogging for a while I figured it was time to follow a workshop:Β  de workshop foodfotografie & styling. I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments that day. Also a lot of ‘huh’ moments, because there was so much information that day! I learned a lot, but I still have so much to learn. Thankfully I have the bookΒ  β€˜Digitale fotografie: food’ here and I use it on a regular basis to read and to learn something new.

Something that still makes me very happy is the use of a grey card. I had one lying in the cupboard (I got one when I purchased my camera) but when Simone showed us during the workshop how to use to one button in Lightroom in combination with the greycard, I almost felt like hugging her (but that would have been a little weird..) I am so happy with that knowledge! You can’t make an ugly photo look pretty, but in terms of light and whitebalance I love it. And after the workshop, reading the book and practicing a lot, the new moussake looks like this:

En de moussaka wat fotootjes later.. ;)

And the moussake a few photos later.. πŸ˜‰

How I make the final photo is different every time… One time I have a complete ‘picture’ in my head, the other time I have no idea and sometimes I change everything in between.

I prefer taking photos in daylight. What kind of daylight, is the question Simone asks me.. Uh, busted I guess… What do mean? Daylight is daylight right? But all joking aside, in general I try and avoid the sun, but sometimes I really like the sunshine coming through and love how the rays of light fall on the subject. I shoot most of my photos near a window (with sidelighting) or in the greenhouse (really nice!)

Other than that I really struggle with the light story.. I need to dive into that some more and practice a lot! Definitely something to improve on!

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So, sometimes I know exactly how the photo is supposed to look, sometimes I think about it during cooking and sometimes only when I am working on the photo. It might turn out that a certain plate is really not nice and I grab a bow, but than the bowl is too small and I grab another. That ‘weird’ napkin might look all wrong and that spoon looks like a soupladle instead of a teaspoon! And it also happens sometimes that I ave an amazing idea in my head and than later – looking back – I think; yuck, these are horrible!

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Do I have anything I want to improve on? O yes definitely. I am quite happy in general, but I can always find something I am not so happy about (and not only with photos either…) so I keep looking at it critically and try and improve myself always.

How I do that? Well… eh…looking critically at my own photos (even though I find it hard to determine what would need to be different next time), looking at a lot of photos from other foodblog (and magazines and cookbooks), especially at the styling and practice a lot.Β  And than preferably with dishes that are not hurried (read; if you do not have a hungry boyfriend waiting..) or just with an apple and a pear (or a mango, some chicory, yoghurt etc.) sometimes I make a lot of photos from a dish (with different backgrounds, plates, light etc.) and I look at endresult (and which ones go straight into the bin)

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I don’t have really great examples. I follow a lot of blogs (too many for the 24 hours that are in the day!) and ofcourse I have my preferences but really big examples no. Ok, this might sound very slimy but I actually always like Simone’s photos. Fresh, not always the same and it is clear what you’ll get on your plate.

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I mean, sometimes you see beautiful photos of a pie from above (from far away) and the styling is beautiful, but you don’t really see anything of the pie anymore. That can be really nice but I also want to know what the rest of the pie looks like. And sometimes I see photos of gorgeous ingredients but than I know that something is wrong. Beautifully bright green vegetables with a very long cooking time? Mmm I don’t know! I already know than that if I make the dish, it is no way going to look as pretty as the example and that is disappointing. So I rather make a few photos that are not so pretty (even though that is a matter of taste) than having something that is just not right.

For me a photo has to work, it needs to be clear what it is about and what you’ll get. A plate that not only makes you drool but that also makes you think; he, I can do that too!