Is it cute or nah? Amping up your food photography

By Krysta Overton

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In this day and age, every millennial with a smartphone thinks they are a photographer. With all the assortments of apps, filters and fancy flash, automatic adjustments can be made to any picture to make it seemingly post worthy. But photography is about more than just the point and shoot, young Padawan. An experienced photographer can tell you that photography is much more than meets the eye.

(YES, PUN ATTENDED)

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http://www.eatnowdrinklater.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/chick.jpg.

This is especially true where food photography is concerned. Having an eye for the composition and detail of an exceptional food photograph takes practice and skill. I have been a photographer for the past 8 years and I am STILL nowhere near where I should be in terms of making photo greatness…but it’s a daily and sometimes even monthly endeavor.

So how does one improve? The first thing I always tell my friends is to STUDY! If you truly care about something, whether it’s a topic or situation or even a hobby, you learn what you can about it to make sure you are in “the know.” This applies to food photography as well. Find a favorite photographer or a favorite site and study the photos. Pay attention to how the photographer composed the picture, the supporting cast, the angle, the backdrop. This will give you an idea of how you should “see” when you are shooting. Obviously having a decent camera will help in this endeavor, and there are TONS of articles on the web to help you select the best one for you. If it’s a beginner’s hobby, or if you just don’t have the funds to invest in a new camera just yet (college struggles) then practice with a smartphone to work on improving the same items.

Some of my favorite sites for photo tips are Sarah Wilson and the Digital Photography School.  The photography school offers photo tips on EVERYTHING you could possibly think of if you are trying to expand your overall skill with a camera, but specifically for food photography I’ve consolidated some of their tips in 5 PHOTO BASICS:

1: The best way to go, A’ Naturale. Natural lighting is absolutely your friend where food photography is concerned. When shooting, try shooting from different points to incorporate different lighting. A diffuser may be helpful in some lighting, but overall, let the sun shine in.

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2: ANGLES! Think about women and selfies. Enough said? The angle you shoot from changes the entire perspective of the photo.

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3: Color is GOOD! Think of what draws you into a food photo: What catches your eye. One element of that is probably that pop of color and allure that grabs you when you see a picture. Color in photography can be adjusted via editing, but pay attention to it when shooting as well. The less you have to edit, the better you are becoming as a photographer.

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4: Details with food are like women and makeup. She may already look nice, but if you add a little lipstick here and a bit of blush there, BAM! Diva status. Food is the same way, if the details in the photo are evident then it enriches what may have been an already stellar photograph.

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5: Last, Composition is KEY! Placement in photographs is extremely important. It provides balance and makes the entire image more aesthetically pleasing. Learn about different methods of composition: leading lines, the rule of thirds, etc. These are ALL used in food photography and the more you know about them, the more options you have when shooting.

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Have fun!

To Blog or Not to Blog… that is the question

By Krysta Overton

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The thing about interests is, everybody has one.

(Yes, compare that to the joke about opinions and everyone having the same disposal region and this is officially the best intro of all time.)

I think that one of the best and most interesting things about humanity is that everyone is unique. So much so that according to Quora.com, in 2013 there were approximately 152 million blogs on the internet. 152 million various opinions about food, art, travel, sports, hair, socks, DIY’s, design, phobias, writing, reading, lint, paper mache crafts, bobble heads, music,  golden showers (no judgement), collecting stamps, furniture making, makeup, coffee, you, get, the, point. Every single one having a plethora of personal experiences and new outlooks to contribute to the awaiting reading.

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The Huffington Post produced an article about why people blog, and gave a list of reasons for this growing population of writers. Aside from sharing passions and knowledge that cover a vast amount of topics, bloggers can also make money through their endeavors. Blogging spans both the personal and professional, and can be as simple as a grandmother sharing her life and relationship with her grandchildren to a multi-billion dollar company CEO expanding on best business practices. Regardless of the reasons individuals’ blog, the big picture is that blogging is a medium to share information with world.

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So how does one start blogging? GOOD QUESTION! I did a little research on the easiest ways to join the Blogosphere via Bloggingbasics101.com and amylynnandrews.com, and came up with some quick tips on getting you on your way.

