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!

Insta Food Fad

Written by: Sydney Wilburn

Projected fashion trends in 2017: sleeve slits, khaki and the color yellow.

Hairstyle trends in 2017: blowouts, twisted minimalism and something called “festival lingering.”

Instagram food trends of 2017: Magic.

Popsugar predicts that Instagram foodies will move on from the rainbow-colored everything trend from 2016 and replace it with metallic sprinkles and edible glitter. Some of Huffington Posts’ 2017 Food Trends seem to be created with Instagram in mind;  the increase of serving everything in a bowl instantly makes your meal both more aesthetic on your feed and more exotic to your followers. It seems like the overhead-shot of some crazy culinary concoction on our Instagram feed is the equivalent to the offbeat and sometime downright bizarre clothing we see models wear in Fashion Week. Would the average person pull that out of the closet to wear to school? Probably not. Would the average person choose to go out of their way to turn their sushi into a doughnut-shaped Ista fad? Probably not. But, like the styles of fashion week, we’ll soon start seeing these food trends trickle into our everyday lives in modified forms through social media, especially Instagram.

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The newest fad in Instagrammable cuisine– the sushi doughnut.

Popsugar explains that, like other forms of media like home remodeling TV shows or even Fashion Week, many viewers don’t watch to reproduce these products exactly– it’s a form of entertainment, watching a form of artwork created. Some even say that posting your filter-covered meal on Instagram makes it taste better when you finally put the camera down and dig in. This psychological trick, in addition to adding a location to your photo and probably a hashtag or two, has the potential to increase a restaurant’s cool-factor, customer base, and of course, social media engagement. I’ve seen signs posted in restaurants to encourage friends and families to put away their phones during meal times and enjoy each other’s’ company. Coming from a humanistic side, I see the value in this. However, my social media and business-minded side is desperately jumping at this opportunity. Encourage your patrons to post the most creative photo of their meal on their Instagram profile and use the establishment’s personalized hashtag (or even better, tag the establishment themselves in the photo because they should have an Instagram account). Use Instagram’s location-tagging feature to let people know where you are. And, after they’ve hit “Post,” they’ll dig into their (hopefully still warm) meal and– according to science!– enjoy it just a little more because they’ve shared it with their friends.

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

 

First Blog – Jasmine Ibanez

Hey class! My name is Jasmine Ibanez, and I just wanted to take the time to talk about some issues that I feel are important to share.

A few days ago, I watched a Facebook video of a sentimental mother sharing her story about her little boy and a his classmate. In the video, the mother explained that her son had been asking her to make him two school lunches instead of his usual one meal. It turns out, her little boy had been asking for an extra lunch because a classmate would sit alone and eat nothing but a fruit cup for lunch. The boy’s mother was touched and refused when the other boy’s mother offered to pay her back. Instead, the mothers raised money together and donated the money to pay the overdrawn lunch accounts the kids had at the school.

(You can read the full story here!)

This video actually made me upset. How is it that millions and millions of people pay thousands of dollars in taxes each year and their children can’t even get a decent meal at school. I remember my lunches would LITERALLY be molded bread on a sandwich and brown apple slices usually accompanied by an expired milk. I’m not joking. My school would  make kids actually pay for this food.

In this picture below I acquired from ViralYak, you can see a comparison of school lunches around the world. (A little disclaimer, the USA lunch in the picture looks so much better than what we were given when I was in high school and the portions look significantly bigger.)

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As you can see, the USA lunch looks significantly unhealthier and less balanced, something growing kids need from their meals. On top of having unhealthy, rotten food choices, TAXPAYER CHILDREN HAVE TO PAY FOR THESE MEALS!!

In my personal opinion, children should not have to pay for a standard school lunch. If kids do not have the option to miss public school without repercussions, feeding a child should not be an option for a school.

Easily Distracted

Written by Jasmine Echols

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Image Source

 

“One second while I check my Instagram…”

With the holidays coming up, how many of us disconnect from our phones and social media accounts in order to spend time with our loved ones? How many of us actually can disconnect? With jobs in social media and classes requiring us to be ‘in the know’ how does one disconnect? Many of us, myself included, are attached to our phones and with what’s happening on social media. But is social media really that important?

 

That seems to be the case today. Social media has consumed a lot of our lives and our time. Not only are young people affected by it but adults are, too. Has our society become so in touch with technology that we’ve forgotten how to do life without it? If we’re not watching TV at the dinner table, someone’s got his or her phone, tablet or computer out.

 

Aunt Nancy has found a new way to house the family’s embarrassing photos on her Facebook while Uncle Dave figured out how to play poker on his Facebook. Megan is obsessed with the new Instagram filters while mom and dad are too distracted with their own accounts to notice. Notice what, you may ask. To notice that while the family is there, no one is actually ‘present.’

 

Don’t get me wrong, there is no harm in families using social media, but the holidays should be a time spent together. Facebook photo albums can be fun, but there’s nothing like passing around the classic family photo album full of past memories. People thrive on togetherness and while social media can help us connect with others, we should never take for granted the time we have to connect with our families and loved ones—face-to-face.

 

The holidays are approaching and we can choose to make the best of our time by disconnecting from social media for a day. After all, everyone will pretty much be sharing the same things: food pictures, goofy photos and statuses about the funny things a family member’s saying. Why not engage in real time with out families and give social media a break for a day, or a few hours—whichever is easiest to commit to. 😉

 

 

Kirkova, Deni. “Tech Is Taking over the Dinner Table: THIRD of Kids Distracted by Phones at Meal times and Social Media Sites Are the Biggest Draw.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2016

 

 

Borowski, Rachel. “How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Do Holidays.” How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Do Holidays.” Word Write Communications, 6 Jan. 2015. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.

