Inspiration on Saturday – Maura from Yellow Lemon Tree
I can’t remember the first time I discovered the blog by Maura, but one thing I did notice was her style of photography. And not only that, she has a nice writing style as well. I’ve been following Maura now for a while and you can really see her photography improving with leaps and bounds. Time for an interview in the foodblogger inspiration series… 😉 (O and if you’re taking a peak over on her blog, don’t forget to check out the delicious recipes too! )
Maura writes on her blog Yellow Lemon Tree
1. How long have you been blogging and did you start right away with taking foodphotos or did that come later?
I’ve been blogging sinds february of 2013, so a little over a year now. I started Yellow Lemon Tree to keep busy with photography. When my friend Marlous from the blog The last days of spring sort of decided I should start blogging to share my recipes, I first thought it was a bit of a funny thing. Now, over a year later, I shoot everything that I eat first and I cannot wait to share recipes that I am excited about. All photos I’ve been taking from the beginning, because my blog is a way for me to keep busy with the things I love most; Photography
2. What equipment did you use in the beginning and what are you using now?
The camera I use is my trusty Canon 400D. I got this camera for my 18th birthday and my graduation from my parents. It’s an older model, because I’ve been using it for 6 years. The lenses I use with it are new. I’ve been using the standard kitlens for a while but when I went to Thailand last summer, I decided to invest in two lenses; the canon 50mm f1.8 and the Canon 15-85mm.
And I am still enjoying that every day. The 50mm is very light sensitve and makes wonderful photos with great depth of field and with using the 15-85mm I don’t have to change lenses all the time, as it has wideangle as well as tele in it. Ideal when traveling.
3. Are you self taught or did you follow certain workshops?
I’ve been interested in photography from a very young age. I got a little basic camera from my parents when I was six (with film in it) and when start highschool I followed a photography course which included some time in a darkroom.
When I got my SLR for my 18th birthday I shot on full automatic for the first couple of years. But when I was going to Australia I wanted to learn a bit more about the basic functions of my camera. That was the moment I started a beginner class in photography and I liked it so much that I followed that with a more advanced course and a course on composition. During those courses I once made a picture of a cup of espresso (which was also shown in an exhibition) but for the rest the lessons where mostly geared towards other themes such as landschape, portrait and architecture.
Taking photos of food I mostly tought myself, but I did know the photography basics. As far as composition goes I do almost everything by my gut instinct rather than follow the rules. Maybe that I do that without consciously thinking about it, but I cannot really tell you why I do things a certain way. I style the dish just the way I think would be nice and than take a photo.
Very soon I will go to the Meet the blogger masterclass foodstyling. I’m really looking forwrd to that, because I think there is still so much to learn.
4. Can you describe your current setup for making photos for your blog?
My setup consists of my room with dining table, a closet full of plates and such, old plates (mostly inherited from my grandma and aunts), pieces of cloth, wooden boards and teatowels. Sadly I have no fancy studio with lights. I cook in a student kitchen (which we share with four) and the photos I take in my student room or at my parents place sometimes. On the dining table, the flour or a chair I make my setting.
5. Do you have a special process you use for shooting your photos or is it more a spontaneous action?
While I am cooking I often think about which plate to use and which background. I don’t really follow a strict routine. The one thing I never do is shoot with artificial light. So I am glad that the days are getting longer and summer is just around the corner. In the winter I used to cook in the afternoon already and then would photograph the dish or I would wait until the next day to shoot the remains of a meal. It’s not ideal and also not always fun to do. Some dishes just have to be eaten straight away. Directly from the pan is still best! I am happy my family and friends are used to the waiting part. They know I want to take a photo of my food first!
6. What kind of light do you prefer? Daylight, artificial light and if daylight, what kind of daylight?
My favorite light is daylight (I never shoot with artificial and hate flash) My room is located on the west side. During the day it is a little darker but due to the enormous windows on the side of my room I have pretty sidelight. Working with back lighting can be very pretty too.
7. What was your ‘aha’ moment when it comes to photographing food? Assuming that you didn’t start out being as good as you are today!)
In the beginning I photographed everything in landscape, because it fit the content of my blog better. But at a certain point I started making a photo in portrait and that’s when I thought ‘AHA!’ This is so much better than landscape. So for me that was my aha- moment. Since than I mostly make photos in portrait. It just always seems to work much better.
8. What is something you would like to improve on?
I would like to get over my hatred for artificial light and flash photography as I want to learn to also be able to make photos without daylight. Now it happens a lot that something is not posted, simply because it is too dark to shoot.
I am quite the perfectionist, which is a shame sometimes as I will not post a recipe if I do not like the photo. I also don’t have a tripod, so I want to really learn how to use that as it makes taking photos much easier I think. I also want to go back to shooting on film and finally getting the hang of my Lomography camera.
9. Do you have any tips for beginning foodbloggers who like to improve their photography?
Most important is being creative. You don’t have to own a fancy kitchen or camera with all sorts of interesting buttons and such. Ofcourse it helps to have an SLR but you can get quite far with just the basic kitlens. Another tip is to be creative with materials. I have – for instance – a bright pink rug, but the backside is beige and perfect to use as a table cloth. I also once used the bottom of a green crate; the bottom was beautiful wood. So take a look under things also.. 😉
Other than that I use a piece of floor that would have been tossed out and I found on the streets. If you’re thinking a little but outside of the box, you can find so many beautiful materials everywhere! Also pay a visit to the thrift shops for plates and such and have a look in the back of your kitchen cabinets. You’ll be surprised maybe!
10. Who are your rolemodels (foodbloggers or foodphotographers)
My list of inspirations is really endless, because there are so many cool bloggers out there with fantastic photos and I find new ones every day. What I find important in a food photo is that it has to make me want to go out and buy stuff and start cooking. I also hope to achieve that effect in my own photos.
My favorite foodblogs are mostly based in Scandinavia and Australia. If I have to make a selection than these are some of my favorite foodbloggers: Helena Ljunggren, Green Kitchen Stories, Linda Lomelino, Hipsterfood, Little upside down cake, Sprouted Kitchen, Tartelette, My New Roots, the Vanilla Bean Blog, Katie Quinn Davies and the Food Club. And I probably forgot more than half… In Holland there is shared first place for Suus from Food Bandits and Marleen from Eten uit de volkstuin
11. Anything else you want to share with us?
First of all I am very honored to have received a spot in this blog series. I still get very happy and excited about all those sweet and nice reactions on my photos and recipes. The best part for me is the fact that my photos and recipes inspire others to start cooking.
I get a lot of questions from people who also want to start a foodblog. I just say ; Do it! Don’t let any lack of technical knowledge stop you from doing that or lack of space or whatever. I live in a dorm with a shabby kitchen. I have to laugh if I see myself taking photos in the weirdest outfits or the weirdest moves. People should see me in action really. haha.
I hope you like the little peak behind the scenes from Yellow Lemon Tree.