The first is the most obvious—Pick a topic to write about. I empathize that every facet of life may be interesting and type worthy but for the sake of not shell shocking future readers…let’s hone in on one topic or genre.

The second thing is to take the steps necessary in setting it up. Both of these sites go in depth on how to find a platform and host for a future blog space. At this point, it’s important to pick a name that’s catchy, interesting, and maybe even a little obvious to let the reader know what exactly they are getting themselves into.

The last thing is designing the page to fit a theme. Depending on which platform is used, design options may be slightly limited. Remember however, the look of the page is almost as important as the content. People definitely judge a book by its cover, so make sure the cover is TOO LEGIT for them to QUIT coming back. (Get the song reference?)

Good luck!

Dekmezian, G. (2016). Why do people blog: The benefits of blogging. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-dekmezian/why-do-people-blog-the-be_b_8178624.html

Lee, R. (2015). How many blogs exist in the world? Quora. Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/How-many-blogs-exist-in-the-world

Knapp, J. (2016). How to start a blog: Beginner’s guide for 2017. BloggingBasics101. Retrieved from https://www.bloggingbasics101.com/how-do-i-start-a-blog/

Andrews, A. (2017). How to start a blog. Amy Lynn Andrews. Retrieved from https://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-start-a-blog/

The Struggles of Food Blogging

by: Krysta Overton

http://www.healthnutnation.com/2014/08/18/learn-start-food-blog/

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When it comes to pursuing the things we love, it’s fairly easy. It’s a personal endeavor that involves you, yourself, and whatever other alternate personality you use when you’re out on the weekends.  When it comes to converting that interest into “likes” so other people will want to be a part of that endeavor, it becomes a whole new ball game.

And here, on the not so lonely precipice that is food blogging, is where I found my issue. Food blogging has become a craze on social media. Partly owned by the fact that people love to eat, but more so because the next best thing to eating is obviously looking at pictures of food. Food blogs have taken on random forms, from recipes covering every possible food genre known to man, to food blogs centered on making food “pretty,” recipes, restaurants, and reviews… the choices are absolutely endless. So when food blogging, how does one keep their blog afloat among all the other equally interesting options?

From my research, I summed it into 3 different rules, though I’m sure there are many more or the rules could be broken down even further.

  • Nevertheless, rule number one: Pick your audience. By pick your audience, I mean a combination of knowing who your audience is and catering directly to them. Social media offers a plethora of platforms that enable one to engage with their public, but even then, it’s extremely possible to overextend yourself. If Facebook and Instagram are getting the most feedback, then focus primarily on those two. That is where the audience is.
  • Rule number 2: POST! I haven’t met a single fellow blogger who isn’t pressed for time at some point or another. With full time jobs and children and LIFE, it’s easy to not always be able to factor in a few spare hours to write a well thought out blog. Oddly enough though, that is the exact thing that can be the difference between a successful page and a page populated by the “friends and family” morally obligated to support and follow us on social media. The articles I read said that posting often is a must, and posting monthly should definitely be the minimum.tuna-584x400http://www.eatnowdrinklater.com/lamb-chop-dish/
  • The last rule, rule number three: It’s all about the content. This one goes without saying in my opinion. If you have a food blog that relies heavily on food photography and the photography is garbage… I’d say you have a little bit of an issue. The writing, the photography, and whatever else one adds to a post should be intentional and thought out. The goal is not to drown the reader, but intrigue them.

These aren’t the only things needed for a good food blog, but hey, it’s a pretty good start.

 

Bryan, A. 2016. How to increase food blog traffic and visitors. Urban Tastebud. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from http://urbantastebud.com/how-to-increase-food-blog-traffic-and-visitors/

Gibbs, A. 2015. Food blogging: How to cook your way to success. CNBC. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/14/food-blogging-how-to-cook-your-way-to-success.html

 

How To Start a Blog

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By: Rachel Pittman

When you are trying to start a blog, it can be confusing where to start and how to use the platform to showcase yourself. Here are some helpful tips for beginner bloggers.

