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Food Photography 101: Simple Editing

Welcome to the latest instalment of the Food Photography 101 series here on The Creative Mama.  Today I’m going to share with you the wonders that a little bit of simple photo editing can do to improve your pictures.

Being a busy mama and food blogger, when it was suggested to me that I try doing some post-processing (aka editing) to my photos to give them the little “boost” that was I looking for, I groaned at the thought of adding yet another step in my already time-constricted process of getting a blog post from idea to reality.

Unwilling to spend a lot of money on fancy software but curious as to what editing could do to jazz up my shots, I checked out PicMonkey, a free/cheap online editing application.  It’s what I still use today for my editing, but I know there are other app’s out there as well as software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.  I’ve found that I only end up really using a couple of the editing features anyways, usually straightening, cropping, and brightening or darkening photos just a touch before getting them ready to post.

I’m still a big fan of getting a great shot with my camera rather than relying on post-processing.  I’ll try to create great images using lighting tricks, different lenses, and creative styling, and then make those great pictures fantastic with a few tweaks.

Let me show you some befores and afters to illustrate what I mean.

I made this awesome 6-minute microwave ginger vanilla bean curd.  I wanted to get a little fun and funky with my photos, so here’s what happened.  

I wanted to start with some cool shots of the ginger using my macro filter, but I knew right away that for some reason my colour temperature was not what I wanted it to be:

Unedited Photo

So I used post-processing to “warm” up the photo, meaning that I overlaid a more yellowish tone to replace the somewhat unappetizing grey cast to the ginger seen above.  I do this often when I edit photos, especially in the winter when the light tends to have a cooler tone to it.  Colour tone, or the warmth or coolness of the light in a photo, is extremely important, particularly in food photography.  For example, shades of brown, which you end up with a lot of in photos of baking, look fairly lifeless and unappealing with a cool blue-ish tinge to them.  “Warming them up” in post-process can really make those colours pop.

Edited Photo

The same sort of thing happened in this shot, and I also found the lighting a little darker than I had hoped for when I originally took the picture.

 So I brightened it up a little!

These are the kind of little tweaks I do most frequently to my photos.  I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over covering up every stray crumb or getting the perfect contrast.  Usually your first few changes when you’re editing a photo are the most important, and any fiddling beyond that can start to make your photo look fake.

The other thing that’s fun to do with photo editing applications or software is turning something that looks like this:

Into this:

Cool eh?

I hope, if you’re not already editing your photos, that this post might give you a bit of confidence to do so and knowledge of what you can achieve with a few touch-ups!  

By the way:  head over to my blog, Purple House Cafe, for the recipe for the 6-minute microwave ginger vanilla bean curd!

Food Photography 101:  The Series

Part 1:  Lighting

Part 2: Lenses

Part 3: Styling

Part 4: Telling Food Stories

Part 5: Simple Editing (you are here)



Kelly T. is the winner of the Artterro giveaway which includes 6 Eco Art Kits.

All TCM readers may use discount code TCM20 for 20% off your purchase at from now through May 31st.

About Jessie Harrold

Jessie Harrold is a doula, lactation educator, writer, public health professional and food blogger. Most importantly, she is mama to a quirky, adorable little toddler, and wife to an equally quirky, adorable husband. When she is not pacing the hospital floors with mothers-to-be or hovering over plates of food with her camera, Jessie can be found on long bike rides by the ocean, at early-morning lap swim, or spending quality time on her stand-up paddleboard. A former prairie girl who keeps gravitating back to the Eastern Canadian city that stole her heart, Jessie strives to live the biggest, most adventurous life possible.

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  • Kelly Polizzi

    loving your collecton of tutorials. I’ve pinned the heck out of them and bookmarked them and shared them on my fb page lol. I never want to lose them so i can refer back time and again. You wouldnt believe how much you have taught and inspired me! thank you! However, I am saddened to notice your last was in May. Will there be any more? You really are a wonderful teacher, i hope so!