 

 

 

Whatajack

Written by Gabrielle Ebron (@gabrielleebron)

During one of the strategic social media class lectures we discussed a term used in the social media world called “newsjacking.” This refers to capitalizing on a breaking news hashtag or trending topic to promote your company, business, brand etc. We saw many epic fails of newsjacking like the clothing boutique that inappropriately tweeted about their “Aurora dress” following the deadly shooting in a Colorado theater.

The correct time to newsjack is when you can appropriately relate your brand to the hashtag/topic without being offensive or jeopardizing your company by causing conflict that will lead to negative backlash. One company that is very skilled at newsjacking is Whataburger.

Whataburger’s Twitter account is one of their main sources for customer service and interaction. They utilize their Twitter as a means to directly resolve customer complaint and give kudos to customer compliment. Many brands have switched to this social media based customer service as it allows for quicker response time.

But not only is Whataburger actively serving the needs of their patty-melt eating customers, they’re also keeping us very, very entertained. They often do this by piggy-backing off trending topics in the media.

In the past couple of months, Whataburger has had some tweets go slightly viral – shaking up the TL nonetheless. I’m sure it would be interesting to study the sales numbers in the hours following their newsjacking tweets see if their sly social media tactics have any impact on conversion.

Here are some of the clever tweets with a bit of context below:

whataburger-tweets

Source: Twitter screenshot by author

Notre Dame: After a double overtime loss to the Longhorns of the University of Texas, Whataburger sent out a tweet to the Fighting Irish reminding them that Texas is on top in more ways than just football. This was one of Whataburger’s most reacted to tweets of the year. It was featured in the headlines of numerous publications, including the web version of USA Today’s sports section.

Vine: On Oct. 27, 2016, Twitter was set ablaze amidst reports that Vine, a video uploading app released in 2013, would be shutting down soon. Vine was the pioneer to social media video sharing and prompted Instagram’s implementing of videos and preceded the app Snapchat. Whataburger of course had to have its hand in the tragic news.

Cowboys: On Nov. 6 the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Cleveland Browns. Tight end Jason Witten had 8 catches and 1 touchdown for a total of 134 yards. There seemed to not be a time Witten wasn’t open, kind of like Whataburger – the 24 hour fast food restaurant.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs won the World Series on Nov. 2 after 107 years without a title. This was a very historic moment for the franchise and the entire sports world was happy for their accomplishment. However, here in Texas, we can’t go without a few things ourselves – i.e., Whataburger.

Mannequin Challenge: The mannequin challenge is the newest social media craze. A test of standing still with the popular hip-hop song “Black Beatles” by the rap group Rae Sremmurd playing in the background. Many celebrities, sports teams and every day civilians have attempted the challenge and uploaded videos to their social media accounts and thus going viral. Whataburger has not yet uploaded a video on their behalf but we can assume they tried according to their tweet.

Sources:

Wainwright, Corey. (2012, May 23) The Inbound Marketer’s Complete Guide to Newsjacking. Retrieved from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/32983/The-Inbound-Marketer-s-Complete-Guide-to-Newsjacking.aspx#sm.00000qajcluwmoe31whq86htdhiuq

Mandell, Nina. (2016, Sep. 4) Whataburger trolls Notre Dame with brilliant tweet following Texas’ 2OT win. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/09/whataburger-trolls-notre-dame-with-brilliant-tweet-following-texas-2ot-win

How Social Media Is Changing The Way We Eat

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Image source 

By: Rachel Pittman

Every time I go online, I become instantly hungry. There are countless photos, videos, and status updates that involve food. It’s difficult to not spend hours looking through all of the different food photos, planning your next trip to the best new restaurant in town, and attempting to become the next Martha Stewart. New media gives the opportunity and inspiration to discover and create. Here are some different apps to use to become the ultimate #foodie.

Pinterest- Pinterest is the perfect app for cooking inspiration. You can look up recipes for any dish you want to try and discover new recipes you didn’t know existed. For example, if you want to learn how to make homemade mac and cheese, you could search for it, and the app will show different pictures and recipes for the dish.

 Instagram: Instagram is a great way to discover new restaurants. According to FoodBusinessNews, “ Sixty percent of U.S. diners said they browse food photos on social media, the survey found, and seventy five said they have chosen a place to eat based on these photos alone.” For example, if you were planning on going on vacation in New York City, you could type in the search bar New York City and look to see what people are eating there. Instagram also gives us inspiration on how take pictures of our food. On Instagram, the most aesthetically pleasing food does the best on the app. To get the best shot of your food, take a picture from above (birds eye view shot). Food/drink items that usually get the most likes are: lattes, pizza, donuts, and ice cream.

Yelp: Yelp is a “ service to help people find great local businesses.” People can go on the site and review a business based on their experience. Many use this app to check out a restaurant before they eat there. This helps customers make more informed decisions about where they eat. The success of this platform relies on word of mouth. Many people will trust the reviews of other people over reviews from traditional media outlets and advertisers.

References

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Consumer_Trends/2016/09/Social_media_swaying_restauran.aspx?ID=%7B4E92FA7A-ECC0-4CFA-906E-EE7846E85EDE%7D&cck=1

https://www.yelp.com/about

http://www.delish.com/food/a43479/instagram-worthy-foods/