What is your blog topic: The first thing you need to do is to figure out what you are going to blog about. The best thing to blog about is something that you are passionate/ knowledgeable about and can see yourself writing about for a long time. Examples of blog topics are fashion, food, travel, DIY, and news/political.

Find a blogging service to use: The second thing you need to do is to figure out what blogging service will best fit your needs. There are many different blogging services that are free to use. The most popular free services are WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Wix, and Weebly. The best way to find a blogging service is to do research about the websites and to make a list of things you are looking for in a blogging platform. For example, I wanted a blogging service that was easy to use and was SEO friendly. This website shows a great infographic of the pros and cons of these websites.

What to name your blog: After you have figured out what you will blog about and what blogging platform you will use, the next step is to think of the name of your blog. The best blog names give the reader insight about what your blog will be about, stands out from the crowd, and separates your from your competition. How I came up with the name of my blog was by writing down words associated with my blog topic and pairing them together to create a unique name. According to icanbuildablog.com, “After you come up with a blog name, check on Google and other domain registry sites to see if the name has already been taken. It the name has been taken, alter it to fit your brand. Once you’ve checked to see if the name hasn’t been taken, you are ready to start blogging!

Sources

Banner, M. (2016, November 28). List of Best Free Blogging Sites & Platforms. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.onblastblog.com/best-blogging-platforms/

How To Come Up With The Perfect Blog Name! (2015). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://icanbuildablog.com/2014/03/how-to-come-up-with-the-perfect-blog-name/

How To Drive Traffic To Your Blog

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By: Rachel Pittman

When you first start blogging, the most difficult thing to do is to get people to view your content. It can be frustrating at first,but once you incorporate these few steps , you will see results.

Comment on other blogs: In order to get people commenting and visiting your blog, you need to comment and visit other people’s blogs. The best way to do this is to leave genuine comments. For example, you can leave a comment complementing a fashion blogger on the way she styled her jacket. Leave one link maximum in your comment that goes back to your website. My advice is to comment on blogs that have a similar niche to yours. Since they are interested in the same thing you are writing about, there is more of a chance that they will want to read and interact with your blog.

Join blogging communities: Being active on a blogging community can help increase your audience.It’s a great place to network with bloggers from around the world. On these sites, you can exchange your blog and social media sites, blogging tips,and gain inspiration for your blog posts. For fashion bloggers, some of my favorite blogging communities are IFB, Bloglovin, and Lookbook.

Collaborating with other bloggers: Collaborating with other bloggers not only gains you new followers, but it also helps them gain a following as well. You can collaborate with other bloggers by writing a guest post on someone else’s website , recording a podcast, filming a video, etc. Try reaching out to other bloggers that have a similar amount of followers as you,  that way one person is not benefiting more than the other.

Post Consistently:  “Studies show the more often you update your blog, the more traffic it will receive.” Make a set time and day to post and stick with it. Readers like to know when to expect a blog post. My suggestion is to post at least once a week.

Share to your social media sites: If you do not announce to people that you  poted something to your blog, people will not know that it is there. This includes sharing to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc. When you share your posts, create a call to action. ” A call to action is an invitation for your readers to take a certain action. They can consist of beautifully-designed or simple buttons or well written text.” Encourage your followers to click the link to your blog and to share your content. On your blog, make sure there are buttons that make it easy for others to share your content. For example, add a pin it button that hovers over your images so people can easily share your post on their Pinterest site.

References

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/20-ways-to-drive-more-traffic-to-your-blog/

http://writtent.com/blog/15-call-action-samples-rocking-blog-posts-convert/

How Social Media has Empowered Plus Size Women

(photo credit: ashleystewart.com)

By Allison Grimaldo // @AlmGrimaldo

So, you’re a curvy girl who likes fashion? Many times, when faced with the task of shopping, we think that the only place to find clothing is Sears…or other clothing stores that don’t have many stylish options for women in their 20’s.

 

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It isn’t about being a size 2 anymore, but being comfortable with your body. At least, that’s what many women are starting to realize through social media, the rise of plus-size models and clothing options. FYI being “plus size” typically means you are looking at clothing ranging in sizes from 16 and up (in the model world, it’s a size 8 and up).

