A Peek Inside My Inbox

by Jamie on May 26, 2011

One of the most common email subject lines to appear in my inbox is photography. Although I truly love hearing from you guys and helping you out in any way that I can, I kinda dread this topic.

Not because I don’t love photography, but because it’s a concept that’s difficult for me to explain. Although I teach for a living, I’m really not all that great with the technical jargon, so my responses often include words like thingy, whatchamacallit and thingamabob. Plus, I really only know my Canon dSLR, so things get even more muddy when presented with point and shoot or Nikon questions.

I have plans to start a photography based series this summer, but I can guarantee you that I will never be able to adequately explain the ins and outs of camera settings. The series will include topics such as lighting, props, and equipment – things that I am comfortable with and feel that I can explain without confusing you even more. Because trust me, I will confuse you more (yes, that is possible) if I even start discussing topics like aperture.

At the end of March, I upgraded from a Canon Rebel Xsi to a Canon 7d. I was lost. Really. Really. Lost. The first few days that I had both cameras in my possession, I started to use the Rebel as a crutch and on day 4, I decided that I had two choices. Return the 7d or part with the Rebel immediately.

I went to the garage and grabbed the dusty, spider webbed boxes from the shelves and began to neatly pack everything away. As I dug for the manual in my office, a wave of emotion took over that was quite inexplicable. Tears welled in my eyes and my camera and I had a brief moment of silence. Well, the camera was silent. I kinda had a brief conversation and boxed her up.

The Rebel is what I started MBA with back on a polka dot blogger template, with my dad as my only reader. It was a feeling that is truly hard to put into words, but it was almost like a piece of me got packed away in that dusty box. The Rebel is now safe in a new home with a newbie photographer, and I’m told I’ll be allowed supervised visits after some time has passed. Luckily, after about fifteen minutes of hyperventilating, I was cool and ready to fully dive into the 7d. With the help of numerous Skype chats with Shaina and Katie, I was able to figure out some of the new features fairly quickly and snapped a few of my first photos with reasonable results.

I’m not the type of person that learns from reading manuals. It’s boring as hell and my brain doesn’t process well when I am bored. I’m a visual and hands on learner, so I headed to youtube with my camera in hand and simply watched as many relevant videos that I could find.

I’m slowly learning how my 7d works and truly learn something new every single day. I don’t think I’ll ever be done learning the art of photography, but that is one of things that I love most about it. I’ll forever be a work in progress.

Fresh Berries | Image Credit: Photo Courtesy of Helene Dujardin

I want to bring your attention to an incredible new book.

If you love food photography, there is no doubt in my mind that you stumbled upon the work of Helene Dujardin. She is the food writer and uber talented photographer behind the blog Tartelette. Helene has the ability to tell a story through her photos like not many can. You’ll be captivated by her lighting, composition and styling while she takes you on a journey with her words and images.

Helene’s book Plate to Pixel came out just last month. I could not put it down once I opened it. So approachable, it’s like she was inside my brain, teaching me things I’d never even considered – and I’ve considered a lot when it comes to photography. I think everyone can learn something from Helene’s book, whether you’re a veteran or novice at photography. You’ll have plenty of a-ha moments which will certainly help you create better images.

I’m actually rereading the book now in an effort to take everything in for a second time. Yes, it’s that good that you can read it twice. I have colored coded sticky notes (yes, I am that anal) throughout the book signaling everything from inspiring composition to hints on setting my white balance.

If you are an aspiring photographer or simply want to take your food photography to another level, Plate to Pixel is a must read. I’m pretty certain it will become an a great source of inspiration and an indispensable tool throughout your personal photography journey. Buy it, read it, absorb it and I promise it will become your new BFF.

Want to win a copy of Plate to Pixel?

I’m giving two copies away because I want to spread the food photography love.

How do you Win?

Simply leave a comment on this post telling me what you would love to improve about your photography.

