A Tutorial on How to Take Pictures for Your Own Cookbook

It is one thing to organise a photo shoot at a restaurant or a client brief for a particular project. On the other hand, how do you go about arranging and photographing a project that takes place over a much longer length of time, such as a cookbook? This page contains my recommendations on how to photograph a self-published cookbook; however, the information provided here may also be used in the process of photography a longer project such as an electronic book.

Acquire a Firm Grip on Your Own Unique Aesthetic

It’s conceivable that after you’ve chosen the topic of your cookbook, it will become immediately apparent to you how you want the end result to appear aesthetically and emotionally. If this is the case, great! If not, don’t worry about it just yet. To keep you motivated, get started collecting visual inspiration from Pinterest, magazines, or other recipes, and then evaluate what speaks to you and what doesn’t depending on what you find appealing. Do this with anything about which you are unsure to the fullest extent.

The following is a list of questions that you need to ask yourself:

How should I feel after reading the cookbook, and what kind of mood should it evoke in me as I read it?

When they finish reading the book, what kinds of feelings do I want them to have?

Does the appearance remain consistent despite the passage of time and the change of the seasons?

Do I want to capture photographs with strong light, soft light, or a mixture of the two?

To what extent do I want this to involve me participating in physical activity?

Do I want to put more of an emphasis on food portraiture, or should I also include tablescapes that are more expansive?

When I first started working on my cookbook, I had it firmly in mind that I wanted the whole thing to exude a feeling that was vivid, peppy, self-assured, and thrilling. Because of this, it was simple to take photographs throughout the session that featured powerful light, vivid splashes of colour, as well as a range of macro and food portrait shots.

Pick on a colour scheme from the options

After you have a solid idea of the ambience and vibe you want to express in your cookbook, the next step is to choose the primary colour palette for the book. In the case that the book contains recipes for soups or stews, the tones and colours may be developed using a fall colour scheme that includes hues of brown, burnt orange, and mossy green. Alternatively, the book may not have any recipes for soups or stews.

It’s conceivable that the content of your book will serve as motivation for the colour scheme that you decide to go with. You will find it much simpler to compose a book that has a cohesive and consistent appearance if you write it while adhering to the constraints of a colour scheme that has been chosen in advance.

A Tutorial on How to Take Pictures for Your Own Cookbook 1
Image Credit Fstoppers.com

Although it goes without saying that there are no ironclad restrictions, I did find it beneficial to choose six or seven primary colours that I would weave throughout the entirety of the book, most noticeably through the choices of vibrant surfaces. After that, I added a sense of variety by utilising props, style, and composition that complemented one another and worked in conjunction with one another.

Obtaining All of the Required Tools and Equipment

It’s likely that you already have a sizable collection of props at home that is a great match for the aesthetic that you’ve envisioned for your cookbook. If so, you may use those. If that is the case, then you shouldn’t have any problems moving on!

But, it is more likely that you already possess some pieces that are ideal; however, you will need to extend your collection in order to give adequate visual variance for a complete cookbook. If you are working with a restricted amount of money, there are a few creative techniques you can take, but it is amazing that you have the financial means to acquire more. If you are working with a limited amount of money, it is wonderful that you can acquire more.

I went to a local home goods store in my city that had a lot of products that I was convinced would match the aesthetic that I wanted to achieve with my book and asked for their assistance. I did this because I was confident that the items would fit the aesthetic that I wanted to achieve with my book. When I had a picture shoot set in my calendar, I would send an email to the store with a list of the items that I wanted to rent, and the company would charge me twenty per cent of the item’s original retail price.

This gave me the opportunity to include new things for each section of the cookbook while yet allowing me to maintain a feeling of continuity throughout the various picture sessions. I could also buy things that would be perfect for a certain meal, but they wouldn’t be something that I would absolutely want to have in my own collection of props since I wouldn’t use them very frequently.

You also have the option of contacting local food or props stylists in your area and negotiating a similar loan agreement with them. This alternative provides you with other borrowing options. This would provide you the ability to choose goods from their collection, use them, and then return them when you are done.


When you have an idea of where you want to take your cookbook, the next step is to plan out the days on which you will take pictures of the recipes. Once you have an idea of where you want to take your cookbook, you can go on to the next phase. You may stay on top of things by making use of tracking software such as Asana, or you can just make use of the calendar that is pre-installed on your phone or computer. Either way, you have options. It is really necessary to have a solid comprehension of the working approach that you favour the most.

Because I wanted to be able to finish the entire cookbook in one heroic push, I decided against shooting on many days of the week for seven or eight weeks, despite the fact that I am aware that doing so might be beneficial for certain individuals. I am aware of the possibility that some individuals will find success with this approach.

Instead, I committed one week at a time to concentrate on my photography while I made my way through the photography book chapter by chapter. Due to the fact that I was responsible for everything, including cooking the food, plating it, styling it, shooting it, and cleaning up afterwards, this turned out to be a pretty good plan.

This tactic gave me enough wiggle room around the parameters of my schedule so that I could maintain my momentum, take some time to look at the photographs I had taken, and decide whether or not I was enjoying the direction I was headed in, as well as what modifications I wanted to make in order to move forward.

You should make every attempt to keep some degree of flexibility in the plan that you select to implement. Despite the fact that the bulk of my cookbook was photographed chapter by chapter, there were several instances in which I had not finished all of the testings for every dish. As a consequence of this, some of the shoot weeks consisted of a combination of recipes from multiple chapters, depending on where I was in the process of testing the recipes. In other words, I didn’t stick to just one chapter’s worth of dishes during those weeks.

Print Your Images

When you have done photographing an entire section, you should either use the printer in your home or take the files to a print shop so that you can see the images in their real form. This will allow you to make any necessary adjustments before moving on to the next section. You may tack them up on a wall in the sequence that you thought they would follow in your head and see how it looks.

This will not only help you get a sense of how the book flows visually, but it will also give you a chance to spot any details that might need your attention in retouching, such as stray crumbs or mess on the lip of a bowl that might have escaped you on the screen. Doing this will help you get a sense of how the book flows visually, but it will also give you a chance to spot any details that might need your attention in retouching.

You are able to do this by tacking them to a wall in the sequence that you had envisioned they would follow. You are free to rearrange the images in any way you see suitable in order to establish which areas may benefit from the inclusion of extra white space, variation, a new viewpoint, or some movement.

You have the ability to work according to your own pace and reshoot anything that isn’t working well for you when you self-publish a cookbook. This gives you more control over the final product. This may save a significant amount of time.


If you have ever taken on a project that required more time and effort, such as self-publishing a cookbook or creating your own e-book, I would be very interested in hearing your advice on how you approached the task, how you kept the momentum going, or how you developed a process that enabled you to be as satisfied as possible with the end result. For example, if you have ever self-published a cookbook or creating your own e-book, I would be very interested in hearing how you kept the momentum

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