Up until around 2010, many plus size women were hardly being mentioned, and when they were, it was because they needed to fix their weight to look like so society’s definition of “skinny”. If you’re like me, you also weren’t seeing many fashion blogs geared towards curvier women. It was always a struggle to find clothing brands that fit my style, and even harder to find a model wearing the larger sizes. You were never getting a true idea of how something fit until you were trying it on yourself.

Thankfully, we have seen a crucial turn in the way society views women with curves. How did I first start seeing that turnaround? Instagram.

 

Instagram (and Pinterest) were my number one go-to apps when I wanted some advice on how to dress cute for a night out, or for tips and ideas on what brands to buy for everyday outfits. Beautiful women were teaching me that you can be curvy…and that’s okay! It’s been really great to see these bloggers grow by using their Instagram and other social media apps to help them shed light on what plus size fashion is out there.

The brand Ashley Stewart is the perfect example of how much the use of social media, Instagram in particular, can help a brand. According to an article written in the Washington Post, in 2013 Ashley Stewart had previously filed for bankruptcy, and was looking for ways to attract more shoppers. With the help of some company changes and Instagram, Ashley Stewart was able to build the brand back up using social media as a way to get ladies with curves into their stores.

It's An "Add To Cart" Kind Of Day! Take 35% Off With Power Lunch Only @ www.AshleyStewart.com

A post shared by Ashley Stewart (@byashleystewart) on

 

When you’re constantly comparing yourself to the size 3 models splashed on the cover of magazines and promoting their brands on popular social media sites, it can be hard to feel confident in your body. But with the help of many plus size bloggers, they have made the internet a safer and more accepting place to show off your curves, and not be afraid of how others might judge you.

Sources:

Beck, Laura. “Is This What a Plus-Size Model Should Look Like?”Cosmopolitan. N.p., 28 Sept.Web. 02 Oct. 2016.  http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/celebs/a18375/plus-sized-models/.

Givhan, Robin. “How a Plus-size Clothing Label Dug out of Bankruptcy: Body Pride, Diversity and Instagram.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 02 Oct. 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-a-plus-size-clothing-label-dug-out-of-bankruptcy-body-pride-diversity-and-instagram/2016/09/01/5925b47a-63d4-11e6-be4e-23fc4d4d12b4_story.html.

Stylcaster. “23 Plus-Size Fashion Bloggers That Are Changing The Game.”Http://stylecaster.com/N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2016. http://stylecaster.com/plus-size-fashion-bloggers/

 

Facebook Live Connecting Lives

By: Brandy Walker

 

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Photo: Facebook

 

“Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you babe.” The 1967 hit, originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell seems to have foreshadowed today’s era of social media.

Social media has been warmly embraced by many people around the globe. It has been a successful tool in bridging families and friendships together that are separated by distance. According to an article by the Pew Research Center, “Roughly two thirds (67%) of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn.”

Applications like, Facebook Live, make it possible to share memorable moments with loved ones in  real time! Facebook Newsroom reports that since their launch last year, they have also added a new feature that makes it possible to stream live within specific groups that are created by the user. So you now have the choice to share your live stream with everyone, or you can share it with a specific group of people.

Just yesterday, I was able to benefit from the popular Facebook Live application. Due to parental responsibilities, I was unable to travel out of town to my cousin’s wedding. I felt awful about missing her special day, but thanks to social media I was able to witness her walking down the isle in her beautiful wedding dress in real time. I’d like to think that every joyful tear that fell from my eyes, somehow travelled through the web and filled the room with my well wishes.

Of course nothing compares to being able to share special moments with friends and family, but when things in life prevent you from being there physically – social media may be your next best choice.

Photo Credit: Facebook

Citations:

Using social media to keep in touch. (2011, December 22). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/using-social-media-to-keep-in-touch/

Simo, F. (2016, April 6). Introducing new ways to create, share and discover live video on Facebook. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/04/introducing-new-ways-to-create-share-and-discover-live-video-on-facebook/