Important Details

-This giveaway is open to USA residents only and will run until Friday, June 3rd at 11:59 pm EST.
-Winner(s) will be generated via a random number generator software program. Winner will be notified via the contact email provided on the comment contact form.
-Winner(s) will have until 6/7/11 to claim their copy of Plate to Pixel or we will choose another winner.
-See Official Giveaway Rules.
-This giveaway is not sponsored, I will be purchasing the book and shipping it directly to the winners.


{ 223 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy S May 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Really new to digital photography. Would love to photograph things the way “I see them”. They rarely turn out that way!

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Miriam May 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Would love to improve my composition. The art of Helen’s pictures leaves me breathless.

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Rachel @ Bakerita May 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I need to know pretty much every thing there is to know…but mostly I want to know what to adjust my camera settings to ge the best pictures and the do’s and don’t’s of styling.

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Carla May 30, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Just received a new camera for my Bday/Mothers Day! So excited to learn more about photography!

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Tracie B May 31, 2011 at 8:37 am

I am wanting to photograph food for a family cookbook that I would like to publish this year. I need all the help I can get!

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pratz May 31, 2011 at 9:56 am

There is not just one thing. I want to learn a lot about the lighting and composition in picture taking.

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Amy May 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I would love to improve almost everything! My pictures are not that great.

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christine weeks May 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I am like you…..me and written instructions have allergic reactions. I am a hands on kinda gal and I need to step out of the box and learn more about how to shoot on manual. I love Helen’s website and photography, its always crisp and colorful.

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Somerset Industries May 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm

The unique thing about food is that it is much visual as it is visceral. That is why a food blog without photos doesn’t make sense. Visual aids do so much more for our appetite. Food photography is a unique genre onto itself.

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Dawn May 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Tartelette’s photography is gorgeous! I need help with lighting and styling. Thanks for sharing.

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JennD May 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I would love to improve my composition. I often photograph my culinary efforts; however, the quality is very hit-or-miss. Sometimes the food looks fake. Or unappetizing. Or just boring. I get the angles wrong or the lighting is off. Anyway, I’d love a copy of this book. Thanks for offering it!!

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Kathleen G. June 1, 2011 at 5:07 am

Lighting is always an issue. Taking dinner photos is generally a nightmare!

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Lauren June 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

I would love to update my camera and get a new one with more options and “gadgets.”

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Amy @ Elephant Eats June 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I would love to figure out how to shoot better! I started my blog about 6 months ago and “borrow” my bf’s Canon Rebel, but I just don’t think I’m doing all that I can with it. I especially need to know how to make my pictures nicer since I can only take them after daylight hours :(

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Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Oh, I can’t wait to read through the book… It’s on my list to pick up for summer reading! I especially need to improve my creativity when it comes to my photography. I’ve learned how to take one or two shots that I can rely on, but I don’t mix it up much. Definitely room for improvement there!

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TidyMom June 2, 2011 at 8:11 am

I have heard so many great things about this book! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!……and I’m hoping to upgrade my camera this summer too (Nikon girl here!)

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Julie Turner June 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I would love to improve my lighting!

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Randa June 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I need help with lighting. I need to harness the power of light so that everything quits looking slightly jaundiced. ;)

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Carol June 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I’m considering starting my own blog to capture the family recipes as a start, and for all my foodie friends that want my recipes. The photography part seems pretty daunting, so I am intrigued by this book. I’m adding it to my wish list. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Laura Y. June 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

If I don’t win it, I’m definitely buying it! Looks like a great resource, and definitely one that I need. Now if only someone would publish one just like it for knitting…

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Kayleigh June 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I need to work on getting lots of details out of small things. I do a lot of work with miniature figures and I’m constantly losing little details because I just don’t know how to frame my mini right.

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Bunni Menius September 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I love posting pictures of the food I make with friends & family & on facebook. I would love to have my food pictures look as if you’re right there with me in the kitchen. Pictures help to explain how to cook & cooking is an art that I’d like to help pass along to others. I also garden & like to show where the food starts off. Thanks! I love your blog!

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