I’ve been getting more into food photography lately. It’s been a slow journey with more than just a few bumps along the way. A few months after starting this blog, I bought myself a Canon Rebel XS dSLR and read everything about photography that I could get my hands on. I made myself a DIY Lightbox, bought lots of white posterboard (and some colored for backgrounds), picked up a sturdy tripod and prepared myself for widespread acclaim.
Instead, all I got was a big ol’ pile of frustration.
I’ve taken some decent photographs. Quite a few have made it onto Tastespotting and Foodgawker; recently one even made it onto The Today Show website. But the “pretty good” photos were much less common than the “not so good” photos. Each time a photo is published somewhere I feel lucky, not accomplished. I didn’t have a sense of control over my photography, because I didn’t have a solid understanding of it.
My frustration over getting a good photograph led me to all but abandoning this site in late 2009 for a full six months. I was just picking up speed, gaining followers and getting noticed by such large companies as POM Wonderful, who flew me to Fresno for their Harvest Tour in 2009. Then I completely switched gears and launched Refrigerator Soup, a photography site of all things, and spent six months building the community there from the ground up.
But it really didn’t have my heart. Of course it’s almost impossible not to love something you’ve built yourself, and I’d created many lovely relationships with some even lovelier food bloggers, but ultimately I knew that I needed to come back here, to my first, true love. And so I sold Refrigerator Soup to Laura from Laura’s Best Recipes (who, as far as I know, still owns it) and came back with a renewed spirit.
The truth is, blogging is far from easy. It’s on my brain almost 24 hours a day in one form or another. There are long hours, disappointments and the occasional nasty comment. My blog is sort of like my third child; it consumes all of me and doesn’t always behave the way I’d like. But I would never give up on it, no matter how difficult the struggle. And it took a six-month detour in late 2009 for me to figure that out.
So when I came back, I gave myself permission not to feel the pressure of taking perfect photographs. I was always to try my best and continue to learn and grow, but perfection was not my ultimate goal. I ordered myself to relax, have a laugh, enjoy the process and the relationships I was cultivating. Most importantly, I was not allowed to compare myself to other food bloggers and their perfect photographs. Best advice I ever gave myself.
So here I am, two years past my hiatus, still not taking amazing photographs – but I get better every day and I’m finally enjoying the process! I’m learning as I go, always trying to improve. I’m having fun with it. The ironic thing is that blogging is now my full-time career, yet I feel less pressure than I did two years ago. Just this year I’ve spent some time and money buying props, invested in a better lens and started reading about food photographyagain. It’s been a long road getting here, but it’s finally a fun hobby instead of a frustrating necessity. Oh, happy day!
I had fun playing around with some of the techniques from that new photography book with these cookies. And I enjoyed eating these cookies after the photography part was over. So did my kids. And their friends. And some huge mouse that keeps getting into our kitchen late at night (yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, Mr. Noodle). I’d like to say I enjoyed baking them but the process was so quick that I’m not entirely convinced the cookies didn’t just magically appear on my kitchen counter.
But I did make them. And they’re darn good. Very crispy and thin and a little chewy. Loaded with Nutella flavor, they’ll make a nice addition to your Nutella recipe box. I did miss the soft texture that flour brings, but there’s definitely a place for these on my cookie tray.
I decided that I needed to give mine a little Valentine’s flair. I pulled them out of the oven about two minutes before they were done and gave them a little sprinkle. Cute, don’t you think? And that is one amazing less-than-perfect photograph, if I do say so myself.
3-Ingredient Nutella Cookies
- 1 c sugar
- 1 c nutella
- 1 egg
Mix all ingredients together in a stand mixer. Place 1-inch balls of dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 8 – 10 minutes. The cookies will spread a lot and be very thin. Let cool for a minute or so then remove with a spatula. Cool on wire racks.