Photography Struggles + Fig, Ricotta and Lemon Crostini

I have been in a bit of a photo funk lately. I feel like I am experiencing less and less of those magic moments of taking a photo I consider to be truly beautiful, and am more and more often disappointed with what I have when I download my images.

I think it really started when I read Plate To Pixel from cover to cover. Not to blame Helene from Tartlette at all, but trying to compare my photos to hers is already setting me up for failure. It’s like taping up photos of flawless supermodels while I try on bathing suits. The other problem with this book is that although it is utterly inspiring with its advice on food styling, the skills that she writes about just do not come naturally to me.

You see, it is not in my nature to style photographs. When I take pictures of people, I try to give them minimal direction and instead adjust myself to them in hopes of capturing a beautiful moment. The same holds true when I try to photograph things I think to be beautiful. I do not like to interfere; I like to capture the moment/object/location as it is.

Food photography, however, is an entirely different beast. The best food photographs, the ones that really suck us in, have been worked and manipulated to achieve that appetizing appearance. My preference would be to simply cook the dish, plate how I would normally eat it, and then snap photos. This used to be enough to satisfy me, but lately, I feel the need to stretch beyond my comfort zone and try more interesting plating styles, to use different textures or backgrounds or to incorporate props. But since these aren’t skills that come naturally to me, I find myself struggling to work the dish into the vision I’m trying to achieve. I look at the photos and think they are cheap knock-offs of what other people actually do remarkably well. Or sometimes, I just feel like I missed the mark altogether.

I’m not trying to be the girl who complains all the time that she’s fat even though she eats cupcakes all day and still has a nice figure. But so often bloggers try to come across as though everything they do is effortless (No biggie, I just totally whipped up this 5 hour recipe in my spare time and took these photos with one hand and I wasn’t even looking but now that you mention it they DO look stunning), and I like to hear other people admit that being creative can, and often is,¬† difficult. But of course, it’s still worth it. I am on a search for my photography “voice” and have yet to find it yet, but I know that I will.

So at any rate, now that I have totally rambled about photos, I hope you will read past it and give this superb recipe a try. It’s recipes like this that make me want to be a better photographer so that I could capture¬† just how delicious it is.

BTW – can I just give a quick shout out to Photoshop? Without it I would probably have given up on this blog. With it I changed a photo from this:

To this:

Total magic. A struggling photographer’s best friend for life.

Fig, Ricotta and Lemon Crostini

Adapted from Whole Living

The original recipe used macerated cherries instead of these figs. I LOVE fig jam and so I cooked the figs until they were approaching a jam state. When combined with the ricotta this was pure heaven.

6 ounces chopped figs
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
Sliced crusty bread (I used French baguette)
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
Grated zest of 1 lemon

In a small saucepan combine the figs, sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the water has started to evaporate and they mixture is just starting to congeal, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the sliced bread with olive oil and either grill or toast until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Spread the ricotta on the slices of bread and top with fig mixture. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Yummmmm….

Print this recipe!

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10 Thoughts on “Photography Struggles + Fig, Ricotta and Lemon Crostini

  1. I TOTALLY know what you mean about the “oh I cooked this 5 hour recipe and then photographed it and these are the pics”… it’s funny styling food sometimes is the opposite of what you actually you eat!

  2. Your Bestest on October 7, 2011 at said:

    These aren’t from my backyard! Come take some figs and make something fantastic, otherwise the neighborhood squirrels will eat them all… and let me tell you, they’re already looking pretty fat….

  3. I know how you feel. I’ve been feeling discouraged by my photography, too. At least you’re still posting. My last one was in August! I love my blog and I love the creativity it provides, but I’m such a perfectionist; I can’t just be satisfied with where I’m at now. I appreciate you sharing this and know that you are by no means the only one. Ultimately, it’s all about the food anyway. Don’t get discouraged! (I’m telling myself the same thing….)

  4. I totally understand your plight. Right now I’m struggling with finding my food voice, and then taking a picture of said food that I actually don’t loathe entirely. If it makes you feel better, I like your photography style, the food always looks good to me. As for my photos….I’ve got work to do, sans photoshop for now

  5. I could not have listened to that piece by Ira Glass, or found your post at a better time. I know exactly what you’re talking about. And the problem for me too is that so much of the time I want my photos to capture the joy that the food has brought- and the process of trying to get the right shot just leaks the joy right out.

  6. I could’t agree more about Photoshop. But that also as a steep learning curve. Just the other night I was considering the possibility of reprocessing lots of my old pictures now that I’ve learned a bit more. Will I feel the same way a year from now about pictures I’m taking right now?

    • Caroline on October 20, 2011 at said:

      I totally agree! Whenever I master a new process on Photoshop I tend to go overboard on the photos I’m editing now. Then I look back a year later and go, “what was I thinking?”

  7. This post really speaks to me! Trying to stay true to my own voice is a struggle for me too. I command you to speaking about it, I was starting to feel like I was the only one :P Keep on going! :-)

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